Moving With Your Dog

Last week, we moved into a new house and I thought you’d be interested in reading some random observations I had about moving with our dog.

While I’ve moved several times in past years, there are always new experiences and new observations, every time. The first is simply the reaffirmation of how important it is to use the dog kennel/crate.

Moving is stressful for your dog. Dogs don’t understand what’s happening or what’s going on. Especially with all of the big and tall strangers coming and going. Having a “safe place” where you can put your dog is essential. At no time did our dog ever wonder where he should be, or what he should be doing… because the crate has been a part of his life from Day 1, and it represents his “den” and he has already learned that “this is where I’m supposed to be.” Which
helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

If you’ve read some of my other material, you’ll know that I’m a big proponent of working your dog around every type of distraction and situation. Moving– with all of the trucks and boxes– presents some wonderful opportunities. If you have a full (paying) membership to our site, we’ll be posting some pictures that Carla took of me working the dog on the truck ramp and into the back of a box van. Dog Owners: Take advantage of every opportunity you get. The more weird and wild things you can work your dog around, the more you’ll increase the human/dog bond. And you’ll be challenging and stimulating your dog’s mind in ways that you can’t necessarily do during a regular training day.

Once we arrived at our destination house, using the “No!” command was a very useful and clear way to teach the dog from the start, which rooms he’s allowed in and which rooms he’s not. Remember: It’s important to be consistent, and teaching your dog the new house rules
from the beginning makes things a thousand times more easy, further down the road.

Another life-saver is the “Get Busy” command, which teaches the dog where and when to eliminate. The house we moved into has a decent size yard, and I don’t want the dog choosing to urinate/defecate near the pool, but rather to go over to the side yard and do his business
(where the patch of dirt is). Because I’ve consistently used the “Get Busy” command, it was easy to take the dog out to the spot where I wanted him to eliminate and tell him to ‘do his thing.’ After only three days, he’s now going to the same spot consistently. Which
certainly makes clean-up a lot easier, too.

There’s a lot of new smells for a dog to investigate in a new house, so– even for an older dog– it’s important to use your “place” command to teach your dog where he’s supposed to lay down, when you’re doing things in each room. For example, while we eat dinner, the dogs need to lay on their “place pillows” at the edge of the room. Likewise, while I’m working on the computer, if the dog wants to hang out in the same room, I don’t let him wander aimlessly
sniffing and checking things out. It’s annoying and it’s not necessarily productive behavior for the dog, either. So, I’ll use either the down-stay command or the “place” command.

One of the things I’ve also noticed is that to make the transition to a new house less stressful on your dog, it’s important to adhere to the same (or similar) schedules as you did in your old house. We have our own rituals. For example: We get up in the morning and the dog gets let out of his crate and then lays on his pillow while we have coffee. After coffee, it’s yard time. Then breakfast. (Ours, then the dogs). Etc… Adhering to a schedule allows your dog to more
smoothly adjust to being in a new house.

Remember: Even just rearranging the furniture can throw your dog for a loop. Moving to a new house is rearranging the furniture– and a whole lot more. You might see a bit of submissive “I’m not sure if I should be doing this,” behavior. That’s when having both motivational praise and corrections come in handy, because it’s a clear way to communicate to your dog when he’s doing something right and when he’s doing something wrong. So, moving with your dog really becomes a fall-back to more formal obedience routines woven around your lifestyle. And once you’ve been in the same house for awhile, your patterns (and expectations) for your dog will start to become anticipated.