Moving and Your Pet.

Moving is a stressful time for everyone, your pet included. We have recently moved, though only for the academic year, so we simply packed clothes and books for the time we will be gone. That alone was stressful for Zuzu, who could not understand why the suitcases were out, my office was suddenly filled with boxes, and her toys were being washed. She is a sensitive individual to begin with, so I tried to be extra attentive to keeping her stress low and her routine as normal as possible, and I made sure that her most favorite bed went with us to New Jersey as well as her most important toys, particularly her beloved blobby. 

Having moved several times with an assortment of dogs, I have found that the best way to help your dog cope with the stress of moving, is to: 1) try and keep things as normal as possible; 2) be sure to take time to play with and walk your dog every day and; 3) keep her with you as much as possible.  

  1. Keeping things normal. If you feed your dog twice a day in the kitchen, continue to do so, making sure the area around her bowls is kept as clutter free as possible. If her breakfast comes in an intelligence toy, or as a game you play, continue to do that even if it seems to takes up time you need for packing. Keep beds and toys in their normal places, and try to make sure they are packed last of all.
  2. Play with your dog! You may feel as if there are way too many things to do and way too little time to do them, but playing with or walking your dog will give her a sense of normalcy and it might even lower your stress as well as hers when you take a moment to breathe and focus on something other than the next box. Be sure to do this on moving day as well as when you get to your new home.
  3. Keep your dog with you as much as possible. This becomes especially important during the actual move. On the day the movers come, designate a family member to be pet supervisor for the day. An article at I Heart Dogs about moving says this,

A lot of people think it’s better to leave their dog at a boarding facility while they move, but this can cause even more stress. Your dog knew something was up prior to the moving day, and now you are dropping them off somewhere and driving away. This can make the situation much worse, so make your plans to allow your dog to stay with you.

 

This is also important to keep in mind if you are stopping over night along the way. On the way to our new destination, we went to visit my husband’s cousin for a couple of days, and I was sure that she was not left alone in a new place until we had been there for a few hours and we’d had a chance to play ball outside, and she was calm, tired and ready for a nap. We also stayed away less than 2 hours.

Other things that I have found to be helpful in keeping my dog’s stress lower during times of flux:

a) Lactium (most commonly known as Zylkene) is a milk based product that can be helpful with anxiety. It is slow acting (like prozac, it takes awhile to build up to full dosage), but appears to have no side effects and can be used with most prescription anti anxiety drugs. L-theanine (most commonly known as Composure) can also be effective in reducing anxiousness. There are two varieties of Composure, regular and Pro. The difference is that the pro also has tryptophan in it and I have found it to be more effective. Unfortunately, that also makes it more expensive.
 
 
b) D.A.P collar, diffuser, or spray. This pheromone imitates the smell of a lactating female dog and is very comforting to most dogs. It aids in helping a dog to relax and be more comfortable. The spray can be put on a bandana, as well as sprayed onto the dog’s bed. The collar lasts for 30 days and gives a steady supply of DAP which can be useful especially during the prolonged period of packing and moving. Be careful not to get it wet and be sure to get the Adaptil or Comfort zone brand as that is the only one which has the patented pheremone. The diffuser is great to put next to his crate and is most effective in small rooms. I have one in my office over my dog’s bed as part of her safe haven. Bring it along to put next to his bed in a hotel room.
 
Here is a link for DAP:
c) Through a Dog’s Ear music. This music is designed to be relaxing to dogs and it should be played for him at various times so that he learns to relax under a variety of circumstances, and so that he doesn’t just associate it with you leaving or some other stressful event. I have Volume 1, Senior and the driving edition, all of which are available on Amazon. Another option for calming dogs is audio books. Some dogs really respond well to the voice of someone reading and find it very relaxing, even more so than music. I like audio books because they are useful on a long car trip to keep the dog calm and me entertained! 
 
c) Lavendar. This can be very relaxing for dogs. I recommend sprinkling it on her bedding or putting a few drops between the shoulder blades. Some dogs also find peppermint oil relaxing and that can be dapped onto her paw pads with a cotton ball.
 

With a bit of effort on your part moving does not need to be overly stressful for your dog. Besides, keeping his stress level lower, may help to make moving a bit easier for you as well!

Zuzu waiting to play ball in her new back yard.

 

*For more information on visiting with your dog see our podcast on Your Family Dog: New Places, Happy Facesand here is an article from the Whole Dog Journal, Moving with Dogs: Everything you need to know

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