We Bought A House, Now What?

Hey, guys, it’s another fabulous Friday. I don’t know about you, but I feel like the weeks are flying by. I don’t feel like we’ve had our full summer yet. But, I look outside, and I see the leaves beginning to change color with some already falling. My oldest son is now back in school –first grade — unreal. I’m sure many of you have kids in school, too. Bittersweet.

Anyway, today’s article comes with some exciting news. My husband and I bought a house. We just closed a week or so ago. Of course, I will miss where we live now, there are so many memories as we’ve lived here for most of the life our oldest son remembers and essentially our youngest son’s whole life. But, we will have so much more space once we’re all moved in.

Plus, there’s a creek in the woods behind the house. You can imagine how insanely excited our kids and dog will get when we walk to the creek to play.

The move to a new home, a home we own, is becoming more real as our house becomes emptier and emptier. It will be a huge transition for this little family of ours.

Here’s the thing, though. As exciting as moving is, it can be a stressful time for our dog. Although I can’t wait to be in our new house, the actual moving process isn’t the biggest thrill either. We want to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible to ensure there aren’t any behavioral issues and our dog isn’t overwhelmed. Obviously, some dogs handle change better than others. But, better to be safe than sorry.

That’s what I want to talk to you about today. Renting, buying, moving in with a friend. All of these are huge changes to make. But seriously, what can we do to make the transition less stressful?

Keep Those Old Routines

Try to stay on track with the same routine. If it varies a little bit, no huge deal. But, if your dog is accustomed to getting up, eating her morning breakfast as you’re sipping your morning coffee, then going outside for a walk, try to keep that routine. It can be that simple. Sometimes that’s all your dog needs to be perfectly fine with your move.

Once you’re settled in for a few weeks, you can begin making more changes as they will be less stressful to your dog at this time. Your dog will have had time to understand your new home as you will. And, he will feel your stress, excitement, frustration, etc. drop down as you become more comfortable.

Try to Keep Some

of Your ‘Old’ Stuff

Ha. Let me tell you. Once my husband and I closed on our new house, we were both thinking, “how about we just throw literally everything in our house away and start over?” Other than our clothes and beds, of course. But, darn. That’s not really reality is it? It was a good thought though.

For your dog’s sake, bring as much ‘old’ stuff with you as possible. Does she have some raggedy looking bed or blanket she loves? Maybe that’s where she lays most of the time. If so, it probably doesn’t look the greatest. But, bring this with that bed or blanket with have familiar smells from your old house and it makes your dog feel more comfortable. Kind of like a security blanket or bed.

Once your dog is familiar with your new home, that’s when it would be okay to throw away that raggedy old blankie. This usually takes a few weeks, but it’s much better to handle that fur-covered, dirty-looking blanket than make your dog uncomfortable, and this usually results in behavioral problems ranging from mild to severe.

If you want to buy something new for your dog, take a look at some new toys for when you’re gone.

Oh No, You Gotta Go

We can’t always stay home with our dog. Clearly, we want to stay home as much as we can once we move so we can unpack, but we have work, school, and other obligations to attend to.

Even dogs who have been perfectly comfortable staying home all by themselves for years can feel insecure and unsafe being left in a new, unknown home.

To help you dog handle the stress of being left home alone in your new house, you can leave ‘hide-and-seek’ treats — hide treats all around the house and let your dog find them as this will make it more comfortable for her to explore — a stuffed kong, and/or some familiar items that smell like you and your old home.

Collect Some Floor Time

This might sound silly. Well, I am sure it does. But if you’re able to, spend some time sitting next to your dog on the floor. Maybe watch a movie while your dog lies next to you. This will add familiar smells of you and your clothing to the home. Your dog will start to attach your new home with those ‘good’ smells and will begin to understand that’s where he lives now.

Finally, Show the Love

Giving your dog some extra time, even if it’s just an extra half hour each day, can help significantly in the transition.

Keep track of this. It’s not hard to become so focused on unpacking that you forget to spend quality time with your dog.

It’s not realistic to expect to spend all your time with your dog when you move. But, go for an extra walk. Play a game of fetch in your new yard. if it’s fenced, or once your dog understands boundaries. Or, just cuddle up to a good movie.

The Bottom Line

I guess that’s all I have for you today. If you plan to move in the future, you can cut out this article to use for future reference. If you have any questions about moving or how to make the transition as comfortable as possible, or if you notice fear/anxiety in your dog during your move, please feel free to get ahold of me. You can also join my Dog Behavior Group on Facebook. It’s connected to my professional page at www.facebook.com/specialistamberdrake. I’ll provide reminders about this group from time-to-time. It’s free and an excellent resource for dog lovers to talk amongst one another.

Until next time, everyone!