The end of the school year is barely days away in Joplin and for many 4-States families, summer vacation will begin the search for a new home. This includes Kevin and his wife Debbie, who are planning a move from Neosho to Joplin. “We want to try to find and settle into a new home before the next school year begins,” said Kevin as he flipped through a local real estate guide.
Moving to a new home can be a stressful period for families to endure. Consider the many emotions adults and children go through during a move period. The excitement of a new home, nostalgia over leaving the existing home, worry about making new friends, the feeling of loss over leaving good friends, and the confusion of “what is where” while surrounded by boxes.
These emotions are a natural reaction to moving and even a simple move across town is not for the weak at heart. The stress for some families can be so great, that during a move period, it is very natural and common to forget all but the basic needs (food, water, bathroom breaks) of the family dog.
Dogs, however, do go through their own set of emotions during a move period. Dogs are pack animals and have a very strong sense of relationship ties. Dogs are also creatures of habit and routine. Most family “home-based” dogs become very accustomed to a ritual that is maintained on a daily basis with little deviation. This differs from dogs that travel for competition (obedience, agility, or conformation for example). Studies have found that dogs that travel often with their owners, even weekend camping, do better with change than dogs who do not travel.
Because of natural behaviors of dogs, many home-based dogs are at higher risk to develop separation anxiety and other emotional disorders during and immediately following a move to a new home. Following a move, many people report their dogs become clingy and start to cry and howl when they leave. Some dogs become destructive and begin to chew inappropriate objects. Other dogs may lick or bite themselves causing hot spots on their skin.
But don’t worry, there are some simple techniques you can use to ensure that your dog does not suffer from move anxiety.
1. While you begin to house hunt, move your dog’s crate to new room or section of your existing home every week or so. Position the crate facing different walls. The dog will learn that his crate is indeed his home regardless of where it is located.
2. Socialize your dog to the new home and neighborhood as much as possible before the actual move date. Make time to take your dog to your new neighborhood for your evening walk. If possible, walk around the perimeter of the yard and maybe even enter the backyard and let your dog explore.
3. Once you have possession of your new home, take your dog to the new house for short visits while you prepare the new home for your move. If you are moving boxes on a daily basis, allow your dog to be with you while you transport and unpack the boxes.
4. When visiting the new home, take your dog’s favorite toy or bedding back and forth with you so he has something familiar of his while he is there.
5. Pack your dog’s belongings last, preferably when he is not around to see you remove the items.
6. On the official move date, schedule your dog to be somewhere else. Lucky Dog, LLC in Joplin offers daily doggy day care that is perfect for local moving families. If your dog requires grooming, include a bath and haircut for the new home.
Avoid leaving the dog overnight or alone in the new house during the move transition period. This will only reinforce any potential separation anxiety. Always take the dog with you when you leave the new house (for any period of time, even a trip to Wal-Mart) prior to your official move date.
A new home can be a rewarding experience and a smooth transition for all family members, even the family dog.
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