Relocating with a dog
I am writing this Blog post because I also recently went through the process of moving from Vienna to Berlin with a dog on my side. So most of the things I will write, are from my personal and immediate experience but I hope there are some helpful tips for some of you who will also be moving soon or in the future.
Preparations for relocating
Whether you are moving to a different country, to another city or just to a new apartment in your hometown, relocating always comes with quite some stress. There are a thousand things to organize, boxes to pack, closets to clean out, walls to paint, emails to write and the list goes on and on. On top of that you might still have to go after your daily obligations such as working, cleaning, eating and doing the groceries. Already sounds like a lot right? And then you still have your dog also wanting its daily dose of attention, cuddles, and exercise. In those times caring for your pet cam sometimes feel like a lot. And I can tell you, there will be some days where you might have to cut the daily walk short because you have so many things on your to do list. But I can also tell you that this is not the end of the word for your dog and there are still some things you can do to take a bit of the stress out of your day.
Take your time!
Instead of walking a full one to two hours with your dog every day, you can for example only do a smaller walk of 30 to 45 minutes. But as an exchange for that, really take those 30 minutes only for your dog and yourself. Put the phone on silent and use this time to enjoy, breathe and recharge for the day. Your dog will definitely enjoy a shorter walk with a relaxed human on his siede more than a hectic and unenjoyable one hour long walk. Then you will both come home relaxed and ready for the day!
Time to pack some boxes
So while your dog then takes his after-breakfast nap, you can use the time for packing some more boxes or disassembling some shelves. While some dogs might not be bothered by all this movement around them, other dogs might get pretty nervous. Here it is extremely helpful when your dog already has an established quiet place of retreat in the flat and you dog has also learned to stay on that place even when things around get a bit hectic. This is something that I for example trained with my own dog pretty much from the beginning. For instance my dog has learned to stay in her bed in a quiet corner in the bedroom while I do the household, like washing the dishes, vacuum cleaning etc. This came in extremely handy for the moving process. Because as soon as I started packing boxes and moving things around, she just went to the bedroom and rested there. If you need any help establishing a place of retreat for your dog, our trainers from welpencoach.at can help you with that. If your dog however still has problems staying calm with all of these unfamiliar sounds and movements around, a chewing bone, a Kong filled with yoghurt or cottage cheese or a licking mat provided on in its safe space, can also help with reducing stress in these moments. If you scroll through our Facebook or Instagram page, you will find some valuable tips from our nutrition expert Pia Botek on chewing bones and the perfect filling for a Kong or a licking mat.
The big moving day
Finally, all of the boxes are packed and it is time for the big moving day! This day of course will be the most hectic for you but also in the eyes of your dog: there might be moving helpers who go in and out of the flat with boxes, everything is being carried out, the apartment door has to stay open the whole time and so on. Of course it would be really stressful and also unsafe for your dog to be walking around in-between all of this mess.
Where can I park my dog?
So ideally, if your dog is already used to staying in a daycare, with a dog sitter or with a friend, the best solution for this day would be to bring your dog there and let it have a nice and relaxed day away from all of the chaos. If your dog is not used to staying with someone else, the best option might be that it stays in an already cleared out room with the door closed for the time things are being moved out of the flat. Keep the dog bed in that room and also again provide the dog with a Kong with frozen yoghurt or cottage cheese or an extra big chewing stick, something that really keeps your dog busy for a long period of time. So they can be busy with licking or chewing while the flat is being cleared empty. Also here, check in with your dog every now and then and make sure that it is not being overly anxious or nervous. If that is the case stay with your dog and give security by being calm or even go for a walk while all of the bigger furniture pieces are being carried out. If you already realized in the days before the big move that even with training and distraction, your dog really has a hard time relaxing in this unfamiliar situation, you can also talk to your veterinarian about a calming medication for that day. There are some natural alternatives like CBD Oil or Bach Flowers, wich also might help your dog. But also here it is best to consult your vet beforehand, do some research and try out in advance how your dog reacts to it. All in all, the big moving process usually only takes two to three hours until everything is loaded into the moving truck. When following these tips and tricks and also relying on your intuition on what is best for your dog in this situation, it usually is done faster and easier than you think.
Arriving at the new apartment
I always feel like the worst part of the process is over when you arrive at the new place. Unloading the truck usually goes even faster than loading it and with unpacking all of the boxes one can take as much time es one needs. For your dog on the other hand, this might be the more stressful time. Everything is different and there are lots of new smells and sounds. It might take your dog some time to settle in the new place.
Challenges in the new place
To help the dog calm down a bit, it is helpful to set up the bed in a quiet corner of the new flat right away. Furthermore, I think it is important to give your dog some time to get familiar with the new place. Some topics that might not go perfect during the first time could be for example: Staying alone: even though your dog might have been able to stay alone in the old apartment without any problem, you might have to do some training again in the new place before leaving your dog alone there for longer periods of time. Barking at the door: your dog might bark at some unfamiliar noises outside of the apartment (like for example a neighbor going up the stairs). Here too, it is important to be understanding with your dog while also establishing that the rules of the old place also apply in the new place. This will give your dog security and behaviors such as barking at outside noises will stop soon. Leash walking: Also outside obviously everything is new and your dog might need some time to walk nicely on the leash again in these new surroundings. For walks, I would suggest to plan in a bit more time at the beginning to give your dog but also yourself enough time to check everything out and get used to the new surroundings. Off leash walking: It might also take a while until you can let your dog off leash in the new area. First it is important to gain some orientation like: where is the next big street? Is there a high chance of meeting wild animals? Once you are a bit more familiar with the new place, you will know where your dog can be off leash and where it is better to keep the leash on.
New experiences strengthen the bond
But enough now with all of the stressful aspects of moving! I think relocating to a new place also gives lots of opportunities to bond with your dog. Exploring new areas together can for example be a great adventure for both of you. Also, you have the possibility to form new rituals that you and your dog enjoy. You might even meet some new dog-friends along the way! Experiencing new things together strengthens the relationship between a dog and its owner. Relocating definitely gives you more than enough possibilities for new experiences together. It is usually a big step in life and your and your dog did it together! So all in all, events like a relocation can only make you and your dog an even better team than before!
In this light, I wish you a stress free relocation process and many great new adventures with your for legged friend.
Yours Vanessa Bock
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