Moving With A Fearful DogJan 09, 2024
Do you have a move coming up? Are you worried about how your fearful dog will handle the transition to a new home? Here are 3 tips to help make the process go more smoothly.
Tip #1: Talk With Your Vet
Ask your vet, or your veterinary behaviorist, whether anti-anxiety medication might help your dog during the chaos that inevitably comes before, during, and after a move to a new home. Our dog Pancake benefitted greatly from medication prescribed by his vet during the actual transport to the new house, and for several days following.
Tip #2: Prep Your Dog's Safe Space
Most fearful dogs appreciate having a safe space that they can retreat to, or even live in most of the time. If your dog has a safe space in your current home that they love, bring the familiar items from that space to fill the new safe space with. If you can, get the new safe space ready before you bring your dog to the new house, so you can put them in it as soon as they arrive.
Tip #3: Reinforce "Brave" Behaviors Right Away
Although you're probably worried that moving will traumatize your fearful dog, there are some potential benefits to a novel environment. Sometimes, fearful dogs are able to make jumps in their training after a move, possibly because many of the environmental cues or triggers that were associated with fearful behaviors in your old home are absent in the new home. Our dog Pancake definitely made big strides in his training after we moved him to a new house, and I suspect that the new environment contributed to that.
So have your treats ready, and try to reinforce any little behaviors that you might be able to build on. With Pancake, I tried my best to reinforce behaviors like moving around the safe space even when we were nearby, looking at me when I approached (instead of running to hide), and exiting his safe space.
If you have questions about an upcoming move with your fearful dog, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We'll be happy to try to help!
Want help building your dog's confidence? Join us inside our training membership for fearful dogs, Confidence Builders Club.