Moving is usually an exciting time of renewal and change. A new environment with new possibilities can feel refreshing, but that’s not the case for everyone in the family. Younger dogs may be excited by a move due to the changes, new people, and new smells, but older dogs may feel uneasy with big changes in their environment. Thankfully, there are ways to help your senior dog through a move to a new house.
The Hurdles of a Long-Distance Move
If you’re moving to a new house in the same city, or close to the same city, your biggest hurdles will be transitioning between the new house and the old house. However, if you’re moving farther away, you’ll also have to help your dog through the added stress of traveling. When vacationing with your dog, you’d want to talk to your vet, find dog-friendly lodging, and take plenty of breaks.
The same is true for moving with your dog. Make sure your dog is up to date on all of her shots, that she has updated ID information, and that you might even speak to your vet about a sedative for your pup if travel is especially difficult for them. Travel may be hard, but preparation and breaks can make it easier.
Make Your New Home Familiar
Many dogs feel safe in their home because it’s familiar and comfortable. They know where their food is, they feel safe in their bed, and they have a good grasp on a schedule. This familiarity is comfortable for dogs, especially senior dogs who may have issues with memory. This is why making your new home familiar is helpful.
One way to do this is to provide your new home with familiar smells before your pup gets there. Just moving in your belongings and furniture will help with that. Set up your dog’s crate or space and she will be comforted by it.
Get Ready for Accidents
One hurdle that many older dogs may experience in a new home is where to go potty. Not only is their new home unfamiliar, but it may take longer for a senior dog to understand where to go to get outside, or where to alert you that they need to go potty. Senior dogs have more issues than younger pups with incontinence to begin with, so it’s important to be prepared for accidents.
Make sure you clean any pet accidents thoroughly with stain and odor removers so your senior dog won’t continue to use that area for a potty due to the smell. Help her by taking her out to go to the bathroom more often, and remember to reward her when she signals that it’s time to go outside. And, of course, remember to be patient during this time instead of punishing your dog for accidents.
Make Your Home Senior Dog Friendly
Moving with your senior pup will be easier if you can make your new home more senior dog friendly before she arrives. This means removing tripping hazards, elevating her bowls, adding ramps instead of stairs, and buying her an extra-comfortable dog bed. Tripping over something in her new home might make her experience even more stressful, causing your elderly dog to feel even more uneasy about her new environment. On the other hand, creating a comfortable, hazard-free home for her will create a positive correlation instead of a negative one, which is why it’s such an important step.
The More Preparation the Better
Moving is often a large undertaking, and preparation is a great way to keep a move organized. While you’re making a moving checklist and all your other to-do lists, make sure you have sections that include your pup. Not only should you remember to bring all of her belongings, but you can also make a note to set up your dog’s area in your new home before she gets there. You might also prepare your home by spraying calming spray to help make the transition easier. The more prepared you are, the easier the transition will be for all of you.
Offer Extra Treats and Love
Positive reinforcement and creating a positive correlation between your senior dog and the new home can really help her to feel comfortable with the change and happy with her new environment. Provide her with her favorite comforts, but also include a fun new toy to keep her occupied and happy with her new place. Give her yummy treats, use a happy voice, and give her extra pets to show that the move is a good thing. At the end of the day, her home is where you are, so your comfort will do wonders for her mental state in your new home.
Moving any animal will have its challenges, but senior dogs can come with extra difficulties to navigate. With their physical limitations, memory problems, and established comfort in their old spaces, they may feel more anxious with a move than younger dogs. However, there are plenty of ways to make the change easier on them, and soon your senior pup will feel more comfortable in a new home as long as you’re there with her.