How do dogs adapt to new surroundings?

April 13, 2012

So you are moving to a new home. Moving to a new home can the right decision for you but have you ever considered if it will be a right move for the dog too? The transfer can be highly stressful for the dog, one that will make the dog very unhappy. Your dog will certainly miss the neighbor’s cat it used to torment, will long for the boy next door whom the dog play catch ball with and will even miss the baleful looks of the old lady across the street who hates dogs.

Dogs are pretty much the same as humans. While some dogs will happily and instantly adapt to new surroundings others will take some time to settle in and to make a new life. A new surrounding can be very stressful to a dog. All of a sudden, the environment is different, the neighbors are different and even the smell will be unfamiliar. This new surroundings could create behavioral problems. The dog can become aggressive and restless. Some will whine pitifully or bark incessantly. The dog may have accidents on the carpet as the pet will need to mark the new surroundings. Nervous pets may destroy the furniture and, in the worst case, may try to run away. However, dogs will adapt to new surroundings much easier than cats. Unlike cats that are quite independent of their owners, dogs form a strong attachment with the family and are less concerned about its environment as long as the family is there. A dog that is transferred to a new location will need reassurance. Attention from the family will make the dog safe and secure. For the dog, the family will be something familiar and known.

Dogs that have been the family pet will adapt more easily to new surroundings than adopted dogs or puppies from a breeder. The pet will at least be reassured by the familiar faces of the family. To an adopted dog and to a puppy, a move will turn their world upside down. Even the drive home will be frightening to the dog. Nothing will be familiar, everything will be strange. For the puppy, the dam and the siblings will not be there. Dogs adopted from rescue centers will need more care and understanding. Continuity will help ease the dog to the new surroundings. No matter how much you want to replace the old blanket or the dented and grubby doggie bowl refrain from doing so as these things are familiar to the dog.

First nights can be unnerving. You certainly will not want to have a bad impression on the new neighbors, but a dog that barks all night will surely irritate other people. Cuddling and words of reassurance will help but overdoing it can make the situation worse. Attend to the dog once and then leave it alone. Reassuring the dog every few minutes will not stop it from barking. It will help a lot if you stick to the routine. The same feeding hours, the same walking and playing time will make the dog understand that in spite of the new smells and the new surroundings everything is pretty normal after all. This is why it is important not to throw away the “familiar” beddings and blankets as they will serve as continuity to the dog’s new surroundings.

Moving to a new home can be traumatic for the pet especially to a puppy and trying for a first time dog owner. Of course “how to”books will provide the owners valuable information. It should also be considered that different breeds have different personalities. Afterall these are intelligent and highly adaptable animals. Some will be sensitive to change, but generally dogs will adapt to new surroundings easily and quickly especially if they are given consistent reassurance, love and care.

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