Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Help Your Dog Adjust to Change

By Langley Cornwell

Many dogs don’t respond well to change. Our skittish pup gets knocked out of her frame if we move furniture around, so I dread the day when we move into a new home – for that reason only. I’m really ready to move to a place with a bigger yard, but that’s another story entirely. Back to the dogs… when we do move we will have to take her sensitive nature into consideration. In preparation, I’ve studied up on ways to make the process easier for her. And looking ahead, there will be other changes in store for her as our lives progress. Here are tips for helping your dog adjust to changes that may come your way.

New Home

Before anything else, please remember to have your dog’s tags updated with the new address and telephone number, and keep the tags on them at all times. They may slip out the door and get lost in the new neighborhood. You have to do your part to keep your dog safe.

If it’s possible, take your dog to the new neighborhood before you move, and let them walk around and become familiar with the surroundings. The more you can do this, the better. During the move itself, determine where your dog’s bed or crate will be immediately, ideally before your dog ever enters the new house. Do the same with the food and water dishes. Have your dog’s food dish full of CANIDAE dog food and have their water dish full of clean, fresh water when they arrive. Make sure there are plenty of familiar smells around the new place, things that smell like your dog and things that smell like you and your family. 

When your dog comes to the house for the first time, talk soothingly to them and allow them to explore the place at their own pace. In the past, I’ve ‘seeded’ the house with CANIDAE TidNips treats for my dogs, putting some on the sofa, some in their beds and random other places for them to find. As the dogs explored their new accommodations, they happened upon a treat here and there – and got a sense that this new home was a good place.

New Baby    

Long before a new baby arrives, brush up on your dog’s obedience skills. Make sure their basic commands like sit, down, stay and off are quick and flawless. You may also want to reinforce walking at heel so when the baby comes you can walk easily with the dog and the baby (in a stroller).

It’s also a good idea, as hard as this may be, to gradually reduce the amount of attention the dog receives. Nudging or leaning on you to request a back-scratching should be discouraged because you don’t want the dog to use the same tactics with the baby.

Accustom your dog to ‘new baby stimuli’ prior to the baby’s arrival. Gently handle them like a baby/child would. Get them used to having their tail and ears pulled, being pinched and pushed on. Move slowly; gradually increase the level of intensity so when the baby is doing the poking and prodding, the dog is unruffled. Same goes for baby sounds and baby smells. Take your dog around babies so they start to get comfortable with the noises they make.

If you’re going to use mechanical swings or bouncy chairs at home, make sure your dog gets used to those sounds. Put baby oil and/or baby powder on your skin weeks before the baby arrives so those smells aren’t new. And when the baby is born, bring a blanket or piece of the baby’s clothing back to the house for your pooch to smell. You may consider this trick: a friend of ours had me (a neutral person) carry the baby into their house the first time. That way, she was able to keep their arrival routine normal which put the dog at ease.

With any change, be sure not to ignore your dog or their feelings. Some dogs react better to change than others. I used to have two dogs that were perfectly fine with whatever the circumstances were, as long as I was there to reassure them. With our current pup, we have to take everything slow and steady. With love, support and bribery (in the form of CANIDAE dog treats), we’ve been able to accomplish a lot with her. You will be able to do the same. If you approach the process with the right mindset, any new circumstances will be easier for those with four legs and those with two to deal with.

Photo by Erwin Schoonderwaldt

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. Now that is a lot of good suggestions. My dogs seem to be able to adjust but maybe because I am home a lot. But those were some good ideas with a new baby coming in the home.

  2. Some dogs adapt their new environment easily but some do take a much longer time. Thanks for your suggestions, they are so useful for people who want to introduce their new homes to some new furkids.

  3. That is some really helpful information, Langley. It seems like a little foresight and some advance work will go a long way in helping a dog adjust to changes.

  4. A good post, found it helpful even though my furkid is a cat!! lol Just love that picture :)


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