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Moving home? Lots of things to think about....

I had a request….a blog on moving homes.


A massively huge thanks to my Barking Course Graduates for sharing their pics and tips! The pictures included remain their property, please respect this and do not use the images without their permission.


Please feel free to share your tips and tricks below to help others.


 It’s a lot isn’t it.  For us, forget the dogs.  The stress of waiting to be approved, trying to connect all the dots with moving vans and packing up quickly, getting to the new property and then the unloading and rooms full of boxes.  Where on earth do you start? And then the dogs….how do we help them?

 

Moving home is the opportunity for a fresh start for everyone.  It’s a chance to change habits from one home to different more positive ones in the new one.  Do not allow old habits or new ones you don’t like to start else you’ll be trapped in that same old cycle.


First the boring bit....the Paperwork:


  • Suss out your new local vets before you move.  Check to see if they are taking on new patients.  Look online at reviews. Let your current vet know you are moving and ask them to forward the notes to your new vets.  Register with the new vets and get their history moved over.  Remember due to changes in regulation, vets need to see dogs within a certain time frame, if the new surgery needs to administer medication (including flea treatments, they will most likely need to see you. This has come from high above, and is not a decision by the practice.)

  • Microchip and name tags: Update these asap! Initially putting using a quick release cat collar with details of your contact information on a keyring fob is a great short-term way to make sure they have ID on them, but removing the risk of collars getting caught. Please be cautious leaving collars on dogs unattended! Remember legally they need the contact name and full address on their tags, common sense says your mobile number, and I always pop my vets on there too. I do not recommend putting the dogs name on there. You don't need to waste space on "I am chipped" as legally they should be anyway so its presumed!

  • Make sure you know where to get your next delivery of dog food from. Remember to change the delivery address if you order online!


Yawn, thats done...now what?!


  • Safety first, always. Consider all the potential risks associated with your move. Even a friendly dog can become overwhelmed and take offence to movers.

  • The constant opening and closing of doors. Be careful!

  • If you can't ask a family member or friend to have them create a safe and secure area somewhere quiet - a crate, a locked room with a sign on it to remind everyone, a dog gate on the door as a second barrier is always a good move. Before you let them out make sure it is safe to do so and that all the family are aware the dog is loose!


Before you move


  • Go and suss out the house before you move in.

  • Consider whether adaptil plug ins or calming sprays may be beneficial to creating a calm space. You will need several especially in the main living space!

  • Once you have visited the house, take the dogs for a few short visits, take a kettle and sit down and have a cuppa inside and out. Supervise them, keep them onlead whilst you make sure everything is secure.

  • Take their blankets (unwashed) and rub them around key living spaces. Do the same with some blankets that smell of you. Leave them in different rooms to help the new home smell more familiar, especially where they will sleep.

  • Do some walks around the area before you move in, with and without the dogs. Not always straight from the front door

  • Clean and treat the home before you move your dogs in!



The garden!

  • Go and visit your new home without your dog.  Go and look in the garden as a priority and check that fencing, make sure there are no spots to dig, or gaps in the fencing.  Use a selfie stick and video the boundaries at dachshund height…..what can you see?

  • During the winter, the environment outside is generally quieter.  But try to consider what your neighbours may do in spring and summer. If their front gardens are beautifully landscaped chances are their back garden will be the same.  This says the neighbours will spend time outside – note this for future training! I’m always reminding my grads to refresh their dogs outside skills come early spring! 

  • Pay attention to local footpaths, do they go past the garden? How will your dogs cope with that? Would a temporary second barrier prevent them charging to the fence whilst you focus on other things?

  • Traffic sounds? Are they used to the machinery or vehicles that may be passing.  I know when I moved mine were definitely not used to tractors.  This took a bit of time to get them used to, especially on walks…..I found them a bit overwhelming too…..even on the one pavement we have.  They are HUGE!  Things like lorries, buses, do you need to start helping desensitize them to the traffic sounds?

  • Toileting – gross I know, but dab up a wee or 2 with a kitchen towel and pop it in a bag.  Then in the new garden rub it (you may need to damp it up a bit) into the desired toilet area.  You may find a strategically placed poo useful too. Remember they are driven by scent, so making it familiar will help them!


The garden when you bring them home:

When you bring them home, control access to the garden so you can watch and monitor their behaviours and prevent problems starting.



Encourage calm behaviours like scatter bombs in the grass to encourage sniffing (and toileting) outside. 


Try not to encourage charging into the garden when they are overexcited, this will cause issues later.



If you are having work done, make sure the area is safe before letting your dogs out. This includes edible debris, sharp stones, things like concrete dust etc.


The garden plants: Make sure the ones in your garden aren't toxic to dogs! You'd be amazed how many are!


Lets move indoors:


When you clean the new house, particularly pay attention to areas that are dachshund height, they are driven by their snouts remember. If another dog has lived there, are there areas that may have been marked by that dog? Use a urine neutraliser on areas where sofa's may have been. Do remember to clean before your dogs move in, the chemicals can be especially potent!


Remember after cleaning to take a couple of unwashed dog beds and blankets and leave them to stink out the house, rub their scent into the carpets too so its more familiar for the dogs.



Look at where your dogs will spend their time, especially if you aren’t home.  Will they be likely to window watch and bark at passers by? If so, before your dogs even get in the house, order some cheap window film to restrict their view so the problem never starts.  Later you can address this, but you don’t have time whilst you are unpacking!


Remember, at night, sounds will be unfamiliar.  I’ll never forget the first time I heard an owl up here, gosh it was loud and somewhat unnerving.  Now I love that sound, but it takes me a minute to tune into the sound.  Playing a radio on low will help them. Similarly if passing cars are likely to cause lights to brighten up the room, do you need a low nightlight for the first few weeks.  Just to help them out? Similarly, if you are moving from the city to the sticks, its very dark at night....might that have an influence on their ability to settle?




Pop their bed in the room where you will mostly want them to relax.  Make it a nice, safe and warm place for them.  Remember to do some desensitisation and conditioning to help them build a positive association with this area.


Accept toileting accidents calmly. Take them outside regularly so they know where to go. Remember its overwhelming to them and they may get disorientated. Pay attention to them wandering off, sniffing or circling especially after eating, playing and sleeping.

Come wind, rain or shine - go outside with them.


Build in separation training slowly but right from the start to prevent an issue starting.


What if we’re moving to a flat.

  • The same rules apply, if you have a balcony, treat it like I’ve suggested with the garden.  Make sure they cannot jump on things to get higher!

  • Consider if you need to block the view so they aren't too focused on the world below!

  • Go out with them and watch their behaviours. Use licky mats out there so they learn to relax.


  • If you don’t have a balcony, assess how you get from your front door, to the communal front door.  Start training from your front door to teach them how you want them to act.  Be prepared for neighbours popping out, doors banging, people talking. 

  • Also, consider how your dog will know if they are coming with you, or if they are not.  I tend to suggest the lead and collar is kept away from the front door, that way you don’t have that “am I coming” anticipation and associated stress/excitement.  It just removes one layer of a problem you don’t want to create.  Otherwise the same advice stands.

What if you are moving from a flat


  • You may find they just slot straight in, but consider whether things like having a neighbour right next door will unnerve them.

  • Spend extra time on working on exiting the front door if they are not use to going straight outside from the home.

  • Suddenly having their own open space may be overwhelming or overexciting - control the access initially to prevent issues later.

  • Stairs - they may not be used to them and you may find suddenly they work out how to navigate them...and then get upstairs. Be sensible with stairs, the jury is out on the link between IVDD and stairs but you should be aware of the potential for injury (regardless of their backs) as they aren't used to it!


When you bring them to their new home


  • Let them explore, explore with them.  Go outside with them and supervise.

  • I remember when I first moved, I popped up to the shop, and left the dogs with the door to the garden open…. I missed a bit of the fencing being loose, and my dogs did take themselves for a walk!  Thankfully they also brought themselves home.  I’d have been none the wiser if not for my neighbour letting me know!  Accidents do happen, and that lesson was learnt!

  • Spend a bit of time in the area where you want them to settle with them.  If you want them comfortable in there, spend time in there.

  • Ring the doorbell loads so it means nothing!  Its just another household noise!

  • Go back to toilet training basics, go outside with them and wander about with them.

  • Pay attention to any behaviours you aren’t keen on, change the process before it becomes a habit.  Start as you mean to go on!

 

The packing and unpacking



All the disruption can be very traumatic for them.  Your stress too.  Try to give them a safe area where they can retreat to undisturbed.



Make sure you have a secure place to put them when you are moving boxes, its often worth asking a family member to have them for this bit.  But we don’t all have that luxury.


If you are using movers, I’d strongly urge you to take the dogs out of the situation. Even if they love people, all that movement, open front doors, and chaos is a recipe for disaster. 

Boxes can be a great way to entertain them, the problem is you don’t want them helping to pack.



Pre real packing, set up a few boxes and cases, and give them a long lasting chew in their safe place.  Just to help them learn to be calm in the sight of chaos. 




Try to be methodical when packing.  Make sure you pack and label all your dogs stuff and leave the things you need ready to go with you straight away. Remember, first on, last off! 


If you are moving to a completely different area, the change in water can affect their tummies.  Take some bottled water with you so you can gently transition them over to the new supply. The 5L bottles from supermarkets are also useful. Seems silly doesn’t it, but I know when I visit the west country my hair turns into a ball of frizz….if it does that to hair….what does it do to their tums?


The big clean.

Household chemicals are highly toxic. Some give off fumes that can really impact their breathing. Please remove your dogs before cleaning and give it time to vent the property before returning.


New walks, yay!

  • No....not yay! Take it slowly. I know you are keen to explore and obviously it depends on your dog, but consider how they normally respond on walks from your home and in new places. Now is a great opportunity to change age old habits.  Its better to do short sniffy walks, and build confidence and desired behaviours right from the front door than do the age old ritual of being dragged down the road.


  • Suss out local freedom fields, they are a great way to let them blow off some steam safely whilst you explore.


  • Consider how different the environment is, if its quieter random noises may put them on alert.  If its busier you may need to start building confidence in the new environment. Don’t just assume they’ll be ok, even if they are bomb proof.  Its best to spend a little extra time now on making sure they are comfortable than needing to backtrack,


  • Remember after moving, keep the home reasonably quiet so they can diffuse. Think about how you may introduce visitors calmly without putting pressure on the dogs to make friends. Or if they get overexcited consider whether you want to calm the greetings down so they are quieter.


Random thought? Or maybe not so random.

CCTV or dog cams? It is always worth setting up camera's inside and outside of your property to monitor you dogs movements when you are not there. That way you can prevent and anticipate awkward conversations with your new neighbours. Go out for short periods and monitor them. Are they settling ok? Or are they barking? If the latter, seek help before you get a bigger problem. Similarly, watch the cctv in the garden - is it just the one off bark, or is it excessive? Be proactive about it, don't ignore it, do not let it become a problem thats hard to unpick. Take advantage of the new set up!


New beginnings


 It’s a fresh start, you have a blank slate…..take the time to build in all those shudda, wudda, cudda’s now!


I hope these tips have been helpful, feel free to add your own tips from your experiences.



Wishing you all the love, joy and happy memories in your new home with your dogs.

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