Moving is stressful.
But imagine seeing the person you depend on suffering from that level of stress, feeling their angst on top of your own fear, being taken to a strange place, and not knowing what’s going on.
Welcome to your dog’s world.
We moved less than a year after adopting Rico and Roxy. Since someone asked for a few tips, I figured I’d share a few things I did that seemed to ease their pain (and mine):
Check in with yourself and your pets.
The second you realize you feel frazzled, freeze. Take three slow, deep breaths, count to eight for both the inhale and the exhale. Gather up your dogs, go into a different room, sit on the floor, and pet or play with them for a few minutes. Focus exclusively on how they feel, smell, sound, and look. Don’t think about anything else. Be fully present with them. You’ll reassure them of their place in your world. And checking in like this in the midst of a stressful event reminds you of the bigger picture—there’s more to life than this move. Bonus: It’ll make getting them to come to you easier in the future, too.
Walk, walk, walk.
Even if it’s nothing more than a five minute sniffing stroll, the routine of getting outside together will help you reconnect to each other and get some fresh air. It might burn some nervous energy in both of you. Or it might just be a chance to meditate in motion.
Keep it together.
We packed all of Rico and Roxy’s belongings in one box. That was the first box to enter the new house. One of us walked them around outside while the other set up their beds in the room where they would be sleeping. We took them straight to that room, gave them peanut butter and popcorn-stuffed kongs, turned up the volume on the radio to drown out the commotion, shut the door, and got down to unloading trucks.
Introduce the rest of the house.
While they were in their room, I periodically checked on Rico and Roxy to show them some love (and forget about the disaster zone downstairs). But we didn’t let them explore the rest of the house until we had familiar furniture in place. First, we took them straight back out and walked the entire neighborhood to, well, drain more than energy. Because by then, they were a hot mess on leash. Then I followed them as they explored the house, just to be on the safe side. Had I been less confident in them, I would have leashed them up. As it were, it didn’t take Rico long to find the sofa.
The best thing you can do for your dogs in any situation is stay calm yourself. You won’t fall behind by taking five minutes to decompress with your pet. You might think you can get a lot done in that amount of time, but really, that’s five minutes you would have been staring at boxes wondering what to do next. De-stressing is a much better use of time, don’t you think? I’d bet your dog thinks so.
Thanks for stopping by!