A Dog Trainer's Guide to Acclimating your Dog to a New Apartment
Moving could be very stressful for us humans. And most of the time, we don’t even think how stressful it can be for our four-legged friends. We are mentally prepared for a change. They, on the other hand, have no idea what is happening. Parents are stressed, boxes everywhere, strange people coming into a home to move familiar items inside, including the furniture! It seems like their world is turning upside down for a little bit, especially being put in a new environment. But not to worry, we have a list of ways to make this transition as smooth as possible!
Have a plan for your dog for the move-in day
Even for a happy-go-lucky dog, movers could look pretty scary and intimidating. Having new people come inside moving furniture and boxes around can confuse your pup. The movers are on a mission to help you get your furniture inside and can make your dog nervous with all the commotion happening. We recommend utilizing the help of the village, who can watch your dog for a day: a friend, family, or neighbors if you are staying local. If this is not an option, consider setting up a safe space for your dog within the apartment. If your dog is crate trained, put his crate in a quiet room or even a bathroom and close the door. You can cover a crate with a blanket if the above options are not viable, it will silence the commotion and can calm your pup down.
Remedies to calm move-in day anxiety
If your dog is anxious, consider over-the-counter remedies like CBD oil, CBD treats, ADAPTIL products (collar, diffuser, spray). Suppose you do not prefer over-the-counter remedies; we recommend using thunder shirts. They are fantastic at helping your pup lower their anxiety! Think of it as a weighted blanket or a big hug. And if you live in a Bark Building, you're in for luck as residents get 25% off all PetReleaf CBD products through our resident Perks page on your dashboard. Remember to always consult with your vet when providing any over-the-counter remedies.
Bring familiar items with you
Sometimes when we move, we want to start fresh. However, do not be so fast to throw out your pup’s favorite bed, even if it looks like swiss cheese. Does your pup have a favorite blanket or a couple of toys? We understand the urge to get everything new, but bringing a familiar scent to a new home is essential. Dogs perceive their world through their powerful noses. Fun fact, dogs have about 300 million olfactory receptors vs. only 6 million for humans. So having familiar smells will make them less stressed in a new home.
Stick to the same routine
Being in a new environment is already a change they need to adjust to. To make it easier for them, make sure you stick to the same routine to help them settle into their new home. For example, keep the water and food bowls in a similar spot as at your old home and try to keep their bed in a similar area. Also, make sure to continue walking and feeding your dog at the schedule they are used to. The goal is to minimize the number of sudden changes!
Do not rush to leave them alone
If you are already working from home, great! But what if you need to head back to the office the next day after the move? It is not uncommon for some dogs to start showing signs of separation anxiety in a new home. We recommend taking a few days off so you can snuggle in a new apartment and reassure your pup that you are always there for him. Get some new fun toys, think about mental activities, and your dog will settle in so much quicker! Consider making a search party by dumping your dog’s toys in the box and sprinkling his breakfast, lunch or dinner on top. And watch them have fun sniffing through the toys looking for every piece of kibble. You can also fill up empty egg cartons with your pup’s meal, close and let them do their thing. Do they want to shred it? Cool! Is your dog more of a roll and toss sort of guy? Amazing! Is he a more sophisticated doggie who tries to open it using his teeth and paw! Awesome! After all, it is THEIR mental enrichment! Remember, whenever introducing a new enrichment activity/toy, always supervise!
Go out and explore!
Go out and have some fun exploring the new neighborhood. Visit local pet-friendly coffee shops, stores, parks and even bars. Please make sure you let your dog sniff as much as they want. This way, they can also familiarize themselves with the scents of other neighborhood dogs. Every day you can explore a different block or a street. And if you’re new to the city and need help adjusting your dog to city life, check out our blog here with helpful tips to make the transition to city life a bit easier!
Make new friends
Friends are a vital part of our lives and the same goes for our dogs! Their friends can boost their confidence and help them settle down faster in new, unfamiliar places. Sometimes a simple hello and a smile to a neighbor next door can lead to an amazing life-lasting friendship. If your dog is friendly, check out the nearest local dog parks. Local dog-friendly bars and coffee shops are great places to meet new people who love dogs! Also, check out our blog on Socializing Your Dog Within your Apartment Building for tips, as you will be sure to meet many new friends in your new apartment! And if you live in a Bark Building, your Community Microsite is a great way to see what other pups live in the building!
We hope these tips make it easier for your pup to adjust to the new apartment! If you’re living in a Bark Building, you can reach out to your Pet Concierge for more specific tips, get parenting guidance, and check out our vetted service providers to help you find local vets and services. Your building microsite page is a great place to start if you’re new to the area and need help with anything dog-related! We’re happy to help you adjust to your new apartment building.
Vera Murri is the founder of Dog Life Hoboken. Dog Life Hoboken is a force free, positive reinforcement dog training company, proudly serving Hoboken, JC and neighboring towns since 2015. Their focus is puppy training, training for expecting families and basic manners.