Settling your dog into a new routine

Settling your dog into a new routine
    Settling your dog into a new routine

    Settling your dog into a new routine
    From introducing a new baby to moving to a new house, our pets face the same life-altering changes as we do. Kylie Baracz discovers how you can ease your dog into a new routine.

    Dogs become family members for many years, with some reaching up to 20 years of age.
    It’s no surprise, then, that they face the same life changes and stages we go through. Like us, our pets rely on routine, and these life events can be a difficult transition for them to adapt to. Dog behaviorist Laura Vissaritis says it’s hard, but we can help.
    “If you think from our pets’ perspective, this world is unpredictable and they have very little control over it. So a life that has patterns and expectations can be a great relief for them,” says Laura. “Any change to this can affect their mental health and behavior. Moving to a new house, bringing home a baby or a new animal are changes that our pets are unable to understand if we don’t help them a little along the way.”

    To ease our pets into a new routine, Laura suggests owners provide consistent access to a safe place in the house which is only for the pet. It should be inside if possible and where they choose to sleep. This way it can remain as the place they feel comfortable and will provide a positive experience during the change. “Ensure your pet’s routine remains as it was and that any changes are positive,” says Laura. “Always try to think from their perspective and understand that you have the power to create either a positive association or a very negative one, depending on the experience you provide
    for your pet.”

    Sometimes your dog will still struggle to adapt to a new situation, even after helping him through the transition. Laura suggests getting in touch with your vet or an animal behaviorist if this occurs.
    “Always seek advice if your dog is unable to adapt for more than one month.
    It is important to recognize the little signs before they become more difficult to manage,” says Laura. “Often allowing your dog inside is a wonderful quick fix and I believe all dogs can be trained easily to be well behaved inside the house. Many of these nuisance behaviors stem from some form of worry or discomfort, so allowing dogs to be with the family can often alleviate this.”

    George, a little Cairn x Fox Terrier, found his new home with owners Michael and Margaret after his elderly owner could no longer take care of him. Now into his senior years, and although still very sprightly, it took him some time to adjust to a new way of life.
    “George came to us with no real training,” says Michael. “Despite his size, he can jump up quite high and he doesn’t yet know how to sit on cue.”
    Before little George found his new forever home, he stayed in a foster home with other dogs. So when he arrived in his new owners’ quiet townhouse, it was in stark contrast to what he was used to.
    “Whenever we walked him around the neighborhood, he would get excited and whimper when he saw other dogs. We weren’t sure if it was because he missed being with them or if it reminded him of where he used to live,” says Michael.
    To provide an easy transition, George’s owners kept his old crate for a place he could escape into if he felt scared or unsure. They also took some time training him to sit and stop jumping up on people.
    “The hardest part was to get him to use the doggy door,” says Michael. “It took him quite a few weeks to master it and, even now, he’s still a little unsure.” Other problems they found were that he took a while to eat food out of a bowl,
    had a few accidents in the house, and was initially more comfortable outside. “He had a few accidents inside the house over the first few days,” says Michael. “We would let him outside often to make sure he went until he mastered the doggy door. Now he just goes outside when he wants to.”
    Although George was used to being an outside dog, he took quickly to his new bed in the house. He even became used to being inside and wouldn’t let Michael or Margaret leave him outside when they were out. “Even though he was happy outside in the beginning, he quickly warmed up to us and the comfort of inside.
    Now he has free rein of the house, including the doggy door when we leave so he can feel comfortable and safe,” says Michael.
    Adopting an older dog was an adjustment for George’s new owners too.
    It had been a year since they had a pet to look after. “He’s very different to the dog we had in the past, so it was an adjustment for us too,” says Michael. “It may have taken some time to make him at  home, and its still an ongoing process, but he’s definitely grown accustomed to my lap.”
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