The Georgia Shih Tzu

Calmer Relocating

shih tzu outline
Moving with Your Dog
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2016
Moving Day is stressful enough for the bulk of the population, but it can be even harder trying to help your dog through the transition. If you have never moved before you may not realize that relocating is a big deal for a dog that has become comfortable in their current environment. They see your home as their safe haven and a place that is constant and unchanging. Even if you move furniture or remodel, there is always a part of your home that smells the same in the midst of change and, therefore, familiar. If you have moved with your dog in the past you may have already experienced many of the problems that we all could face. So lets get one thing straight- moving is stressful. It will not be otherwise and you will always be worried or upset at the consequences of not considering your dog's side of the picture. How to make this transition easier is the real question. Understand now, that there is no promise, no method, no consideration that will make the move easy and low stress. IT"S MOVING! Of course, it is stressful and there is just no way around that, but you can avoid having a sick dog, one that attacks the movers or the friends that come to help, or one that destroys your property before you have time to pack it. Then you want to avoid the constant barking and whining, peeing everywhere- despite the fact he has been potty trained the entire time-, or the lethargy. This last one is the scariest. In my opinion, there is nothing worse then running around trying to be sure all is packed, not likely to break and going where it is intended to go and then you focus on your dog and they are lying there, un-answering and breathing shallowly. So, lets try to avoid making this any harder than it needs to be. Keep in mind that all these ideas are just that, ideas. Every dog is different having been raised in different conditions and under different circumstances. With that , and if not then please feel free to drop me a line and add your own ideas and thoughts. All are welcome.
  • Use a Crate~ Lets face it, I am just going to keep saying this over and over again. A crate that is made for your dog and lined with his comfort in mind is going to provide him with a permanent and safe place to go in times of stress; AKA- moving. I can understand this method not working if you have never allowed your dog to see the inside of the crate, but if there is time and your dog is not upset just by seeing the crate it is a good idea to have one lined with a soft blanket, dishes hanging from the sides, ready toys and an open door inviting them in to find solace or allowing them to join you in running around your home in a frenzy. When the stress becomes to much to handle the portable comfort zone can be moved to a quieter room or covered with a blanket or sheet to block out the stress and bring much needed peace. Now, don't you just wish such a place were readily available for you? Yeah, that would be nice.
  • Play Soft Music~ Music is the language of every emotion we are capable of. Keeping the sounds of quiet music from any genre you prefer swelling through the room will not only help your frazzled nerves, but those of your dog as well. Take advantage of the soothing comfort of soft rock, instrumental, quiet folk music, or any other type you can imagine. This is where great sites like Pandora and Spotify come in and dominate the mood with the ability to choose by artist or genre and ensure you are only hearing what will calm and refresh you without unwanted beats and lyrics slipping in to upset your new comfort zone.
  • Have Corn Syrup Ready~ You may very laugh when you realize this simple product has the same effects for your dog as chocolate or ice cream does for you, but there is no superior way to ensure the sugar levels of your sweet companion are quickly lifted when lost due to the strain. Even when open it has a pretty long shelf life and works in moments. If it takes longer you have been neglecting your dog and not paying close enough attention. As I have said before, having a Shih Tzu is like having a child (or another child in many families) and must be monitored as one
  • Allow for Together Time~ I do not mean checking in now and again to be sure nothing dangerous has happened, but I mean give your dog the time he has always been accustomed to before this great change started taking place. When you stop paying attention and their world is in the midst of change, they start to fear a bigger change then is really coming and will act out in many ways that could make moving that much worse. You also need to take regular breathers to keep from hurting yourself, so these moments should be shared with your dog, to help remind them they are not forgotten or abandoned and that you are still capable of keeping them safe and well cared for. A dog that does not believe you can properly care for its needs will stop obeying and take matters into its own paws.
  • Wear Familiar Clothes~ This may sound weird, but I have helped families move that do not do much dirty work so they throw on new or never worn clothing they don't mind ruining for times just like this. The same goes for those who had professionals doing the dirty work and the owners buy new clothes especially for the trip. Your body smells the same, but new or long packed clothing changes your smell and will intensify your dogs fear of too much change. Until you have unpacked your new home stick with familiar clothing that has a familiar smell so your dog has some sense of constancy.
  • Introduce the Movers~ This does not mean that everyone coming into your home has to pet, cuddle or talk to your dog, but he should have the opportunity to understand that you have invited these people into your home and you can vouch for their character- at least in the eyes of your dog. In other words, your dog needs to know that your home is still the safe place from strangers that it has always been and you are not just letting any Tom, Dick, and Harry to come in off the street now that you are moving. Try leashing your dog or using whatever routine is familiar to quickly introduce everyone coming into your home. It may slow you down or cause you to momentarily lose your groove, but it is better then having a sick dog or one that acts out in dominance.
  • Do Not Give Away your Dogs Things~ It is so easy to toss items you have no intention of moving, but be careful you don't toss anything belonging to your dog. I know it takes more time and boxes to move everything you may have purchased for your dog over time, but zI also know that getting rid of familiar playthings, clothes, bedding and utility items such as bowls and grooming tools can be way more stressful for your dog if you chuck it then it is stressful to pack yet another box. Even if you realize these items need to be replace now is not the time to replace them. Wait until you have moved and are settled in your new place before tossing and introducing new items. If you are lucky you have followed my advice on getting a new puppy or dog and have kept your purchases to a minimum.
  • Don't Make Changes~ Meaning do not change your dogs food, shampoo, detergent for cleaning his items, treats, etc. You have plenty of time to make changes later, now is certainly not the time.
  • Do Not Introduce any New Treats~ You may be thinking that you are not changing anything, just giving something new. A neighbor or friend knowing how close you are to your dog has brought over a new treat and expectantly waits for you to see if your dog appreciates the gift. Don't do it. This time of change is bad enough and your dog is likely suffering from a slightly queasy stomach. Introducing anything new of food value is a bad idea and leads to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and constipation. Just say, "thank you", and move on. There will be time to try out the gifts later.
  • Do Not Misinterpret Dog Emotions~ It is so easy for owners to believe their dog capable of human emotions, but this is a dangerous trap leading to bad behavior. Your dog is only capable of a handful of emotions and they are fear, excitement, enjoyment, shame, jealousy, curiosity, and grief (it is possible I am missing one). All those complicated emotions the human body exhibits are beyond the scope of your dogs abilities. Believing your dog feels guilty is misinterpreting the fear of being punished for an act of bad behavior. If you believe they feel guilty you might not be appropriating proper punishment which eventually leads to worse behavior and the need to retrain. I am sure the last thing you want added to your long "to do" list is retraining your dog.
  • Allow for Curiosity~ The first step to every move is bringing in moving boxes. These can be completely foreign items to your dog and may be the cause of some curiosity. If you do not want this curiosity evolving into fear as the move progresses be sure to allow your dog the chance to sniff at, paw at, climb into, push around, or tip over the first of many boxes. If you are worried about a costly box being ruined, then bring home a grocery store cast off that does not hold the same amount of value.
  • Speak in Happy Tones~ I realize this is a lot to ask. I am not saying that you need to put on a cheerful face at all times, just when you are interacting with your dog. When speaking to a well behaved dog be sure you are happy and energetic, making them aware that this is a good situation and one not to fear.
  • Don't Keep Him Underfoot~ There is nothing worse for your dog or everyone moving your things then allowing him to constantly be in a position to be stepped on, kicked, tripped over, yelled at, dropped on or pushed aside. You certainly don't want to create a dangerous environment or an unsecured on. Despite your dogs feelings, their safety must come first at all times. Doors left open are a death trap when vehicles are regularly in transit through your driveway or heavy boxes are being moved from place to place. Accept now that there will be times when your dog must be confined for his own safety and the safety of those helping you move (payed or otherwise). be prepared that many moving companies will insist that all pets be confined the entire time they are in your home. In this case the next tip would be most helpful.
  • Go for a Walk~ There is no better stress reliever then exercise. The leash and your tennis shoes should always be readily handy when the stress reaches a boiling point and quality, quiet time is needed. If you live alone and are having movers through your home, take the time to call in a favor with a friend and have them supervise while you and your most loyal companion spend some time outside together.
  • Accept the Need for Calming Agents~ There are many natural and chemical agents available for a dog that suffers from anxiety. This is highly recommended for those situations where there is, simply, no time to make exceptions for your dog. One move I endured was three days from start to finish, yes that means the packing. I won't go into the particulars, but it was the most stressful move I have every made and I am surprised non of my dogs or my cat was sick from the experience. If this is the case, and I was not so knowledgeable back then, you will need to take this option into consideration. Products like Comfort Zone, GNC Relax, and Pet-Ease are just a few of the readily available products in common pet supply stores all over the US. For non chemical relief there is Chamomile (given as a cooled tea), Lemon Balm (leaves minced and added to food), and Oatmeal (cooked and cooled also good for upset tummies) are just a few of the options available.