Moving house is both one of the most exciting and most stressful life events out there. There is so much to think about – movers, furniture, finances, utilities – but what about your dog? This life event is a big change for them too, particularly if your old home is the only one they have ever lived in.
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Updating your dog’s microchip
First thing’s first – some admin to get out of the way! When you move house, you will need to change the registered details on your dog’s microchip. So that if your dog were to go missing, the chip could be used to successfully reunite you with them. Unfortunately, there are cases every day of dogs being found where the microchip details are out of date. This makes it very difficult to contact the owners. This is now not only a practical matter but since 2016, also a legal requirement!
To do this, you need to contact the company that your dog’s microchip is registered with. If you don’t know who that is, try looking through your pet’s paperwork for a microchipping certificate. If you can’t find that, contact the vet who implanted the microchip. If that is not possible, you can contact any one of the microchip companies and give them your pets microchip number (again, you can find this on any paperwork such as a vaccination card or microchip certificate) and they should be able to tell you which company that chip is registered with. Once you are in contact with the company, they will be able to get the details all up to date for you. There may be a small charge for this.
Registering with a new vet
Secondly, if you are moving to a new area, you will need to think about registering at a new vet. It is worth getting this sorted in advance. When you register with a new vet they will need to request your dog’s medical notes from your previous vet before they can offer you an appointment. This can take several days, so getting registered in an urgent situation while your pet is ill can be very stressful and risk delaying your pet’s treatment. So don’t hang around, do your research and sign up. When it comes to choosing a new vet, consider speaking to anyone you already know in the new area to get recommendations from them. Of course, you can also check out the vet practice reviews on vethelpdirect.com!
It is worth thinking about what you want from a new vet practice. Do you value continuity of care, seeing the same vet every time and getting to know them well? If so, then a small practice with only one or two vets may be best for you. Do you want your veterinary surgery to have all the most up to date diagnostic equipment and be able to perform advanced procedures in-house so you don’t need to be referred to a specialist? If so, then larger practices are more likely to have that capability. Is it important that your veterinary surgery have out of hours care in-house, or do you mind having to travel elsewhere in an out of hours emergency? These are all things to consider, as well as the testimony of current clients.
If your dog has a history of being nervous at the vets, it may be a good idea to bring him there for some social visits when you first register. This will help him to adjust and ensure his first experience of the vets is not when he is ill. It should also help him associate the vets with a positive experience and reduce any nerves. Most vets will be very happy for you and your dog to visit reception, have a chat, maybe step on the weighing scales and have some treats from the lovely receptionists. If you do this several times, then your dog will think of the vet staff as friends, and will hopefully run in with his tail wagging for future visits!
In the run-up to moving day, whilst you may be packing up lots of your belongings in boxes and moving furniture – try not to move your dog’s things (like his bed, bowls and toys). Keep his environment consistent up until moving day. This will hopefully prevent him from getting too stressed about the upcoming changes. On moving day, your dog’s familiar items should be the last things you pack up and the first things you set up in the new house.
Ideally, when your dog arrives in the new house, his bed and other familiar items should already be set up in a nice, quiet area, away from too much of the hustle and bustle of unpacking. This is not the time to give his bed a wash or buy him a new bed. For now, he needs things to be familiar and to have all the old smells that he is used to.
On moving day, it can be a good idea to not have your dog around for most of the moving process. If you have a friend or family member who could take your dog out on a long walk or for a visit to their house for a few hours while you are doing the bulk of the moving, then that will keep him distracted and relaxed. Humans can find this bit quite stressful. Dogs can pick up on this and become stressed themselves; not to mention the confusion of seeing his familiar environment being dismantled.
A helping hand in calming your dog
DAP (dog appeasing pheromone), is a substance produced in the mammary glands of female dogs while they are lactating. It has an important role in calming puppies and making them feel secure and happy. It also has the same effect on adult dogs. A synthetic version of this pheromone is produced by CEVA and called “Adaptil”. This comes in the form of a diffuser, which you can plug into your home or a collar that your dog wears. If your dog is prone to experiencing stress in unfamiliar situations, then DAP may be one extra tool in your armoury to help him feel a bit more secure.
There are also several nutraceutical supplements on the market that claim to help with stress and anxiety. These usually contain herbal remedies such as skullcap and valerian, or milk proteins. In most cases, there is little concrete evidence that these supplements work, but they may help in some cases and certainly can’t do any harm, so if you think you would like to try something like that, speak to your vet who may be able to recommend one.
Adjusting to your new area
If your dog is wary of strangers, remember that every person he sees for the first few weeks in your new area will be unfamiliar, so he may be a bit unsure. Take things slowly and make sure that he has plenty of positive experiences. Take some treats with you and reward him when he reacts calmly to things. If you stop and talk to people, you can encourage them to give him treats too so he starts to associate people with nice things. Try not to overstimulate him initially. Keep walks short and sweet at first, especially if he is finding it overwhelming. It may be a good idea to keep him on the lead whilst out on walks for the first few weeks unless his recall is very reliable. He may be more likely to lose his bearings and get lost when he is in an unfamiliar place.
Moving house is stressful for everyone involved. But with the right preparation and a bit of patience, your dog can settle in just as well as you and quickly love his new home!
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