How to Introduce Your Dog to a New Home

When we first brought our dog home, we were living in a rental duplex with a few roommates and another dog. We didn't have a yard, and because she and the other dog merely tolerated each other, she spent a lot of time with us either in our room or in the office. So when we bought our first house, where should could be the queen pup in charge, we had a lot of new training and preparation to do to introduce her to our new home.

As we all know, moving is a stressful time, and it can be as stressful for your pet as it is for you. Make sure you take time to get your pup comfortable with its new surroundings, so your dog will love your new home just as much as you do. Here, we've put together some key steps to take to make sure that your dog adjusts successfully to your new home.

Visit your new home before you move in

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You may not realize it, but your dog becomes very familiar with their home turf. They are hyper-aware of all of their local smells, sounds, and other details around your house. It's the reason that dogs have been known to find their way home from a long distance away.

You can help your pup adjust to a new area by making their future neighborhood feel familiar before you make a massive change. Take them to the area outside your new house and walk them around. If you can, bring your dog inside. The move will feel more like returning to somewhere familiar, rather than going to a totally new place.

Give them a tour of your new home

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If possible, bringing your dog inside and letting them sniff around a bit before it becomes their new home might also help them feel more comfortable. This probably isn't advisable if there are still strangers living there, if the current occupants have their own pets, or if your pup tends to have accidents inside. If showing them around isn't possible before you move in, make sure you do as soon as you get there. Keep them on their leash and walk them through the house. Let them sniff everything and make sure they get a solid exploration of the place. Having you there for their first tour will help comfort them and keep them out of trouble as they start to adjust.

Once you move, make your home as comfortable as possible with your pup's favorite things

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Obviously, when you move, you usually bring along all your dog's favorite things. But as soon as possible, get those favorite things out so your pup can settle in and feel comfortable in their new space. They'll feel more comfortable with some of their familiar smells around them.

You can make the new place even more enticing with some special treats or playtime with your pup. Offering a reward helps teach your dog's brain to create positive associations with something, and you want to create positive associations with the new space. Some pros, including the ASPCA and VCA Hospitals also recommend limiting your dog to a single room at first, so they can become comfortable and establish their territory. In our new house, we made our office at the front of our house our dog's room—we put her crate, her toys and her favorite blankets in there, so she could feel as much at home as possible. As your pup gets comfortable, slowly allow them to explore more and more, so they don't get too overwhelmed and get comfortable in their new digs.

Secure the backyard

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A recent study found that the millennial generation is house hunting in large part for their dogs, and one of the number one items on their list is outdoor space, for their treasured pup to run around. It makes sense, of course, because it's both convenient and considerate to give our pups a place where they can have free reign to run around, sniff and do their business. If you're lucky enough to find a home with a fenced in yard, however, you'll want to check a few things before letting them roam around.

If your dog has never had a yard before, then you might not know if or how they might try to escape. Carefully check the entire perimeter of your fence for anything that looks like a hole, a gap, or a place where an animal may have climbed in or out of. This includes behind or under any large plants and shrubs.

  • Keep an eye on your dog outside for awhile before letting them roam freely. Both you and your pup will need time to establish boundaries.
  • If you notice any escape attempts, like jumping, digging or chewing, take immediate measures to stop the behavior. You don't want escape attempts to become the habit.
  • Make sure the yard is a happy place. Play with toys, incorporate some treats and spend time with your pup, so they enjoy being outside.
  • Take note of your surroundings. Is there wildlife around? Other dogs? Outdoor cats that might come for a visit. Observe your area carefully, so you know how to anticipate things that might encourage your dog to try to get out.

Check the plants around the house

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When we moved into our new house, our dog was still relatively young, and full of the desire to explore and chew the world around her. And that included some of the foliage that made our backyard look so lovely. Worried that she might accidentally ingest something harmful, I started studying every plant we had to ensure we didn't have anything too toxic.

The ASPCA has an excellent database of plants that can be harmful to pets, and many of their entries have pictures, so those new to gardening can identify them. Obviously you know best whether your dog is likely to try and eat the various plants in your new yard, but it's best to err on the safe side and remove anything particularly toxic. Some of the most common poisonous plants include the Sago Palm, Azaleas, Aloe and Tulips.

Be patient

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Moving to a new home and getting used to a new routine take time, even for your dog. After a move, you may notice your dog misbehaving, including chewing, acting out and having accidents in the house. Try not to get upset with them and instead focus on continuing to help them adjust and learn that their new home is a happy, fun place.

When we moved to our new house, we decided to place our dog's crate in the office, rather than in our bedroom. It took several months of dedicated efforts to get her comfortable sleeping in another room away from us, but now she puts herself to bed when it gets too late. With lots of high-value treats and some patience, we showed her that her new house could be even better than her old house.

Establishing new routines and getting comfortable may take time and effort, but you and your pup will both reap the benefits of loving a new home that you create and snuggle in together.