A Word About Yards
Although a yard is something many of us may never have the luxury of experiencing, as dog parents, we all crave being able to offer it to our dogs. Here’s the deal though. Although it is wonderful to be able to provide our dogs with the opportunity to safely stretch their legs and offer some freedom, many people have the wrong impression of what the benefits (and cons) are.
- Your dog can have safe off-leash time
- You can provide an additional level of stimulation
- Many dogs will not self-exercise or self-entertain. Although some dogs may amuse themselves in approved activities and burn off steam, this is not the case with many dogs if they are left on their own.
- There is a risk of your dog developing habits you don’t want unless they are supervised (digging inappropriately, boredom barking…)
- It is not ideal to leave your dog unattended in a yard.
* Electric fencing is not recommended.
Getting Used to Things
If you haven’t been able to prepare your dog for some or all of the novel things in the new environment, then you will need to do that now that you are in the home.
To minimize stress and reduce the likelihood of inappropriate or dangerous behaviour, your dog must be managed so that they do not have unsupervised access to these things. Because most of the house should be off-limits to start with anyway, this will be made easier. When you are able, you can gently introduce these things through conditioning, building positive associations and teaching new habits.
Leaving Your Dog On Their Own
While your dog is getting settled into their new home, it is advisable that they not be left alone. Ideally have at least one person present at all times. If this is not possible, then it is best if you take your dog with you out of the house, if appropriate.
Once your dog is showing signs that they are getting settled in, you can begin to move about the house so they can gently prepare for being on their own. Do not be in a rush to do this. When they are ready, you can:
- begin going into the yard without them for short periods
- begin leaving the property for short periods
- lengthen the time you do these things gradually and carefully
Getting Used to The Neighbourhood
Introducing your dog to the new neighbourhood should be done with similar care as you are doing in the home. Keep things simple and low-key in the beginning.
Spending supervised time in the yard playing scenting games and doing conditioning to get them used to nearby dogs, kids and other distractions will be time well spent.
Go out for short walks and be sure to take treats with you to socialize to all the new sights, sounds and smells. Incorporate fun training and other enjoyable activities, including sniffaris to create a positive experience.
If possible, take them to old favourite spots to offer some consistency and carefree fun.
Take it easy on your dog as the stress of the move can impact their behaviour and change their responses to things that might not normally be an issue.
I hope this series has provided a helpful overview to assist you in making a plan and doing some preparation for your upcoming move, make moving day a bit easier and help your dog in their new life. Incorporating a combination of management, conditioning and care will assist in making the transition into your new home as smooth and comfortable as possible for both you and your dog. Good luck!