Introducing New Changes to Your Dog

Preparing your dog for upheaval makes for a smooth transition.

By | Posted: Mon Nov 4 00:00:00 PST 2002

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Jacque Schultz, director of Companion Animal Services for the ASPCA in New York, said a new relationship can be a bigger issue with dominant dogs.

"A dominant dog can take the attitude of 'This is my wench, and this is the only one who shares my bed or my couch,'" Schultz said. "Both members of the relationship have to make it clear they're the leaders."

Depending on your dog's degree of socialization, a new pet can have as much impact on your dog as a new relationship. If you sense reluctance from your dog, try keeping the animals separated, gradually introducing them to each other over several weeks.

In the case of a move, if you're going from a farm to an urban area or a house to an apartment, tape the new sounds your pet may be hearing and play them a few weeks before you move. Play them when the dog's most likely to be having a good time: during grooming, playing or eating.

And if a move means you'll have to add time to your work commute, incorporate that into the dog's daily routine before it happens so it's not coping with a new schedule as well as a new environment.

When Newman moved in the fall to her new home a few miles away, Sky and Shadow reacted differently.

"Sky went through a phase where he was aggressive with his new neighborhood dogs," she said.

She consulted a trainer, who suggested she keep him out of situations where he felt cornered and praise him when he wasn't growling. Shadow, on the other hand, became clingy. The trainer suggested Newman leave the house for short periods, then return, so he would be confident she would return.

Animal behaviorists seem to agree one of the best ways to comfort your dog during a transition is to provide structure and to get the animal's mind off the situation.

"Give it some things it can expect and depend on," Hunthausen said.

For instance, if your daughter is going away to college and your dog depended on her for food, exercise and companionship, have someone else gradually move into that role before she's gone.

Schultz said although an older child going away to school isn't the number-one stress-provoking change, younger and older dogs may experience house-training repercussionsthey get nervousor a decrease in exercise or stimulation.

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