What happens when “my dog and me” becomes “my dog and us”? When we came across this question in one of our dog groups, we knew we had to address it. Check it out, then read on for our favorite tips on how to help your dog adjust to your new family dynamic.
Hi! I’ve had my chi for 3 years, since she was old enough to adopt. We’ve lived alone for the past 2 years. I’m moving soon in with family, where there will be more people and other animals for her to play with. She is rather anxious and takes a long time to warm up to people. What is the best way I can make this transition as easy as possible for her? Should I avoid leaving the house the first few days in order to make her feel as secure as possible? Or does that hurt the process? She’s my first dog and I try my hardest to do what’s best for her. Thank you!
It’s not unusual these days for people to live on their own. Many people who live alone choose to get a dog or other pet for companionship, and over the years, they create an unshakable bond and routines that are uniquely theirs.
So what happens when it’s no longer just the two of you? As you read above, one of our readers adopted her Chihuahua 3 years ago as a puppy, and they’ve lived alone for the last 2 years. Soon, our reader and her dog will be moving in with family, adding both other people and other pets to the mix. How can she make the transition as easy as possible for her beloved dog? Let’s find out!
How to transition smoothing from “dog and me” to “dog and us”
Each dog is different, and there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy that will work every time you’re going from a “my dog and me” family to a “my dog and us family,” but these tips should get you started on the right track.
- Don’t wait until the move to integrate. Regardless of whether someone is coming to live with you or you’re going to live with someone else, make sure that the people and pets who will soon be living with you and your dog spend plenty of time with you in your current home. Allow your dog to become comfortable with the people and pets on her own turf before things change.
- If you’re moving, spend time with your dog at the new location (if possible). The less your pup has to deal with the fear of the unknown, the easier he will be able to roll with it when it comes time to move. If you’re moving to a new apartment building or house and cannot get into the building itself, take walks around the new neighborhood. Allow your dog to become familiar with the smells and sights of what will become her home.
- Once the move has taken place, make sure each pet has their own space. Regardless of whether you welcomed new roommates into your current home or you moved somewhere else, it’s important that your dog and any other pets have a space that is just for them. Whether that’s a crate, a corner of the living room, or a blanket on the floor of the bedroom, your dog needs to know that there is an area that is hers.
- Give plenty of time and attention. Our reader asked if she should stay home for the first few days after the move or if that would make the transition worse, and I’m very much of the opinion that when making changes for your dog, he needs you. He is scared and unsure, and you are his constant. You obviously need to live your life and cannot spend every moment with your dog, but play with him as much as you can and keep routines that are just for the two of you (perhaps his daily walks).
- See what happens when you leave. Put precautions in place so that if your dog is aggressive while you’re gone, the other pets and people can be safe (a crate, for example), but see what happens when you leave for a short errand. We dog-sit my cousin’s dogs once a year, and his dogs don’t get along with mine – until he and his wife leave. Then, the dogs are all fine and we have a good time together. Their dogs are territorial of my cousin and his wife, and if my dogs go near their people, it’s war. When the people are taken out of the equation, everything shifts. You may find your dog is the same way.
While it may take some time for your dog and you to adjust to your new normal, you will. Who knows, for our reader, perhaps having other animals to play with will be just what your Chihuahua needs!