Moving is hard on everyone, including pets. A dog’s mood might shift dramatically during or after a move.
For people, there is the rush to get things done. There’s sadness for leaving the old memories behind. The excitement that a new environment brings. All this coupled with the work of packing. Moving is both emotionally and physically taxing. Given the craziness of the situation, it’s not uncommon for the needs of the family dog to become a lower priority.
So, it’s important to know how a dog may react to your move. It’s good to be prepared for your dog’s mood changes and any problems you may encounter when your dog is acclimating to your new home.
Why Your Dog’s Mood Changes
There are some key reasons that your dog’s mood may change during a move. One is that they are scared and anxious. They may uncharacteristically lash out or try to hide from everyone. They don’t understand they are safe. All they know is that their world is changing, and they don’t know why.
Dogs also read the emotions of their owners. People moving homes have a lot of feelings which may consolidate into stress. Dogs don’t see the world the same way we do. Dogs pick up on anxiety easily, and tend to duplicate it. A dog’s mood parallels their owner’s mood.
Another reason is dogs are simply overwhelmed. A lot happens all at once during a move. Dogs may not have enough time or the capability to process the sudden changes.
While these are normal reactions for a dog, they should not be long-term problems. If it seems like your dog never quite recovered from the move, it might be time to consider that your dog is suffering from depression.
Recognizing Signs of Depression In Your Dog
Dogs do not get depressed the same way people do. It is easy to mistake depression in dogs for another health condition. Long-term pain, aging, and even some diseases can share symptoms of depression in dogs. Some signs of depression in dogs are 1) decrease in appetite, 2) decrease in energy level, 3) inappropriate elimination, 4) withdrawing from people and other animals, 5) destructive behavior and 6) aggression.
If your dog’s mood changed from happy to sad, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be bouncing around the house like they normally do. For the same reason, they could withdraw from being around people or other animals.
Symptoms like aggression and loss in appetite are more complicated. Aggression can be hard to initially recognize if your animal is hiding. Owners who have a lazier dog may not notice a behavioral change until the worst happens and someone gets hurt. Loss in appetite can also be linked to disease and other health conditions.
Recognizing the signs of depression in your dog is important for a quick recovery and return to a happy & healthy well-being. However, it may be necessary to visit a veterinarian to find any underlying issues that may cause your dog further distress.
How To Deal With A Depressed Dog
Combat depression in your dog by understanding why they are depressed. While there are different views on how to address depression in your dog, identifying the specific problem jumpstarts the healing process.
Get your dog to eat. Besides their mood, a dog’s health is affected when they stop eating. Their energy level drops. They start to lose weight. Recovery is just that much harder. So, if your dog isn’t eating on their own, encourage them with hand-feeding. Another option is to add enticing foods to their bowls. Try some chopped lean meat, fish oil, or even peanut butter to make the meal more appetizing.
Let your dog explore their new home and the surrounding territory. This can be very beneficial. Your dog’s mood could change rapidly simply because they are afraid of the strange, new setting. Physically showing your dog the new house helps them feel more at home.
Exercise is incredibly important. Not only does it help your dog’s physical health, it is mentally stimulating. Exercise has an immediate happy effect on a dog’s mood. It may not be easy to do in the middle of a move, and that’s okay. You may be able to take your dog on short walks or throw a ball for 15 minutes. But, any exercise is good, it just needs to be consistent.
There are a few other things to do to help your dog’s mood improve if they are depressed, such as, 1) spend quality time with them, 2) provide mentally-stimulating toys and puzzles, and 3) let them socialize with people and other animals.
Ultimately, you know your dog best. Trust your instincts. You know what they like and what is most likely to get them in a good mood. All this can help them start to heal and adapt to their new environment.
Getting Back To Normal After A Move
Your new home is in chaos, boxes still need to be unpacked. This is the time to keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior. This may be when your dog is acting their most abnormal.
But, try to get back to your normal family routine as soon as possible. Same bed times, eating times, and waking times. The more relaxed you and your family are, the more comfortable your dog will be in your new home.
Ultimately, dogs vary in the quantity and intensity of symptoms they experience after a move. Likewise, the amount of recovery time needed is different for every dog. In general, it takes about a few weeks for a dog’s mood to get back to normal.
Always Be Aware Of Your Dog’s Mood
It goes without saying that we want the best quality of life for our dogs. So during and after a move, it is important to be on the lookout for any signs of mental distress in your dog. And when that last box is unpacked, make sure your dog visits their new veterinarian. All of this helps to ensure that your dog is comfortable and adapting well in your new home.
* * * * *
Robert Thomas, Guest Contributor
Robert Thomas is a professional dog trainer with over 20 years of experience. Since 2018, Robert has written about dog training for Dog Time, Wagwalking and CKUSA.
All images via Pexels.com