What to Do If Your Dog Has Trouble Adjusting to Home Life

March 12, 2020
Whether you've just move house, or you've recently adopted a new pet, dogs can often have trouble adjusting to a new environment. Read on to find out what to do.

When a dog has trouble adjusting to its new home, your family somehow feels incomplete. But instead of scolding your dog or resorting to other methods, we would like to help you understand the reasons why dogs often struggle to adapt to a new environment, and how you can help. With patience and dedication, your new best friend will soon feel right at home.

Adjustment problems in dogs

It’s common for us to hear about adjustment problems in both puppies and adult dogs. Generally, however, what we consider a problem is actually just a simple transition period.

Let’s try and see things from their point of view for a minute. If even we humans sometimes have trouble adjusting after a move or a big change in our lives – bearing in mind it’s usually something that we’ve chosen and understand – imagine how overwhelming it must be for our pets.

A bulldog puppy.

Dogs like sticking to a set routine. This includes their home environment. When faced with a massive change in their surroundings, it’s normal for our pets to miss their old home, and to need time to get used to their new life. After all, the same goes for us.

During this transition period, it’s normal for dogs to experience anxiety, hyperactivity or depression. They may try to find ways to relieve their pent up tension, such as chewing clothes, shoes, furniture and any objects they can get their teeth on. Some animals may even develop obsessive-compulsive behavior, or resort to self-mutilation.

What to do if your dog has trouble adjusting to its new home

If your dog seems to be having trouble adjusting to its new home, you’ll probably be asking yourself this question over and over. Is there a way to help our four-legged friends get through this transition period, and learn to deal with change positively?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. There are several things owners can do to help their pets get used to their new homes. Take a look at the tips below:

5 top tips to help your dog adapt to its new home

1. Patience: it takes time to adjust

This might seem pretty simple, but it really is the most important piece of advice we can give you. The first thing you need to understand is that it takes time to adjust. It’s essential to be patient and respect that your pet needs time and space.

2. What to do if your dog has trouble adjusting – present the move as something positive

Dogs are very sensitive, and can quickly sense our moods and emotions. How often do our dogs come to comfort us when we feel sad, without us uttering a single word?

We often see moving house as something annoying and stressful. We let our dogs see our bad mood and negative emotions without even realizing it. They recognize these changes in our behavior, and can quickly become suspicious, anxious, sad, and even aggressive. It’s very important that we learn to control our emotions, and present the move as something positive.

3. Take them to visit the new house before you move in

If moving day is almost upon you, the best thing to do is take your dog to their new home a few times before you move in permanently. This helps them adapt gradually to their new environment, and you’ll be able to avoid a sudden change in their routine.

We’d recommend making visits to the property and the surrounding area regularly for one or two weeks before you move in, so that your dog learns to recognize it. It could also be a good idea to take some toys, a blanket and other familiar objects that can help them feel at home in their new environment.

4. What to do if your dog has trouble adjusting – prepare a special space for your dog

Your dog will feel more at home if it discovers that it has its own private space dedicated to comfort and fun. Having their own safe space can also make it easier for them to adjust.

A girl hugging a Golden Retriever.

We would recommend setting aside a reasonably large space where your dog can find its bed, toys, food and water. This will be the place where they’ll feel comfortable enough to play, rest, and take refuge from the outside world.

5. Rule out any possible health issues

In many cases, changes in our pets’ behavior can be a sign of health issues. Depression, lethargy or lack of interest can be symptoms of a number of different conditions.

If your dog shows signs of behavioral problems, loss of appetite or fatigue, it’s important to take it to the vet to rule out any possible underlying health problems. It’s also essential that you make sure your pet receives appropriate preventative medicine throughout its life, such as vaccinations and anti-parasitic treatment.

If your dog has trouble adjusting to its new home and you don’t have much time to help them adapt, the best thing to do is ask for help from a professional. There are many trainers and animal behaviorists out there who will be able to help your four-legged friend.