Dear Doctor – Picking Up Stakes

Letter to Tufts Veterinarians


Q My 5-year-old Havanese has never known any home except our current one. We will be moving in about a year. What’s the best way to help her make the transition?
Rebecca Harrington
Abingdon, Virginia

Dear Ms. Harrington,
A It’s hard to answer your question precisely without knowing the specifics of your upcoming move. Will you be going from a house to an apartment or vice versa? From the suburbs to the city? Will your new home have more — or fewer — people? All of these can impact your dog’s adjustment to the new living circumstances. For instance, if you’re going from a home with a backyard to an apartment, his “bathroom” habits are going to have to change — as will your habits for allowing him to relieve himself.

To make the transition as smooth as possible, bring all his usual toys and other accouterments, whose familiar scents will bring him comfort. And walk him on leash at least a couple of times “until he knows the new terrain,” says Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, Director of our Animal Behavior Clinic.

But the biggest factor in the equation is you. He depends on you to feel loved and secure, and if you continue to care for him as you obviously do by asking this question, he will be okay — even if day-to-day life changes significantly. Note that most dogs, even anxious ones, take changes in habitat in stride as long as their owner makes sure to build fun and together time into the day.


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