Adjusting to New Environment. Different Routines. Time Alone.
It seems Kirie is finding adjusting to her new life a bit hard. They moved house two months ago.
The seven-year-old Springer Labrador is the sweetest, most gentle dog. It distresses them to see her worried.
One change she finds it hard adjusting to is no longer being able to follow the young couple and their toddler freely around the house. Previously they had lived on one floor. Now they don’t want her upstairs and have gated the stairs.
At the same time as they moved house a couple of months ago, the young lady went back to work. Now they leave Kirie alone for a few hours a couple of days a week.
Things not always what they seem
While left alone she has started scratching the front door frame. The other day, as the young lady walked up the garden path, she could hear her howling.
I ask questions. It seems the days when they have actually heard howling have been the same days when mail has come through the door. Possibly her panic is triggered by the postman? She is perfectly happy and relaxed when they leave her. We need a video.
An outside mailbox, some ‘dog’ music when they are out along with with some basic behaviour work around their comings and goings may be all that is needed. We will see.
There is another new behaviour that shows she’s not adjusting well to their new environment. This is on walks. At certain times she will now freeze at the start of walks. She is happy to leave the house but a few yards on she literally digs her heels in.
It’s easy to jump to conclusions. It’s easy to assume that her freezing early on walks is for the same reason each time. However, there are inconsistencies.
Putting the anchors on on her afternoon walk with the young lady and baby is usually when en-route to the best field. From the tail between her legs when she stops, she looks scared. She has heard a gunshot bang previously on this route and it’s probably contaminated the area.
They will now ‘lace’ this spot where she freezes with food, while letting her decide whether she wants to walk on or go in another direction. No pressure.
The young man walks her before work each morning. She is happy to keep walking. She is fine on these early morning weekday walks. She only refuses to walk on the weekend mornings when they take her out a couple of hours later.
It’s easy to assume freezing on weekend mornings is also because something scares her – but I wonder.
Could it be not so much that she doesn’t want to walk as she simply wants to be at home? Breakfast is a fun daily ritual that ends with a dental chew. They give her breakfast after her morning walk. In the weekend, being an hour or two later, could she simply be hungry and wanting her breakfast?
I suggest feeding her some of her breakfast before they leave in the morning and the rest while out on the walk, and see what happens.
Adjusting to different walks
While adjusting to different walks she has become a bit unpredictable with other dogs. She was previously fine when meeting her regular dog friends.
I advise that they no longer let her go up to every dog they meet, particularly when the young lady is pushing the buggy. She will teach Kirie to give her attention as they pass a dog. She will keep moving, be encouraging, use food and arc rather than approach directly.
In the open they will train her to the whistle and use a long line for now, whistling her back whenever they see a dog. Then they can then decide whether it’s a dog to meet and play with, or not.
Back to her old happy self
The aim is just for Kirie, adjusting to her new environment, to again be her old, happy, unworried self.
In order to help her, why not sometimes take her by car to that ‘best’ field? She can then run free, away from too many new dogs in the nearer park and without having to negotiate an area that spooks her.
They have only moved a few miles, so why not also sometimes drive her back to the old field she used to love? She can meet and play with the dogs she knows, as she has for the past five years. That will be a tonic for her, I’m sure.