I know moving is stressful, but I didn’t know how stressful it is for dogs until Phoebe had a little “nervous breakdown”.
When we got the bright idea to move across country I did not even consider the possibility of needing a Phoebe anti-stress plan. By the time I figured it out Phoebe had gone through quite a bit of unnecessary stress.
When we first started packing everything seemed status quo and then Phoebe started showing some signs of stress when we were about half way packed. There were boxes everywhere and walking through the house was like walking through a maze. Her stress moved into high gear when there was no longer room to pass each other in the hall. Phoebe would be half way down the hall and I would come whizzing out of my room. This left her with no options other than getting run over or back stepping to where she started. Neither option was good. When training, that little back step maneuver is used to show your dog who is boss. For day to day life it can make them cuckoo.
We left her crate and three of her favorite beds in place among the piles of boxes. They were obviously the places where she felt most safe, since that is where she hid out alot more than usual.
Just as the moving flurry peaked, my father got ill. We needed to spend time with him, which meant that Phoebe was left home alone more often than usual. Not just home alone, but home alone with clutter overload. It got to the point where she would start whining and yelping whenever we headed towards the front door. She probably would have hurtled at our feet begging us to stay if she was able.
As moving day approached Phoebe spent a fair portion of each day panting, whining and wandering. She just wouldn’t settle down. We took her to the vet for a check up before moving. I told the vet about Phoebe’s behavior plus what lied ahead for us – a temporary layover at my father’s house, a five or six day drive across country, including a different hotel each night. The vet was concerned and after weighing our options, we decided that some Valuim was in order. Our vet – I mean former vet – is not a big fan of dishing out mind altering drugs, but the circumstances seemed to warrant it.
As soon as we got home we gave Phoebe a dose of Valium and about an hour later she started to chill out a little. She was still showing signs of stress, but was less frantic. Keep in mind that Valium is not a magical cure for stress. All it does is help to get over the hump while you change the underlying issue.
We had to make a few changes in our behavior like taking breaks from running around non stop. We were in a whirlwind, never seeming to stop and since Phoebe is a velcro dog she never stopped either. We had to make a conscious effort to spend some time just chilling out with our pup. I must say that it helped all of us.
Once I honed in on the need for peace and quiet, I decided to keep Phoebe away from moving day commotion and took her to my dad’s house the day before the movers arrived. I stayed there with her, thus alleviating stress from her chronic issue with separation anxiety.
I had packed her favorite bedding and toys and gave her a dose of Valium before we left. That is another thing to keep in mind about Valium. It works if you use it before a stressful event. It is not much help after the wheel is spinning.
When I got to my dad’s I put Phoebe’s things in different places around his house. I did not give her any more Valium and she managed to settle in within a day. With no boxes and no commotion she did just fine. That was enough to prove my theory, which is: the act of moving from one place to another will likely stress out your dog, but all the activities leading up to the move can make them crazy.