March 22, 2012
When a couple moves in together, it's not just the people who must adjust. If either partner has a dog, it's important to help a pet adjust to the combination of two households.
"Dogs have different personalities, and while some are excited to have new people in their lives, other pooches may need some time to adjust," says animal behaviorist Mary Burch, director of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen program. Burch offers tips on how to ease your dog's transition into married life:
Introductions are key. Consider your dog's personality when introducing her to a new love interest. Tailor the first meeting to what will make her most comfortable. And, the first meeting should be in a neutral space: For an outgoing dog, it could be a dog park, for a shy dog, perhaps a friend's backyard. Praise your dog when she interacts well with your future spouse and set aside several subsequent meetings before you combine households.
Discuss expectations. You and your spouse should discuss your dog's current routines. Will you share walking or feeding duties? If so, set up a schedule and stick to it so your dog's life remains consistent.
Continue working with your pooch. It's easy to get distracted by your own life adjustments, but Fido should remain a priority. Keep his schedule as consistent as possible, with walks or playtime at the same time daily. Your dog is likely to feel less stress if one-on-one time remains regular.
For more advice on raising a healthy, happy dog, visit the AKC website at akc.org.