When we move from one locale to another, one of our concerns is always learning the “lay of the land” and making new friends. The more foreign your new location, the more difficult this may be. When you move with your dog, she will have to learn new ways as well. Socializing your dog in a new setting requires viewing that setting from a four-legged perspective.
If you’re moving from a big city like London or Chicago to a more rural area, your dog will have plenty of new sights and sounds to explore. But she’s probably used to being under your control and looking to you for guidance whenever you’re out and about. You can easily teach her how to use a doggie door when she needs to go outside to do her business. And she’ll love being able to play with you (or by herself) if you have a fenced back yard.
But what if you’re moving from the country to the city? Successfully socializing your dog is going to take more advance planning.
Just how “country” is your dog? Suburban dogs may be used to semi-city conditions – at least some urban sounds, vehicle congestion and people. But they may not have any experience with a miniscule yard. Or living with no yard at all. Potty time and exercise will both require advance planning – especially if you’ll be living in a high-rise. If your pooch is pint-sized, finding dog parks or other places she can stretch her legs won’t be as critical as it would be for a bigger dog.
But exercise is vital for every dog’s health. Yours, too. So look at it this way – if you have to take your golden retriever for a brisk walk or run twice a day, you’ll be doing yourself a favor, too. If need be, find a dog walker you can rely on to help.
Is your dog used to running loose? She might be if she’s a true country girl. She’ll have to give that up. It’s too easy for her to get lost or hurt in the city. If your dog is used to a quiet, rural setting, she may become frightened or confused by the chaotic sounds and bustle of a city. Before you move, try taking her to places where she can gradually get used to more movement and noise. And consider the fact that if she is truly terrified, she may not be happy no matter how you try to help her adjust.
Is she used to having a long leash that allows maximum exploring while still under your control? She may have to give that up, too. Crowded sidewalks are places where it’s easy to get tangled up. Some cities around the world specify maximum leash length – usually not more than six feet, though you may prefer even less.
In fact, you may want to retrain your pup from heeling at your side to walking in front of you. Single-file helps when it’s crowded, and you can stop her from picking up anything undesirable (to you). If she hasn’t mastered the command “leave it,” now is a good time to start on that. You can also keep your newly-urban dog safer by teaching her to sit any time you stop walking. That way, she won’t step in front of a car or cyclist while you’re waiting for the light to change.
Remember that not everyone is as excited to meet your dog as she may be to meet them. Some people are afraid of dogs. And in some cultures, dogs are considered inherently dirty. So follow Rule #1 for socializing your dog: never allow her to approach another person, or their dog, without first asking permission.
Research the rules in your new home
Learn the legal requirements for dog owners where you’re headed. Things like licensing, leash laws and where dogs are or are not allowed in public. Learn what is considered proper pet and pet owner etiquette there, too. One thing you can be sure of: scooping poop is universally appreciated. It’s the law in many places.
Country dog or city dog, good sense and good manners are welcome, all around the world. Start now to prepare your pup for her new life. And don’t forget her mental health. If she will be cooped up in an apartment during the day, she will want plenty of toys to keep her busy. After all, socializing your dog means helping her adjust to her indoor surroundings as well as outdoors. You don’t want her chewing or barking.