Getting Your Dog Used to a New Neighborhood

Springtime is when most families move to a new home. As the kids are making new friends, it’s nice for the neighbors to meet your dog, too, as part of your family.

On moving day, keep your dog in one room until the movers leave and you know all the doors and windows are closed. Then take him on a guided tour of the house and the backyard. Give him plenty of time to get used to the newness of everything.

Once he has become accustomed to his new living quarters, it’s a good time to take him on a leash out the front door for a front yard walk, complete with mailbox, so he can become familiar with the smells of his new furry neighbors who may have left their ‘calling cards.’ 

If you drive him around the neighborhood with the windows partially rolled down, he can smell the whole area. From this higher viewpoint in the car, it will also give him a better visual perspective of where he is in relation to other things. 

When taking your dog for walks around the new neighborhood, start by going in only one direction from your driveway every day, walking a little farther each time, until he has marked the territory and discovered where other dogs or cats have left their marks. He will learn where each of these creatures makes their rounds. 

You may meet other neighbors walking their pets. Keep a firm grip on your dog’s leash and keep the animals far enough apart so that neither feels as if his territory is being invaded. They will eventually become better at meeting one another on repeated walks. 

When you have completed that side of the neighborhood, take walks in the other direction. Here’s why: 

Studies have revealed that dogs build olfactory maps to find their way around, by relying on scents that overlap to create unique circles of combinations: “Oh, there’s the tree and the trash can and the house that cooks with lots of garlic, which is close to where the rabbits live…” and so on. Their elongated nasal cavity and special sensory cells within the nose help to amplify smells and add a layer of pheromone identification. Sometimes you’ll see them snort, blowing out of their nose to stir up the air to inhale a greater amount of information.

Also, research has revealed that although dogs primarily use their extraordinary sense of smell, like many wild animals they can sense where the magnetic north and south poles are, to help them to navigate magnetic fields in the earth, like a canine compass. It enables them to take shortcuts and still go in the right direction. 

Although it’s no substitute for a microchip, becoming familiar with the smells of other dogs, neighbors, and places in your new neighborhood can help to guide your pet back home if he should wander off. Individual odors eventually fade, but they will probably be repeated often in a neighborhood. You can also put old shoes with your own scent out on the doorstep to let him know that this is his family’s new home.

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.