Help Your Dog Transition

How To Help Your Dog Transition Better When Moving Into A New Home… 

Moving is both stressful and tiring, not only for you and your family but also for your furry companion. Before, during and after a move, pets often feel disoriented and anxious, unsure of what is happening and whether they’ll be returning to their old, familiar surroundings. Problems may also happen when you foster a dog or puppy from a rescue shelter and move them into your loving home temporarily. 

If your pet is worried or anxious, they may exhibit the following symptoms: 

  • Panting or holding their breath
  • Drooling or trembling
  • Low activity levels
  • Trying to escape
  • Stomach issues or diarrhea

Luckily, there are some sure-fire ways that you can assuage your pet’s agitation and make their transit to a new home more pleasant.

  • Start slowly

The best thing you can do to transition your dog into his or her new home is to give them space. Let them explore the house or the backyard at their own pace. It is not unusual for dogs to be overwhelmed and a little standoffish at first. Dogs find security in familiarity; therefore it is recommended that you just let them take time on their own to sniff around and get used to their new surroundings.

If you just fostered a dog from our shelter or another rescue shelter, he is probably not used to a quiet environment as opposed to the noisiness and crowdedness of a shelter. It is likely at first that they may not be affectionate because of the stress of adapting to a new home, to new sounds and smells.

Try not to overstimulate your dog but observe their behavior in the first couple of days. There is also a chance that your new pooch is used to being around the volunteers at the shelter and needs time to re-adapt to you and your home. Try to be positive and calm around your buddy to make the experience more comfortable for them.

  • Keep old habits 

Dogs do best when they are in foster homes where they can be integrated into the household, and have a structured daily routine. Some come from sad situations and need extra TLC, and with these pups, it’s important to keep their routine similar to what they’re used to. 

If possible, try not to change a dog’s routine too much, whether it is their eating schedule, walking, playing or potty breaks. So, if your dog is used to eating wet food, try your best to ensure it stays that way for at least a couple of weeks. Similarly, if your dog has started being crate trained, we recommend you keep this up and use the cozy dog crate they are used to. 

When your pooch is used to their new surroundings and feels relaxed, you can start by making small necessary amends to their pattern of living. The whole point is to let your beloved friend know that they will continue to be looked after as they have been at the shelter.

  • Know that stomach issues are normal

Diarrhea is a common side effect when an anxious dog goes through the stress of a big move or if you change their dietary plan. It’s important to stick to the same brand or type of dog food while your pet is acclimating to their new house. Newly adopted dogs can also get diarrhea or stomach issues just from the stress of moving to a new environment, so be prepared with an open heart and a lot of patience. Just take it easy on your pet and let them get used to the world around him – but perhaps not in a room where you’ve just re-carpeted!

Loss of appetite canalso occur when changing a dog’s environment or their diet. If your newly adopted dog is shy and does not eat much, don’t worry too much. Dogs will not typically starve themselves, they just need to get used to their new dietary regime. A healthy dog can generally go two days without eating through holding out, though if your pooch doesn’t eat for 24 hours, make sure to call your vet.

If you are concerned about your dog’s appetite, give him a piece of ham or chicken. Usually, dogs will eat high-value human food, no matter what. If he or she still does not accept it, consult with your veterinarian. 

Give your dog lots of love!

The best you can do for your furry four-legged friend during their transit is to support them and give them lots of love. Spend quality time with them, fill their days with walking and playing. If your canine pal finds peace and love in you – which they surely will in time – they will act relaxed and happy in your company.

As dogs are used to familiar smells, you can make them more at ease by spending as much time as you can with them on the floor. This way you provide them with familiar smells, but also with all the love they need during this stressful but exciting time. 

Patience is crucial when it comes to fostering a new dog. Some dogs will take only a couple of days to get used to your home, while others will take a couple of weeks to recognize this new place as a home. Therefore, be kind, patient and full of love for your beloved buddy, and in time, they will open their heart to you and want to thank you for the kindness you have shown them.

Due to the Shelter in Place order for Alameda & Contra Costa Counties, TVAR adoption events are temporarily suspended. If you are interested in adopting one of our beautiful animals please submit an application or chat to us at We will get back to you on a case by case basis.

East County Animal Shelter (ECAS) is closed to the public but you can call (925) 803-7040 regarding lost pets.  Thank you for your interest and support for the animals during this difficult time.

Author – Kristin Woodbury: Covering the pet world for more than 10 years, Kristin has been an editor/writer for a wide variety of pet magazines and websites from the rabbits to parrots to cats and dogs. Her advisory team of Southern Cross Vet — help keep her on top of the latest and greatest pet health research, training and products, anything to give keep them in the high life they are accustomed to.