Today we have an interesting guest post about smell, one of the most neglected parts of dog travel relocation. It is from our pet friendly buddy Robert Holmes at Dog Fence DIY. These are three great tips on how you can use smell to make your new home feel like you old home for your dog.
Have you ever noticed how a single smell can trigger thoughts and feelings, sending you hurtling headfirst down memory lane? Well, a dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times more powerful than ours. Watch when a dog enters a new space. It puts its head down and starts sniffing. For dogs smell is the dominant sense, much like vision is our dominant sense. We can use this understanding of the importance of smell to help a dog easily settle into a new location. Here are three ways you can make the transition easier using dog smells, people smells and house smells.
- Dog Smells - a dog’s own scent gives them reassurance. Most dogs spend hours a day lounging on a favorite rug or blanket. To us the dog’s bed seems a bit stinky. But, they really love it. In fact, when we wash the bed they are considerably less interested for the first few days until they get it back to smelling familiar. Unfortunately, when most people move, they think it would be a good time to wash all the dog bedding. Do the opposite, and deliberately don’t wash your dog’s bedding for a few weeks before and after the move. Now, when the dog gets to the new location its bedding will seem familiar and they will know it as a safe place.
- People Smells - the smell of familiar people is also reassuring. As much as your dog likes his own smell, it is even more comforted by the smells of its pack leader - you. I am sure that when your dog was a puppy, you left them unattended for a couple of hours only to come home to find your dog had stolen a shoe or some socks you left lying around. They probably took them to their bed and were snuggled next to them. Dogs love shoes, socks, and underwear so much because those items smell strongly of you and they find the smell reassuring. So when you move, take a cue from the underwear bandits, and give them an old shoe or a well worn undershirt to play with when you have to leave them unattended. This will remind the dog that you are still with them even though you might have changed homes.
- Home Smells - finally, we can make the new house itself seem familiar. Your home has it’s own signature scent and we want to try and take a little bit of this with us. Our family likes to take our dogs on summer vacation with us, where it is useful to get the dogs settled in quickly. About a month before the trip we will hang a branch of rosemary in the house. Our dog’s begin to associate this smell with home. We mail a second branch to the place we stay and have the housekeeper hang it up a couple of days before we arrive. Once we arrive the dogs take a quick sniff around, get the familiar smells and feel more comfortable.
So, as you plan your relocation, think about how you can help your dog settle in by relocating some of their familiar smells. Think about relocating some dog smells, some people smells and some house smells. These three little things will make a much happier relocation for both master and hound!