Moving to a New Home
“Whither thou goest, I go” may well be the canine motto. Dogs are territorial animals, to be sure, but they associate home with their people, not with a specific place. As long as you're there, your Lab will be satisfied with any place you choose to live. Nonetheless, there are steps you can take to help him become comfortable in a new home.
Consult with the Veterinarian
Relocating to a different city or state? Visit the veterinarian to make sure your Lab is up to date on vaccinations and in good physical health. If he's prone to carsickness, stock up on his prescription medication so he'll have a comfortable car ride or flight to the new location. Ask your veterinarian if he or she can refer you to a vet in your new area.
Make Your Lab Feel Comfortable
If the previous homeowners had a dog, your Lab may want to mark his new territory. Before you move in, have the carpets cleaned to eliminate or reduce the scent of the other dog. This can also help get rid of any fleas that might be lurking, just waiting to pounce on your Lab.
If possible, move your furniture in before you bring your Lab to the new house. He'll recognize the smell of your furnishings and feel more comfortable in the new place. When you bring him into the new house, take him first to his food and water dishes, and show him his bed or doghouse. Then let him explore his new yard. Maintain his old routine as much as possible during the move and the subsequent unpacking.
Take your Lab on a walk around the new neighborhood, so that he can investigate the territory to find out where other dogs lift their legs and what paths the local cats take. You might not be able to tell any of these things, but your Lab's nose smells all.
Many new home developments do not permit fences. If this is the case where you live, you can teach your Lab the boundaries of his territory so he doesn't stray. To be successful, be patient and spend plenty of time training to keep your Lab safely in his yard.
Take your Lab out on leash every time you go into the yard. Walk him around the edges of the yard. If he tries to go outside the yard, say “Aaaght” and bring him back inside the boundary. Do this several times a day for three or four weeks. Avoid letting him roam the yard off leash.
When you think he understands the concept of not leaving the yard, put him to the test. (This is called “proofing” in dog training parlance.) Attach a long line to his collar (a clothesline is a good choice) and toss a tennis ball outside the yard. If the yard faces a street, post another family member outside the yard to make sure no cars are coming and to stop the dog from running into the street.
If your Lab tries to leave the yard to chase the ball, step on or grab the line to keep him from crossing the perimeter, and say “Aaaght.” Keep up with your training and try again later. If he doesn't go after the ball, shower him with praise and treats. Practice occasionally so he doesn't forget that he's not to leave the yard. Boundary-training isn't as good as a real fence — a taunting squirrel can test the most well-trained dog — but for the most part it should keep your Lab safe at home.