Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Home for Tuffy—How an Older Dog Transitions to a Townhome

When I was contacted a few months ago by senior clients, Ang and Donna, about downsizing from their family home on a half acre lot in Anoka County to a townhome, I knew it would mean bring lots of changes. Downsizing can relieve a lot of stress for a senior couple. No more mowing or raking the huge lawn. No more snow blowing the driveway or shoveling off the steps. Sure there would be less space to store all the treasure and mementos of life…but then less to dust too.

Yes, downsizing was a good option for this couple, but finding a new home for Tuffy was paramount. Tuffy was their little gray wire-haired, terrier-type dog who had the run of the place, if you know what I mean. Every townhome we looked at had to allow dogs in the association by-laws. Since Tuffy was not a large sized canine, breed restrictions were not going to be an issue. But this little guy was a pretty spoiled dog who darted out the door and ran right up to me on every visit barking and jumping. He was a good dog, as he didn’t leave his half acre, but now Tuffy wasn’t going to be able to leave his patio.
Running up and barking at neighbors is a big no-no in a condo association.
My clients found their perfect new home in quick order and, better yet, their beautiful Anoka County home sold in just three weeks. Huge changes were going to take place in a matter of weeks, not the months they had anticipated.

It didn’t take long to get the association documents into my clients' hands. Included was a list of rules that Tuffy must obey in order to be a good townhome canine. His owners had to submit a mug shot of his cute black and gray face, so the association could tell which pets belong in the area and which did not. He was going to have to be on a leash or tie-out at all times. And he would have to have copies of his license and documentation that his shots were up to date on file.

Now that leash thing was going to be a problem. Tuffy, like his owners, fell into the senior citizen category. It was time to teach an old dog some new tricks…or remind him who was boss of the family (and it was no longer Tuffy) so that he could make a good impression on all his new neighbors. Fortunately, Tuffy had been trained previously and though his manners were a bit rusty, Ang and Donna started working with him several weeks before the move. Tuffy had to start wearing his training collar at all times but they didn’t use it often. A reward system of treats helped the little dog remember all his new rules.

Tuffy, along with Ang and Donna, are now happy in their new home. It was a bit of a transition but made much easier since Tuffy’s owners chose to start preparing their spoiled little dog early for the new rules. This made the move as stress-free as possible for both dog and owners. Finding and unpacking all of Tuffy’s little dog toys should be the only worry now!
OldDogPaws offers 7 helpful tips to ease your senior dog’s stress and help him make a smooth, stress-free transition to the condo-lifestyle

1. Start Training EarlyDon’t think of this as a way to punish Fido. A training collar is all about keeping your older pet safe in his new environment. Pull out that training collar and let him know that you mean business. He has to relearn to walk on a leash and not bark at everything and everyone.2. Practice, Practice, PracticeAt least a month before the move, start your daily walk with the leash being attached before exiting the house. Make sure Fido knows that darting out the door will no longer be tolerated.

3. Tied out Trials
Every time you sit on the deck or patio, first hook up Fido to his tie-out so he can get used to being tied-up. Many people don’t use these in fenced yards but most condo associations will have this restriction.

4. Reward Good Behavior
As Fido learns the rules, the training collar can come off and the treats or reward system can begin.
5. Keep License Up-to-Date
Most associations will require all pets to have to have all shots and local licensing up to date and of file.
6. Snap a Good PhotoNot quite a mug shot, but many associations will want a photo of all pets on file so they know which pet belongs to which association member.
7. Find Area Dog Parks
Research your new neighborhood to see if there is a leash-free dog park in the area where Fido can have a quick and safe run once in awhile to burn off all that pent up stress from being good in his new surroundings.

By taking the time to prepare Fido for the change to condo-living, your older dog will enjoy his new home and surroundings as much as you will.
Find more tips on taking care of your older dog at

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm