Domestic Me, Parenting, Whine., Zoo.


We’re struggling with adjustments in the new house – if you have any experience or stories of triumph (Heh.) in any of these areas, please let me know!

  • This new house has an upstairs and a downstairs. It actually has a staircase on either side of the house, instead of one in the middle, so it’s easy not to hear what’s going on when the kids are sleeping. The good news? I can now wash dishes and do laundry without fear of waking them up. The bad news? I now have to carry around a monitor with me everywhere in the mornings/evenings. This has taken some getting used to because I didn’t even use the monitor anymore in the old house. I could hear AndyZ wake up in my bedroom loud enough to wake me out of a dead sleep. Now? He could be screaming for hours and I wouldn’t hear him. I think this has had me on edge, even with the monitor, because I’m waking up earlier than I would normally. I think my mind doesn’t trust the monitor yet. Which is pissing me off because I’d really like to sleep past 5am once in awhile. Do you ever get used to using a monitor? Do you ever trust it to wake you up?
  • Sunflower won’t come downstairs. Bringing her over here was quite traumatic, and it took her 2 full days to come out from under NikkiZ’s bed. She will now occasionally come out from under the bed, but I have yet to see her downstairs. For about 24 hours the dogs were skittish, trying to leave with us whenever we walked out the door, but now they realize this is home and have kinda gotten back to normal. Bambi is worried about Sunflower, but other than that he’s pretty normal. I’m hoping she’ll get over it in a few more days, but if she doesn’t – do I call her vet? Accept she’s just an upstairs cat from now on?
  • We have no fence at this house. Our backyard is wooded and a little bumpy so we’re not sure how fenceable it even is – but there’s not one now in any case. So, we’re dog walkers now. This is taking a huge adjustment on my part because it’s one more thing I have to schedule. There’s mealtimes, naptimes, picking NikkiZ up from preschool at lunch, errands and now? Walking the dogs. At first we assumed we could just take them to the front/back yards a few times a day and walk other times – but Sweetie is refusing to go to the bathroom in our yard. Last night I walked half a mile before she finally pooped (it had been almost 48 hours) – but she usually has to get at least a few blocks away before she’ll even pee. This is fine, I don’t mind walking, but it’s not always conducive if I’m alone with the kids because I can not manage a stroller/wagon and TWO DOGS at the same time. Not on this really hilly neighborhood. I need them to be able to do their business in the yard when I’m alone with the kids and I can take them for walks morning/evenings when MrZ is home. Will Sweetie ever start using the bathroom in our yard or am I going to have to learn how to manage two kids in a stroller up/down giant hills AND walk a dog at the same time? I’m not sure that’s possible. I’m too big of a klutz.
  • Related to dog-walking: I now have to pick up poop. This isn’t a big deal, but I get all freaked out that someone will see my dogs peeing and thing they’re pooping and that I’m just leaving it. Also – I worry people may get made for me letting the dogs poop in their yards, even if I do pick it up. I try to steer them clear of the super-nice lawns, because I just assume no one wants my dogs peeing and pooping on really cared for yards, but it’s hard to force them when they’re ready to go NOW. Are people generally fine as long as you clean up after your dogs? Or do some of them really freak out regardless?

32 thoughts on “Adjustments”

  1. I don’t have any dogs, so I can’t comment on the dog walking/ picking up poop issue. But, we have to use a monitor for the same reason as you. Although MP sleeps through the night so regularly that I don’t use one downstairs at all, only in our room to hear her in the morning.

    I don’t set an alarm at all anymore – the monitor works just fine to wake me up. It definitely took getting used to when she was an infant, but you get used to it. I do still obsessively check it to make sure that it is actually on and working.

  2. The only one I can really speak to is poor Sunflower — she’ll get over it. My cat Scarlet used to hide on top of the kitchen cabinets (she’s a jumper, and would go from the counter to the fridge to the cabinets) every time I moved — and since it was college, I moved a lot. After a week or two, she’d start coming down. I found that once I got sick of putting her food on top of the fridge for her, she started coming down faster. If you don’t cater to Sunflower’s whims, she’ll eventually get hungry and come downstairs (although you may want to give her an upstairs litter box just to save yourself the mess if she decides to be stubborn).

    I can only kind of speak to the dog poop thing — not having a dog myself, but having many neighbors who do, I can say that I don’t mind the neighbors’ dogs using my yard as long as they clean up. I understand that when the dog decides it’s time to go, you can’t really make it wait. Most people will understand.

  3. The cat will adjust, just give her time…she may be sneaking downstairs at night when everyone is asleep. We have an “upstairs” cat that only comes downstairs at night.

    The dogs will get used to going in your yard if that is their only option. If your yard was fenced you wouldn’t be walking them and they would have no other choice. I’d just walk them around the yard until they go…I know its not ideal but you can get a stake/chain and tie them out..avoid the 2 kids/stroller/wagon/2 dogs thing.

    I don’t even let my dogs pee on someone else’s yard…dog urine kills grass….especially female dogs.

    I’m sure all your furbabies will adjust in time..

  4. Have you thought about having a lead? You can either attach it to a clothes line or they have stakes that “screw” into the ground. Then the dogs can run around a bit without taking off. Just a thought.

  5. Have you considered just taking the dogs out on a leash in your own backyard for actual bathroom business, and then walking them for their exercise at a scheduled time when it’s more convenient for you? I hate walking Rooney in actual neighborhoods for all the reasons you’ve described — we usually only take him out on trails.

    Glad to hear you’re settling in!

  6. Oh duh, I missed the part about one of your pups refusing to go in the yard. I’m all about the tough love, so I say just keep taking ’em back there until they get used to it!

  7. Aw man Zoot, moving sucks sometimes even if the house is great. I had a couple thoughts on poor Sunflower. First, my guess is the additional space is overwhelming for her. Is there a room you could close her in for a few days/a week until it looks like she might want to go out and explore? When we move, we use our bedroom for this purpose (twice now for our 2 cats). Once they seem like they’re curious about the rest of the house, we close all doors to other rooms and let them explore the halls/open rooms like kitchen, etc. Then open up one room at a time as they get curious and comfortable. I’d try shrinking Sunflower’s world a little and seeing if that helps.

    As for the dog using other people’s yards for their business-I gotta say, I’m not a fan when dogs use mine. Their urine kills the grass and the poop, even if you pick it up, does bug me a little. That being said, if your dogs aren’t going to use your yard, I don’t see an easy solution at the moment. I’d give that one some time too. Your neighbors will deal with it. (I’d never yell at someone who let their dog use my yard. I’d just think “thanks for nothin!”). And if you were nice in person, I’d totally get over it.

  8. Congratulations on your junk spot! Seriously, a home is not YOUR home until you have inaugurated the official Family Junk Spot.

    We live on the edge of what seems to be a Dog Expressway – we have all sorts of purebreds and mutts peeing and pooing in our yard all day long (I sit in our dining room with ample viewing!) It doesn’t bother me as long as folks pick up. The pee technically could be bad for one’s lawn, but the pee has to be day in, day out, hardcore peeing. A Walkby Pee is not going to kill someone’s grass. Our dog has peed every day in our backyard and we have some yellow spots, but it has been a full YEAR of that.

  9. in our neighborhood, the dogs just sort of do what they want when they want, and where they want, and it drives me NUTS! what i wouldn’t give for a neighbor to pick up their dog’s poop! that said, i wouldn’t care at all if a dog used my lawn for their business – just as long as the owner cleaned up the poop. sigh.

  10. oh, and sunflower should eventually get used to it. our cat Burt freaked out for like a month when i moved {from a small apartment to a two-story house} but now he loves it! if she’s a skiddish cat anyhow, it will take her some time, but she’ll get used to it.

  11. I don’t think your neighbors will mind the dogs as long as you are cleaning up after them. But I do agree that if you just keep walking them around the yard they will learn to do their business there. The dogs are adjusting too.

    I think you will get used to the monitor, but as time goes on you might get used to the house too and not need the monitor.

  12. My sister feeds her female dog a cherry tomato every day – it is supposed to help balance the acidity of the urine in a female dog, whose urine is especially bad for grass and plants.

    That being said, when I walk my male dog, I don’t let him pee or mark on any special plantings: flowers, hostas, ornamental grasses, etc. Trees and lawns are free game – especially since we have boulevards in our neighborhood. As long as you pick up the poop (in my city it’s the law, plus you just should), I’d say don’t worry about people’s lawns. It’s not like it’s their carpet or something – they’ll get over it. When the dog has to go, there’s really no stopping them!

    What always bugs ME is when my neighbors let their cats roam around outside, free to use my yard as a litterbox (which is not “cleaned” or picked up by my neighbors) and to leave special little hunting treasures all over (i.e. rabbits, mice, birds, etc.). Wrong. Just wrong.

  13. I can’t advise about the dogs, but I had a similar problem when I first got my cat. I put her food dish right outside her comfort zone, maybe a foot or so. Then I moved it gradually as she got used to moving farther out. It took a while, but she eventually was able to move out into the rest of the house. Just standing there eating, and having nothing terrible happen seemed to make her more at ease.

    Good luck with all the changes!

  14. I’m a little monitor obsessed. We have a three story townhouse so it’s impossible to be anywhere other than outside of her door and hear her without the monitor. I have a video monitor that stays aimed at her crib and I leave the TV part of it next to my bed. It also has audio. Then I put a regular sound monitor on her dresser that’s also a night light. This has two extensions that both come with battery packs. I have on in the family room on our ground floor and one in the kitchen on our main level. It was really the only way to make this house work. I also leave a sound machine on in her room so I can always hear something over it and know that it’s working.

    I have one very skiddish cat that hates all humans except for me. It would take her days to come out if we moved. It takes her two days to come out when we get home from vacations! It’s like she needs that long to figure out that it’s us and not the house watcher bringing in mail. She’ll adjust.

    I don’t have dogs so can’t help there. But GOOD LUCK!

  15. I’m glad I just saw on Twitter that Sunflower is coming downstairs! I think it just takes some cats a long time to get used to a new situation. One of mine didn’t come out from his SPCA box for over a week when I brought him home. The other one tries to move in with the neighbors on a daily basis.

  16. Heidi has your likely solution to the dog walking problem; except I did want to caution you (but not freak you out) about other animals coming into your yard. At my house we do not have a fence and back up to a large field which is home to turkeys, deer, fox, & coyotes…. needless to say our dog doesn’t go out at night alone.

    If you don’t have to worry about those things having some overhead lines strung (from the house to a pole or tree out back) then attaching a lead to those give the dogs a zip line to run around & hopefully feel better about doing their business.

  17. Avid dog owner – have to weigh in my thoughts. I do not let my dogs use other peoples lawns. Heck, don’t even let MY dogs use MY lawns. Lawns are for kid playing not dog pooping. Even if you pick up the evidence, how to say this delicately… Residue still remains. On the lawn. Where I walk barefoot. And then go into my house. And ICK. We have a beautiful dog kennel on the side of the house, fenced and concreted, complete with patio cover for them. I HIGHLY recommend you build a large dog run in your yard.

  18. Give Sunflower some time, cats take a while to adjust. Make sure she has access to a litter box and fresh water, and food, and eventually she’ll come down. After a week or so of being in the house do like the other commenter suggested and start moving her dish closer to the door and out of the room.

    If getting her over to the new house was traumatic it may take a while. Just be happy she’s not trying to escape and run back to the old house.

    After a while they’ll all get used to the new routine. 🙂

  19. After Hurricane Gustav, we lost part of our backyard fence, which houses our 2 dogs. So, while the big fence was being repaired, we bought a 10×10 chain link fence with a gate from Lowes. It was pretty inexpensive.

    Anyway, we used it until we fixed our fence, but it has since become a great place to keep our dogs when we want them to be in the yard but not run free — meter reader, lawn guys, people who don’t like dogs, etc.

    If you had a fence like that, perhaps your dogs would give in and make that their special poopy place. It would also allow you to leave them unattended outside while you run errands and keep them protected from other neighborhood animals (which I hadn’t thought of, but another reader wisely mentioned).

  20. Regarding the dogs – I have one that will only pee on grass. When we temporarily moved into a townhouse with a concrete backyard we had the same problem you’re facing now. At the time, he was a flight risk. So, we bought a metal stake that screws into the dirt and attached a 50 foot lead to it. Whenever we thought he had to go we’d attach him to the lead and leave him out there until ge was done. You could do this with your dogs in the backyard – just be sure you check every so often to make sure they haven’t gotten all tangled up.

    Oh and regarding the monitor – it does eventually get better.

    Good luck withe all the transitions!

  21. Forgot to mention that we put the stake out front where there was grass – lest you think we were cruel for just leaving him to explode on the concrete.

  22. It doesn’t matter if my dogs just pooped before we go on our walk … they just feel the need to let it out someplace besides in my yard. These dogs were kennel & leash trained & now I leave them roam freely at night. Once in a while in the early mornings on weekends, I’ll feel a lick on my nose or a paw slap on the cheek if they need to go out.

    Being that I live in where there’s huge dog-poo fines if you get caught, so I’m anal about this. As a homeowner, it doesn’t bother me if the pet owner cleans up afterward.

  23. I would be willing to bet that Sunflower will get over her downstairs fear relatively quickly. When we moved our cat Salem to a new apartment, he wouldn’t come out of the first room we put him in for a few days. And that room didn’t have his food or litterbox in it. After a few days, he slowly started peeking out and within a couple of weeks he was cautiously exploring the whole apartment.

  24. In our neighborhood, there are people who continuously put out those little signs that say pesticides were recently sprayed so you have to stay off the lawn — those are the lawns to avoid with dogs — those signs (in our neighborhood anyway) should just say DO NOT LET DOGS ANYWHERE NEAR HERE! I personally don’t have a problem when my dogs or other dogs go on the strip of grass in front of the sidewalk — BUT, I understand and respect that other people hate it so I do my best to always have our dogs only go on our lawn.

  25. I would likely try a backyard line for the dogs, as well. My cat is afraid of everything…I’m kind of dreading when I move in a couple months and she has to adjust!

  26. I’ll second all the comments about giving the cat time to adjust. I’ve moved my cat about 4 times I think (mostly to different apartments) and it always took her a few days to come out, and a few weeks to really start exploring. When I first found her as a stray about 2 years ago and brought her home it took months for me to see her out for more than 3 minutes at a time. She’s a big fan of hiding under the bed.

    In September we bought a house and that was a pretty big adjustment for her. She’s used to being in our bedroom, but I didn’t want to deal with food, water & litterbox in there anymore so when we moved it went to the laundry room. Took her awhile to adjust to that. It probably took at least a couple of months for her to really get comfortable in the house.

    Don’t have any advice about the dog since we got ours after we’d already bought the house with a fence. I imagine they’ll get used to the new everything. And is it possible to build a fence? Or maybe look into one of those electronic border type things?

  27. We find that, when we take control of the dogs and show them that they should trust us, they do. Your dogs will use your backyard if you don’t coax them but command them. Get a lead and hook them out and leave them – you can watch from the windows, of course, without them seeing you, but leave them and they’ll start adventuring around.

  28. I have a monitor that lights up when my son cries (along with the sound). I hear it and the lights wake me up, too. We’ve always had to use a monitor in our houses so I’m used to it. I bet you’ll get used to it eventually.

    Sunflower will come downstairs, I bet, once she has a chance to explore on her own. We had a cat just like that and he took DAYS, maybe even WEEKS, to get used to our new house. We just left him alone and gave him love whenever he wanted it. We had to tell our daughters to leave him alone, too, which was hard for them. But he eventually felt comfortable in the whole house and was fine. Your dogs will use your yard, too. Don’t give up! They’ll get used to it. Just like you had to get used to your new house and all the sounds it makes, your dogs will too. I love that you’re posting about your move! I get so excited reading about someone else enjoying getting to know a new place and making it feel like home. Congratulations!

  29. I would hate for someone else’s dog to poop in my yard, even if the owner picked up the poop. And although there are probably lots of people who wouldn’t mind, you don’t know which is which (unless, of course, the people who don’t mind are putting up “let your dog poop on my yard” signs.)

    I’d put up a dog run and put the dogs out at regular intervals during the day. You even could use a portable play yard, if you stay outside with them so that you know they won’t jump out. They eventually will learn to do their business at home. They might learn more quickly if you scoop up their poop on your next walk and then dump it in your yard where you want them to go. We just transitioned our dog from full yard access to a dog run, and it’s amazingly wonderful to be able to walk into the yard without dodging landmines.

  30. Give your cat some time to adjust. It took our Chester about a week to come out of the basement and a few weeks after that to go on the next level. I think he thought we lived in the basement since the first week all of our stuff was down there while they finished the floors. Eventually he came around and now he goes everywhere. I am sure the same will be true of yours.

  31. As a lawn owner, a dog walker, and a poop scooper, I have found that people are fine with the peeing and pooping in the yard as long as you pick it up!!!

    The dogs should (i can’t promise anything) start using the bathroom in your yard. Maybe walk them around your back yard a little bit to see if you can get them to “go” back there.

    The monitor….I will have the monitor in my room turned on until P is 25….ok, so I might change it from the Fisher Price version to more of a spycam, but you get the picture.

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