Moving is a demanding life change for every member of the family, and pets are no exception. In fact, a new home can be particularly stressful for pets because of the shift in their territory. Most dogs fill each abode with their scent and, upon entering a new one, may feel unwelcome or lost. Worst case scenario, your pet may start marking their new territory or even get sick from the stress of it all. To avoid these issues, here are five tips to help your pet adjust.
#1. Provide Stress-Free Transport
Whether you have the luxury of visiting the new house before you move or not, transportation is stressful for pets. They are closed in a small space as the world moves loudly and quickly around them. Not to mention, of course, that they’ll be entering a wholly unfamiliar environment that can cause anxiety. When moving pets from one home to another, try to make the trip go as smoothly as possible for them.
The level of care you need to take really depends on how large the distance is between each place. A short car ride can be quite exciting for your animal, but a long solitary flight can be terrifying. Worrying about your pet while you’re focused on moving everything else can be a lot. You may elect to use a pet transport service to relieve you of that responsibility. As long as your pet is comfortable, this is a great way to preserve your time and energy.
#2. If Possible, Introduce Them Gradually
Pets like cats and dogs tend to be very particular about feeling safe and in control of their environment. Imagine how difficult it would be if you were uprooted one day without any idea where you were going or why. To prevent this anxiety, bring them along on visits to the new home before the official move. This way they can get acquainted with the space without being thrust into it.
Having you with them is important for them to feel safe. Spending time together in the new space can help form positive associations because of their attachment to you. Over a short time, they’ll acclimate to the new space while still having the old one to go back to. Then, after moving day, you may not see much stress from them at all because they already feel secure. If the new home is too far to visit, that’s okay — you still have other ways to aid the adjustment.
#3. Make a Place for Their Comfort Objects
Do your best to make a place for your pet when they arrive and fill it with familiar scents. Lay out their bed and favorite toys in a convenient area and allow them to relax there. If you have a dog that’s crate trained, setting up the crate should be the first thing you do. Set it up in a designated space, and they’ll always have a place to go when they are feeling particularly anxious.
It’s essential to try and give them a space that is truly theirs, even if it’s small or gated. You may have heard of the pros and cons of crate training. If not, to explain briefly, the goal of crate training is to make your dog’s crate a safe space for them to retreat to. Instead of using it as punishment, you allow them to enter and exit freely. It’s kind of like using it as their own room.
#4. Maintain Their Schedule and Spend Time With Them
A new environment won’t be as confusing if you maintain the same schedule with them that you always have. Take them out on walks at the same times each day and feed them as you normally do. Play and spend time with them whenever possible, especially if these activities normally align with your daily schedule. These little parts of their day provide gratification that they’ve come to expect and missing them will only compound their disorientation.
If this stage in your life requires some schedule changes, you don’t have to stick to the old one forever. Just take your pet’s expectations into account and make steady changes so they can habituate alongside you. For example, you could slowly inch their walks or meals a little earlier each day so you can leave for work on time. Play with them a little more each night before bed, so they’re tuckered out enough to go to sleep earlier.
#5. Let Them Explore on Their Own
Finally, pets will need time to figure things out and learn about the space on their own. Walk them about the house, and let them explore each space. Sometimes pets aren’t allowed to enter certain areas of the house for allergy reasons or something could be dangerous, and that’s perfectly fine. If rooms are off limits, explain that as you show them around the house.
If you have continuous trouble keeping a pet from something, consider exposing them to it in a controlled fashion. For example, if your dog isn’t allowed in the bedroom, leash or carry them in to explore with you. This will help satisfy their curiosity and let them learn about the space while being under your supervision.
Life gets hectic and you won’t always have time to comfort an anxious pet. That’s why these tips are so helpful — they involve changing little things to help the pet find comfort themselves. The adjustment may take no time or a few months, but once it’s done, everyone will feel at home. Remember to have patience as you and your pet adjust to life in a new place.