Moving? Help Your Pet Adjust
Just bought a house, or moving out of your parent's home for the first time? Congratulations! Moving is a stressful time for us, we have to pack, organize, mark boxes, clean, hire the movers, and much more! But, what about our pets? Our animals can be just as affected by the stress of the Big Day as we are!
I would like to share some tips on how you can help your pets adjust to this exciting and new adventure!
Packing It All Up
Yes, this is one of the most stressful moments of the move for everyone, including our pets. They see boxes all over their living areas. Then our pets start witnessing things being removed and displaced.
The best way to handle this for Fido or Fluffy is to keep one room "normal" until the very end. Dogs and cats thrive off of routine and normalcy. When they see their "world" being rocked upside down, they get nervous and stressed, affecting a pet's health and also causing confusion.
Put their toys, beds, litter box, food, and water dishes in this one room (make sure this room has a door that can be shut). This will provide a couple of things for our pets: comfort with a little bit of familiarity and a safe area away from the hustle and bustle in the other areas of the home that are being packed up.
The day before the Big Move, remove everything from this room except your pet's belongings. On the day of the Big Move, post a sign on the door "PETS IN ROOM, DO NOT ENTER," this will prevent the movers from accidentally releasing your pets into the chaos.
Location, Location, Location
First, if you are moving just down the street, this isn't so bad for the transportation part. However, if you are moving across country, all types of arrangements will need to be made for Fido or Fluffy.
Here are some traveling tips from a previous blog I wrote to help prepare your pet for this journey:Tips for Traveling with Your Dog
Once you get the arrangements made and have prepared your pet for driving or flying with you, the next step is the arrival.
Home Sweet Home
So you arrived safe and sound, congratulations! Fido and Fluffy are most likely still confused with everything that is going on.
Prior to introducing them to their new surroundings, wait until the movers have left. If you are unable to do this, finding a secure room again will provide comfort and safety for Fido or Fluffy. Provide them with their belongings, and don't forget to put a sign on this door too, reminding everyone to not open the door.
If at all possible, the best solution is to get settled into your new home first, before bringing Fido and Fluffy to their new place. The unfamiliar boxes, movers, smell, and the new house can stress your pet out. Ask a friend or family member to keep your pet until your New Home has been prepared and boxes and items have been unpacked.
Now that you have a little bit of normalcy falling back into place with being unpacked and settled in, this doesn't mean that Fido and Fluffy are settled too. It can take months for a pet to adjust to their new surroundings, smells, noises, and neighbors.
There are many sad stories of pets running away from their new home and ending up at their original residence, with some pets traveling hundreds of miles to get there. To prevent this from happening, here are some cautionary tips you can put into place for Fido or Fluffy.
If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep them in the house for a few months before letting them "explore" their outdoor surroundings. Your kitty can get confused with their new area and become lost or disoriented.
For your dog, keep them in a secured fenced in-yard or a tie-out when you put them outside. For the first few months you should be going outside with them each time, making sure they are comfortable and not panicking with the new noises and smells. Dogs and cats will quickly try to escape if they feel unsure or threatened.
If your dog or cat becomes lost, it is important that you immediately go back to your old neighborhood (if it is within a reasonable driving distance) to check your old house.
Provide your dog or cat with extra attention, but don't coddle their fearful or nervousness emotions. When talking to them, speak in a confident tone, telling them how great they are doing in their new home!
Some pets do well with the transition when they are provided a special room that is all theirs. Keeping their personal belongings such as toys, crate, feeding bowls, bed, or litter box in this room will help provide comfort and quietness to your pet.
On a final note if your pet is having difficulties adjusting by showing a disruptive or unusual change of behavior, contact a behaviorist or visit your vet to help ease your pets issues.
Remember, your new home is a new start for you and your pets. If you take the necessary precautions to ease Fido or Fluffy into their new home, they will be very happy with the transition and join in the celebration with you.
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe