Moving to a new home is a stressful time for everyone. There are new jobs and new schools to consider. New neighbors and learning your way around. Unpacking a seemingly neverending supply of boxes. What some may not realize is that moving into a new home is just as stressful for pets as it is for humans. Whether you’re moving to a new home with a pet or whether you’ve adopted a new pet into your home, it’s important to help the new four-legged member of your family settle in.
Why Is a New Home Stressful for a Pet?
Whether you’re moving and taking your pet with you or bringing a new pet home for the first time, this is your pet’s first time in its new home. Change is stressful for people, so it’s only to be expected that it’s stressful for animals, too. Your pet won’t know what to expect and may not understand what’s happening. All they know is that something new and uncertain is happening and it’s your responsibility to help them through it. If you’re moving to a new home with your pet, all of the moving boxes and having new people come in and out to move your stuff can be a scary and uncertain experience.
Steps to Helping a Pet Settle Into a New Home
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make the transition easier. These steps range from staying calm to ensuring that there’s a routine in place.
Update Collar and Microchip Information
It’s always a good idea to have the most recent contact information and address on your pet’s collar and microchip. That way, if your pet gets out, you’ll have a much greater chance of being reunited. This should be done as soon as the new pet is at its new home. This is especially important because animals in a new environment may be more likely to try to escape.
Introduce Your Pet to Its New Home
Your pet won’t have been to its new home before, so it’s to be expected that they won’t know their way around. If you have a dog, you can keep it on a leash inside the home and take it on a tour so it can see where everything is. End the tour by showing your dog where the food and water dishes are.
For a cat, you’ll have brought the cat inside via a pet carrier. Make sure the cat knows where its food and water are located as well as where the litter box is.
Create a Space for Your Pet
It’s important for your pet to have a space that is theirs. This includes a bed and some toys for them. This will be a safe space for your pet. If the pet is moving with you to a new home, then this will be a space where your pet is surrounded by the familiar. The spot doesn’t have to be permanent but can help your pet get through an otherwise stressful transition.
If you’re bringing in a new pet, it’s natural to be excited. But remaining calm will help your new family member stay calm. Screaming children or even too-excited adults can make a stressful situation worse. If you’re moving to a new home, there will be a lot of new stimuli for your pet because the moving process can be crazy and overwhelming for everyone. Staying calm can help your new pet realize that everything’s okay and keep them calm as well.
Take it Slowly
Your pet, whether you have a dog or a cat or another animal, may take some time to adjust. Don’t expect them to immediately settle in. Give them the time and space they need to adjust. A pet that’s just been adopted from the shelter may take a few days to adjust to the differences between the shelter and your home, for example. A cat moving to a new house may spend the first few days hiding until they adjust. Don’t push interaction on your pet during this time. They’ll come to you when they’re ready.
Stick to a Routine
Routine is important for a pet, especially when everything around them is changing. With pets you already have, keep the same routine in the new house as much as possible. They’ll see that despite the change in surroundings, things will be the same as they were before. Keep feeding your pet at the same time every day. If there’s a normal time for a walk, make sure you stick to that.
For a new pet you’re bringing into your home, instead of sticking to an old routine, you’ll want to create a new one. This can help your new pet adjust to your home and learn the ropes more quickly.
A new pet or a pet that’s endured a move may display behavior problems for a few days or weeks after the move. No matter how calm you are and how much you reduce possible stress for your pet, the change will still be stressful and there may be an adjustment period. Be patient with your pet and understand what they’re going through.
Give Your Pet Extra Attention
A newly adopted pet may need some time to get used to both you and your home. However, a pet moving with you to a new home might need some extra love and attention from you. Take some time out of your moving duties to spend some quality time with your pet. Take your dog for a walk. Spend some time cuddling your cat. And don’t forget the treats!