Part III: Acclimating Your Pet to Their New Home

(Continued from Part II –Your Pets and Moving Day)

The third and final section on “How to Give Your Pet as Peaceful a Move as Possible” discusses some strategies on how to help your furry family members get adjusted to their new environment. The biggest piece of advice to remember: Be patient! Just as humans need time to adjust to a new location, our four-legged counterparts do, too. Don’t expect to drive up to your new home, unload, unpack, and everything will magically go back to a nice and orderly normalcy overnight. It won’t; no point in sugar-coating the truth. Just as you will have to relearn where to shop, eat, and entertain yourself, your pets will have to be taught and learn new routines, too.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Prior to letting your animals inside your new home, it’s best to do a quick walk-through to ensure no harmful materials are accessible to your pet. Look in corners and behind things for mouse traps, sticky paper, harmful chemicals and pesticides, and anything else that may pose a health risk for your beloved pet.

Acclimating your dog to a new home:

  1. Let your dog walk through the entire house upon arrival. This will allow your pooch to get a feel for and understanding of the layout and smell of the new house. This is extremely important, even more so if you were unable to let your pet roam and inspect the home and surrounding area prior to moving in.
  2. Find an area that best resembles where your pet spent the majority of their time at your old house. Place the pet bed, food and water, and toys in an area that can become and remain theirs. The less you move your dog’s stuff after the initial placement in a new home, the better the adjustment period will be. If your dog is strictly an outside dog, it’s imperative to walk the entire fence line to ensure that there are no loose or missing boards in the fence, no nails sticking out, and no holes or other access points where your dog can escape.
  3. As discussed in Part I and Part II, stick to your pet’s normal schedule. Feeding, walking, and other routines that your pet is accustomed to need to be kept on the same schedule if at all possible. Keeping structure and order in your pet’s life will help decrease stress tremendously, as well as will allow for a quicker acclimation period.
  4. Unlike cats, dogs tend to usually get adjusted to their home in a matter of hours – not days or weeks. The key is to show them extra affection and attention since your dog is attached more to you than to your belongings.

Acclimating your cat to a new home:

As mentioned in Part I, cats get extremely attached to their surroundings. Because of this, they take much longer to acclimate to a new environment than dogs do. Be patient and don’t rush the process. Moves are harder on cats. Your cat will come around in his or her own time. Pushing your kitty to be ready before they are can sometimes cause your cuddly kitty to become more skittish and less people friendly.

  1. Upon arriving at the new home, before taking kitty out the carrier, go ahead and set up a new pet room like you did on moving day at your old house. If possible, utilize a room that is similar in layout and size as the pet room at your old home. Place a full-size, clean litter box in an easily accessible point in the room. Set up a place for your cat’s food and water bowls, scratching post, bedding, toys, and anything else that has a resemblance of the old home. It is also helpful if the new temporary pet room has a window, especially if your cat is used to perching on a window ledge and watching the scurrying of rabbits and squirrels.
  2. For 4-5 days or at least until you are able to unpack the majority of your belongings, it’s best to keep your cat in the designated pet room. Make sure to still spend quality time with you cat. If your cat normally enjoys watching TV with you or taking a nap with you in the afternoon, continue doing those things in the temporary pet room during that time. Having things as close to normal will make for a smooth transition.
  3. If your cat is normally an outside cat, after a week or so of staying in the designated pet room, slowly begin to adjust your cat to the new outdoors by letting him or her outside for just a few minutes every day. Until your cat becomes more familiar with the new location, it’s best to also stay outside and supervise the outing during the first few days. Each day, gradually increase the amount of time your cat can be outside and decrease the amount of supervised time. Doing it this way – instead of parking the moving van and immediately letting Mr. Whiskers run loose– isn’t such a shock for your cat, and will decrease your cat’s potential of running away or getting lost.
  4. Because cats take longer to get adjusted and are so attached to items/belongings, it’s best to keep them in the designated pet room until after you’ve unpacked and set up the majority of your household belongings. Doing so will help your cat not be so fearful when it does begin exploring the rest of your new home. Once your cat is able to see and smell so many things from your old house, the stress of adjusting will become easier and easier.
  5. If you plan on moving the litter box to another room after the initial unpacking/settling period, do not do it suddenly. Every day slowly move the litter box closer and closer to where you want it to be permanently located in the house. Another option is to buy a second litter box to put in the permanent litter box location. After a few days of your cat being guided to and using the preferred litter box, then remove the temporary one in the pet room. Rushing this process can cause a cat to continue to use the initial area as a place to relieve itself – even though the litter box is gone!

Don’t forget to be patient! Do what you can and let your pets adjust at their own pace. Before you know it, the new home will be loved and enjoyed by the entire family!

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