Moving With Pets? Here’s How To Help Your Pet Settle Into A New Home

If moving is stressful for humans (spoiler alert: it is) then it’s even more so for pets who have no context for what’s going on. Take a deep breath, snuggle up with your furbaby, and read on for our pro tips for helping your furry friends settle into their new home after moving day.

The movers have just unloaded the last box from the moving truck and have left you alone for the first time in your new home. What’s the first thing you unpack?

Is it your kitchen essentials? Linens? What about the electronic devices that will undoubtedly help you get through the tedious process of setting up your new home, thanks to your favorite tunes?

Well, if you happen to be a pet owner, the answer to what to unpack first should probably be your dog or cat’s prized possessions.

As stressful as moving can be on humans, it’s even more so for pets. We’ve talked before about handling the moving day with pets, but we all know the stress doesn’t end there. Today we’re diving into a few ways to ease the transition for your ‘furbaby’ and help them settle into their new home.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Stressed

A reasonable amount of stress is to be expected after a move. After all, your pet now finds themselves in unfamiliar surroundings, with new sights, sounds, and smells to take in. It will take some getting used to.

But if your pet’s stress levels start to get out of hand, they may exhibit some troubling behavior. Knowing these signs can help you help them to feel safe and secure again.

Signs of Stress in Dogs:

  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Whining
  • Panting
  • Shedding
  • Changes in toileting habits

Signs of Stress in Cats:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Over-grooming
  • Dull coat condition
  • Poor appetite or eating non-food items (“Pica”)
  • Toileting outside of the usual area

If your pet is exhibiting signs of stress that fall outside of their normal behavior patterns either before or after a move, read on. Taking the steps outlined in this article can help get them back to their usual selves by settling into their new home faster.

Prepare in Advance

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Helping your pet settle into their new home starts well before moving day.

Here are a few things you can do ahead of time to ease your pet’s transition and make the process less stressful for all.

Start training new behaviors early

Are you moving from a small apartment to a larger home or vice versa? Consider the new behaviors that your pet’s new environment may require, and begin training and reinforcing those behaviors now before they’re needed.

Go for a walk in the new neighborhood

If your new home happens to be within driving distance, consider taking your dog for a walk in their new neighborhood. It will help get them acclimated to the new sights and sounds and make moving day a little less jarring.

Find a trusted pet-sitter for moving day

If you plan for your pet to stay with a sitter during the moving day or any time before or after, it’s a good idea to introduce them to their new caretaker early. Schedule a few play dates at the location where they will be cared for, so they feel more at home when the big day comes.

“Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, and having strangers in the house taking their furniture can be confusing and disorienting,” says Muscular Moving Men Co-Founder Justin Hodge in this recent article on Redfin.com. “Plan on having relatives, friends, or even a pet hotel take care of your furry friends for the day. It keeps traffic to a minimum inside the house, and everyone will get through the process smoother.”

Ask your vet about anti-anxiety measures

If your pet is prone to stress, consider talking to your vet about anti-anxiety measures like medication or calming gear like the Thundershirt.

Re-establish your pet’s routine quickly – and stick to it

Much like toddlers, a routine is essential for pets. Whether creating a routine was intentional on your part or not, your pet is accustomed to a particular order of things day in and day out. Some change to this order is unavoidable in a new environment. But doing your best to re-establish your pet’s routine, and sticking to it religiously, can go a long way towards making them feel safe and secure again.

Keeping a consistent schedule is more important than ever after a move. After all, schedules are how your pet makes sense of their day. Even if you didn’t have a definite schedule before your move, establishing one now will help your pet learn what to expect from their day.

Establish set times for things like:

  • Feeding times
  • Walks
  • Playtime
  • Grooming
  • and our favorite, snuggle time

Keep human stress levels low

You’ve probably heard that animals can smell fear. Well, the same is true for anxiety.

In particular, dogs can detect changes in human body chemistry, and one thing that can trigger those changes is stress. Unfortunately for your pet, studies have shown that dogs will mirror human emotions, so if you’re feeling stressed, your pet will feel the effects as well.

Fortunately, you and your pet can help rid each other of all that extra stress since the very things that will help your dog cope with stress will also help you.

Here are a few things you can do to help you both manage anxiety while settling into a new home:

Minimize clutter

Keeping the clutter down can be challenging, especially right after moving in when you find yourself buried in boxes. But creating a clutter-free zone – even in just one small room – where you and your pet can escape and decompress can make all the difference.

Take downtime together

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Your pet probably is, too. Retreat to your clutter-free zone together, or take a break in the backyard. Making sure you get enough downtime is key to a low-stress move for you and your pets.

Treat yourself (and your pet)

It’s normal to feel uprooted after a move. Take some time to treat yourself and your pet to something special. Grab your favorite beverage and take a trip to the local dog park to spend some time outdoors. Buy a new, interactive toy for your cat and spend some time engaging with them and encouraging them to explore.

When in doubt, love and attention go a long way

Moving with your dog or cat can be stressful for you both. But by planning ahead, following a few tips managing pets on moving day, establishing a routine, and healthily managing your own stress, you and your pets can settle into your new home in no time.

If all else fails, extra love and attention from your pet’s favorite human can go a long way towards easing the transition for both of you.

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