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Many of us feel that a house is not a home without our pets, and when we’re moving to new homes, having our pups and kitties there as a source of comfort helps us ease into the new routine and environment. However, moving to a new home can be stressful for your pets. They may be uncertain of their new surroundings or become territorial while establishing a presence in the new home. Dogs and cats alike may experience separation anxiety when left alone in the new living space, which can lead to constant vocalization or destructive behaviors like scratching at doors or carpets in attempts to escape.
To make the transition as peaceful as possible (for you AND your pets), try to remove them from your current home during the moving process; the act of packing and loading a moving truck signals to your pets that something is happening, but they’re not sure exactly what it is. This can lead to anxiety and confusion that compounds upon arrival in the new home.
When you do bring them into the new environment, maintain their regular routines consistently; feedings, walks, playtime, and bedtime should remain the same as always. If your old home had a doggie door, install one in the new home, as well. If your cat is used to having outdoor playtime, arrange for the same (consider using a leash initially until kitty is comfortable and established in her new surroundings).
Additionally, be sure to bring your pets’ favorite items. They will be overwhelmed with the new environment already, so this may not be the best time to introduce new toys, food, or beds. Make sure their favorite blankets, squeaky toys, and snacks are available to maintain a sense of consistency and security for them. Having these familiar items around will help your pet feel calm and in control.
Allow your pet to adjust in his or her own way. Skittish pets (and most cats) will likely stay hidden until they feel comfortable enough to venture out and explore their new habitat and all it has to offer. Dogs may follow closely on your heels from room to room for several days before feeling secure in the new home. Don’t try to force your pet into spaces or rooms that he doesn’t seem comfortable in, and provide a space that is exclusively his own, even if it’s just a bed or blanket in a corner.
Most of all, be patient with your pets during this transitional period. Let them take their time, sniff out all the new smells, get to know the neighbor dogs, and find their new favorite potty spots on their own time. Ensure that they feel safe and secure by providing lots of love and cuddles (an extra milkbone or two couldn’t hurt, either).
If your pet continues to display severe anxiety or behavioral issues after a few weeks in their new home, consult your vet or a professional trainer for tips to help them relax and enjoy the change of scenery.