When a family moves house there is usually no question that their family pets will move with them. A house move can be a very confusing and stressful time for a cat or dog. They may not understand what’s going on and it is common for a pet to feel unsure about their new environment; this can lead to behavioural issues in even the most well trained and behaved pets. Some pets may be extra sensitive or edgy, others may want to hide away or focus on establishing their territory through undesirable behaviour. Here are some tips on how to help your pet adjust to a new home.
Think About Your Pet First
Before you start packing up all of your stuff you’ll need to be fully prepared on how to keep your pet calm, safe and out of harm’s way. When you start to pack all of your stuff into boxes and cases your animal may become scared or upset, with it all becoming a bit too much for them. They may want to hide or run away from all the hustle and bustle, so it can be a great idea to set aside a calm, quite, safe and secure place where your pet can relax and not get lost or hurt.
Make sure that all of your pet’s documentation and medical records (including identification, your contact information and all copies of veterinarian records) are fully up to date and accounted for so that all eventualities are covered during the move. In addition, it can be a great idea to learn about the neighbourhood you’re moving into before going ahead, especially in terms of any aggressive animals or building work being undertaken around your new home.
A key part of helping your pet settle into your new home is to be consistent. Try to keep your routines in place when it comes to day-to-day tasks that involve your pet, such tasks can include mealtimes, cuddle/chill-out time, playtime and bedtime. If you have a dog then you should try to take them out for a walk as you do normally. If your cat is used to roaming free outdoors then it can be good for them to go into the garden initially, even if you have to use a lead to accompany them in case they run away. Once everything is settled and your cat is used to your new home, then they can roam free.
Every animal is different and will deal with moving house in different ways. Some may be better in a crate away from the madness, whilst others may be best settled when they are at your side at all times. If you think your pet will not be able to deal with the unpacking and transition into your new property, then maybe arrange for them to stay with a family member or friend until you are all unpacked; whatever works best for your cat or dog. The better settled they are during the move, the quicker they’ll come around to their new home.
Control and Patience
Try to control your own emotions where possible; your pet may be affected by how you feel during the move. If you feel anxious, stressed or act in a chaotic way, then this can cause your pet to misbehave or act out of sorts. Be patient with your pet and allow them to explore their new surroundings at their own pace. Even if you stay calm and reassuring throughout the move, you may still notice a change in your pet’s behaviour. This is fine; they need time to adjust to their new home, just as you do.
Some pets may require extra attention to help keep them settled and happy. This can be tricky to gauge sometimes as if your cat or dog normally loves attention but will not come out from hiding, or shies away, then you will have to decide whether to leave them, or try to comfort them.
When moving home you may be tempted to purchase new products for your pet. However, it is actually much better to keep all of your pet’s favourite things in place (where possible) within the new home. Things such as beds, bedding, crates, food dishes, litter trays, treats and water dishes should all be kept the same to help give your pet a sense of familiarity. Putting them in a similar place/part of the house can also help.
Try Not to Worry
The main thing to keep in mind throughout the move and settling-in period is that any negative behaviour displayed by your pet during this time will be as a result of the disruption. This behaviour does not mean that your pet has developed bad traits, rather that they just need time to adjust. If your pet is still having trouble well after you have settled, then contact your vet who will be able to point you in the direction of a pet behaviour expert. Above all, just remember all the unconditional love that your pet gives you and try to do the same.