When we move our clients into independent living homes there is no question that bringing their pet along when moving is key to a successful transition. Research shows that pets can reduce stress and improve health.
If you think you feel stressed and overwhelmed, pets will also be stressed by the move. If they feel unsure about their environment, it may lead to behaviour issues that were not a problem in the past. They may want to stay under a bed, find a place to hide, or establish their “territory” in their new home.
If you feel anxious, your pets may absorb your emotions by being jumpy and extra sensitive.
Here are some things to consider in helping a pet transition to a new home:
Keep your usual routine
For playtime, feeding, walks, cuddling and bedtime. Be consistent.
This is not a good time to introduce your pet to new items. Bring your pet’s favorite bed instead, toys, crate, food and water dishes, treats and other memorable items. Put them in comparable places as they were in your previous home. Favorites will help your pet feel in control and at home more quickly.
Think of ways to alleviate your pet’s transition. Some pets will feel best being next to you no matter what you’re doing. Others will do better in a crate away from the moving madness. Or maybe it’s better for your pet to stay with a friend or family member’s home during the actual transition; joining you once you’re unpacked and settled. The safer they feel, the better they’ll adapt to the change.
Keep them secure
During the packing stage, the actual move and the transition in the new home, plan for your pet’s safety. Some pets will be distressed and scared once the boxes and suitcases take over. They may hide or run away. Set aside a safe place where they can’t get lost or hurt. Make sure your pet has your contact information and identification, and that you have copies of veterinarian records.
Permit your pets to take their time sniffing around their new backyard. Let them see the sights — and if they decide to hide for a while, that’s OK as long as they know where the doggy door or litter box is. Allow them to come out at their own time. Their behavior may change for a short time, including eating and “potty” habits, barking, pacing or protection behaviors. They need time to get used to their new home, just as you do.
Never stop loving them
Your pet needs the same amount of attention and love they are used to. Extra love will go a long way as they come to feel at home in their new surroundings. Remember that difficult behaviors are a result of their discomfort with the change and a sense of not feeling in control. Difficult behaviors don’t mean the pet is bad and can’t change. Get help from a professional trainer or veterinarian if your pet’s difficult behaviors persist, and remember all the unconditional love they give you.
So with all of this considered, you can successfully relocate your pet with minimum stress.