Luggage and boxes often trigger alarm bells in our pets because they symbolize one thing: a move. Moving is one of the most stressful experiences for both people and their animals. Thankfully, humans can rationalize the benefits of making a move or transitioning to a new location. On the flip side, it’s harder for our pets to understand. If you’re a locum tenens physician headed to a new medical assignment, don’t fret, you can take your furry friend along for the journey! Although animals are resilient and often adjust well to moves, they might face some trouble in the beginning. To ease their transition, it’s a good idea to follow these nine tips for your pet’s successful integration into a new home.
Before you embark on your trip, get your pet checked out by your current veterinarian and locate a new vet in your destination city. Then, request to transfer your pet’s records. It might be a good idea to set up an appointment with the new vet as soon as you arrive so your pet can get used to the new staff before an emergency occurs. Different parts of the country may require different sets of shots, so you should check with both your current vet and the new one to confirm. For example, southern states put less emphasis on Lyme vaccinations than New England states do.
New surroundings can make your pet a little more skittish than usual; ensure their identification tags are updated and clearly marked. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, you may wish to consider microchipping them in case they slip out of their collar.
For canine friends, scope out some good walk routes, dog parks, or other places to exercise your pet. If they’ll be left alone all day, consider hiring someone to break up the day and let them out or take them for a walk. Applications, like Rover, connect you with approved animal lovers who are willing to take care of your pet. If your dog is social and craves other canine interaction, consider enrolling them in doggy daycare! Taking each of these steps helps initialize seamless care from one destination to another.
Get them used to travel
Some animals are fearful of car rides, crates, or carriers. Often, we accidentally reserve these tools for scary situations, like trips to the vet or a move. To help make the experience more positive, it’s important to include the travel items in your routine leading up to the big day. Consider feeding your pet in the carrier or crate that you will use for your trip for a few weeks leading up to your departure. Soon, the carrier means food, not stress, and builds positive association. Additionally, take your pet for frequent, short car rides to help desensitize them so that the experience becomes less traumatic.
Leaving home is a disruption, so anything that you can do to retain normalcy helps your pet relax. Despite your work schedule, if you typically feed or play with your pet at a certain time, try to mimic that exact schedule. Keeping a consistent routine helps create stability amid the chaos. Falling into the same pattern provides predictability and promotes security in your pet’s new surroundings!
Recreate their space
Similarly, it’s important to try to set up their new space like their old environment. If you bring furniture or other belongings with the familiar smells, this helps provide comfort. If you can, try to sit on the floor as you set up your new home. Your scent helps comfort them as the move continues and they slowly learn the different rooms in your apartment or house.
As tempting as it might be to run out and buy new beds, bowls, or toys, try to use their old items (at least until your pet settles). Having a favorite toy or familiar bed shows them that it’s their space.
Roll with any changes in behavior
Try to be patient with your pet. No matter how many steps you take to prepare, moving is stressful for anyone, let alone animals who cannot rationalize the situation. Don’t be shocked if they start to develop habits you never experienced before. Your pet may have accidents in the house or start chewing because they are anxious and/or confused. Some pets react more extremely and can exhibit aggressive behavior. Be aware that they find comfort in routine, so do your best to reassure them that life goes on, just in a new location. It may take them a little longer than you hoped before they settle into their new normal. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help; it could solve the behavioral issues and provide you with peace of mind. Take the time to soothe and calm your pet, consult your veterinarian, or seek a trainer to help transition your animal through the move.
If you have an outdoor cat or a dog that can be trusted off-leash, let them settle before allowing free rein at the new place. Unfamiliar areas can confuse animals and it could take them a little bit longer to learn the perimeter of your yard and/or the surrounding terrain. Dogs are prone to bolt if they get worried, so it might help to take your pet for walks inside the borders where you’ll allow them to roam before setting them free.
Make the new space fun
Moving doesn’t have to be all scary. Consider getting some extra toys or cat towers for your animals. Hiding treats for them to find or stuffing Kongs with peanut butter or other goodies helps them focus on something other than being stressed about their environment. Since dogs can become bored and destructive, special items―like Nina Ottosson puzzle toys―help keep them engaged in their new home. Remember not to leave toys like rope or squeaky toys around; these items can easily lead to a trip to the veterinarian if your pet ingests a squeaker or strings!
If you’re really concerned about your pet settling into their new home, talk to your veterinarian about a calming aid or medication. Amazon sells some homeopathic treatments, like Rescue Remedy, that could help calm your furry friend down and make the transition a little smoother. Before purchasing, be sure to speak with your veterinarian about the product.
No matter how long it takes, have faith. Your pet would much rather settle into a new adventure with you than be left behind. You will soon establish a routine and teach them to love their new environment! Hopefully, these nine tips help.
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