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As true creatures of habit, dogs and cats are not particularly fond of moving to a new home. There’s no good way to explain it to them either, leaving them feeling a bit shaken up until everyone gets settled in. Thankfully, you can ease their distress and help them feel cozy in their new living space by using the following tips.
Bring a Piece of the Old Place
As you clean up everything and get your items packed away, skip washing the kitchen rug, front doormat or other mat your pet enjoys lying on. Instead, bring it along with its dirt - and scent - intact, so they can feel like they have a piece of home wherever they go. Once they spread their scent all over the new place, you can wash it without sending them into a tizzy.
Give Them Their Own Space
Your pets won’t feel comfortable in their new home until they have their own dedicated space. So, the second you get in the doors, set up their crate, cat tree and beds in their designated zones. Then, put out the food and water dishes, treats included, to let them know that this is their domain. As your pets retire to their newfound spots, avoid the urge to enter their zone. Just let them relax, and they will come around soon enough.
Plan to Stay Home Together
If at all possible, it’s best to take at least a couple days off to spend with your pet at your new home. Although you’ll likely be busy unpacking, your pet will greatly appreciate your presence. You can offer them gentle words and plenty of love to help ease their stress about the whole situation. Just avoid coddling them if they’re acting fearful since that can confirm their worries and worsen their anxiety.
Make Fun a Top Priority
When you can take a moment away from all the unpacking and organizing, use your breaks to have a bit of fun with your pet. You can play chase, fetch or other fun games while exploring the home, inside and out. By getting all your pet’s energy out, their anxiety levels will decrease, making it easier for them to rest. You can then cuddle up on the couch together at the end of the day and relax without them pacing or otherwise acting worried.
Bring on the Treats and Praise
Positive reinforcement truly helps both dogs and cats exhibit wanted behaviors and leave the stress behind. To help them out, keep a pocketful of high value treats on hand, like pencil eraser sized tidbits of meat, cheese and the like. When you see your pets let their guard down, even for a brief second, give them a treat and ample praise. Then, gradually up the ante by waiting for them to settle down and relax for a minute or two before rolling out the rewards.
As you move through these steps, you’ll likely see your pets' stress melt away. They may still need a bit of time to get fully comfortable, but your efforts will go a long way in making that happen.