Helping Pets Adjust to New Situations

Pets like to have routine and stability in their lives.  They look to their human pack and their environment for consistent cues they can rely on to know what to expect next. The sound of their food scooping into the bowl means breakfast, when they see the leash that means morning walk, when you get out the keys, they head for the kennel, when you come home at night, it means relaxation with the humans.  When this usual routine is interrupted, pets sometimes have a hard time adjusting.

Most pets adjust to small changes easily, but bigger changes—such as moving or welcoming a new pet to your home—can require extra energy to minimize your pet’s stress and anxiety.

Avoiding the Move Blues

Moving—whether across the street or across the continent—can be stressful for pets.  You can help them adjust and acclimate with these simple steps:

  • Updated ID tags and microchipping. Making sure your pet is properly tagged for identification is always important, but especially when they are in an unfamiliar environment or are stressed out, both of which may occur when a move is underway.
  • Provide refuge. During your move, consider boarding your dog for a few hours or days while you unpack and get settled.  For a cat, provide them a calm “refuge” room in the house where they can hang out while you pack or unpack.
  • Roll out the red carpet. Unpack items familiar and comforting to your animals first.  These might include beloved blankets, toys, food dishes, and beds.  These cues will help them feel at home.
  • Move in Ready. If possible, introduce your pet to their new home after everything has been unpacked and arranged.  This can help you animal feel more settled and less hectic.
  • Explore new territory. Take time to explore the property and the neighborhood together with your dog so that s/he can learn the sights and smells of “new” home.

Resident Pet Meets Newcomer

Even for the most friendly of pets, meeting another animal in their territory can be stressful.  Getting used to this new pet’s sights, sounds and smells and determining who ranks where in the pack can cause some peculiar and sometimes problematic behaviors in both animals.  With a little patience and a good plan, your resident and new pets can be the best of pals in no time.  When introducing a new pet into your home:

  • Go slow. Keep pets on the opposite sides of a closed door initially to allow them to smell each other before making full contact.  You can also rub each animal with a cloth material and put the cloth near the other animal’s food or sleeping areas to get them used to each other’s smells.  Once they are used to the smells, you can introduce them separated by a baby gate, to enable visual contact but not full physical contact.
  • Supervise. Always monitor your animal’s interactions until you know they will get along.
  • Use a leash. Keep a dog under control using a leash during introductions to new people or animals.
  • New Cats: For new cats, provide them a refuge room away from other animals, where they can get used to the sights, sounds and smells of the new environment without full exposure.
  • Separate pets when leaving home, providing each with water, toys, litter box, etc.

How to Avoid Anxiety in your Pet

  • Keep a routine. Make an effort to keep as much of your pet’s daily routine familiar as possible.
  • Key phrases. Use specific key phrases prior to performing certain actions, so your pet can identify these cues with routine activities.  For example, each time you leave the house, you can calmly say “be good”
  • Routine feeding. Try to feed your animal in the same spot at the same times each day. 
  • Provide interactive and stimulating toys to channel your pet’s energy properly
  • Play soft music or leave the TV or radio on when you leave.
  • Be patient and give your pet time to adjust.

If you are having trouble or have additional questions about moving or introducing a new animal, please contact us at Absolute K9.  Our trainers would be happy to help you find a solution to any pet problem.

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