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Dogs On The Move: Helping Man’s Best Friend Adapt To A New Home

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on January 9, 2018
Posted in Behavior Management

When you’re searching for a new home, your decision doesn’t just come down to the number of bedrooms and baths. You want a safe neighborhood to play in, great schools for the kids, reasonable commutes for working parents, and close proximity to the activities everyone enjoys. You must consider the wants and needs of every member of the family… including those with more than two legs.

Even if you are able to find the perfect new living space, complete with a big backyard for fetch and a built-in doggy door, it will take time for everyone – especially your pets – to get used to their new home. Luckily, there are several things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible for your furriest family members.

Through Their Eyes

The first step is trying to see the transition from his or her point of view. Dogs and cats see their current home as their territory. They take comfort in the familiarity of their surroundings and their routine. For that reason, you should keep changes to a minimum.

While it may sound like a good idea to start fresh and replace your old dog beds, water bowls, and chew toys with new ones, it might actually be better for your pet to wait. According to The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Milan, those items look, smell, and feel familiar, so keeping them may help ease your pet’s transition to the new home.

You should also try to keep your pets on the same schedule in regards to everything from feedings and walks to bathing and treats. If you do need to change something, be consistent. Pets will adapt to a new schedule more quickly if a routine is established early on. You may notice some new or unexpected behavior but it should subside with time.

Protect Your Pets

Your pet more likely to run away or get lost during the first few days in a new area, and neighbors are more likely to call animal control on a dog or cat with which they are unfamiliar. Be sure your pet wears a collar at all times and get updated tags before the move in order to reflect any changed contact information like phone numbers and addresses. If your pet has a microchip, don’t forget to register the chip and update the information in that database as well.

You should also check your new home for hazards before you set your pet free. The moving process can be quite messy and chaotic. Poisonous household cleaners, precariously-stacked boxes, and doors left cracked open pose serious health and safety risks for pets. Until everything is in its place and you’ve carefully examined the indoor and outdoor layout, consider keeping your dog or cat in a bathroom or bedroom that has been thoroughly pet-proofed.

Know the Rules

If you’re moving into an apartment, condo, or home with an HOA, there will almost certainly be a set of pet-related rules you’ll need to follow. From picking up poop to extra pet deposits, everything should be outlined in your lease agreement or HOA handbook.

Different towns, cities, and states have different regulations when it comes to leash laws, pets-per-household limitations, and licensing requirements. You should check with the city clerk’s office or department of agriculture to ensure your pet has all the required shots, tags, and paperwork prior to moving.

While these tips will certainly make the transition smoother for you and your pet, he or she will likely still be anxious and scared for some time. So as you prepare and implement the move, don’t forget to show your furriest family member a whole lot of extra love.

Read also: Kidney Disease in Pets

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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