Pets in New Homes

Moving can be stressful for you and your family, but it can also take a toll on your pets. Being in a completely new environment can give cats and dogs anxiety, and they may need some time to adjust to the new house.

Fortunately, there are several ways to ease the transition for your pets. Simply follow these tips from Dr. Terri Bright, Director of Behavior Services at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA)-Angell in Boston.

  • 1. KEEP OLD ROUTINES

    Before even moving to your new house, take note of your pet’s routine so that you can replicate it in your new home. What time does your pet eat? When do you take your dog out for a walk? Do you have a scheduled play time? “These kinds of routines can really help your pets adjust. They’ll think, ‘Oh, I don’t know where I am, but here’s my food, just on time.’ And that’s really good for them,” says Bright.

  • 2. KEEP FAMILIAR ITEMS CLOSE

    Cats and dogs use smell and hearing to know they’re in familiar territory. A new home will smell and sound entirely different from a pet’s old environment, which can be quite upsetting for the animal. That’s why it’s important that you bring that fur-covered dog bed, or scratching post for your cat, or dirty old water bowl – at least until they get used to the new house. These familiar items will help reduce your pets’ anxiety in their new home, says Bright.

  • 3. GIVE YOUR PETS A TOUR

    Just like you do a walkthrough before closing, take your pets for a quick visit before you actually move into the new home. Once you move in, walk around with your cat and dog and allow your pet to explore the house again. “With your cat, you’re probably going to want to keep them confined in a room (where their litter box is) for periods of time. This shows your cat that ‘this is your territory,’” says Bright. Try to spend as much time as possible around the house and when you’re there, stay close to your pets in the first few weeks. You’ll also want to pay special attention if you have male cats and dogs who will want to mark their territory.

     

  • 4. STAY VIGILANT FOR ISSUES ADAPTING

    Watch out for fearful behaviors in your pets. For instance, if their ears are back, their eyes are wide, they’re staying low to the ground, or they’re shaking or hiding, they may be scared. If that’s the case, says Bright, stay with them as much as possible; reassure them with love; give them lots of food, treats, and toys; and make sure to play with them. “This shows your pets that this new house is a really fun place to be, despite it being a new environment,” adds Bright.

  • 5. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP IF NEEDED

    If you’ve taken all the steps to try and help your pets adjust, but they continue to show signs of fear or anxiety, take your cat or dog to the vet, who may give your pet anxiety-reducing medication to help ease the transition.

  • 6. BE PATIENT DURING THE ADJUSTMENT PHASE

    So, how long will it take for your pet adjust to its new home? Keep following these tips until the animal’s behavior is predictable and it’s no longer showing signs of fear. This could take weeks or even a couple months, says Bright. But the most important thing to remember is to be patient with your pets and let them adjust at their own speed. 

Meritage Homes offers ways to make your home more pet friendly. That includes basic amenities like large yards, garages and proximity to outdoor spaces like dog parks. But Meritage also offers more personalized ways to help your pet feel at home and like part of the family. For instance, some floorplans offer homeowners a little nook built into the kitchen island, an ideal space for a dog's bed or for a cat to hide. Check out this pooch retreat in the Oakleigh Manor community in Atlanta.