The Weekend Post - Real Estate

Moving cats and dogs

A new home can cause stress, so ease your pet’s anxiety by following these top tips


Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. So, when they are moved from a familiar environmen­t or have their daily routines disrupted, they can become stressed and anxious, says animal behaviouri­st Lara Shannon. “When moving home with your dog or cat it is important to remember that this can be quite traumatic,” says Lara.

So here are five tips from Lara to make moving house as stress-free as possible.

1. Familiaris­e before the move

Visit your new home with your pet before you move in and allow them to have a sniff around the house and/or the yard and local area. Take them for a walk around the neighbourh­ood. Try to do this a few times before the big day.

2. Create a positive associatio­n

If your dog is food motivated, provide a treat when they arrive at the new place and reward any quiet, calm, or inquisitiv­e behaviour. By always rewarding your pet when they display the behaviour you want from them, it encourages them to do it more. If they are more toy or play motivated, reward them accordingl­y. Keep in mind new things in the house that your pet may not have encountere­d before, such as stairs, slippery floors, or different kinds of surfaces in the yard which may also impact on their toileting habits.

Don’t force them into/onto places they’re afraid of. Instead use positive training techniques to slowly desensitis­e them.

3. Pet proof the new place

If your pet can fit its head through a gap then it can generally get the rest of its body through, so check they can’t escape and that gates and fences are secure (pool and spas too), and that there are no gaps they can crawl into and get stuck. If you live in an apartment and have a balcony, make sure any gaps (no matter how small) are closed off and that there is nothing your pet can climb up on or over. Fence height may also be an issue for certain breeds of dogs. Consider fixing lattice at an inward slant to prevent them getting over. Hide exposed wires or cords inside and out, remove toxic chemicals and research toxic plants.

4. Provide a safe space and routine

Provide space away from mess and unpacking. Make a place for beds, toys, climbing towers and kitty litter and food and water. Many animals will stop eating when stressed or anxious, so ensure quiet and calm around feeding time. Pheromone diffusers may help. Stick to feeding and exercise routines. Cats should ideally be kept inside for at least three weeks – set up with plenty of high perches where they can watch the world go by. Also, consider a cat run in your yard.

5. Don’t leave them alone too soon

Let your pet settle fully before leaving them home alone. Start going out for only very short trips and ensure they have plenty of items to keep their brains and bodies stimulated. From adequate exercise, interactiv­e toys and puzzles, hiding treats around the home or yard, leaving the TV or radio on and possibly medication if anxiety is severe. Separation anxiety is akin to a panic attack in humans and can be extremely distressin­g for both pets and humans.

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