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Moving into a new space can be stressful for both humans and pets. While you’re unpacking boxes and working through logistics, your four-legged friend may be stressed and confused about why they’re in this new and unfamiliar environment. 

Knowing how to introduce your pet to a new space is key to ensuring they feel safe and comfortable during the moving process. If you take the time to let them acclimate properly, it can not only help prevent anxiety and behavioral issues but can also boost the odds that your pet will adapt more quickly to their new home.

Follow these tips for how to introduce your pet to a new space and it will start to feel like home in no time. 

Tips for introducing your pet to a new space

Start as early as possible 

Once you’ve signed a lease and you know where you’ll be living, ask the leasing office or landlord if you can stop by a few times before move-in day. This will allow your pet to become familiar with the smells of the space and surrounding area.

Same goes for when you’re buying a home. Once you’ve closed and gotten the keys, it’s helpful to start making short trips with your pet to let them visit and get used to the area.

If you’re moving into an apartment, walk them around any pet-friendly areas, too. That way, when it comes time to settle into your new space, they’ll recognize the sights and smells and everything won’t feel so novel.

Ensure it’s pet proof

Having a pet-proof space is vital for your furry friend’s safety and your own peace of mind. Ensure things like electrical wires, medications, toxic foods, and other potential hazards are out of reach. 

We all know that moving produces a lot of trash, so make sure any knick-knacks are cleaned up and put away. It’s also important to make sure your floor is clear of any sharp or small objects that they can choke on. 

You should also double check that all doors and windows close and lock safely — we don’t want your pet getting out by accident during an already-stressful time. 

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Create a space just for them

Giving your pet their own private space when you introduce them to a new home provides them with a personal safe haven. Use a crate or gate to create a boundary, and make it cozy by adding blankets, a comfortable bed, and some toys they’re already familiar with. 

For cats, you may want to add a scratching post or climbing tower to keep them busy. It’s also wise to put familiar items that smell like them (and you!) from their last home in their designated area.

This pet-friendly space should be somewhere accessible but far enough away from the main area that they’re not in the thick of the action all the time.

Take it slow

When you move, it’s best to introduce your pet to each room one at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed. You may want to consider keeping them leashed initially to control where they go and when. Letting them explore alone off leash could put them at risk for escapes, accidents, or injuries.

Maintain their normal routine

One of the best things you can do when introducing your pet to a new space is maintain their normal routine. Walking, feeding, playing, and bedtime should all happen when they normally did before you moved.

Continuing their daily routine helps create stability and predictability even in a new environment, making it easier for them to adapt to changes. 

Slowly socialize them with neighbors and pets

While socialization with neighbors and other pets in the community will help make it feel more like home, it’s best to take it slow. Let them ease into the space first, then you can start to gradually introduce them to neighbors.

Before you do any meet and greets, make sure you ask your neighbors how comfortable they are with pets and if their furry companions have been socialized properly.

Keep your eye on behavioral or health changes

When pets feel uncomfortable or anxious, this can manifest through changes in their physical and mental health. Keep your eyes peeled for changes in eating and sleeping patterns. If you notice restlessness, excessive vocalization, shaking or trembling, hiding, or destructive behavior, these signs can all point to an anxious pet.

Bring up any changes with your pet’s veterinarian and they can help you determine the best next steps. In some cases, anti-anxiety meds for your dog or cat may be necessary to help make the change easier on everyone.

Give them time to acclimate 

Be patient with your pet as they take time to adjust to their new home. If it’s taking longer than you anticipated, remember that this is totally normal, especially for cats. Cats may hide, be shy, or even act aggressively while getting used to a new area. 

During this transitional period, positive reinforcement is especially vital. Reward your pet for good behavior and try to keep the mood lighthearted — pets can feed on and reflect your energy.

Ultimately, a smooth introduction to your new space will set the stage for a happy and content pet in the long run!