In the rush of getting the family ready for the move, it’s easy to forget about your pets.
However, it’s very important to make sure your home is safe for all your loved ones, and that includes Sparky.
Here’s what the professionals have to say about how to pet proof your new home:
Beware of Household Dangers
What’s the first thing a pet does when you bring them to a new place? Most pets will hit the ground running and explore! So, you’re going to want to make sure your new home is free of household dangers.
“The best way to pet proof a home is to envision you have a precocious toddler and then kick up your attempts from there,” says Bernadine Cruz, an associate veterinarian in Laguna Hills, Calif., who has appeared on numerous television networks like A&E, Discovery and broadcasts like The Today Show. “Move around at pet level in order to discover likely health hazards from their point of view.”
What things that may seem out of site and out of mind could become extreme hazards. You’ll want to check for dangerous missteps like electrical sockets and wires and possible access to poisons in low cabinets they may be able to pry into. You might even want to look into chewing/licking deterrents to rub on things like floor moldings or door frames, or, Cruz suggests, just try out pepper sauce or your handy underarm deodorant.
Cruz suggests cupboard latches designed to keep out children, round door knobs opposed to lever handles and products like Scat Mats or an Invisible Fence to keep Fido or Fluffy out of certain rooms or stairways. And if your pet is a jumper, placing foil or double-sided tape on a surface can deter them from leaping up onto unwanted areas after one try.
Pet Proof Your Property
After you’ve made your indoors inspection, it’s time to head to the yard.
“If you have a fenced yard, you should walk the entire fence line looking for any holes that may need patching,” says Tommy Grammer, owner of MyDogTrainingSpot.com, a website that provides online dog training lessons and information. “It is also a good idea to make sure exit gates latch and lock correctly.”
Grammer also suggests scouting all the plants your pet has access to, as some plants are poisonous to some animals. If you don’t know the names of the plants in your yard, taking a photo to your local horticulture expert could provide the right answers. It would also be wise to consult with a pest control expert for fleas and ticks, as pets can quickly spark an infestation in your new home.
Roads are perhaps the biggest danger for your pets, so it’s best to never let them roam free outside without fencing. If your home does not come with a fence, you may want to look into getting one installed before the big move.
“Do as much as you can to get prepared ahead of time,” says Michelle Schenker, COO/founder of CanineJournal.com, an online resource for dog care. “While your house is under contract and you are preparing to close, go ahead and be proactive about taking as many steps as you can (furniture upgrades, installing fences, crate training, etc.). That way you are prepared and eliminating even more unknown factors during the transition.”
Tips for the Transition
A new-home transition can be just as traumatizing for your pet as it can be for your kids. You don’t want them to take it out on your furniture, your door frames, your carpet.
“Pets often find the transition into a new home exciting, at least until you leave them alone for the first time,” says Grammer. “The best way to lessen anxiety when you leave them home for the first time is to start desensitizing them to the leaving process.”
Grammer suggests giving your dog an interesting new chew toy (ones that dispense treats work well) as you walk out the door. You can stay outside a few minutes before you come back in and ignore him or her when you come back inside. The more you practice, the more you can lengthen the time you stay away.
Grammer also says to continue your pet’s daily routine as much as possible; feed them at the same time, walk them at the same time, brush them at the same time. “Remember that exercise helps animals relieve stress and the more adequate daily exercise you can provide, the more comfortable your pet will be,” he says.
When all else fails, your best investment may just be to stick with crate training. “Crate training is key!” says Schenker. “The earlier you can start them, the better. Over time it will protect the value of your home and give you and your pet peace of mind.”
Just make sure you find the time to play and interact with them when they can be let out and remember that this whole process is a learning experience for them.
“As with any new living situation, there will be a learning curve for your [pets], just like there are for humans,” Schenker says. “Be patient and understand that it will take time and training for everyone to adjust.”
Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.