As you prepare for your upcoming journey, life at home starts to look a little different. New people are coming and going, there are cardboard boxes, suitcases and the smell of change in the air. If you have a pet that already struggles with some nervous tendencies, this can be downright overwhelming!
While it seems like there are no hours left in the day to incorporate anything new, here are a few small changes you can make to have a big impact during this transitional period (and the sooner you can start implementing them the better!)
- Your Attitude Matters: Your pet is always going to be looking to you for direction on how to feel about the world around them. As part of the pack, it is a collective effort between you and them to assess the ever-changing environment to decide how to feel about it. If you treat the whole process with a “you’ve got this” attitude versus an “I’m sorry this is happening to you” attitude, it will make a big difference!
- Practice Makes Perfect: Practicing putting your pet in a crate with the door closed for small increments of time while you are home helps make it less of a big deal to go inside when you are not home. The more you can vary the amount of time they are in there, the less of a big deal it becomes. Don’t forget to check out our crate training tips for cats and dogs for more helpful information on getting this started!
- Learn Healthy Separation: For every door that closes, another one opens. If your pet follows you around the house everywhere you go, don’t be afraid to take a moment for yourself and close the door. Whether it be to take a shower, fold the laundry or take a nap. Don’t allow them to be pushy at the door. You deserve to have a little time to yourself (regardless of how adorable they are!). It will help your pet realize they do not need to be glued to your side every moment you are home.
- Misery Loves Company! Feeding into your pet's stress can make it worse. When you leave the house, put them in a crate or close the door. Try to walk away without saying goodbye (this is not a sad departure, you are about to come right back!). Telling them they are a good boy (or girl) and that you’ll be back makes leaving a big deal, and we want them to understand that it’s not. If they are whining for you when you start to build healthy separation, try to stop them before it becomes panicky. Don’t be afraid to give them a stern “no”. This can help to show them there is no reason to overreact.
- Be Proactive. Get them used to change before any change happens. Much like people, teaching a pet to be flexible will help them be able to adapt to their upcoming journey as well as life in a new place. Move their dog bed to a different corner. Feed them in a different space (like inside the crate!) Pull out some boxes and suitcases occasionally, and then put them back. Do a few more car rides then you normally would where you are not going anywhere in particular. The more they get used to seeing and doing these things and nothing happens, the less of a big deal it becomes and the easier it is to handle!
Implementing some of these smaller changes can help your pet not just survive their upcoming journey but thrive like an old pro!