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5 ways to help your pet adjust to a new apartment

dog and couple smile as they sit in a new apartment

When you have children there are basic things you do before moving into a new place. You research the local school district. You consider the proximity of the new home to playgrounds and parks. You look for a neighbourhood that’s safe where your children can play, grow and thrive. 

Just like with children there are certain things you need to think about when you have a pet and you’re searching for a rental apartment. First, find a neighbourhood that best suits you and your furry, feathered or four-legged friend. Next, find a building or rental apartment that welcomes animals. You should also become familiar with the provincial laws around rental units and pets (check out our handy national pet map) — particularly if you’re a student and won’t be signing a one-year lease, or if you’re a senior and you may be signing a multi-year lease. Once you’ve got these formalities out of the way, you’ll want to search for the fun things you and your pet can do together. Perhaps you’ll want a place that’s in close proximity to a dog park or open field where you and your dog can run and play. If you have a cat, you might want a cosy space with lots of windows where your cat can enjoy a view of the birds and squirrels. Consider what makes your pet happy and see if the neighbourhood or apartment can provide these.

Once you’ve found a place, it’s time to pack up and move-in. This is when real work begins. While moving to a new place can be exciting, it can also be stressful and overwhelming for both you and your pet. To help, here are five ways to help your pet adjust to your new apartment.

1. Ease anxiety with a personal pet space

when moving a dog and cat find a safe space under a blanket

No matter how big or small your new apartment may be, make sure your pet has a designated area to call their own.

In a small space, it may be a corner of the living room. In a large apartment, it may be a second bedroom. Wherever the designated space is, it should be home to your pet’s bed, toys, food, water, and other essentials.

By giving your pet a specific area, they’ll be less likely to experience the anxiety of a move. Animals feel comfortable when they know they have a place that’s all their own.

To make the transition even easier, bring a favourite blanket or toy from your old place to your new place. The familiar scent and feel of a favourite treasure will help them to adjust to their new home.

2. Keep a consistent routine

keep your routines   a woman walks her dog among the fall leaves

Like children, pets appreciate a daily routine. Despite the hectic pressure of school or work, try to keep daily activities on a strict schedule.

Have meals, walks, and play time at the same time each day, especially when you first move in. Routine and consistency will help your pet feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

Be sure to learn any new rules that apply to how or where you walk or play with your pet. If you’re in an apartment that requires you to keep your dog on a leash, then always keep your dog on a leash. If you live in a complex that has a dog park, make sure you follow the rules, such as keeping small and large dogs separate.

3. Explore your new community together

cat explores in a park with woman petting her

If you have a cat, let them explore the inside of every closet and every room in the apartment. The more familiar they are with their surroundings, the more comfortable they’ll be. If you have a dog, use a secure leash and go for walks together around the complex or around the community.

For dog owners, daily walks are more than just great exercise. Daily walks can also be a great way for both of you to make new friends.

Remember to always ask a neighbour’s permission before introducing your dog to theirs. That way, you both share in the responsibility if your dogs snarl at each other or don’t seem to want to get along.

4. Pet-proof every room

animals acting like humans cat on a laptop

Keep your pet safe by taking the time to pet-proof every room. Secure lower cabinets with child-proof safety latches. It’s crucial to make sure your cat or dog can’t access items such as household cleaners and medicines.

If your pet is an escape artist, consider getting a child safety gate and set it up in front of the entryway. This may not need to be permanent, but it will be helpful in the beginning if your pet has the urge to explore the hallway.

Remove or contain any items that could be dangerous. Packing supplies like bubble wrap and box cutters can pose a risk, so make sure you secure those items at all times.

5. Reward good behaviour

reward good behaviour. Woman kisses dogs nose

Some dogs perk up whenever they hear a strange noise. This may not seem like a major issue, but you may need to do some basic training if strange sounds typically lead to barking.

No matter how cute your dog may be, your neighbours won’t care if all they hear is constant barking. Be considerate of your new neighbours.

Leave a friendly note in a common area to let them know that you’re training your dog and trying to reduce the noise. This will buy you a small amount of time, so get started on the training right away.

Getting a pet accustomed to a new home can take a lot of work. However, with the right tips and tricks, it can be easy to do.

The most important thing is to lay down the rules and create a foundation from day one. Being stern and enforcing the rules from the very beginning will make it easier in the long run.

No one wants to leave their pet behind when they go to work or school. It can be painful to hear your cat make that sad meow when you close the door. It can be agonizing to look at your dog’s sad eyes as you put on your coat.

Do what you have to do to make sure the pet is safe when you’re away. Knowing that your pet is healthy and happy offers peace of mind so that you can go about your busy day.

Image of Maggie Litka

Maggie Litka

Maggie is a business manager at Marvelle at Southcenter, located in Washington state. She received her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Business Management from Washington State University