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Helping pets acclimate to their new homes
5-1 new pets
It can take some time for new pets to settle in, but with patient and reassuring owners, pets will eventually acclimate to their new homes.

Welcoming a new pet into a family can be an exciting time. Pets are wonderful companions and can even be beneficial to their owners’ overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that pets may create increased opportunities for exercise. In addition, studies have shown that relationships with pets may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and other ailments.

A new pet requires owners to make various changes to help both humans and companion animals. It can take a period of transition for everyone involved to determine their new roles. Here are some strategies to help pets and people acclimate to new living situations.

Create a safe place. Any person who has moved understands that relocating can be stressful. Pets may be on edge when moving into a new home because they don’t have the capacity to process why a move is taking place – even if the eventual result will be something positive. Establish a quiet spot that is away from high-traffic areas so the new pet can grow accustomed to the sounds, smells and routine of its new environment. Then he or she can retreat there when necessary.

Retain some of the pet’s items. Owners may want to buy their pets new toys and supplies, but they should utilize some of the pet’s original and familiar items to make it easier for the animal to adjust. This familiarity can be comforting for the animals.

Consider the 3-3-3 rule. Animal rescue and training organizations, such as Alpha and Omega Dog Training, say the general rule is that pet owners can expect three days of a new dog feeling overwhelmed and nervous; three weeks of settling in; and three months of building trust and bonding with new owners. New pet owners should not feel disappointed if it takes some time for a pet to settle in. Cats and other animals may acclimate differently.

Be patient with behavior. Pets who have moved to new places may temporarily forget their training. This means engaging in undesirable behavior, such as having indoor accidents (or those outside a litter box), jumping up on people, howling, barking or meowing, and more. It will take some time for pets to feel safe, so reinforce training with patience.

Stick to a routine. Animals prefer knowing what is coming next and are creatures of habit, says the American Kennel Club. Individuals should establish and stick to daily routines where feedings, play time, walks, and other activities occur at roughly the same time. This will help pets feel more relaxed.