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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

The advice in this book comes from Candi Wingate, President of Care4hire.com.
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Preparing Your Pet for Your Family Relocation

You are moving.  That requires extensive planning regarding the sale of your existing home and subsequent purchase of a home in your new community; disconnecting and connecting utilities at the homes; the packing, transporting, and unpacking of your household inventory; and helping your family members prepare for and adjust to the change.  It isn’t just your kids that will need your help preparing and adjusting to this change.  Your family pet will need your help too.  Here are a few tips to help you help your Fido or Felix.

FIDO

Most dogs are quite perceptive and reasonably adaptable.  Remain calm as much as possible throughout your relocation process.  If you portray anxiety, Fido will likely perceive that and mirror your anxiety.  As you begin packing for your relocation, Fido will likely notice that something big is happening.  In order to reassure Fido, try to minimize other changes in your family’s life.  If you see Fido exhibiting anxiety, spend extra time with him, comforting him and ensuring that he knows that all is well.  As you near completion of packing, you may need to restrict the space that your family occupies in your home.  Close off unneeded/unoccupied levels of your home.  Fido may be displeased by closed doors, but he will likely find that displeasure superior to the anxiety he would experience by being able to see the vacant space and have the continuous reminder that something is amiss.

If Fido enjoys car rides with you from time to time, and if your relocation will be accomplished via automobile (as opposed to airplane), then Fido will likely enjoy the car ride to the new family home.  Never leave Fido unattended in a vehicle.  Vehicle temperatures can easily become quite hot (much hotter than the outside temperature) or quite cold (equaling the outside temperature).  Instead, find ways to keep Fido company in the vehicle at all times.  For example, instead of going into a restaurant for a meal (thus leaving Fido alone in the vehicle), go through a drive-through restaurant, drive to a city park, and have a picnic.  As you must walk Fido periodically throughout your journey, the picnic is a wonderful opportunity for you and Fido to explore the park.

If your relocation will be accomplished by airplane, you will need to research the pet policies of your airline.  Can you take Fido in the passenger compartment with you or must he go in the cargo bay?  Do you need a pet taxi or is carrying Fido or walking him on a leash acceptable?  Can you pay for an additional passenger seat for Fido?  Will you need to have Fido’s medical records handy as you and he pass through your various airports along your journey?  Once these questions are answered, you can prepare Fido for his means of transit.  For example, you can pack a bag full of his favorite snacks and toys, an unwashed item of your clothing (he will find the smell comforting when he is stressed), and other items intended to reassure Fido that all is well.  If Fido will need to be in a pet taxi during air travel, Fido should be acclimated to the pet taxi prior to the day of travel.   Encourage Fido to lounge in the pet taxi for several weeks prior to departure.  Place snacks, toys, blankets, etc. in the pet taxi to encourage Fido to embrace the pet taxi as a happy place.  Ensure that the pet taxi is permanently marked with your name and contact information, Fido’s name, and “LIVE ANIMAL INSIDE”.  If Fido will ride in the passenger compartment with you and may sit on your lap or on a passenger seat, you may be well advised to bring a thick and absorbent blanket on which Fido can sit (in case he has “an accident”).  On the day of departure, engage Fido in vigorous play or walking: he will have a largely sedentary day once you arrive at the airport, so he needs to burn off energy early and go into the air travel happily needing a rest.  Feed and water Fido about four hours prior to airport check-in and walk him just prior to check-in; this reduces the likelihood that Fido will need to eliminate waste early in his journey.

If your relocation will involve one or more nights in a hotel, you should secure reservations at a hotel that is pet-friendly.  Ideally, the hotel will be located near a dog park or other outdoor venue in which you and Fido can walk and play following check-in.

When you arrive in your new home, walk Fido through your home and yard, allowing him to smell each space that is of interest to him.  Speak to him in encouraging tones.  Tell him that he is a “good boy”.  Then, give him some treats and plenty of additional praise.  The next order of business is to determine where Fido’s spaces will be.  Where will his bed be placed?  And his food and water bowls?  Where will his toys be stored?  Place Fido’s items in their spaces and direct Fido to these spaces.  Let him acclimate to where he is and where he can find those items that are important to him.  Over the course of the ensuing weeks, try to keep your family’s schedule as normal as possible.  Ensure that you are spending enough time attending to and reassuring Fido.

FELIX

Most cats are quite perceptive and not very adaptable.  Remain calm as much as possible throughout your relocation process.  If you portray anxiety, Felix will likely perceive that and mirror your anxiety.  As you begin packing for your relocation, Felix will likely notice that something big is happening.  In order to reassure Felix, try to minimize other changes in your family’s life.  If you see Felix exhibiting anxiety, spend extra time with him, comforting him and ensuring that he knows that all is well.  As you near completion of packing, you may need to restrict the space that your family occupies in your home.  Close off unneeded/unoccupied levels of your home.  Felix may be displeased by closed doors, but he will likely find that displeasure superior to the anxiety he would experience by being able to see the vacant space and have the continuous reminder that something is amiss.

Felix likely does not go on car rides with you except when you take Felix to the veterinarian.  As a result, Felix thinks all car rides end in unauthorized touching (by the veterinarian) and vaccinations (ouch!).  So, Felix will find a car ride to your new family home to be stressful.  If you have time well in advance of your relocation, you can take Felix for short, pleasant car rides to help him learn that car rides can be pleasant experiences that have happy endings.  To increase the likelihood of Felix coming to understand that rides don’t have to be stressful, you should have passengers in your vehicle provide him with snacks, pet him, play with him, and speak in a soothing tone to him (or at least attempt these) during these rides.  This may help Felix see that not all car rides end in scary or painful experiences at a veterinary clinic.  If Felix is not comforted by these attempts, you can try covering Felix in his blanket or an unwashed item of your clothing.  Sometimes, Felix operates with the if-I-don’t-see-it-then-it’s-not-really-happening flow of logic, so covering Felix and surrounding him with familiar scents can be pacifying.   If Felix remains stressed by car rides, or if you do not have the time for these attempts, you should speak with your veterinarian.  While medicating Felix should not be undertaken lightly, sedating him may be the most humane way for him to get through the car ride to your (and his) new family home.  Never leave Felix unattended in a vehicle.  Vehicle temperatures can easily become quite hot (much hotter than the outside temperature) or quite cold (equaling the outside temperature).  Instead, find ways to keep Felix company in the vehicle at all times.  For example, instead of going into a restaurant for a meal (thus leaving Felix alone in the vehicle), go through a drive-through restaurant, and then park your car and dine in your vehicle.  Each of your family members can get out of the vehicle in turns, some “stretching their legs” while others remain in the vehicle providing companionship to Felix.

If your relocation will be accomplished by airplane, you will need to research the pet policies of your airline.  Can you take Felix in the passenger compartment with you or must he go in the cargo bay?  Can you pay for an additional passenger seat for Felix and his pet taxi?  Will you need to have Felix’s medical records handy as you and he pass through your various airports along your journey?  Once these questions are answered, you can prepare Felix for his means of transit.  For example, you can pack a bag full of his favorite snacks and toys, an unwashed item of your clothing (he will find the smell comforting when he is stressed), and other items intended to reassure Felix that all is well.  Felix should be acclimated to the pet taxi prior to the day of travel.   Encourage Felix to lounge in the pet taxi for several weeks prior to departure.  Place snacks, toys, blankets, etc. in the pet taxi to encourage Felix to embrace the pet taxi as a happy place.  Ensure that the pet taxi is permanently marked with your name and contact information, Felix’s name, and “LIVE ANIMAL INSIDE”.  If Felix will ride in the passenger compartment with you and may sit on your lap, you may be well advised to bring a thick and absorbent blanket on which Felix can sit (in case he has “an accident”).  If Felix is a particularly high-strung kitty, you should speak with your veterinarian.  As noted above, sedating Felix is not a good option, but it may be the best option available to you and Felix to make the journey as easy as possible on him.  On the day of departure, engage Felix in vigorous play: he will have a largely sedentary day once you arrive at the airport, so he needs to burn off energy early and go into the air travel happily needing a rest.  Feed and water Felix about four hours prior to airport check-in and leave his litter box out and available to him until the last possible moment; this reduces the likelihood that Felix will need to eliminate waste early in his journey.

If your relocation will involve one or more nights in a hotel, you should secure reservations at a hotel that is pet-friendly.  Ideally, the hotel will be located in a quiet area.  Ensure that your guest room is at the far end of the hall and near a seldom-used exit-only door, if possible. Loud noises and strange voices will be distressing to Felix, as will the unfamiliar sights and smells of the guest room.  Don’t be surprised if, when you let Felix out of his pet taxi, he dashes under a bed and stays there for several hours.  Give him a little time and space to adapt.  Place his food and water bowls near wherever he has chosen to hide.  After several hours, move the bowls a little further away from him.  Gradually, try to draw Felix out of his hiding spot.  If he is unwilling to come out, respect his choice.  Simply ensure that his food, water, and litter box are available to him and let him have his space.  In the morning, when you must check out of the hotel, then and only then should you remove Felix from his hiding spot despite his objections.  (Note:  you will, of course, need to do this as tenderly as possible, while concurrently speaking in reassuring tones to Felix.)

When you arrive in your new home, select one room as Felix’s space.  This will be the space that will be more intensely his than any other place in the house unless or until he chooses a different space as his primary space (for example, he may, at some point, declare your bed as his primary space).  Keep him in his pet taxi and keep the door to that room closed; check on Felix at least once every hour throughout your waking time.  When Felix begins to look alert (if he’s been sedated) and not alarmed (although he will probably still look wary), you may let Felix out of his pet taxi.  In his room, you should show him where he can find his litter box, food bowl, water bowl, and toys.  Place items of your unwashed clothing around his space to give him comforting smells in this unfamiliar home.  When Felix begins showing curiosity about what lies beyond the door to his room, allow him to explore more of your new home; it is best if you time his exploration for a moment when there is not a lot of activity in the home.   Speak to him in encouraging tones.  Tell him that he is a “good kitty”.  Then, give him some treats and plenty of additional praise.  If Felix wants to return to his room, allow him to do that.  If Felix prefers to be with his humans, allow him to do that.  When Felix spends his first night not in his room, then you can assume that he is ready to call the house his own territory.  Over the course of the ensuing weeks, try to keep your family’s schedule as normal as possible.  Ensure that you are spending enough time attending to and reassuring Felix.

Summary

By following the tips above, you can help your Fido or Felix adapt as well as possible to your family relocation.  After the relocation is said and done, Fido or Felix will settle into your new family home, your family will return to normal (or find a new normal), and all will be well . . . for every member of your family, including Fido or Felix.

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