Today you’re waking up in a brand new country. Is this a dream? No, you’ve finally arrived at your destination after extensive planning for your international move. Thankfully, your pet is right by your side so you can take it all in together. What should you do on this first day in your new country?
Deal with the essentials first
Place your pet’s travel kennel in a prominent place, so she can continue to use it if she wants. If nothing else, it will help her get the idea that this is her new home.
Identify a good spot for feeding and water, and set out her bowls. Fill up her water, and put a nice treat in her food dish. Or go ahead and feed her, if it’s her usual time. However, bear in mind she may have a jet-lagged internal clock, just as you probably do.
Prepare her potty area. If she’s a cat, pick a spot for her litter box, set it up, and show her where it is. She can take it from there. If she’s a dog, leash her up and take her outside, to show her where you want her to go. If she knows the “go potty” command, brilliant. Otherwise, you’ll have to work with her on this. At least she’ll be motivated.
Break out the toys and treats
You’re here . . . you made it! Aren’t you glad you stashed a couple of her favorite balls or catnip mice in your luggage so you can celebrate with playtime?
Check out the area
Your kitty may be an indoor-only kind of girl, or you may have moved to a place where cats are not welcome to wander outdoors. If so, give her the next best thing – a viewing station or two where she can easily supervise the goings-on outside her windows.
If your pet is a dog, take her on an exploratory walk around the neighborhood. (Don’t forget a poop bag, you don’t want your new neighbors to turn up their noses at you and your beloved pup!) Did you move to a high-rise with an elevator or lots of stairs? Many dogs are clueless about these things, so spend some time riding or walking up and down with her until she seems comfortable with the how-to.
You’ll need to take care of several practicalities
It’s even possible you gave yourself a head start on some of these before leaving your old home:
- Research a new vet
- Figure out where to get pet supplies
- Locate the nearest dog park
- Learn the local licensing and other pet-iquette rules for dogs or cats
- Teach your pet a few foreign language commands
If you didn’t already identify a vet and a pet store, make those a priority. For one thing, although you brought a small supply of food and meds for your four-legged friend, those things will run out before you know it. And you never know when you’ll need a vet. Having someone you can call or visit right away will give you immeasurable peace of mind.
Expect some behavioral issues
Your pet is relieved you’re still a team – somewhere strange, but still together. Nonetheless, your cat may be miffed at the indignities she was forced to endure during her air travel, or your dog may be feeling a bit uncertain about all the new sights and smells. Acting out is not unusual. Potty accidents, chewing or clawing, barking, an upset tummy can all be signs of worry or separation anxiety. Be aware, and be positive. If problems persist, talk to your new vet.
This article will give you some more useful tips for helping your pet settle in to her new home.
Just remember to take it easy
Don’t overdo it on your first day in your new country. Months of moving prep and yesterday’s travel experience have undoubtedly taken a toll. Both you and your pet may be feeling a bit drained, emotionally and physically. Even if you’re sans furniture and other homey accoutrements, you still have each other (and the rest of your human family).
So concentrate on making it a “togetherness” day with just enough exploration to confirm you really have moved to Someplace New. You’ll have plenty of time to get the full flavor of your new country in the coming years.