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How to Make the Home Selling Process Easier on Pets

When I sold my home last year, one of the unexpected challenges was the stress it put on my pets. It was my first time going through the home selling process, so I hadn’t put much thought into how things like spur-of-the-moment showings and unexpected furniture rearrangements would affect my dog and cat. We were lucky because we sold quickly, but even in the short period of time that we were on the market I could see a bit of heightened anxiety as they tried to make sense of all that was going on.

Animals—ourselves included—are creatures of habit. Our pets find comfort in the predictability of a routine. They’re also territorial to varying degrees (the cat seemed a bit more wary of the change in interior scenery than the dog did). So the home selling process, with all its ups, downs, and unpredictabilities, is naturally a bit much for our animal companions. But if you plan ahead and take active steps to lessen the impact with your pets in mind, you can reduce some of that stress and make the whole thing easier on both you and your furry (or feathery or scaly, etc.) creatures. Here are some tips on how to do it.

Have a plan for their stuff

While the environment around them may be changing—and is soon to change even more once you sell and move in to your new home—do your best to keep your pet’s individual space as familiar as possible. In our home, our pets have a little corner of the living room where their beds and toys are. So when we sold, we made sure that corner was always the same and always available to them.

The key to doing this is to have a plan for quickly making that space disappear when a showing is about it happen. Designate a space in the closet (or even under your bed) that you can quickly transfer your pet’s things to when you need to get them out of sight. The same thing goes for other pet-related items like food and water dishes, spare leashes, and anything else that screams “a pet lives here!” This way, your pets will have what they need when they need it, and buyers will be none the wiser when they come through.

Take your pet with you during showings

This one is hopefully a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. You should never leave your pet home alone during showings, since you never know who is coming by. Even if your pet is friendly they may not welcome strangers walking in and out of their space, and in addition to the fear and stress this can put on your pet, it’s also not great for potential buyers either (not to mention that you could be held liable for any pet-related injuries that happen on your property).

Showings, especially last minute ones, are part and parcel of the home selling process—you can’t avoid them, regardless of how inconvenient they may be. You need to have a plan in place for how you will get your pets out of your home for showings and what you will do with them. For me, this meant leashing up the dog, sticking the cat in his carrier, and hitting the road. If the weather permitted we went for a walk somewhere; otherwise we just sat in the car and hung out until we could go back home. You could also consider dropping your pet off at a neighbor or pet sitter’s house, if possible.

To make sure you have enough time to wrangle your pets prior to showings, request that you get at least one hour’s notice before anyone comes through. Better yet, ask for two or more hours. That way you don’t have to run out in a hurry, and if you need to find a place for your pets to go you have some time to arrange it. Talk to your realtor about the issue ahead of time so they understand your limitations and that the pets need to be out of the house before buyers come over.

Talk to your vet if your pet has any issues with anxiety

The home selling process can be difficult on all pets, but particularly those who already suffer from some degree of anxiety. If this is the case with your animal companion, make an appointment with your vet to talk about options for taking the edge off. These include prescription and non-prescription calming medications, wearable stress relievers like the Thundershirt, calming sprays and collars, and other products designed to regulate your pet’s mood. For my own anxious dog, I relied on CBD treats.

If you can, try to talk to your vet long before the actual chaos of home selling starts. That way you give yourself some time to play around with anxiety reducing options and see what the best fit is for your pet. Regardless of how much time you have before your home goes on the market, however, explain the situation to your vet as clearly as you can and see what they have to say—pet health professionals will usually have good advice for you on how to guide your pet through a tough situation.

Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and attention

You know what they say: “a tired dog is a good dog.” And the same goes for other types of animals, too. Being sure to provide your pet with lots of opportunities to release pent up stress and energy during the home selling process is beneficial for both of you. If you have a dog, consider adding some time on to their daily walk or taking more trips to the dog park. Exercise your cat by instigating more play time, with games like chase and hide-and-go-seek. Up the amount of attention you give your pet too, since they probably need a little bit more TLC during this time. Both exercise and attention help strengthen your own bond with your pet, in addition to being good for their mental state. Even if you’re busy, set aside plenty of time to help your pet expend mental and physical energy.

Know the signs of stress

Some animals may get more stressed than others during the home selling process. And it’s up to you as their benevolent caregiver to not just have a plan for mitigating that stress, but for reacting right away when you see that it’s occurring. Signs to watch out for include panting, clinginess, drooling, excessive dandruff, shaking or shivering, pacing, and excessive licking. You can see a full list of stress signs in various types of animals here.

If you do notice that your pet’s stress is increasing, notify your vet. It may be that your current plan of attack isn’t working and you need to try something else, or there may be other ways that you need to adjust your strategy. The better idea you have of what to look for, the quicker you can react when your pet communicates to you that they could really use some extra help.

Stay calm

I know, easier said than done. But as with all things when it comes to pets, your body language and your mood have a large effect on your pet’s demeanor. Just as you would when you take your unwilling pet to the vet or when you fly with them, do your best to remain as cool and collected as possible when you’re dealing with the harried tasks of home selling. This will in turn have a positive effect on your pet’s mood and behavior, and will help ease them through the transition.

There’s really no way to make home selling totally stress-free for your animal, but trust that you’ll get through it together and eventually, life will go back to normal. For more advice, check out the rest of our articles on moving with pets.

Published Thursday, June 27, 2019 7:54 PM by CENTURY 21 Gold Real Estate

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