Janine Harris from Sydney writes ‘I have two dogs and my family and I are about to begin renovations on our home for two months. How can I prepare my dogs for what’s coming?’
Renovating your home is one of those momentous and challenging times in life that takes us out of our routine, and the inconveniences can be equally challenging. If you have animals, it can greatly affect there day to living and their stress levels. Yes you can definitely have stress free animals during your renovations, if we prepare them enough ahead of time. Animals can handle changes at home; as long as you are calm and stable.
Nevertheless, for animals that can be sensitive to noise or are used to having indoor and outdoor routines, we do need to prepare them for what is coming. I have successfully moved and settled my four animals into a half finished home and I can assure you it all comes down to advanced planning and a positive attitude from you. Let’s see what you need to consider:
Before you begin working or booking your experts, ask yourself these questions:
- Where will your animals stay during the day whilst construction is happening?
- Will they stay at the house? Or will you board them at a facility or take them to family and friends?
- Are your animals sensitive to loud noises such as drilling, hammering, throwing things around and strange people?
- Can your animals handle being locked up in a room all day during the renovations?
- If you are not living in the house during the construction, are your animals going to be with you?
- Can your animals stay somewhere else during the painting, and other chemical based work?
These questions need the same consideration as you would for having children around construction. You need to know what your animals’ routine will be for the duration. This will help to manage your pet’s stress and reassure them that they will be ok.
One of the most important factors when changing your animals’ routine, is communication. Hiring an animal whisperer to talk to your animals about the upcoming construction and changes to their routine will save you a lot of stress, worry and makes for a much smoother process to adapting your animals to the new additions. We can tell your animals what will happen, what kind of noises to expect, about the tradies that will be at the home everyday, why their routine has changed, and most importantly, how long this process is going to take before they can get back to a normal routine. Your animals may even have questions for you as well, as they can pick up from your thoughts about the changes to come. Just think how you would react to tradesmen arriving at your house and starting renovation if you have no knowledge this was to take place. You would be horrified. Don’t underestimate the power of communication. The more you discuss these plans with your pets, the less drama there will be as would happen to you in the same predicament.
Maintain Their Routine
Most animals are habitual creatures. Dogs and cats like to know when they are going out, when they will be fed and where their favourite sleeping spots are. Renovations can disturb their routine, so it is highly important you maintain their rituals as close as possible to normal. If they are being kept in a separate part of the house or they are moved to a different home, make sure they have their usual bowls, food, beds and toys. Keep as much normalcy as possible. If your dogs go for a walk at times when tradesmen are there, maintain their schedule as close as possible. The exercise will help to get them away from the noise and also release stress. If your cats are used to going out and about, I would suggest you allow them to do this for an escape from the bedlam or get a cat enclosure to avoid them wanting to leave permanently. It is very common for cats to leave the home if they cannot deal with the noise and the construction. Get them used to the cat enclosure before renovations start. They need to see it as part of their routine.
Create A Safe Place
As much as your animals feel safe with you, there will be times when you may not be home and there is work going on. Pick a room in the house that your dogs are familiar with and make sure they have everything they need in there. From toys, water bowls, favourite beds and as much quiet as possible. The door stays closed until all tradesmen have left and all gates are closed. This will prove to your animals that as long as they are in there they are safe. This goes for your cats as well. They need to have at least one familiar room that they can go and hide in, away from all the ruckus.
If there are no safe rooms for your animals, or you are living offsite too, there is the possibility of boarding your animals or taking your dogs to doggy day care during the day. They will be with other dogs all day playing so when they come home they will be exhausted and less anxious about all the new smells and sounds.
Dealing with Loud Noises
If your animals are sensitive to loud sounds such as banging, drilling, thunder and fireworks, it will be best to de-sensitise them well before your work is started. Playing sounds of drilling, hammering and banging at varying volumes around the house will help them to adapt to the sounds. The less of a reaction the better it will be for your animals. It will make it more convenient for you as well if you are all still living in the home during construction.
Watch Your Animals
You know your animals better than anyone. Keep an eye on their stress levels, any signs of illness or behaviour changes after construction has started. Animals are very good at hiding their symptoms, but if you know your animals well, you can pick up when they are not feeling right. We can also check in with them and ask them how they are coping with the renovations, and is there anything we can do to make things easier for them.
If they are not happy living in the environment, then you may have to adjust your plans and move them to another home temporarily. Preferably with someone they know, and keeping animals together will keep everyone happy. Communicating with your animals constantly about what is happening will reassure them and help them to adapt to the changes easily and happily. It also comes down to your attitude as well. If you are positive and grounded about the process, your animals will sense your energy and follow your lead.