Keep Your Pet Safe (and Calm) During a Home Remodel

Home remodeling projects are often chaotic, upending many aspects of your life while your house comes apart and back together again. It’s unsettling for your pets too! However, there are several steps you can take to keep them calm and help avoid acting-out behavior.

1. Create a safe harbor.

Help your pet escape from the upsetting sounds of power tools and banging noises by setting up a crated bed in a quiet, remote room. If extra or unfamiliar people (contractors, friends, extended family) will be assisting with the renovations, a safe harbor will help reduce contact.

Dogs naturally feel more protected in enclosed “safe spaces.” Cats are often less impressed with pet carriers. In both cases, you can help your pets prepare for the remodel by getting them accustomed to spending time in a crate.

Begin by leaving the container open near their favorite spots. Then, put occasional treats inside and work up to spending a little time in their crate each day. Be sure to include their favorite toy!

Consider using a white noise machine to help block out construction noises and encourage calmness. Another option is to play familiar music or to have a television running.

While planning your remodeling project, don’t forget to consider pet-friendly renovations too!

2. Safeguard against new dangers.

Most pets are curious and will want to investigate changes. If you explore with them, they will see that there’s nothing to worry about and be less alarmed by the modifications.

Do regular “walkthroughs” with them to demonstrate there is nothing to fear. First, however, check for nails, metal shavings, staples, wood, and other common construction site hazards. Even fast food trash left behind by workers could contain chicken bones, plastic wrappers, or other things that could hurt your pet.

Other potential dangers include cords strung about, doors left open, and tools lying around. Never leave your pet unattended in the construction zone, and be sure to wipe their feet to remove anything that could make them sick if they lick their paws.

Keep their food and water far from work areas, to avoid dust and other airborne debris from settling into their bowls.

3. Keep your routine.

Your pets are accustomed to household routines, including their feeding times, playtimes, and potty breaks. To help them stay calm and to avoid behavioral problems during a chaotic remodel, try to maintain those routines as much as possible.

Preserving routines will also help you stay calm—with spillover benefits for your pets. After all, most pets excel at reading human emotions.

4. Take a break.

If your pet enjoys being outside, take them to a park or on a long walk. Regular exercise and time outdoors will help you both during this trying time.

If your dog enjoys rides, hop in the car and enjoy a change in scenery. (Typically, cats frown upon car rides. But if yours is a fan, by all means, go for one!)

If these steps are impossible to maintain during your remodel, consider finding an “elsewhere” for your pets to avoid the chaos. Visits to a family member’s house, doggie daycare, or even boarding might be the best option during extremely stressful times.

Just be sure to bring them home at night, if possible, or visit them often, for your emotional health and theirs!