Moving is a stressful experience for everyone involved — including your pets. Perhaps even more so, as your furry friends won’t understand what’s happening. This uncertainty and disruption can cause a lot of distress and uncharacteristic behaviors.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the stress your pets will experience during the moving process. Here are some practical tips for how to make moving house less stressful for your pets.
Visit the vet
Before you start packing your things and getting ready to move, your first destination should be the vet. This is the time to get your pet in for a check-up and to discuss the changes they’ll face in the coming weeks and months.
Talk to your vet about your options for anti-anxiety medication or what signs of distress to watch for. If you’re moving far away, discuss what needs to happen to transfer your pets’ records to a new vet. Finally, if your pets are microchipped, ensure the information is up-to-date with your new contact information.
If your pets aren’t already microchipped, you should consider having it done before you move. Sometimes pets panic and run away when they move to a new place, even if they’ve never exhibited this behavior before. Having a microchip can help you find your pet in an unfamiliar location.
Get them used to packing supplies
Animals are curious by nature, and they know when something is happening. As a company from Texas, UMoveFree notices that dogs, in particular, are sensitive to changes in their environment. If you have a dog that panics when they see you pack a suitcase, you’ll have your work cut out for you when moving.
Start by introducing the packing materials to your home a few weeks before you start packing. Leave the tape, boxes, markers, etc., in a place where the animals can get used to their scent. Play with the tape a bit so that your dog will get used to the sound and learn that it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Try to schedule your first packing sessions for times when you’ll be home during the hours following. This exercise will contribute to object permanence for your dog. In other words, Rover will come to understand that you packing boxes doesn’t mean that you’re going away for a while.
Pack your pet gear last
Maintaining your normal routine for as long as possible is a must when moving. Leave your pet gear in place until the last possible minute. Rather than washing dog beds and cat toys, leave them as they are so they carry the smell of home.
Consider the transportation process
Sometimes the most stressful part of moving with animals is the transportation process. The nuances of this experience will vary depending on what types of pets you have and how far you’re traveling.
If you have to fly across the country, only small animals are allowed in the cabin of a plane, while larger dogs will have to be in cargo. This means considering that experience for them and how you can minimize the stress. Consider a mild sedative to help keep your pets calm on the plane, as it will be an entirely new experience for them. Put the travel carrier in their living space for the weeks leading up to the trip so they can get used to it.
Traveling by road can also be challenging with animals, especially if they’re prone to car sickness. If your pet doesn’t usually travel in your vehicle, schedule a few shorter trips to see how they fare. You’ll also want a leash and collar (even for cats) to take bathroom breaks along the journey. The more you can exercise and play with your animal before the move, the more tired and relaxed they will be.
Get a sitter for moving day
If you’re not moving too far away, consider getting a sitter for the actual day of the move. Have a trusted friend or family member take your pets or send them to a reputable pet daycare.
The benefit of getting a sitter for moving day is that your animal won’t be distressed by all of the commotions. Additionally, there’s less risk of them running outside as people come and go to move things through open doors.
Create a safe introduction space
While dogs tend to be ready to roam around their new home as soon as possible, cats tend to be more hesitant. Start by introducing them to one room with a closed-door that contains all of their belongings. Once they get acclimatized to that space, let them roam the house and explore. Don’t be surprised if they choose to hide behind furniture or stay in their carrier for a while.
Be sure to conduct a thorough safety inspection before you let your pets roam free in their new environment. Ensure that there are no exposed wires, sharp edges, things to chew, or screenless windows that could harm your pet.
Set aside dedicated pet time
It’s important that your pet feels that while their surroundings are changing, nothing has changed with you. As you navigate the moving process, set aside time each day to hang out with your pet. Keep to your usual routines as much as possible; don’t forgo your evening walk for packing.
It’s normal for your animals to exhibit behavioral changes when they’re experiencing stress or anxiety. These changes could manifest as anything from urinating in inappropriate places to destructive actions. Your dog, who hasn’t chewed shoes since he was a puppy, could start chewing again. Your cat could start spraying.
While these behaviors are annoying and stress-inducing for the owner, it’s integral that you be patient and compassionate. Correct the behavior, but understand that it’s a normal stress response. Use positive reinforcement for good behaviors and know that your pet might be picking up on your underlying stress and anxiety as well.
Preparation and patience are key when moving house with pets. By taking a slow and gradual approach to the moving process, you can make it less stressful for your pets and you.