When it’s time to move into your new house, whether it’s across town or across the country, your moving day checklist includes packing up your four-legged family members. And while moving with pets is a stressful time for you…it’s undoubtedly just as stressful for your pets. Here are some tips to make moving into your new home as stress-free as possible for everyone in your family — especially your pets!
First of all, start by looking at the move from your pet’s point of view. Their current home is more than their home — it’s their territory. Cats, especially, are very sensitive and prefer to be in a familiar environment. Dogs tend to adjust much more easily to moves than cats. That’s because new puppy owners are encouraged to socialize their puppy to get him used to new people, new smells and other dogs. So from the time they’re young, dogs are out and about.
For both cats and dogs, sticking to the routine after the move is very important. Maintaining the same schedule for treats, grooming and bedtime will help your pets acclimate even more quickly. And walking your dog at the same time each day will also help him transition into his new home.
Before The Move: Preparing Your Pets
The first step in helping your new cat prepare for moving day is getting her used to a pet carrier. No matter how near – or far – you’re moving, Fluffy will be safer in a pet carrier. If she’s never been in a carrier, introduce the idea slowly. Start by putting a blanket and cat treats inside, leaving the door open, and making the experience a positive one.
Once she’s comfortable with the carrier, the next step is familiarizing your cat with car travel. Start with short, 10-minute rides, then longer 20-minute rides. You’ll find that your cat’s anxiety decreases as she becomes more accustomed to sights and sounds associated with car travel. Be sure to leave the cat carrier out in the house during this time so your kitty gets used to it and even sleeps inside it whenever she chooses. While you’re packing boxes, be sure to let your curious kitty sniff around and have her own fun. Just don’t box her up by accident!
For dogs, consider taking your dog to your new neighborhood for walks before you move in. Walk by your new house and let your dog familiarize himself with the scents of the neighborhood. Go inside the new house if possible. Or try to bring something from the new house to your dog so he can familiarize himself with its unique smell.
While you’re packing, try not to isolate your dog in a dog crate. Instead, include him while you pack and move boxes, allowing him to investigate the activity. If your dog is crated or isolated in a room by himself while the rest of the family packs and prepares to move, he’ll likely feel nervous which could lead to stress-related behaviors such as hyperactivity, jumping or barking.
It’s Moving Day: What Should I Do with My Pets?
On moving day (weather permitting), the cat carrier makes a great place for your kitty to stay in the car – ready for the drive to your new home. If it’s too hot or cold, the bathroom is a great second choice. Be sure to provide her litter box, her cat carrier, food and water – and a closed door, of course. A sign indicating “KEEP CLOSED – ESCAPE CAT INSIDE!” is also helpful.
What about your dog? One option is to assign a responsible family member to be the dedicated dog sitter (choose someone who won’t be responsible for packing or moving on moving day). But it might be less stressful for your family and your dog if you have a dog-loving friend watch your dog for the day.
Planning for A Long-Distance Move with Your Pets
If your move is long-distance, your pets will need to be crate-trained well before your move. On the day of your move, your pets should be wearing collars including up-to-date rabies tags and your new address and phone number.
If you’re driving, plan stops along the way to ensure you’ll find pet friendly hotels. If your trip involves air travel, be sure to ask the airline about their pet travel requirements. You’ll need to keep a copy of your pet’s veterinarian records in your carry-on luggage.
Welcoming Your Cat To Your New House
Before you let your cat into your new house, make sure to inspect it from her point of view – inside and out. Remove any dangling cords from drapes or blinds to help keep your pet safe. Once your cat arrives, make sure to keep doors and windows closed and close any holes or crawl spaces where your cat would be out of your reach.
Once you’re in your new home, don’t be surprised if your cat “disappears” for a few days. She may choose her cat carrier, a closet or underneath a bed. Cats who move into new homes may have what appears to be a feline anxiety attack. Without familiar sights and sounds, cats may search for hiding places (the darker, the better). Normally eager eaters may need coaxing to finish a meal. And others may seem a little moody and “forgetful” when it comes to the litter box. They may even try to escape out the front door, in hopes of finding familiar surroundings. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure your pets – dogs as well as cats – are microchipped. (Don’t forget to update your address with the microchip provider.)
She’ll pick up on your mood, so be sure to follow your normal routine and reassure her that everything is back to normal. Encourage her to eat as she used to, and try to avoid having visitors. Anything you can do to get things back to normal will be helpful.
You may want to choose a special room that will be her private refuge, complete with her food and water bowls, bed, scratching post, and litter box – all the comforts of her previous home. You could also include something with your scent, such as a worn T-shirt. Once she’s comfortable there, she can begin to explore the rest of the house – perhaps even one room at a time – when she decides she’s ready. (Make sure to keep a second litter box in the location where you plan to keep one permanently.) Soon she’ll realize that the new home she shares with you is nothing to be afraid of, and she’ll be back to her adorable, lovable self!
How Dogs Adjust To A New Home
Your dog will most likely want a VIP tour of his new home. Once the movers have left and you and your dog have the house to yourself, let him make the rounds inside and outside. Walk him on a leash during this initial introduction so he feels safe and secure by your side. The sooner he gets used to the new smells of his new environment, the sooner he’ll feel at home.
Because a dog needs space and room to exercise, your dog might take more time to adjust if you’re moving from a larger house to a smaller house or apartment. But just like cats, dogs will appreciate getting back to the established routine as soon as possible. Taking walks at your usual time and sticking to the same route for several days will help your dog adjust.
If possible, allow yourself a few extra days to spend at home with your pet after the move and before returning to work. During this period of adjustment, you can begin to stay away from home for short periods of time to get your pets used to being alone in their new space. Do not leave your dog unattended outside during this adjustment period. Dogs have been known to jump fences in an attempt to return to their old, familiar territory. If the worst happens and your dog manages to escape his new yard or runs out the front door in search of his old yard, thesetips will help.
Veterinarian Advice and Moving With Your Pets
If you’ve moved a long distance, now is the perfect time to ask your new neighbors to recommend a new veterinarian for your pets. Schedule a “get to know you” visit for your pets as soon as possible so you have a vet in the event of a veterinary emergency.
Just like people, every pet is unique and has a personality all their own. Because you know your pet better than anyone, you can probably predict how smoothly the transition will go. If you know that your pet is extremely skittish, talk to your veterinarian well beforehand about your concerns. He or she can recommend medication to help sedate your pet during this stressful time, if it’s absolutely necessary.