How to Give Your Pet as Peaceful a Move as Possible

(Note: This is Part I in a series of three, be sure to read Part II & III)

Part I: Preparing for Your Move

People aren’t the only ones that become stressed and anxious during a move. Pets can feel the same exact way. It’s also important to remember that pets have a strong sense for emotions of humans and can tell when you’re not feeling yourself. So, keep in mind that the more stressed you become, the more stressed your pet will become. Keep as calm as possible leading up to your move. Pre-planning and even over-preparing can be a lifesaver when getting your beloved pets ready for a move. Not doing so can result in personality changes (including depression, marking of territory, and aggressive behaviors) once moved to the new location. It’s also important to note that cats and dogs are extremely different when it comes down to the stress involved with moving. Cats are attached to things and places because they roam and hide more; dogs are attached more to humans and their smells and voices than the material or concrete things. Understanding their unique needs will help allow you and your pets a smoother transition.

Prior to Moving:                                                                                                                 

  • If your move is relatively close to your current home, take your dog to your new neighborhood for a walk around the area. Allowing your pet to get used to the new location’s smells and noises as much as possible PRIOR to moving can be extremely beneficial. If possible (and with permission), allow your dog to smell the exterior (and interior of the new home if the home is empty) prior to the actual move.
  • If your dog typically does not go on car rides with you, and your upcoming move requires traveling by car, go ahead and start letting your dog go on short car rides with you. Whether running quick errands, or just going on a joy ride, bringing your dog with you on these little trips will help decrease your dog’s stress and anxiety when moving day comes along.
  • At least a week or two before your move, go ahead and set a few boxes out throughout the house. This will allow your pets to get used to the unfamiliar brown squares that will soon take up their home. DISCLAIMER: Cats are notorious for playing and even sleeping in boxes, so just make sure to check the box before taping it up!
  • Stick to your routine! As hectic as things will undoubtedly become in the weeks and days prior to your move, the best thing you can do for your pet is remain consistent. Feeding time, exercise/play time, and potty breaks need to remain on schedule. Messing your pet’s schedule up now will come back to bite you in the rump later. Consistency equals a sense of normalcy for your pets, even when you know and are aware that things are far from normal. So, even if you feel like you have a million things to do and no time for a break…take a break for your pet(s)!
  • Once you know your new address and/or phone number, go ahead and order your pet a new ID for his/her collar. On moving day, place the new tag on your pet’s collar. This will give some relief in knowing that if worst case scenario occurs after your move that your pet will be properly reunited with you.
  • A week or two prior to your move, set out your pet carrier or kennel in a room your pet is in frequently. Place your pet’s toys, treats, and blankets inside the carrier or kennel, and leave the door open. This is extremely important for cats, as well as for dogs that are not kennel trained or do not sleep in a kennel at night. During feeding times, place your pet’s food bowl in the carrier. Most cats and some dogs only associate their carrier or kennel with a primarily negative experience – going to the vet. By letting your pet associate positive things with their kennel or carrier, such as treats or food, they will be less anxious when moving day comes. Your travel will be immensely more enjoyable for all involved.
  • If traveling by plane, research the flight options concerning your pet. If at all possible, schedule a direct flight for your pet. The least amount of travel time your pet must endure, the better. Some airlines will even allow for certain small pets to be brought with you on the plane as a carry-on. If your pet isn’t prone to barking, this option may fit best as it will allow your pet to stay near you and remain in a more calm state.
  • Check the pet policies and pet restrictions for where you are moving. Most neighborhoods and apartment communities have firm pet rules and regulations. Whether a limit on weight, breed, or number, make sure that your pet(s) are approved to move in with you.
  • If you order your pet’s food and/or medicines online or get them sent through the mail, make sure you update your account with the new address to ensure there is no lapse in your orders.
  • Many people downsize and declutter in the weeks prior to a move. It’s a smart decision to keep all pet items (toys and bedding) no matter how raggedy they may appear. Keeping a few torn sheets or towels may be wise, too. Animals cling to familiar items and smells. During a stressful event, having comfort items – no matter how ugly! – can be a lifesaver for both you and your pet!
  • Plan a pre-move consultation with your veterinarian. If your pet is extremely unruly, skittish, or anxious, it’s probably a good idea to discuss anti-anxiety options for your pet with your veterinarian. You will also need to get copies of your pet’s medical records to pack with other important documents.

Stay tuned for Part II: Moving Day and Part III: Acclimating Your Pet to Their New Home

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