We’re in the middle of moving season… and let’s face it – moving is tough! There’s the packing of the things, the unpacking of the things, and all the crazy madness in between. While you’re knee deep in packing peanuts, you may be only thinking about your own stress level bursting at the seams. But don’t forget to look over your shoulder at your furry friend who’s probably pacing around the house trying to figure what the heck is going on. To help your family make a smoother transition into your new home, we’ve put together 7 helpful tips to make sure your move is as stress-free as possible for you and your pets.
#1 Prepare Your Pets Ahead of Time
The first and most important thing you need to do before you make a move is to plan ahead. You want to make any kind of major change in your pet’s life happen slowly so that they have time to adjust. This is particularly true if you have a pet that really never leaves your house outside of the occasional vet visit. Take out the cat carrier and let them sniff it out and maybe even hang out in it a bit. You can place their favorite toy in their carrier, feed them in it, or give them a special treat to help develop positive associations. Same thing goes with the car ride. If your pet is not used to being in a moving vehicle, consider taking them on some short trips to the pet store or the dog park to reintroduce them to the movement and help eliminate unnecessary moving day stress.
#2 Monitor Your Body Language
We all wish we could just talk to our pets. Explain to them what’s going on and that tell them that everything is cool.
“Don’t worry Fluffy, you’re coming with us!”
Unfortunately, we can’t. We have to use body language and energy to communicate with our four-legged companions. That means that when you’re stressed, they’re stressed. It’s obviously going to be quite difficult to be completely stress-free throughout the process (so.much.packing), but just try to be cognizant of the fact that your energy is being echoed in your pets. They can feel your anxiety and tend to take it on themselves. Stay calm and if you need a break, take it.
#3 Understand Your Pet’s Specific Needs
A dog who is highly socialized is going to have a much easier time than one who only goes potty in the back yard a few times a day. Think about where your pet is in terms of comfort with the outside world and take that into consideration with your move. If your dog specifically has territorial protectiveness or high anxiety, you may want to even consider having a friend watch them while you finish up your packing. Then once everything is in boxes you can reintroduce him to the house, let him sniff everything out, and then introduce him to the moving truck.
#4 Transport Them Safely
One of the best things you can do for your pet on your travel is to ensure that they arrive safely. Your feline friends should always be confined to a hard-sided carrier, along with other small animals, like rabbits, ferrets, and birds. Make sure they always have proper ventilation. You can also consider covering the carrier with a sheet or light blanket for the first few hours of the trip so that they can slowly adjust to the movement.
Even though you may have the urge to let Fido sit on your lap and stick his head out the window the whole time, dogs should also be properly restrained. You can use a safety harness that can click into any seatbelt, a crate, or a safety gate to keep them in their own safe area. Remember, this is a stressful time for them and you don’t want them pacing around compromising your driving. Even if Fido usually sits like a champ in the car, they are in a different state of mind on moving day, so you want to play it safe. More importantly, you don’t want your spooked dog to hop out the window while you’re getting gas.
#5 Take Necessary Breaks
Stress can do a lot to your system. Make sure you let your dog out for lots of potty breaks and arrange for a potty area inside the crate for your smaller companions. Taking a break is not just for letting them relieve themselves. You also want to take some time to visit with them, remind them that you’re still there, and maybe sneak in a treat or a new toy to distract them again. Let’s not forget the all important meal time. Try and stick to your pets normal schedule as much as possible.
If you’re traveling more than 8 hours, you may also want to check into a hotel. If that’s the case, make sure you plan that stop way ahead of time. Not every hotel is pet-friendly and those that are tend to charge a non-refundable fee. You’ll also want to call ahead of time to confirm. Some hotels only have a certain number of pet-friendly rooms and they may book up.
#6 Introduce New Surroundings Slowly
When you reach your new home, you may feel the urge to just let your pet loose and allow them to explore everything. Chances are, for most pets this is just too much at once! Instead, allow your pet to explore one room at a time. Before you allow them in that room, check for open windows, mousetraps, or any cords that could cause harm. Place some familiar objects in this room with them, like their bed and a few toys (don’t forget some food and water). Let the stress of that new room wear off before you bring them to the next room. It may even take you a few weeks to show them around the whole house, and that’s okay. Just let your animal’s behavior tell you how they’re doing and make your decision based on that.
#7 Create Positive New Experiences
Same thing with how you left your old house, you want to make sure you create a positive experience with your new home. Keep your stress levels in check, create positive associations with new rooms with use of treats, and if you have a high anxiety pet, try to find a friend or family member for them to stay with until all the unpacking is finished each day. The goal is to create positive experiences for them each day so that they can adjust much more quickly and get back to being that faithful and adoring companion that you love.
By taking these 7 tips into consideration, you will have a much easier transition. And your pet will thank you!