For most people, moving to a new home is an exciting time. There’s a sense of adventure to it, the opportunity to try new things and discover new places. However, for your beloved pets, especially those of the four-legged variety, moving can be a source of anxiety.
Since they’ve understandably been left out of the decision-making process, moving can come as quite a surprise. And given their inability to understand the whys and wheres and hows of it all, there’s no way to explain the reasoning behind your decision. It’s difficult to see our dear animals suffer, but beyond that, their anxiety could complicate an already complicated move.
Here are a few helpful tips for helping your canines and felines through the days leading up to the move, moving day itself, and settling into the new place.
Before you move
Although we’ve spoken of their inability to understand why such a move is taking place, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to explain. In fact, speaking calmly to them regarding the move over a period of time can be quite helpful.
Before the big day, there are a few things you should put on your to-do list. If you haven’t already, get your pet microchipped. Make sure they have proper identification; your new address and contact info should be on their tag. Try researching nearby dog parks and trails that allow dogs.
If you’re moving to a different city or state, check the local laws to make sure you’re aware of anything unusual. Find a new veterinarian (perhaps your current vet has suggestions?) and make sure you have copies of their records to bring with you. While you’re speaking with your current vet, you might want to ask if you should consider anxiety medication for the move itself, should their anxiety prove to be unmanageable otherwise. If you have pet health insurance or are considering pet health insurance for your pet, be sure to update your new address information.
You’ll want to crate train as soon as possible, especially if you need to crate your animal for traveling. If you’re traveling via airplane, you can prepare your dog by driving them through a car wash, which has similar sound effects, speaking calmly to them the entire time. A few days before moving day, reduce their food consumption a bit so they don’t have a full stomach on the plane or in the car.
Make a plan for how moving day will go ahead of time, so there is less confusion the day of. In addition, it is helpful to assemble your moving boxes ahead of time, so your animals become comfortable with their presence. For the same reason, put their carrier out a few days beforehand, with their favorite toys, blanket, and treats inside. Most importantly, keep to your normal routine as much as possible. This is especially important in terms of their exercise routine, as keeping their energy at manageable levels will be incredibly helpful.
Follow the plan you laid out ahead of time to limit confusion for all involved. Designate a quiet spot for them with their most cherished items, that will be packed last, so they have a safe space if needed. As mentioned above, feed them lightly, so they don’t have a full stomach during this anxious time.
Ideally, you’ll get them out of the house for most of the day, whether you’re able to do that yourself (because you hired movers), or you have a family member or friend who can take them for the day. If all else fails, be prepared to crate them while you pack up the house and moving truck. You may want to use anxiety medication if needed, at the direction of your vet.
Above all else, practice patience and compassion (both with four-legged housemates and the two-legged variety!).
The first thing you should do upon arriving at your new home is to inspect if for safety, and pet proof as soon as possible. Establish your new routine quickly, but try to keep it as similar to the old routine as you can. Don’t wash their things, as it will help them to smell familiar scents. With that in mind, create a spot specifically for them, filled with their favorite things, and, if possible, set up your furniture in a similar layout to the old house.
Keep dogs on a leash until they learn the new house and neighborhood. It would also be a good idea to meet your neighbors and introduce yourself and your pets. In the end, the most important aspect of a successful move will be giving it time and practicing patience and compassion. You’ll soon all be settled in and, before long, everyone will feel comfortable and at home.