By Travis McKnight
Moving can be a challenging, nerve-wracking and exhausting experience for everybody involved — especially your pets. Domesticated animals rely on routine and familiarity to get through their days. When their environment and routine both suddenly change the aftermath can be emotionally jarring. And when your furry, feathery or scaly friends aren’t feeling quite themselves, their attitudes change. This often brings about behavioral problems stemming from this confusion and anxiety.
Life isn’t as much fun when your pet is upset. So what can you do to help them adjust?
A lot, as it turns out. And the steps to securing their comfort are simple.
Let’s break down the process.
Moving Out With Pets
Many pets, particularly skittish dogs and cats, are cautious about new environments and people. When packing things into a moving truck, or movers are popping in and out of your home, keeping your pets in a familiar, secluded room with the door closed is best. Put their bedding and favorite toys in that room, and leave it to be packed last. This allows your pet a place to be comfortable. The goal is to prevent them from getting nervous and running away at the earliest chance. or feel the need to defend themselves against intruders encroaching on their territory.
Another consideration to take is where you’re moving to, and how you’re getting there. If you’re only heading across town then feel free to skip to the next section. But keep reading if you’re traveling with your pet and the new home is further than short drive.
Traveling With Pets
This next step is one plenty of people don’t think about until it’s too late.
If you’re heading on a longer journey, then bring your pet’s crate with them and make sure they actually familiar with it and comfortable.
There is a common misconception among pet parents that crates are cruel because it limits their friend’s mobility. And while keeping a cat or dog restrained to a crate for an unusually long amount of time is not the best, if you take breaks during the drive to let them stretch then it’s going to be a win-win for everybody involved.
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A proper sized crate that your pet is comfortable with is a safe place for them during stressful situations. Here’s advice on how to properly train your dog for their crate, and another column on crating your cat. Once your pet is familiar enough with the crate, you’ll more than likely be able to leave the door to it open during the drive and they’ll spend most of the trip inside it. Also make sure your vehicle is big enough to safely place the crate (with your pet in it) inside. Most family-friendly vehicles have plenty of room. But in case you don’t have enough space, you might want to consider renting a moving truck with enough front cabin space and either tow your day-to-day vehicle or have a friend or family member drive it.
The challenge is that many pets don’t get properly crate trained, so they’re not used to being confined to cages and might dislike that experience more than the long car ride itself. If your pet isn’t normally crate trained, then gradually let your pet get accustomed to their new mobile home.
As a reminder, attend to pets during the car ride and also provide access to plenty of clean water.
Moving In With Pets
In comparison to moving out of your old home, moving in is pretty simple when it comes to pets. The most important step is to not let your pet immediately explore the new home all at once. Place all familiar objects (toys, bedding, water, food) in one room, and sit in in the room with them. Spend about an hour together in the room so they can explore only that room with your comforting presence. It lets them acclimate to the new surroundings and have a safe space when things get chaotic as you unbox. Afterward, let them explore the entire house, one section at a time. This process might take a while, but it’s the best option to keep your pet happy and comfortable.
If you plan on letting your pets outside— in a fenced yard or otherwise— go with them at first. This shows how they interact with the area and helps you spot any potential hazards or escape routes your pet discovers. The rule of thumb for cats is to avoid letting cats go outside for up to one or two weeks, which lets them become intimately familiar with their new surroundings.
The last step is to find a new veterinarian for your pet (if you moved to a different town), and make sure you know of any nearby animal hospitals.