Moving home is an exciting experience but we all know that it comes with a certain amount of stress. Many pet owners are understandably concerned about how their dogs, cats or other animals will adapt to the upheaval of the move and settling into a new home and neighborhood. The following 12 tips are designed to help make the process as positive and successful as possible.
Of course, every pet is different and if you have a particularly nervous or confident companion then feel free to modify the tips below using your own judgment.
Having said that, please don’t underestimate the stress that your pet might feel during a move. Even a super confident animal is likely to need time to adapt to a sudden change of home.
Excellent tips for moving with pets into a new place:
Tip 1: Plan Your Move
As with all aspects of a house move, early planning is the key to a successful experience. For some general moving guidance, see our blog post: https://www.newhaven-usa.com/blog/step-by-step-guide-to-planning-for-your-move/
Where pets are concerned, it’s simply a case of including them in the planning process so that all of their needs are catered for (mainly food and security) and all of their belongings are securely packed for safe transport.
The pet-friendly tips below cover the days before and after the move including the moving day itself so read through carefully and include everything you will need to think about in your big relocation plan.
Tip 2: Get Organized
Whether you decide to board your pet during the move or keep them with you (see the tips below), there will be some arrangements to make. You may need to make telephone calls (e.g. updating microchip details), arrange appointments or handle documents.
To keep everything in one place, dedicate at least one large three-ringed binder to your pet’s moving arrangements (you may decide to use more than one if you care for a lot of animals). This will avoid scrabbling for last-minute phone numbers or forgetting important documents.
Remember to leave a space in your family planning calendar, app or diary for important dates related to your pets. You might even want to use a separate calendar/diary if that helps you to feel more organized.
Ensure you order ample moving boxes for dry pet foods, toys, blankets and other important items.
Helping Your Family Dog Through The Move
The following five tips relate mainly to dogs:
Tip 3: Decide Whether To Use Kennels
One of the first decisions you will want to make is whether to board your dog with kennels or a trusted friend/family member or to keep them by your side throughout the move.
If you regularly go away on holiday and your pet is used to particular boarding kennels then booking them a place up to and including moving day may be less stressful for your pet and will help you to focus on the move. Make sure you book your space well ahead of time and take into account any minimum stay restrictions.
Some kennels offer a pickup and return policy which can be particularly useful if your move is relatively local and the kennels are happy to pick up and return to different addresses.
You will need to ensure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and worming prior to kennelling.
Tip 4: Nominate A Responsible Person
You remember the movie Home Alone? Well, that situation would never have happened if the McCallisters had nominated a responsible person to look after Kevin!
I’m not suggesting you would ever leave your beloved dog behind but it is easy for mishaps to occur during the disruption of a move. Dogs can also be sensitive to upheaval and may react with unusual behaviors.
The responsible person should be in charge of preparing your dog for the journey (see Tip 5), looking after them while traveling (Tip 6) and the initial settling into the new home. Other tasks might include:
- Ensuring the new contact details are updated with your dog’s microchip registration.
- Ensuring your dog has a collar containing both address details/telephone numbers and that the old details are removed when the move has been completed.
- Packing dry foods, favorite toys, comforters and other items in carton boxes ready for the move.
Tip 5: Help Your Dog Feel Secure
Moving day and the first night in your new home are likely to be the most unsettling for your dog. In order to help your dog feel more secure, it is best to confine them to a single room during this period.
If you are not boarding your dog in kennels, reserve a suitable room for your dog on the day of the move. The responsible person should ensure everything has been moved out of the room except the things your dog will need to feel comfortable (basket, toys, feeding bowls, etc.). Close the doors and windows and make sure everybody else, including the moving team, are aware to avoid that room. Adjust feeding times to a ‘little and often’ schedule to increase one-to-one contact. Avoid feeding your dog too soon before traveling.
On arrival at the new home, set up a similar room and stick to the same feeding routine for the first few hours.
Tip 6: Transport Safely and Securely
Where possible, secure your dog on a lead in a dog cage. If a cage is impractical, use a harness and a dog guard. Avoid allowing your dog to roam free in the car as this can be distracting to the driver and lead to accidents.
For long trips, schedule infrequent stops to allow your dog to go to the toilet and stretch its legs. Never leave your pet unattended in the car on a hot day; where this is unavoidable, secure your dog in a shady spot and leave the windows open.
Tip 7: Make Time For Exercise And Bonding
At the end of your moving day, your dog will have spent a lot of time either traveling or cooped up inside. Once you have completed your essential unpacking and had time to settle in yourself, take your dog out for a nice long walk for some much-needed exercise. If you have a garden, check it is secure and spend some time playing together as a family.
Over the next few days, give your dog plenty of attention so that he or she associates pleasure with your new home. To introduce familiar smells, use a soft cloth and gently wipe your dog’s mouth and nose area. Disperse this scent around the room at your dog’s head height. You can also buy pheromones from the vet that can achieve a similar effect.
Placing one of your sweaters in or around the dog’s basket can help them to settle at night.
Helping Your Family Cat Through The Move
Tips Three to Six are equally applicable to cats so decide whether to use a cattery, nominate a responsible person, keep your cat confined to one room, feed it little and often and transport it securely.
When traveling, ensure you use a dedicated cat basket or carrier; cats have a habit of finding their way out of cardboard carton boxes. It can be more challenging to securely toilet a cat than a dog, particularly if your journey is long so you should consider a harness and leash. Alternatively, some cat owners place the cat carrier inside a secure dog crate to ensure access to a litter tray and feeding/drinking bowls when stationary.
Tip 8: Keep Your Cat Inside For Around Two Weeks
There is some important difference between settling a dog and a cat into a new home. Cats tend to be more cautious and take longer to adapt to new surroundings. In most cases, you should keep your cat indoors for at least two weeks.
With cats, gradually open up new rooms for exploration rather than letting them roam free from day one.
Tip 9: Give Your Cat Time To Explore Outside
After two weeks, open the back door when you have time to accompany your cat into the garden. Spread some of its litter around the perimeter of the property. Most cats will stay close to the house at first and may be reluctant to explore much. A bolder cat may explore surrounding properties almost straight away so don’t be alarmed if they jump a wall or two – they will most likely come back in a matter of minutes.
Tip 10: Preventing Homing
If your new home is in a neighborhood close to your former home, there is a high likelihood that your cat will return to its former territory. It is wise to prepare for this by instructing the new owners of the home to shoo the cat away if it does return to the doorstop. This may seem harsh but it is kinder in the long run.
If the cat does regularly wander back to your old home, you may need to keep it inside again for a while and give it plenty of treats and attention. Once your cat associates pleasure with its new surroundings it should soon stop returning to your old home.
Helping Other Types of Pet to Move Home
Tip 11: Transporting Small Pets
Since they are so easy to transport and make less of a noise, it is tempting to imagine small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters and gerbils can be moved without much thought.
As long as you take precautions while traveling (securing cages, blocking escape routes, preventing spillages, providing food and shelter, etc.) smaller rodents adapt pretty well to moving home. Rabbits and, to a lesser extent, guinea pigs, require a bit more preparation as disruption can be very stressful for them. Try to keep their familiar toys and accessories with them until the last moment and then recreate their environment as soon as possible after the move. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about their behavior.
Tip 12: Transporting Tropical Fish
For short journeys, transporting tropical fish should be fairly straightforward. Buy some plastic bags from your pet store or aquarium and fill them with tank water, leaving a space at the top. Secure with two rubber bands and transport the fish in polystyrene containers. For longer journeys, you may need to use an air pump to keep the temperature stable.
See this guide for more tips on moving fish: http://www.helpiammoving.com/moving_house/moving_fish.php
If your particular pet is not included in the tips above, your first port of call should be your vet who will be able to advise you on any specific steps you should take to keep your companion healthy and happy.
Of course, New Haven Moving Equipment are available to ensure you have enough quality moving boxes and other essentials you will need to help ease your move.