Moving to a new home is usually an exciting time for the entire family. There is a community to explore, a home to decorate and new friends to make. But one household member who may not be thrilled with the move is the family pet. Pets find moving stressful. Animals have no awareness of the positive aspects of the move and are typically distressed by change and uncomfortable in unfamiliar environments. You can support your pet through a move with a minimal amount of stress and help them settle in quickly. These tips on moving with pets will help.
Avoid Exposing Pets to Packing Activities
This is not always possible, but if your pet is comfortable staying with a nearby pet sitter, it is a great option for minimizing nervousness. Animals are attuned enough to human activities to understand that packing means change, which can make them anxious. If your pet must be at home, ensure that she or he gets plenty of exercise and playtime before you start packing; that way, your pet is likely to sleep through much of it.
Make the Trip as Relaxing as Possible
Whether your move is across town or across the country, your pet is unlikely to enjoy the trip. Try to keep your pet with you (or with another favorite in the family) as much as logistics allow. If you are traveling by plane, gather all requirements for the trip as early as possible so you have time to think about how to make things easiest for your pet. For example, perhaps the airline will allow a pet carrier that will be more comfortable than the one you already own. If you are traveling by car, create space in the vehicle specifically for your pet; a carrier balanced precariously on a box or placed in the rumbling floorboard of a moving truck could make your pet frantic.
Take your pet to the veterinarian prior to your trip and discuss options for making the trip less stressful. The vet can offer tips about minimizing carsickness and emotional distress and may recommend a mild sedative.
What to Do Upon Arrival
When you arrive at your new home, confine your pet to a small room with food, water, your pet’s favorite toys and blankets. Try to select a room away from the activities associated with moving in and unpacking; slamming doors and unfamiliar people in the home will exacerbate any nervousness your pet developed during the trip. Visit often and be sure to engage your pet with playtime and exercise, but leave your pet in the room at least until move-in is complete.
Introduce Your Pet to Your New Home
After move-in, open the door to the room in which your pet is confined and allow him or her to exit independently. This allows the animal to control the amount of exploration and avoid feeling overwhelmed. While you shouldn’t ignore your pet during this time, don’t place too much pressure on the animal. Once your pet has had sufficient time to explore and feels reassured that there are familiar people and items in the home, he or she will become more comfortable. This process could take a few days to a few weeks, so be patient with your pet.
Enjoying Your New Home with Your Pet
Specific pets will adjust differently. For example, it is suggested to keep cats indoors for a few days after a new move, especially if it is an outdoor cat. Similarly, dogs should be kept on a leash for at least the first few days after a move. These practices will help the pet associate the new home with where they return every day in the case of a pet who spends a large amount of time outdoors. Pets are part of the family, so ensuring that they get through a move with a minimum of stress is important. These tips will help you support your pet throughout the move so he or she enjoys your new home as much as the rest of the family.