Congratulations. You just got to the area. You’ve unpacked. You’ve done your shopping. You earned a break. Now you’re left wondering: what the heck do I do now?
The Ultimate Pet Moving Guide Part 4
Welcome to the final part of my guide to moving with your pets! If you missed the first three parts, be sure to read them as well. Afterwards you’ll be able to prepare, pack, and travel with your pet – and finally, get your best friend settled into your new home.
If possible, send dogs or cats to a kennel or a friend’s house during the process of moving things in.
For other animals more sensitive to travel, going to another location will cause more stress, but for dogs and cats it can be a fun vacation that helps keep the animal calm.
As with moving out, make sure that any movers, family, or friends who are helping you get into your new place know how to behave around your pet. You don’t want them to get sick, injured, or escape or act aggressively towards someone because they didn’t know how to behave around your buddy. Warn people if your turtle bites, your dog isn’t allowed to have pizza crust, or your guinea pig doesn’t like strangers to pet him.
Make sure you put pets in the quietest area of the home possible.
The noise and action of moving can over-stimulate and freak out your pets. Birds in particular are flock animals who will want to see what the family is up to, so you may need to strike a balance between peace and quiet and keeping them in the loop.
Don’t let any pet out of their cage or off of their leash until they are safely inside of the new home.
Any pet can easily become lost in new areas they are unfamiliar with.
Dogs should be immediately walked to start familiarizing themselves with the new area, and they can also be taken on a “leash tour” of the house to get an introduction to the strange new smells.
Cats should never be let outside in a new, unfamiliar environment. They may run away and try to return to familiar territory, especially if you haven’t moved very far. Keep cats inside for at least two weeks, even if you plan to eventually let your cats outside. You can also take advantage of the move to adjust your cat to being inside-only, which significantly increases the lifespan of your pet.
Most pets will be better off if their areas are set up first.
You should arrange as much as you can for your pet before you let them out or bring their cages in. They should be confined to one room - clearly marked to prevent accidental escape - while you allow them to slowly adjust to their surroundings. For fish, aquariums should be set up either first or last. This is to ensure that you can do everything as quickly as possible with no interruptions or delays.
Check for any dangers new homes can have for pets. Electrical cords, holes where they can get lost or stuck, and unsecure windows or doors are all issues that should be addressed before anyone is let out of their carriers. You should also look out for leftover plants and pest traps, as some house plants and garden plants may be poisonous and animals may be interested in traps and poisons that weren’t intended for them
Make sure you periodically check in on them, giving them lots of attention. Spending quality time with your pet will help them assuage any separation anxiety and is also a good way to take a break from packing. In fact, if there’s a family member who can be spared, they should be put on “pet duty,” spending time in the pet’s room with them and serving as a reassuring presence.
Let your pet keep its own, familiar "belongings."
While you may want to provide your pet with nice, new things for your nice, new house, it’s better to stick to familiar toys and beds. For most pets, the familiar scent will provide comfort in a world that’s been turned upside-down and will go a long way towards helping with moving anxiety. You animal may also be comforted by your scent. You can leave a worn t-shirt or pajamas in the room while you are moving boxes to help reassure your pet even when you can’t be present.
If you have cats or ferrets, which are both very scent-oriented animals, you can use a soft cloth, gloves, a towel, or a washcloth to rub their cheeks and fur and gather their scent. Then you can rub the cloth along doors, walls, furniture, and other objects at about your pet’s height. If the animal’s scent is already established in the new home, it will help calm them and make them feel safer.
For cats or other scratching animals, you should also make sure you set up scratching posts and provide toys to reduce the temptation to mark their new territory. If you have a house-trained rabbit, you should also put out a few cheap litterboxes. Rabbits like to “pick” where they go to the bathroom, and if you choose for them they may not use the spot you pick. The extra ones can be removed once your pet picks their favorite spot.
Stick to old routines as much as possible.
The less change your pet is subjected to the easier it will be for them to adjust. Just as this isn’t the time to replace their bed or their favorite toy, it is also not the time to change feeding schedules, walking times, floor time, or diet. It’s better to let them adjust from the stress of moving and settle in before you introduce more changes.
Arranging items in ways that are similar to how they were in your old place will also help your pet adjust. For example, if your pet’s litterbox was in the bathroom, you should put the litterbox in the bathroom. A pet who has a bed at the end of yours will feel better if you do the same in your new place, or a bird who is used to being near the TV may feel more comfortable if you put them there again.
Most importantly, have patience with your pet.
This change is big for them, and since you can’t explain what’s going on, the best thing you can do for them is help them adjust. Stress responses in your animals may lead to unusual behavior until they’ve settled in, so give them time.
Animals who are usually affectionate may be skittish, or vice versa. Your pet may become extra territorial or exhibit marking behavior. Their hiding, excessive sniffing, or clinginess is just an adjustment period, and they will most likely go back to their usual self once they understand that this is their new home. Pay attention to your pet’s behavior, and contact your vet if it persists after their adjustment period. Also make sure you observe their eating and drinking habits – some pets may not resume healthy consumption of food and water after a move, endangering their health, and will need to go to the vet.
All of this information should help you get your pet to your new home safe and sound. If you missed the first three parts, make sure you check them out so you can prepare your pet for their big move:
Seth Gold brings his life-long passion for real estate and extensive marketing experience to Domicile Realty. As he works with his clients, he is very aware that they are making one of the biggest and....