If you’re anything like me, your pet is a huge part of your family. I wouldn’t consider moving anywhere that my husband couldn’t go with me, and the same is true of my dog. Assuming you’ve done your research and have chosen to move somewhere that welcomes your four-legged friend with open arms, you’ve only partially won the battle. Because our animals don’t really have a say in a home we choose, and if they did they’d choose to stay put, we have a responsibility to do what we can to make sure they’re comfortable before, during, and after the move. Not only will a little extra preparation make the transition easier on them, but a happy pet makes for a happy home. This list gives a few tips to make moving with your pet a little easier from start to finish.
Pack gradually: your pet likely freaks out a little bit when you rearrange furniture or get your suitcase out. Imagine that times a thousand when you start packing boxes and boxes of belongings in every room of your home. If you do it more gradually, just by introducing a box or two at first or maybe decluttering areas that are out of your pet’s line of vision, he will likely be curious, but not as scared as if he just wakes up one day and his whole world is turned upside down.
Keep his routines: do you always feed your cat at 7:00 in the morning or take your dog on a walk at 5:00? Make sure to keep those routines.
Get up-to-date ID tags: make sure your dog has up-to-date tags just in case he decides to make a run for it. Because you’ll be a little bit in limbo, you may want to ask a friend or family member if you can use their phone number or address until the move is over.
Talk to your vet: if you’re moving long distances, you may need an anti-anxiety medication for your pet. If you need to fly, you’ll need a copy of vet and vaccination records. Your vet may also know of any laws and regulations that you’ll need to know in your new area of residence. He may also be able to recommend a new vet if you’ll be moving too far out of the area to continue with him.
Keep your pet secured during the move: keeping your pet in a safe and secure room with water and familiar objects such as toys will help you to make sure he won’t dart out of the door when people are going in and out. You’ll also want to do this in your new home when you get there. Use the same familiar objects in a safe and secure room while boxes are unloaded and you’re busy unpacking. Don’t forget about him, though. Take breaks to play with him for a little bit and make sure to keep his routine as closely as possible. Try to still take your 5:00 walk.
Keep familiar sounds and objects around: does your dog sleep in a crate in the living room? In your new living room, set up his crate (even if it won’t be there permanently) for him to sleep in. Does he like the TV on during the day? Try to incorporate those familiar sounds and objects into your new home as soon as possible. If unpacking takes a while, make sure to keep him in his secure room during the day.
Don’t allow exploration: it’s a pretty natural feeling to let your dog roam the new home to get a feel for it. If you can, try to keep him from exploring until you have the majority of boxes unpacking and furniture arranged. Then, keep him leashed and walk your new home with your pet. It will give him a little added security at a very uneasy time.
Get back to routine: of course moving requires time off work, long nights unpacking boxes, and visits from unfamiliar people setting up your TV and utilities. If you can maintain and get back to your pet’s normal routine as quickly as possible, the process will be better for both of you.
The biggest tip: don’t worry. Your pet will acclimate to his new surroundings quickly. He may not like change, but he will adapt. The sooner you ease into your life, the sooner he will follow suit.