Moving can be one of the most stressful life events for you and your pet. Many pets don’t welcome change, and as much as you’d love to let your companion dog or cat know that everything will be okay, you can’t. What you can do is make the transition as smooth as possible. These helpful tips can ensure your pet is more comfortable and calm throughout the entire moving process – showing, packing, moving, and transitioning to your new home.
The Selling Process
A lot of stress can happen to your pet during the actual selling process. While you are showing your house, a lot of new people may be coming through your pet’s space.
Keep Your Pet With You During Showings
Some pets do not do well with new people, particularly if they are perceived as invading your pet’s home. The influx of strangers in the house can trigger anxiety and even aggressive behaviour in some pets, and the presence of pets during showings could deter some potential buyers. While keeping your pet in a kennel in the house during showings may seem like a good idea, this can increase stress on your pet and they may act out noisily, as well.
If you have somewhere you can take your pet during showings, this is ideal. Take the whole family to the dog park or visit another pet-friendly location. Your pet will be happy to be with you and you can share some quality time together.
Try To Keep Normalcy
This may be a lot easier to say than actually do, but it’s important to keep things as normal as possible for your pet while in the process of moving house. Try to keep your pet’s schedule relatively the same, making time for regular mealtimes, walks, and play time. For many dogs and cats, routines mean comfort.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Pets are excellent sensors of any kind of disruption in mood, so make sure you’re taking time for yourself. If all else fails, spend a few minutes petting your dog or cat, which is proven to reduce blood pressure and have a calming effect. Keeping your stress levels down will have a positive effect on your pet’s response to the big move.
Packing Your House
It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have, packing can seem like a daunting task. Keeping your pet calm and busy during packing can help you finish faster and improve everyone’s mood.
Keep Your Pet Entertained
Your focus will be on packing, but your pet’s focus will be on you. Cats love packing. Just leave out a few empty boxes for your cat to enjoy, and you are good to go for hours. Dogs, on the other hand, may need a more enticing distraction. If you have a dog who likes to get into things, get him a long-lasting dog chew to have when you have packing to do. Make it a special treat – only give the chew to your dog while you pack. He’ll look forward to packing time, even if you don’t.
Tire Your Pet Out
If you need to have some time to devote just to packing or cleaning the house for a viewing, you may want to tire out an energetic dog or cat beforehand. Take your dog out for a long walk or run. Have a cat? 10 or 15 minutes with a laser pointer or feather wand can be enough to send your pet into cat nap mode.
Keep Boxes Safe And Secure
Packing up your house can create a labyrinth of boxes in every room. If possible, keep boxes in a safe location where your pet can’t get into them. Cats, especially, may love to climb on stacked boxes, but this can be unsafe. Boxes can topple and may injure your curious pet. Also, pay attention to what you’re putting in boxes and where you’re storing them. Anything that isn’t safe for your pet – like household chemicals – should be stored where your pet can’t accidentally get at them.
Leave Your Pet’s Supplies Until Last
When you’re packing, it’s important to save packing up your pet’s supplies until last. Your pet knows her stuff. She’ll be calmer if everything is in its proper place for as long as possible.
Also, make sure you keep all of your pet’s stuff together (or at least the essentials) in one box, and make that box easily accessible for when you first move in to your new home. Besides you, nothing comforts your pet more than her stuff, so make sure your pet’s blanket, kennel, dishes, food, and favourite toys are all close at hand.
There’s nothing quite like that feeling of seeing your old home bare for the last time. Your pet will be feeling a lot, too, and most of that will be anxiety about what’s happening next. Reassure your pet that he’s safe with you.
Let Your Pet Out First
If you have somewhere safe and comfortable that your pet can visit while you are moving, take them there. Your pet won’t have to know what’s going on in your old house and will be away from any of the chaos that moving day brings.
Find A Safe Place
If you don’t have a comfortable place for your pet to stay outside of your house, find a room that is relatively calm where your pet can be away from the activity on moving day. Stay with your pet, if possible, or have a child or someone your pet enjoys accompany them. Get your pet’s favourite chew or treat and let him enjoy.
Try A Calming Solution
Does your pet deal with anxiety? There are many herbal supplements that can have a calming effect on pets. It might be a good idea to try a few before moving day to find one that works well for your pet. Look for pet-safe supplements with these natural ingredients: lavender, chamomile, skullcap, or passionflower. There are also pheromone diffusers and compression vests that are designed to calm anxious pets without drugs.
Cat love catnip? Avoid giving your cat catnip during an intensely stressful event, like moving. While catnip can have a calming effect, it can also have an exciting effect, which can mean your cat is bouncing off the walls. Thankfully, the effect is short-lived – lasting only around 10 minutes.
Bring Your Pet With You
If you can, have your pet travel with you in your vehicle when it comes time to leave. She’ll be happier and less stressed with you. Your pet is always safest in an anchored kennel in the car, not free-roaming. Do not cram boxes in the car near where your pet is sitting. They could shift and fall during transport and injure your pet. Take plenty of breaks for stretching and potty time.
If you’ll need to be staying in a hotel, make sure you plan ahead to find pet-friendly hotels. Make note of any dog parks in the area you’ll be staying or traveling through.
Transitioning Your Pet to A New House
Change isn’t easy for any pet, but you can help your dog or cat make a smooth move by easing them into things.
Schedule A Visit Beforehand
If at all possible before move day, bring your pet to visit the new house. Make sure that the day is not stressful - don’t bring any items to move! Let your pet smell, explore, and become familiar with the house. That way, not everything will be new on moving day.
Keep Your Pet Safe and Away
During actual moving, you will probably want to keep your pet away from the house if possible. Pets can get in the way of people carrying boxes and heavy items, and it can be a hazard for the movers as well as the pets themselves. Your pet will be more anxious with the flurry of people and belongings, and will likely add to the chaos. If you do need to bring your pet with you, keep them safely contained (with a favourite chew or toy) in a quieter room or area of the house. For some anxious pets, it may be better if they can see you, but with others, “out of sight, out of mind” is a better solution.
Set Up Your Pet’s Space Ahead of Time
Make arranging your pet’s space a priority, even if it’s temporary. Even better, set up the space before you bring your pet into the house. First on the list should be your pet’s eating and sleeping area, and a few toys are probably a good idea, too. Your pet will feel more at ease and comfortable knowing where his essentials are.
Establish Rules Early
While the last thing on your mind will be training, it’s important to establish house rules, if you have any, early. Be forgiving! Your pet will be stressed and may accidentally miss a command, or even act out for attention deliberately. Be firm, but gentle in your approach.
Give It Time
It takes time for a new house to become a home. Your pet will warm up to the new house, but sometimes it takes a few days or weeks of uneasiness before they adjust. They may hide and cower, follow you around, act out disobediently, or change their eating habits. All of these behaviours are normal and temporary. Try to give them the same amount of attention as you did before the move, no more, no less. You and your pet will feel at home in no time!
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