Moving and Pets - How to Help Dogs and Cats Cope

Moving and Pets - How to Help Dogs and Cats Cope

As you get ready to tackle a big move, make sure all members of your family are ready for the transition. If you have pets, you’re going to need to give them a little extra preparation to make the move as stress free as possible. Since you can’t tell them in words about the move and what it means, you’ll need to get a bit more creative to help them adjust. Here are some tips to help both dogs and cats handle the moving process with ease.

1. Understand their needs

How stressed do you feel about your move? If you are like most people, this is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. It’s easy to forget that your pets are also experiencing stress, but they are. The boxes, new smells, lack of familiar items around the home, and the new surroundings when you do move, all add stress to your pet. Recognize this so you can help them with the adjustment process.

2. Keep one familiar room as long as possible

Many pets, especially cats, do not handle change well. One way to ease the transition is to bring your moving boxes into your home early, so they can adjust to their presence. Then, leave one room of your home, like the living room, untouched until the very last minute. This will keep something familiar that your pet can turn to when everything feels stressful.

3. Crate train your pet

If you haven’t done so, take time to crate train your pet. This will ensure you have a safe place to put your pet when you are ready for the actual move, and can also provide a safe sleeping spot during this transition period. Crate training before moving day will mean putting your pet in the crate for the move will not add unnecessary stress.

4. Enlist help on moving day

Moving day is the most stressful part of the process for your pet, and with doors opening and closing often throughout the day, chances are high that your pet could get out. The best way to manage this risk is to leave your pet with a friend until the truck is packed and you’re ready to head out for your new home. If you aren’t moving too far, you could even plan to leave your pet with the friend for an extra day as you unpack a few items. This will limit the risk of anything happening to your pet, give you one less thing to worry about on moving day, and reduce the stress for your animal.

If you don’t have a trusted friend who can pet sit for you, consider a pet boarding facility. If you have no option, empty one room of your home the night before, and keep your pet confined to that room. This might cause some stress, but it will protect your pet from escaping as your stuff is moved.

5. Scope out the neighborhood pets

As you make the move to your new home, scope out any neighborhood pets. If the next door neighbors have a cat or a dog, it may take yours longer to adjust. Find out what you’re up against, so you can be prepared for any challenging behaviors in the first few days at your new home.

6. Create a home base

In your new home, be cautious about how much freedom you give your pets at first. Consider creating a “home base,” which is one room that the pet is confined to at first. In this home base, place familiar items, like your pet’s food dish, litter box, and bed. As your pet adjusts to the new surroundings, gradually open up more rooms of the home to explore. This will prevent any unwanted “marking” behavior that could mar your new home. It will also reduce stress for your pet.

7. Get a vet in your new community quickly

As soon as possible, start searching for a vet in your new community. If you notice any signs of extreme stress, you will want a medical professional on hand you can talk to. Most pets will show signs of stress at first, but will adjust quickly. However, you will want to know where to turn for help if you need it.

Special considerations for dogs

When your move includes a dog, be prepared for territorial behavior at first, especially if the neighbors have dogs. This may look like more aggressive behavior, and it may include some marking in the home. Help combat this by taking your dog outside more often, especially at first. Do not wait until your dog asks out, but rather take them out and reward them for going potty outside until you are certain your dog understands where the new bathroom area is.

Once you’re a little settled, start taking walks. Your dog will benefit from getting to sniff around the neighborhood. Getting into a routine with a morning walk each day will also help your dog feel at home in your new space more quickly.

Special consideration for cats

Cats tend to struggle with moving because of all of the change involved. Make sure your cat has plenty of familiar items, and keep close tabs on him to ensure he does not try to move. Many cats have a strong homing instinct, and it will take time for your new home to “feel like” home.

Moving with a pet does add a layer of stress, but your pet is family. They deserve to make the move along with you, but may need a little extra TLC during this transition. By giving it to them, you can help your entire family settle in quickly to your new space.

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