Moving is stressful, and not just for us humans – for our pets too. They may feel scared, confused or unsure about their new environment so to ease their transition we need to be prepared.
By Jon Ogden – Smoothstart WA
Make the process a little less painful for your furry friend by following Smoothstart’s top tips to follow during each significant stage of the move.
Before the Move
Know the New Neighbourhood
Do some research and find out about your new neighbourhood ahead of time to avoid any surprises. Learn the local laws to see if they are going to affect your pet. What are the leash laws? Are there any breed bans? Do you need a new licence?
You will also need to find a new vet as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your pet gets injured or sick. Book an appointment and see if they need any new vaccinations or preventative medications before you move in.
Make sure your dog has the correct identification with your new contact information. Have them microchipped by your vet and include an ID tag on their collar with their name, address and your mobile number. That way, they’ll be able to easily find their way back to their new home if lost.
You may have noticed your pet get nervous the last time you pulled out a suitcase for a trip, so imagine how they will act when the whole house is being packed up! Try conditioning them by having a few boxes out ahead of time, so they won’t associate those objects with you leaving.
Even before you move into your new home you can start getting your pet used to their new environment by taking them to similar spots or simulating new noises. If your move is not too far away, try walking them in the new neighbourhood and introduce them to the neighbours.
If your pet is going to need to live by different rules in your new home, it’s also important to define behaviour goals ahead of time and work toward them before the move. For example, if you’ll have closer neighbours train your dog to stop barking or if they won’t have access to a doggie door, get them on a bathroom schedule.
During the Move
How do you plan on moving your pet? Some animals feel best being near you no matter what you are doing, while others do better in a crate away from the moving madness. Or perhaps it is best for your pet to stay at a friend or family member’s home during the actual move and join you once you have unpacked? No matter which strategy you choose, making sure your pet feels secure during the move will ease their transition.
Pack for Your Pet
In addition to the basics like food and water, have a few of your pet’s favourite toys, extra towels and bedding on you during the move. Once moved in, you may want a fresh start and be tempted to get your pet new items, but this is not a good idea. In fact, taking the smell of the old house to the new one will help ease your pet’s anxiety dramatically. So instead, bring their favourite bed, crate, toys, food and water dishes, treats and other familiar items.
Take Regular Breaks
During the hustle and bustle of the move you are going to need a break – and so will your pet. Check your route for off-leash areas, short hikes and dog-friendly parks along the way so you can get out and stretch your legs.
Keep Them Safe
During the actual move, plan for your pet’s safety first and foremost. Make sure they alway have ventilation and are secure inside the vehicle, with safety belts included in a detailed list of moving tips by trainer Joan Mayer.
After the Move
Some animals will be scared and upset once they get to the new home. They are now in an unfamiliar environment and as a result, they may try to hide or run away. So set aside a safe place for them where they cannot get hurt or lost.
It’s also important to pet-proof your new place. Check for any structural risks in the home or yard. If you have a fence, make sure there is no way they could escape, and uses gates as needed.
Stick to Similar Schedules
When you move into the new home, make sure to create a familiar space for your pet. Arrange beds, crates and toys as close to your old setup as you can. Stick your previous schedule for feeding, walks, playtime, cuddling and bedtime as well.
Allow your pet to get to know their new neighbourhood bit by bit, rather than all at once. Remember, moving is overwhelming for them too so let your pet take their time sussing out their new digs.
Also keep in mind that their behaviour may change for a while, and that is ok. They need time to get used to their new home, so expect to see potential changes including different eating and toilet habits, barking, pacing and protection behaviours. If these behaviours persist, get help from a professional trainer or vet.
Love them Unconditionally
Don’t forget to give your pet the attention they’re used to. A bit of extra love will go a long way as they come to feel at home in their new surroundings. Go the extra mile to make sure they enjoy their new home. One way to do this is through mental stimulation such as hiding food around the house.