Article originally Posted on Nov. 10, 2020 www.thesilverlining.com
Moving into a new home can be stressful and exciting. There are so many decisions to make and tasks that need to be completed to prepare for moving day. If you don’t hire a professional moving company, moving boxes and furniture can last for days.
If you have pets, don’t forget about them. Moving can be just as stressful for them. While dogs can tolerate it better than cats, there’s no way to avoid the stress for either of them. However, there are things you can do before, during, and after the move that can help keep your fury friends safe and calm.
Before the move
Preparing for the move ahead of time can be beneficial for you and your pets. Not only can starting early help you ease into packing, it can help your pets start adjusting as well. Here are some things that can help.
- Display the moving supplies. If you’re moving yourself, having plenty of boxes and packing tape is crucial. Instead of just jumping into packing, let the supplies you plan on using sit out in a corner of your home for a few days. Allowing your pets to see and smell the supplies can help desensitize them for when the time arrives to start packing. We recently moved and found this helped our cat, Toulouse. Although I don’t know if either of us will ever get used to the sound of packing tape flying off the roll. The sound kind of reminded me of nails on a chalkboard.
- Set out your suitcase or pet carrier. For some pets, the minute they see your suitcase or their pet carrier they get anxious. Suitcases can tell them you’re leaving, and they’ll be without your companionship. A pet carrier can signify a trip to the vet. Again, letting them sit out ahead of time allows them to get used to seeing them. Especially when nothing immediately transpires.
- Maintain their routines. Let’s face it, we’re all creatures of habit. One small change can cause us some discomfort. Don’t interrupt your pets’ routines. If your dog loves going to the dog park, continue taking it. If you’re thinking about what you should be doing, stop and just enjoy the time and fresh air with your dog.
If you’re a cat owner, you know your pet may get distracted very easily and move from one thing to the next. However, it’s still important to play with your cat and to give it the attention when it wants it. Lastly, because cats love to sleep, don’t pack away items that comfort them until moving day arrives.
- Contact your vet. If your pets are easily stressed, consider talking to your vet about using anti-anxiety medication. Moving is fast paced and noisy. Keeping pets calm makes it easier for everyone.
- Crate train. If you’re moving a significant distance, make sure pets are trained to spend time in their crates prior to your move. Trying to put them in something they’re not familiar with is going to be stressful for you and them. Also, research pet-friendly hotels and other destinations prior to heading out on the road.
During the move
Whether you’re moving yourself or you’ve hired professionals, there’s a lot of commotion on moving day. Keeping your pets away from that is your best option. Consider clearing out one room or an area of your home and use that as their safe haven. Fill the room with food, water, familiar things, and soothing music. This can help keep them calm, as well as prevent them from getting injured or even worse, running away when a door is left open. Don’t forget to put a note on the door or inform your moving crew that it should remain closed.
Another option on moving day is to have a family member or friend take care of your pets. This removes them entirely from the busy and chaotic situation. Make sure they spend time with their temporary caregiver prior to the move. This allows them to get to know each other and makes for an easier transition.
After the move
Once you arrive at your new home, the commotion starts all over again. Here are some more tips that can help.
- Keep your pets secluded. While you’re probably excited to let them explore your new home, it’s best to keep them in a secluded place for a few days. When we moved, we kept our cat in the laundry room with everything he needed plus soft music and a white noise machine. Unfortunately, we let him out to explore too soon. He was terrified and found his way inside our couch. That turned into quite a project. All the felt had to be removed from the bottom of the couch so we could find him. Needless to say, he went back into our laundry room for a few more days. We made sure to visit him often. It took him about five days before he returned to being the cat we love.
- Give them plenty of treats. Treats can be used to reward pets for good behavior, calm them down, or act as their primary food source. Due to the stress of our move, Toulouse stopped eating. Thankfully, he continued to drink his water. While he could afford to lose a few pounds, it was still concerning. We quickly learned the only thing he would eat was his treats. After adjusting to our new home, he’s now gone back to eating his normal dry food.
- Update their records. If your pets have microchips, make sure you update their information. This never crossed my mind until a friend mentioned it. If they’re not microchipped, buy them some new tags.
- Be patient with your pets. While you’ll be excited to show them around, it’s important to back off and let them explore on their own. Once they feel comfortable in their new home, they’ll return to doing the stuff they loved prior to the move. Also, accidents may happen because they’re stressed and in an unfamiliar place. While that’s the last thing you want to happen, clean it up and take it in stride. Trying to keep your home perfect all the time can be stressful.
- In with the new and out with the old. While getting new furniture and other new items may be the plan for your new home, don’t get rid of everything. Keep some items that your pets are familiar with. While our cat’s favorite chair is no longer in our living room, we did keep it for him. It’s just in a different location. Having familiar items around can reduce your pets’ stress.
- Pet proof. Once you’re settled in, take a walk around your new home, and look for things that could be dangerous. In our new home, we had an open dryer vent that I covered. Since his safe place was in our laundry room, I didn’t want him getting stuck in it. If it’s a brand-new construction home, look for leftover materials laying around such as nails, insulation, wires, and caulk. Make sure any debris you find is cleaned up immediately.
- Take time off work. After a big move, there’s nothing nicer than spending time in your new home relaxing and hanging a few pictures. It’s also a great opportunity to spend time with your pets while they adjust to the new place.
No matter what type of pets your family has, moving can be stressful. Obviously, you know your pets’ personalities better than others. Use that knowledge to make them comfortable.