Packing up and moving to a new home or city can be nerve racking for all of us. But our pets have an instinctive fear that they don’t understand and that means that you have the responsibility to help them adjust.
Relocating with your pet involves a whole set of challenges and questions, and we’re confident these tips will help alleviate some of the stress of moving:
There’s a lot to be done whether you’re going across town or across the country, driving or flying, transporting your own belongings or hiring a mover. Pets are going to sense that change is on the horizon, and show their anxiety by acting unsettled or clingy. Assign one member of your family to take responsibility for caring for your pet. This reassuring companion will help your dog or cat feel more secure. If it’s possible, stick to a normal schedule, and wait as long as possible to pack up their belongings.
Local moves can usually be completed in a day, so set up an appointment at a pet daycare facility or arrange for your pet to spend the time with a friend on the big day. This will also free up your attention to focus on the move.
If your move involves air travel, arrangements should be made well in advance. Only a limited number of pets can be transported on each flight, so it’s important to make your reservations as soon as your travel dates are confirmed. There are some documents your pet will need to board the flight, so gather and place them in a bag that will stay with you. If you’re moving out of the country, it may be helpful to contact a pet transportation agency to assist you in completing all the required paperwork.
If you will be moving a long distance in your car, be sure you have a way of securing your pet while you are on the road. A crate, carrier, or car harness will prevent your pet from distracting you while you’re driving and will protect them from injury in case of an accident. Allow your pet time to get accustomed to whichever device you choose, and start out with short trips to slowly acclimate him to the car. Don’t forget to deactivate the airbag for any seat your pet will be occupying!
Once you’re on the road, maintaining your pet’s feeding and exercise schedule as much as possible will help reduce any anxiety he may feel about being away from home. It’s a good habit when you travel to attach your pet’s leash before you open the vehicle doors and detach it after the doors have been closed. In new environments pets can easily get spooked and run off – keeping the leash connected will keep you all safer.
When you arrive at your new home, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up a quiet spot for your pet away from the unpacking activity. Creating a refuge with his bed or crate and a few of his favorite toys will help him relax and settle in.
Dogs and cats go through a similar adjustment period as people do when moving to a new house. Until they become familiar with their new abode and neighborhood, take care that they don’t become startled and try to escape. Help them understand that this is “home” by spending extra time with them, encourage them to explore new rooms by placing toys and treats inside, and use blankets, beds, and toys with their scent on them for the first few weeks. Develop a new routine by feeding them at the same time and in the same place each day. Within a few weeks, they should have made the adjustment and be content in their new environment.