Moving to a new home becomes ten times more complicated when pets are in the mix. Whether you have cats, dogs, or another kind of beastie, you’ll want to keep your pets’ anxiety levels as low as possible when moving, including during the preliminary packing process. But how can you make sure your pet remains calm through it all? Well, some of these tips are sure to help.
Before you can start preparing your pets for the reality of a move, you’ll want to brush up on the tell-tale signs of anxiety in animals. As you can imagine, different animals show their unease in various ways. So, the first thing you should do is know your pet’s baseline.
We all know that cats and dogs exhibit anxiety in similar ways—but even there, the specifics depend on the pet in question. On the one hand, your pet might vocalize and demand your attention more than usual. You should also be prepared for issues with digestion and urination.
And, in the event of an accident, you should do your best not to get angry with your pet. If a packing session turns into you scooping up messes from the floor, remember that your pet doesn’t understand what’s going on. Instead of yelling, make an effort to spend more time with your pet.
On the other hand, some cats and dogs react to changing circumstances by retreating completely. They might spend the day hiding, sleeping, and even avoid food. If that starts happening, you should take your pet off to their vet, just to make sure everything is alright on that front.
If they confirm that the isolating behaviors’ are a matter of anxiety, you could give your pet the space they need. Put a box filled with blankets in a corner away from the area you’re packing. Your cat is sure to love that. Conversely, most dogs prefer to keep an eye on their owners, so if you’re making a nook for them, you should make sure they can still peek out at you.
Other animals, like birds, rabbits, hamsters, and even reptiles, can also exhibit signs of anxiety during a move. You should ideally be able to recognize how they’re feeling and how to help them. Of course, if you want to avoid any adverse reactions, you should try to keep to a steady routine.
Your actual moving day shouldn’t be the first time your animals are seeing packing materials and extra people in the house. Introduce your pets to packing materials days or weeks before the move. Make sure they don’t feel tempted to destroy anything that’s made of cardboard.
You can also introduce your pet to their travel crate if they have one. If you’re driving to the new location, you could put their bed or their favorite blanket in the car. While you’re at it, you can take a test road trip before moving day to make sure they feel comfortable in the car.
If you’re planning on keeping your pet with you while the movers are coming in and out, make sure they’re okay with people. However, the folks at Oz Moving, an NYC moving company, still recommend that you keep your pets out of the way on the day of your move.
Even if they’re in the house, you should keep animals in a separate room with their favorite toys and snacks. Of course, hearing people moving behind the door is bound to get their hackles up anyway. So, you should regularly enter the room to keep them calm.
You could make things easier for both the movers and yourself by having your pet spend the day with a pet sitter. Ideally, that would be someone your pet already likes—and someone who could handle them. Still, if your friends and family can’t do it, you could always put them in a pet hotel. Taking them to the groomer for a few hours might work as well.
Of course, if those things aren’t a part of your pet’s normal routine, that might make them even more nervous. Even so, this step out of the usual routine may be less stressful for the animal than having to see a bunch of strangers—namely, movers—on what they perceive as their territory.
Most experts recommend reducing your pets’ food intake on the day of your move. If nothing else, it would prevent anxiety-induced nausea or potty accidents. Additionally, you could make the day more pleasant for animals by giving them anxiety supplements or even sedatives. Either way, you should make sure to do your research and consult a veterinarian before introducing any new medication.
The best thing you can do to keep your pets’ anxiety levels as low as possible is stay calm. If you keep your cool both at home and on the road, your pets will probably follow your lead.
Another way to keep them calm is to follow safety protocols for having pets in your vehicle. Keep them secured in place while you’re driving, and remember to take frequent breaks every three or four hours. Dogs would particularly benefit from longer walks, so throw a few of those in for good measure.
If you’re not driving, consider using pet transport providers that don’t move animals in the cargo space of the airplane. Those services can be pricey, but if you’re looking to keep your pets calm, they’re a good option.
When you get to your new home, you should let your pets explore the new space. Of course, you should make sure the house and backyard are safe before letting the animals go in. If you have dogs, take them for a stroll through the new neighbourhood as soon as you can. They’ll probably love marking their new territory!
As for your new home, you could make it more familiar to your pets by hanging onto your old furniture. Replacing it with new pieces gradually will put your animals at ease. Ultimately, most animals just want to be able to smell familiar scents in their everyday surroundings.