It’s not surprising that moving home is one of the most stressful life events. All that organizing, packing, sorting and sometimes even new schools and jobs; there’s a lot going on!
It’s often easy to forget that our pets can become stressed too.
While you may have the most laid-back dog or aloof cat, studies have shown that both cats and dogs can pick up on how you are feeling. So instead of our pet making us feel better, we can make them feel worse.
Not only can they mirror our emotions, but they may also have some worries of their own when their bed and toys are being packed into a van. So how do we keep it as stress free as possible?
We’ve combined our top tips for before, during and after the move. Read on to learn more.
Where possible, it pays to take your dog to the new home.
Even if you can’t get access to the new home yet, walk around the general area and sit on the wall outside. If your dog is food motivated, take plenty of treats.
Your dog will probably treat it like every other walk, not understanding that this will be their new spot, but you are at least starting to make good associations.
If you see some neighbors, introduce yourself and your dog. At least when you move, you’ll have some friendly faces that you recognize.
When you’re packing, if possible, leave the pet’s space until last. So, leave their toys, beds etc. unpacked until the van is ready to leave. It can help if your dog is crate trained; no matter what is being moved around them, they still have their safe space. For cats specifically, it could be worth keeping them in one room of the house (even if they are outdoor cats). You don’t want them to get that unsettled they choose to leave one day and not come home.
Some owners ask friends or family to take their pets for the day. You don’t have to worry about doors or gates being left open accidentally by movers and runaway pets. This also gives you time to pet-proof the new home before they are brought back.
If you are keeping your dog with you, as much as your routine will be out of the window, take him for a walk at the start of the day and try to keep his meal times the same.
He may not eat, but you’ve at least tried. The same applies when you arrive at the new home. Head for a walk and offer his meal at the usual time. He just needs to know that even in a new place, nothing changes.
If you have a cat, pheromone sprays and diffusers are a great option throughout the moving process. If your cat gets stressed travelling, spray their carrier with a pheromone at least 30 minutes before putting them in.
You can plug in a diffuser in the new home and spray sofas and areas when you arrive.
After the Move
Set up a quiet place for your pets as soon as you arrive.
Whether this is a crate/den or a room. Ideally you wouldn’t have washed their bedding before the move, so their scent is still present. Again, pheromone diffusers are great for both cats and dogs to help reduce stress.
Pet proof the garden and home, ensuring all your pets are safe. If possible, take some time off work to help your pets settle into the new home and monitor their behavior. Be mindful that they may toilet inside with it being a new space; clean and disinfect immediately to neutralize the odor.
Explore the neighborhood with your dog and take things at their pace; provide plenty of treats so they associate the new area with good things! If your cat is an outdoor cat, it pays to keep them inside for a couple of weeks until they get their bearings.
Remember to update your dog’s and cat’s name and address details on their microchip or other ID!
Most pets adapt incredibly well to a move. If you are concerned about any of your pet’s behavior during the move, seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.