Moving can be stressful for every family member – including the four-legged ones. The tough part is you can't explain to your dogs and cats what's happening. Every animal reacts differently to new living quarters, and temperament has a lot to do with it. Some pets take a move in stride, while others exhibit anxiety or insecurity for days or weeks.
Here are some things to consider as the big move approaches and after you're in your new home:
1. A little help from the vet
Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on easing the transition. If your pet is generally anxious or high-strung, perhaps it's worth asking whether a mild calming medication might be right for your pet for the first few days after the move. It's not uncommon for vets to prescribe gentle stress relief for travel. Your veterinarian may also suggest additional vaccinations depending on the area and climate you're moving to.
2. A pre-move home tour
If possible, take your pet to the new home for a visit before the official moving day. That way, it will be familiar with the house, yard and even new smells when you actually move in.
3. Time to explore
After you move in, give your pet time to explore the house gradually, rather than letting it loose immediately to roam at will. Limit it to one area – perhaps the kitchen – for a few hours until it calms down. Show the pet where you've placed its familiar items like the food dish, water bowl and bed. You might want to keep a dog on a leash when first allowing it to tour the greater part of the house. If you have a fenced yard, avoid letting pets out unsupervised for several days until you're sure they can't climb or dig out from under the fence.
4. The benefit of pet walks
Take your dog for walks and good sniffing around the entire neighborhood. While you acclimate to your new location primarily by visual cues, dogs depend on their olfactory sense. Leave and enter the new home by different doors during the early walks, so your dog develops a good sense of direction and knows exactly where home is.
5. How cats handle moves
Territorial by nature, cats often experience more issues with moving than their canine counterparts. Keep your cat safe in its carrier upon arrival, placing it in a quiet area. When the hubbub dies down, let it out in an enclosed room away from main traffic areas. Provide your cat with familiar objects, such as a bed, litter box and toys. Spend lots of time with it and encourage it to explore the room, perhaps by strategically placing cat treats. Outgoing, friendly cats might be ready for further exploration within a day or two after arrival, while shy cats might take much longer.
6. Additional supervision
While you have a million things to do after moving into a new house, try to have at least one family member home at all times during the first week or so. Have meals at home and establish a routine for your furry friends as soon as possible. Feed pets and take the dog for walks at the same time as you did at your old home.
7. Update pet IDs
Because accidents happen, update your pet's identification information before you move. Your new municipality might require licensing within a certain time frame, but you need updated tags from day one of your move. If your pets are microchipped, contact the registration company and give them the new information. This way, if Fluffy or Fido slip out the door, anyone who finds them can easily return them to their new home.