Advice for Moving with a Pet

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Chiemsee2016

Moving has recently been ranked the most stressful life event we can experience. While that particular survey might be just a teensy bit melodramatic, it does illustrate the high levels of stress we experience while trying to change homes. Between packing up our furniture, taping cardboard boxes, loading the moving van, and bribing our friends to help us unload everything into our new home, it’s easy to overlook the stresses we create for our pets whenever we move. If a new home is in your future, here are some ways to make the transition less stressful for your pet – and yourself.

Consider your pet before you choose a home
Before you make a choice to move anywhere, ask yourself whether your pet might enjoy living there as much as you will. Is it a quiet area or will there be lots of noisy, startling distractions to scare your pet? If you have a dog, are there dog parks close by? Are there plenty of shaded, grassy areas to go for walks? Take special consideration for older pets who may require special assistance if your new home has lots of stairs.

Gradually prepare pets for change
Moving isn’t just stressful for us as humans. It’s hard on our pets, too. To reduce the stress and keep your pet from feeling overwhelmed, gradually prepare them for the transition in small, gentle steps. Starting days or even weeks before you move, begin bringing boxes into the home and slowly packing up one room at a time. Give your pet some time to adjust before proceeding to the next room. On moving day, you can keep your furry friend confined in a safe, familiar room (such as the bedroom) while the moving crew unloads the rest of the house. For safety reasons, your pet should always be moved last. Therefore, make sure he or she has soft bedding, lots of toys, and plenty of food and water to last throughout the day.

Preparing for the road trip
Even if you are just moving a short distance, you’ll need a way to transport your pet from one home to the other. Ideally, you should start slowly preparing your pet for the car ride at least a few weeks prior to moving. Start by gradually introducing pets to their crates or carriers. Start by placing food inside the crates, and eventually work your way to feeding them all of their meals inside the crate. This will show your pet that the crate is a safe space. Once your pet is used to the crate or carrier, start taking short trips in the car – even if it is just around the block or to the local pet store. After each trip, reward your pet with a special treat. Eventually, your pet will come to associate these car rides with positive rewards.

Pet-proof your new home
It’s always a good idea to pet-proof your new home, ideally before you move in with your pet. The ASPCA advises blocking any small spaces where your pet could get stuck; tucking away electrical cords; securing all windows; and making sure there are no pest control poison traps left anywhere in the home.

With some patience, effort, and proactive planning, you can teach your pet not to be afraid during your move. Although no move is perfect, and there will always be unexpected situations that pop up, these steps will help eliminate a lot of stress. Before you know it, you and your pet will be adjusted to your new home and back to enjoying your everyday lives.

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