Moving can be stressful for people, however it can also be a very anxious and demanding task on our dear animal companions, our pets. Pets can easily get stressed out when there’s unexpected change or activity in their home or when they’re introduced to a new environment. Unfortunately moving with pets can often be a difficult if not planned correctly. It can lead to pets going missing (in search of their previous home) or them developing behavioural issues. Managing change with pets requires patience and like us humans, pets need a little extra TLC during the main three stages of a move. Luckily, with some insight from animal experts there are a number of recommendations for how owners can keep pets safe and happy while undertaking a move. Here are some tips Mooving matters, your home organiser Sydney have complied that should make the moving experience a bit calmer for you and your beloved pet(s).
Is your new home pet friendly?
Before you actually get to t packing and labelling cardboard boxes, it’s a good idea to make sure your new home is pet friendly.
Walk through the local area, make sure there are dog parks or beaches where pooches can get their exercise, and thoroughly assess the property you’re moving to ensure it’s animal-proofed. Ensure the properties fencing is high enough and that gates can shut and lock properly and all yards are secure to prevent curious pets becoming runaways.
Get orientated with the new neighbourhood
If you are moving relatively close by, let your dog visit your new place before moving day (this method can also be effective with cats, however with them secure in their crate). Don’t act nervous or unsure, show them that you’re relaxed in the new surroundings. It is common for animals to wander back to their previous home, so this can help overcome problem.
A good strategy is to map out a route from your current location to your new home. Otherwise if the distance is too far, try finding a local dog park in the new area. Walking them along this route or visiting the park at least once a week, will help familiarise your pet with all the new sights, sounds and smells. Gradually increase exposure and when the time comes to move, it’ll already feel like home.
If possible, it’s a good idea to bring dogs along to new property prior to move give them a chance to sniff out and explore the new neighbourhood surroundings. It’s essential for them to familiarise themselves with your new house as soon as possible. For example, walking them around the perimeter so they get to know it.
It’s the anxious animals that are more likely to try to escape. Thus, it is important to make sure their new home is safe and secure as possible, be it a pet dog, cat, bird, rabbit or fish.
Prep an overnighter
Prepare an on hand ‘overnight essentials bag’ that has enough dog food, or if a cat kitty litter, toys and grooming tools to sustain your pet and keep them comfortable during the first few days of unpacking
Contact or visit your Vet
If you’re moving out of the area, visit your veterinarian a couple of weeks prior to moving. Request a copy of your pet’s medical history and records, importantly including documents as their vaccination and a desexing certificates. Its good idea to ensure your pets are up to date with their shots, get any prescription medications and your new address is added to their microchip database. If your pet suffers any has health issues or mature in age, possibly a mild sedative would be advisable before any travel. Another option is to chat to your vet about using a pheromone device. What a pheromone device does is emit a scent which mimics the scent released by a mother to her litter which is known to be quiet calming.
You may want to see if your current vet can recommend another vet in your new neighbourhood to connect with.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Hopefully you still have a few weeks before the big move. Be sure to use this time wisely. Apart from the obvious preparations, you may want to hire professionals to reduce the workload.
Hiring removalists to pack and unpack and declutter, handy man to fix any damages, or organise cleaners to do a detail clean, this is will help clear up your schedule to address your dog’s needs. A concise moving house checklist is a great way to help coordinate all the various tasks that you’ll need to tick off.
Keep your pet’s routines
With enough change happening as it is it’s good to keep like feeding and walks, as they are if possible. And it goes without saying, treat them with the same level of attention that you would normally show them. Make sure you give your pet an identical, predictable daily routine for the first couple of weeks in your new residence. This will make your pet feel more confident if they know what to expect each day, such as what times they’ll eat and go to the toilet.
Pack your pet’s belongings last.
To keep them comfortable and at ease during moving, do not wash their bedding until a couple of weeks after the move, this is so they have something familiar smelling in the new house.
Make sure you have the following organised before the move:
- veterinary records, certificates, and recent photos
- your pet’s usual food
- food and water bowls
- toys and treats
- leashes (both cats and dogs)
- beds, pillows, towels or other crate liners
- plastic bags and scoops for dogs
- litterbox for cats
- cage covers for birds and rodents
- paper towels for messes
- provisions for the first day at the new home
When traveling long distances, you can prevent travel sickness by not feeding them for 12 hours before the journey. Otherwise If you your pet suffers from travel sickness, consult your vet about anti-sickness medications.
Carrier Train your pet in advance
When moving it’s a good idea to crate or pet carrier train your pet prior to the move. This way, wherever you move in the future, your pet will always have a safe and familiar space they can retreat to, making the process less overwhelming. Cats need a little more security and protection compared to dogs, which makes utilising a pet carrier the perfect solution making your life a lot easier as it’s the most convenient method of relocating pets. Some tips when selecting a pet carrier is that to make sure it’s large enough that your pet can stand, lie down, and turn around easily. Make sure it’s made of solid materials like plastic or metal, you can latch the door, and that it has plenty of ventilation
If you’re a pet owner you will know how dogs and cats will watch your every move. Companion animals can detect changes in their environment, and are attuned to signs that their humans might be leaving them.
While packing up an entire house, it’s best to reassure pets by keeping their routines as normal as possible. As mentioned previously Continue to feed and walk them at the same time as usual. Also make sure they have some of their favourite toys and treats around for as long as possible.
Play with your pet
A couple of weeks before you move, introduce your pet to a new toy.
If possible, take them on a visit to your new home. Spend some time there playing with your pet and the toy. On the moving day, give them the new toy with a treat inside when you get to your new home to create positive associations. If you need to return to work, these can be helpful as your dog can play with them unsupervised.
Toys that offer the dog a slow treat reward are great as they also encouraging the dog’s natural instincts.
Its Moving day, so keep them out of the action
When it comes to moving day, look to keep your pets with you wherever possible, rather than boarding them at a kennel or cattery. The truth is dogs and cats respond better to their owners, not to other people.
If removalists will be coming and going through the house, restrict pets to a closed room or Quietest area. Using a crate comes in handy here, both as a safe space an animal can go to if stressed, and to securely transport them.
Move them in a cat carrier with familiar smelling bedding and only release them from their carrier once your home is quiet and calm.
Make sure you check in on them regularly and try your best to feed or walk them at the time you usually would; keeping routine in the midst of all the changes will help immensely.
If your dog isn’t carrier trained, don’t be embarrassed and always be pet safe and hire a pet sitter, take them to a pet kennel / daycare or ask a family member take responsibility for looking after your dog.
Things to remember during the move
- Place new identification tags on them
- Make sure your pet is safely secured in the vehicle they are to be transported in
- Make sure that they get regular toilet and water breaks.
- Never leave your pet alone in a parked car.
Take your pet in your car
Take the pet to the new house in your own vehicle. Cats and small dogs can be put in a carrier in the back seat, which can then be secured with a seatbelt. A bigger dog can be moved in a kennel in the back of the car; you may need to put seats down if possible. Some animals feel more comfortable if you throw a blanket over their carrier during the car ride so they can’t see the environment changing outside.
Wait till you have arrived to let them lose
Once loaded into the car, it’s crucial to not open the carrier until the pet is in the new home. And give them a few days in the new home to adjust. For cat owners keep your cat indoors for safety reasons, a move is a good opportunity to get them used to being inside as they won’t be used to being allowed out in the new home.
Keep them secluded
Move the house before you move the pet. Set up as much as you can, even just in a room, before you introduce the animal to the new home. Confine them to a section of the house while they slowly adjust to their surroundings. Give your pet lots of attention and introduce familiar objects like toys or blankets as soon as possible to make them feel at home.
Settling in, in the new home
Yay, you survived the move! However, before you begin laying out the furniture and hanging artwork, spend time helping your pets acclimatise.
In the new home, choose a small room to be your pet’s pet room, where they can feel secure as you move in furniture and belongings. As much as possible, have furniture, bowls, and toys in place before you let your pets out of their crates.
Cats should initially be confined to one room, and then gradually introduced to other surroundings. this is a good method to help them adjust.
Settle it into one room and after a few days just start opening doors so it can start exploring the rest of the house.
Just like humans, our pets need time to settle into their new surrounds. Some common behaviours that your pet may experience:
- Constant barking or noise that is more than usual
- Lack of sleep
- Running out your property
- Odd toilet movements
- Destroying property
Here are some tips to get your pet familiar with your new home:
- Take them for walks
- Find local park(s) especially for dogs.
- Provide entertainment, such as soft toys, especially when you are not at home
- Find a local vet just in case of an emergency
Try playing games like hiding small pieces of dry food around the house to encourage cats to explore at their own pace.
The RSPCA advises owners to keep their cat indoors, but if you choose to let them outside, do so very slowly to lessen the risk of them becoming lost or running away
Visit some of your pet’s favourite places for the first few weeks if possible. Set rules early on so they know where they’re allowed and where to eat and sleep, and use positive reinforcement – pats, praise and treats – to make them feel happy and relaxed.
Double check the boundary fencing to make sure it’s secure and free from holes before letting your dog run free in the garden. If your dog is able to escape, only take them out on a lead until you are able to do the necessary improvements. Unpack the essentials before introducing your pet to the new house so they can see familiar items within the unfamiliar house.
If your pets start to misbehave, it many cases it’s because they have become stressed during the move, so consider ways to calm them. If you suspect they may be ill, make an appointment with a vet. Whatever you do try not to punish your pets for initial misbehaviour. Cats especially will not understand, and you don’t want them to start to distrust you. The golden rule is to be patient with your pet in the new home and make allowances for ‘accidents’. And don’t draw attention to it as it could make the problem worse. When your pet goes to the toilet in the correct area, please praise them.
Keep routines consistent
Stick to your usual routines, as this will help them to settle. Feed and walk at the usual times, giving them the same attention, they are used to having. Ensure your pet’s diet, bed and toys are the same as they were in your old house. The familiar tastes, smells and sensations will reduce stress and help them gain a sense of belonging.
If you give them more or less this may cause them to become anxious or over dependent on you and lead to behaviour problems.
Update their owner info
Be sure to update your dog or cat’s council registration so that if they do escape and go missing, you will be quickly reunited. Update your dog or cat’s identification tag with any new details, too.
Remember to get their microchip records changed to your new address if you haven’t already.
One of the most vital steps is to ensure you choose the right packing and removal company. The Mooving Matters team, your full service moving and packing company understand the moving process, and all the components that need to be addressed for a smooth move especially when pets are involved!
To arrange a complementary on-site inspection of your packing tasks by Mooving Matters, your home organiser Sydney or to simply discuss our ‘Ultimate full service packing + moving’ experience call (02) 93375333 or visit us at moovingmatters.com.au.