How to Move with Pets

Pets can feel like another wrench thrown into the busy schedule of a move.

A wrench, nonetheless, that you love very much and hope not to traumatize during this hectic transition.

So here are four steps you can take to make the move with your furry friends a fabulous one.

The logistics

First, you’ll want to do a little investigation into your new home and the new area where you’ll be moving.

Review your lease to ensure that you know the pet rules of your new living space. For example, some apartments require that you crate your dogs when leaving the house. Many, understandably, request that you keep the yard clean and picked up after your dog’s business.

Most landlords require a monthly pet fee or one-time pet deposit at the beginning of your lease. If your pet causes damage to the unit, your landlord will likely deduct the cost of the damage from your security deposit.

Many states and cities also have pet laws and regulations. To fully prepare, call your state veterinarian’s office or the state department of agriculture as well as the city clerk’s office for general and local pet ordinances. These resources will let you know, for example, leash laws or whether licensing is necessary.

Ask your vet if they have any recommendations for new vets in the area where you’ll be moving.  Additionally, ask your old vet to send you your pet’s health records. This will help your new veterinarian better attend to your animal.

Pet-proof your new home

Next, you’ll want to set up your new living space to best accommodate your pets, who are most likely semi-frazzled from all the changes their experiencing during your move. If your dog loves to run freely outside, schedule to have someone put in an electric fence.

Use expandable pet gates to block off certain rooms or areas of the house where the moving is happening. Remove or block off any dangers to your pets. Exposed wiring, precarious furniture, and exterior doors where they can slip out without notice are all potential dangers.

Get a feel for the animals living close to your new home. Note whether a neighbor has an aggressive dog or large farm animals that could accidentally hurt one of your pets. Cats can naturally avoid many outdoor dangers, but most dogs need to monitoring or fencing to avoid potential dangers, like cars or a mishap with another animal.  

So go ahead and get into protective parent mode for a short time, and pet-proof your new place.

Make an easy transition

Leave moving your pets to the last step.  Help minimize your pets’ stress and keep them safe by keeping them away from the chaos.

You can also help them become accustomed to a pet carrier by giving them their favorite treats in their crate, using it as a bed, or putting their favorite blankets and toys in it.

If your pet isn’t used to riding in the car, take them on a few rides help them adjust to the movement and new smells of your vehicle. Give a lot of positive reinforcement to help them associate riding in the car with good feelings and interactions with you.

When you’re ready to move them into your new home, make sure to transfer them in crates that are big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lay down.

Prep their own little moving bags with supplies like food, water, dishes, leashes, brushes, medicates, towels, newspaper, stain removers and deodorizers (just in case!), and their favorite toys or blankets.

If you have a long drive, try not to feed or give your pets water at least an hour before your trip. This will help them feel less car sick and be less likely to have an accident along the way. Don’t forget to let them out of the car often to run around or get some fresh air.

If you think the changes during your move might be too upsetting for your pets, ask a friend to watch them until you’re somewhat unpacked. Then you’ll be ready to give them the attention and monitoring they need. If not, you can always keep your pets in back rooms away from the move to minimize their stress and the chances of them getting out and running away in their confusion.

Help them acclimate

Finally, you’ll want to help your pets understand that your new home is their new home too. Help your pets acclimate to your new place by keeping as many things similar to their old home as possible.

Use all their same toys, blankets, beds and litter boxes. Provide the same food they’ve been eating.

Try to keep them on their same routine. For example, if in their old home, you took them on morning walks and then gave them breakfast, try to continue this tradition with them at their new home.

Pets become confused and sometimes frightened during the changes of a move, and they’re known to slip out of new houses, trying to find their old home. For all your pets, keep them indoors or on close watch when outside for at least the first week after your move.  This will give them time to understand that this new home is their permanent residence, and they will adjust with time and patience.

If you have a nervous-tempered pet, ask your vet if there are any medications that can help.

We like these: Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for kitties, as well as the natural supplement, Rescue Me by Bach. But make sure to check with your vet before putting your dog on any medication or supplement. Your vet can help pick the best medicine for your unique pet and situation.

That’s it!

Amazingly, with just a little intentionality to make the place our new home, we can adjust to new spaces and recover from the stress of a move.

With a little planning and patience from your end, your pets will adapt to all the changes easily and quickly.

Soon, you and your pets will be well on your way to feeling snug at home in your new place.

Fun Fact: The pup in our header photo is Jack, Director of Happiness at Bellhops HQ. He even has his own clause on the lease!

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