Moving sucks. There is just no way to make it "fun" even if you are excited about the new place and new opportunities. All your stuff is in boxes, at least two things are going to break and three things will get lost, no matter how you label, package and protect. It stressful and surprisingly exhausting, even if someone else is moving your stuff.
Imagine what it's like for our pets. Their routine, the layout of their house, the normal behavior of their parents is all disrupted and as much as we wish we could, we can't explain to them what's happening. Then comes the car ride, new house, maybe new housemates (or new fur friends). This article will give you some tips on how to reduce the stress for your pets next time you move.
1. Routine. As much as possible, try to keep the normal routine in your pets lives. Feed them at the normal times, exercise them at the normal times, as best you can. Don't let their needs get lost in the chaos of moving (anyone tried to move in 24 hours or less? I have...). If you are truly concerned about not being able to meet these needs, consider purchasing a timed feeder, sending your pups to daycare for the day, or hiring a dog walker. Sometimes you are so busy, your doggy friends don't get out and they need to!
2. Exercise and play. If your pets are all tuckered out from running and playing, they will be more accepting of having their environment and schedule disrupted. They will sleep better and be less likely to engage in stress related naughty behaviors like chewing, marking or escaping.
3. Keep them secure. Especially on moving day when people will be coming and going at frequent intervals. Put your pets in an empty room, with their food, water, beds, litter box, chew toy, ect. and hang a sign on the door to keep people out. Do the same thing when you arrive at your new place as well, allowing the movers to work freely and your pets to be able to relax and check out their new digs. Then, slowly start allowing your pets to explore the whole house, once the majority of moving is done. Always be sure your pets are wearing a collar with current tags, are microchipped, and licensed.. If they do escape, these will help get them returned to you quickly.
4. Introduce crates and carriers LONG before your move. Hopefully, your pets are already accepting and comfortable in their carriers and crates so this won't be an issue. However, if they aren't, start training them to accept them several months before your move. The actual transport inside a carrier will be far less traumatizing if they are used to it.
5. Take time to love and play with them. Pets are arguably our best stress relievers. Use that to your advantage during move and take time to cuddle, pet, brush and play with your babies. It will help the both of you feel better.
6. Plan for introductions. If your new home comes with new friends, two legged or four, plan ahead for the introductions. See our later blog post on the best ways to do these and please never just "let them work it out" - this method can lead to fights, injuries, lost pets and hurt feelings.
7. If you are traveling long distances, be sure to get your pets examined by your vet before you leave. If crossing state lines or traveling by airline, you will need a health certificate from your vet clinic, plus copies of vaccination and medication records. Keep a go bag with food, toys, water, bowls, leashes, and litter for your pets if you must stop along the way.
Don't be surprised if it takes several weeks for your pets to adjust to their new homes. It completely disrupts their sense of security and causes stress. Keep them safe, happy and healthy before, during and after your move.