Moving house can be an anxious time for everyone. If you’re bringing a pet or pets with you when you move, it’s important to make sure the move is as stress-free for them as possible. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to help your whole family settle into your new home happily and safely.
Before the move
The most important thing to consider is – plan ahead! As soon as you know you’ll be moving, you can start taking some simple steps with your pet or pets in mind.
Get to know your new neighbourhood – this includes asking yourself questions like: where will I walk my dog? Do I need to find a new veterinarian? (if the new house is too far away from your current veterinarian). Are there dog parks and other facilities? Is there a busy road nearby that could be a danger to your cat or dog? (If yes, and your cat currently has outdoor access, this may be an opportunity to think about transitioning to keeping them indoors). If the new house is within driving distance, you can take your dog for walks there before you move to get them used to the new sights and smells.
Think about what you’ll have to do with the new house to ensure that your companion animal is safely confined to the property – this includes appropriate escape-proof fencing for dogs, safe enclosures for pets such as small mammals and birds which protect them from predators and prevent escape, and ideally providing a secure outdoor enclosure for cats.
In the weeks leading up to the move, some hazards to be mindful of include: unfamiliar people in the house (such as prospective tenants or buyers) who may not be familiar with companion animals or could leave doors or gates open, as well as unsafe items that would normally be out of your pet’s reach but might be more accessible while they’re being packed. Keep in mind too that companion animals will read our body language, so if you’re visibly stressed (moving can be stressful!), it can be upsetting for them as well.
The day of the move
Many people choose to leave their companion animals with a trusted friend or put them into boarding on the day of a move. This is a sensible move and gives you one less thing to worry about while the move is happening.
If you have your pet with you, it’s important not to leave them unattended. Keep them secured in one room with enough food and water or if your dog is crate trained, keep them in their crate in a safe and quiet place.
Make sure you have an appropriate way to transport your pet to the new house, such as a suitable carrier for cats and small dogs.
At the new house
Bear in mind that the new house is always going to be an unfamiliar environment for your animal/s and they will need to get familiar with at their own pace. Try to not release them in the new house until it’s as quiet as possible, for example after the removalists have gone.
For cats, you should confine them to one room in the house for a couple of days with a comfortable bed, a familiar blanket and toys, a litter tray, and food and water, and spend plenty of time with them. Over the next few days you can make a few more rooms available to them, allowing your cat to explore them at will.
Dogs will largely explore at their own pace, but make sure that you supervise them to ensure they are safe and that they don’t escape (even if you have previously judged a gate or fence to be escape-proof, this is not always the case).
Also, make sure that you update your pet’s new address details on the microchip register and on their ID tag on their collar – so if they do get lost then they can be safely returned.
If you are moving, we hope by following these tips you and your companion animals will settle in as safely and happily as possible.
This piece was originally published in Australian Community Media newspapers