Top tips for moving house with pets

Top tips for moving house with pets

If you’ve ever moved house, you know how stressful it can be (in fact some call it the third most stressful life event). You aren’t the only individual to experience this change – your pets will find the change bewildering to say the least. We can help you take some of the stress out of the move and keep you and your pets sane.

If you’ve ever moved house, you know how stressful it can be (in fact some call it the third most stressful life event). You aren’t the only individual to experience this change – your pets will find the change bewildering to say the least. We can help you take some of the stress out of the move and keep you and your pets sane.

Tips on what to do with your pets when moving house

Preparing your pets

You actually need to consider your pets before you even buy a new home. For instance, you should consider how busy the road is, in case you have a roaming cat or a dog who likes to shoot out the gate as soon as there’s a gap. Consider the size of the garden and how accessible it is for your pets – and you if you’re still working on house training.

Other garden-related issues you need to think about include poisonous or dangerous plants and the type, height and condition of the fence. You don’t want your dog to suddenly discover it has a knack for scaling walls.

Don’t forget about the size of the interior, which is especially important if you have inside cats or dogs. Also think about the wisdom of steps or stairs if you have older dogs and cats. If it’s possible, i.e., you’re moving to a new home that is relatively close to your old one, take your dog for walks in the area. This will help your dog get used to the neighbourhood so it’s not such a big adjustment when you make the move.

If your pets aren’t used to crates or travelling in the car, now is the time to get them accustomed to being crated and driven around. Introduce the crate slowly. First put in some blankets or pillows and tasty treats to tempt them to explore; then treat them while they’re in the crate. You can try feeding them in the crate and encourage them to sleep in it. Don’t ever close the door on them during the introductory phase. You don’t want to put them off crates (or you) for life.

As far as travelling in the car goes, keep the distances short to start off with, take loads of treats with you and try to take them to a happy place, like the park, beach or forest. Don’t force them to get in or out, but rather lure them with trustworthy treats – it’s amazing what you can accomplish with some chicken.

Make sure they have identification tags with accurate information and update their microchip information. Pets have a tendency to go missing after moving house and you want to ensure that your dogs or cats are as easily identifiable, and your contact details as easily accessible, as possible.

Leading up to the move

Maintain your pets’ routine in the period leading up the move. Bring in boxes and start packing gradually, so that all the familiar items don’t disappear at once. Allow them to sniff the boxes and generally get their noses into what’s going on.

Pack your pets’ things (bedding, toys, etc.) last.

Ask your vet if she thinks your cat or dog needs a mild sedative to help them cope with moving to a new home. There are natural remedies that you can use, such as Rescue Remedy, as well as pheromone collars, sprays and diffusers. Start giving your pet the medication a week or so before the move and continue for a month or so after.

On moving day

If you have very nervous animals consider asking a friend to babysit for a few days or, if you can bear it, put them in a boarding kennel. A familiar face or even a neutral environment is less stressful for your pets than all the chaos and resulting stress from loading removal vans.

If your pets are fairly robust, or you don’t trust anyone else to keep them safe and secure, then you should shut them in a familiar room with all of their bedding, food and some toys while all the activity is going and leave that room to last.

When you get to your new home, unpack your pets’ things first and put them all in one safe room, along with a few familiar items to provide a sense of continuity. If you have dogs and cats consider using two rooms to prevent any argy-bargy that could result from stressed out nerves. Give them time to settle before letting them explore the rest of the house. Depending on your pets, this could take a few hours or a few days. Take things very slowly with cats.

The days and weeks after the move

Accompany your dogs and cats on their first few forays into the new garden. Keep your dog on lead if necessary and keep the time spent in the garden pleasant (play games) and short.

Take your dog out for regular walks around the neighbourhood.

Carry treats around with you and randomly reward your pets for being in any room in the house. You want to make the newness pleasant. You can also use scatter feeding to encourage them to explore, but remember not to force the issue. Let your pets get used to their new surroundings at their own pace.

Introduce yourself and your pets to your neighbours. If your animals do manage to escape, you want as many eyes looking for them as possible.

Get back into routine quickly as this will help settle your pets.

Watch your pets carefully for signs of illness and changes in behaviour. Bear in mind that they may act out a little and “misbehave” by chewing, digging, messing in the house and doing all of those other things that drive you crazy. It’s important that you exercise extreme patience and don’t punish your car or dog for this behaviour. Use positive reinforcement for good behaviour and your pets should settle down within a few weeks. However, if they don’t you should consult a qualified behaviourist to help you deal with the problems.

Moving house places a great deal of stress on you and your dogs and cats, but by following this advice and with careful management and preparation you can take a lot of the pain out of the move. And remember, you can make your life even easier by consulting experts on the UK property market.