Moving to a new home, especially if it’s far away from your current location, can be a huge hassle. Transporting a pet makes the move even more complicated. Let’s go over how you can make a move with a pet successful and as stress-free as possible.
On top of using our checklist to prepare for your move, there are additional actions you will need to take with a dog. If you know your pet gets nervous or has motion sickness, you will want to see your vet and possibly get medication. If you are unsure of whether your pet gets sick or anxious in the car, try taking them for drives.
Both cats and dogs share similar symptoms:
Again, ask your vet about the best course of action for handling your pets.
Next, you will need a carrier. For small dogs and cats, it might be a travel pod or small kennel. For medium dogs, a harness that connects to a seatbelt is a good idea. For larger dogs, a crate is best. These will keep your pets safe, as well as prevent them from being a physical distraction. The right carriers will have enough space for your pet to stand in and turn around. A cramped pet is likely to be more anxious and uncomfortable.
Finally, if you need to stop and stay at a hotel during your trip, make sure they are a pet-friendly hotel.
Once you are on the road, talk to your pet in a calm voice. Don’t get angry or frustrated if they start to whine or get restless. Hold a casual conversation with your pet. A familiar voice will help calm them.
If possible, especially with smaller animals, try to keep yourself in view, so they have a calming presence they can see. Being able to see outside the car can also help with anxiety and car sickness. However, letting them roam the car is probably a bad idea. It might distract you, and there is a chance they could get hurt while the car is in motion. It might be possible for the animal to move around if you have a second person handling them, however. We highly recommend you hire a moving company so that you will have extra space for your furry friend.
Alternatively, if you are able — or forced due to lack of space in your moving truck — to make multiple trips, consider using storage solutions so that you can focus on your pet instead of your belongings. This will also give you time to focus on your pet and get them acclimated rather than ignoring your pet in favor of unpacking all of your boxes. The easiest way to do this is to bring essentials first, and move your pet into a single room with their essentials — food, water, toys, bed, etc. Do this while you put the rest of the house together, slowly letting them expand to other rooms as they grow comfortable. They will be surrounded by familiar faces, smells, and items from your old home, easing them into their new space.
There are pheromones you can spray in your car that might help your pets calm down, and a blanket that smells like you or your previous home, or favorite toys, may also help.
Bring a bag of treats and, unless your pet has car sickness, don’t be afraid to use them. Don’t feed your pet a large meal before the trip.
Make frequent stops to allow your pet to stretch and relieve themselves. This is also the best opportunity to hydrate your pets, as water is likely to slosh around your car. For longer trips, especially for dogs, this can also help them burn off excess energy.
Once you’ve arrived, congratulations, the hard part is over! That’s not to say you are finished with the moving process, of course, as your pet needs to get acquainted with their new home. This is a scary time for them, filled with uncertainty and a brand-new living situation. Introduce your pet to their new surroundings slowly.
First, use the same bed or crate they slept in from your old home. It’s something familiar and calming. By the same token, be consistent with your old routine. For example, feed your pet at the same time that you did in the old house. Take them for walks or play with them when you normally would, even if it means cutting into your unpacking time.
The key is to be patient. It may take time for your pet to become comfortable in your new home. If they are keen on exploring, accompany them. Keep talking to them in a calm voice.
After they are acclimated, make sure you have updated their microchip information (or get a new microchip), and take pictures of your pet so you have recent photos on file should they try to escape. It’s entirely possible that they will try to run away and get back to your old home; having photos can help you find your pet.