Moving house is stressful enough for humans, but totally changing your pet’s environment can be especially tough. You can help your pet cope with disorientation by following a few simple principles.
We’ve made a list of the things you can do before and after to make your pet more comfortable.
Creatures of Habit
You can begin preparing your pet before you move. Routine is very important to most animals, and the disruption of normal patterns adds to the stress of moving.
You can minimise this by being careful to follow your normal routines of feeding, walking, or playing up until the last possible moment. You can then resume these routines as soon as you reach your new home, which will help your pet feel more in control.
Once you reach your new home, set aside a small room as their space. Fill it with their old bedding, toys and food bowls. If practical, try to arrange it in a similar way to their old space.
Bring Familiar Smells With You
Smells are very important in helping your animal feel at home, so make sure your pet’s things still smell familiar. You can do this by not washing their bedding before you move out, and making sure they have their old toys.
If they are anxious, you can sacrifice a recently worn t-shirt for them to sleep with. You can also talk to a vet about buying a pheromone dispenser, which releases calming smells (don’t worry, only your pet can smell them).
Keep Them Busy, But Safe
Territorial animals, like cats and dogs, will have a strong desire to get back to your old home. Make sure your new backyard is safe before letting them outside, by checking the fence is the right height, there are no holes, and the gate is secure.
Introduce your cat or dog to the house in supervised stages, reassuring them and setting firm boundaries. Your dog will benefit from on-leash walks to get them used to the new place.
You might see an upswing of “bad” behaviour after your move, such as accidents on the carpet. This comes from disorientation and upset, so punishing them will make it worse. It can also come from under-stimulation if they’re being kept inside, so provide toys and spend some one-on-one time with them.
The Day of the Move
If possible, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to look after your pet on the day of the move. If that’s not an option, keep your pet in a room with their bedding, toys, and no foot traffic. Leave their pet carrier in with them, so they can get familiar.
Some professional movers offer a pet storage option. This involves keeping your pet in a comfortable and quiet place with their belongings until the moving is done, then transporting them to your new home.
This prevents your pet from becoming distressed by the disturbance of moving, and can help minimise home-seeking behaviour.
If you’d like to find out more about moving houses with pets, you can contact our experienced team and enquire about our “pet-friendly” options.