No matter how organized you are, moving to a new home is a stressful event. Whether you’re moving across the country or down the street, the logistics of moving are always challenging, especially if you have pets. While you move, pets still require comfort and care. Unlike older children, dogs don’t understand what it means when some of their toys get packed in boxes. By anticipating the needs of your pets, you can minimize stress and confusion for the whole family.
Food and Pet Products
When my husband and I moved 45 minutes away in 2010, we had about a month’s notice. We made sure the dogs had enough to eat, but didn’t buy a new bag of dog food until the move was done. We placed the dogs’ essential items-leashes, bowls, treats and food-into a box at the old place. We packed and moved extra toys and large items separately.
At the time of our move, my mother-in-law was living in our house. While we packed and started moving our stuff over to the new apartment, she was able to care for the dogs. They were happy to be in the care of someone they trusted.
Moving can cause stress for pets; if you need to leave your pets in someone else’s care, make sure your pet sitter is familiar to the animals or understands how to help stressed animals cope with change.
Gates and Crates
When animals head into new spaces, they often wish to explore and possibly mark their territory. You’ll need to watch your pets in their new surrounding and help them adjust accordingly.
Crates and gates are helpful tools when you’re moving. We used two gates to confine our dogs to the kitchen while they were acclimating to the new apartment. While unpacking, we kept our crate-trained dogs in their safe and familiar crates. When it was time for a break, we played with them in the kitchen and took them for walks. They seemed to respond especially well to all familiar routines, people and objects, including friends who visited us and helped us move.
Transporting Pets During a Move
Transportation is one of the biggest challenges when moving with pets. My husband and I were able to move into our apartment days before we closed on the sale of our house; that way, our boxes and furniture were all in our new apartment by the time we moved the dogs in. This made things much easier on us.
Transporting pets, however, isn’t always that simple. When I helped my mother-in-law move, I transported her and her Cocker Spaniel on a five hour drive. We had to stop more often to let the dog do his business, always mindful of larger dogs’ reactions to him at rest stops. While we had prepared by bringing plenty of food and water, our trip was extended considerably due to the dog’s needs.
When my mother and stepdad moved to Florida with their Chihuahua, they purchased a comfortable dog car seat for her. This allowed her to sleep comfortably and safely on the journey.
For longer moves and air travel, there are options to transport your pet ahead or board a plane with your pet. See individual transportation agencies for more information. As your pet’s safety is a primary concern, always research such transportation companies. Please also note that some airlines have breed bans; others are lifting them.
More from Tara M. Clapper:
5 Steps: Preparing Your Dog for the Dog Park
Pet Safety: Leaving Your Dogs Home Alone
Dog Diet: How to Switch Your Dog’s Food