When we are planning to move house, we often think about the effect it will have on the people in our households: the children who won’t live near their friends any more, and may have to change schools, the parents who will have to change their commute to work, or even the new neighbours, worrying about what they are going to be like. However, we don’t often tend to spare a thought for our pets, who can be just as upset by the change. Moving is also stressful for them, as they find themselves in the middle of the chaos while we are noisily moving furniture, and our feelings (stress!) can be contagious and worrying for them. Here are our tips to help ensure that everything goes smoothly for your dog or cat during the move.
Note that finding a good vet near your new home is important. If your pet remains very anxious after the move (with a loss of appetite, hair loss, etc.), a vet will be able to help. They may recommend homeopathic treatments, Bach flowers or hormone diffusers, for example.
Dogs are social animals who follow their masters loyally, and who generally adapt easily to changes, as long as they have familiar people around them. But that’s not to say it’s always easy!
1) Keep the same routine
In order to reassure your pet, it is best to make as few changes as possible to their routine. Both before and after the move, meal times and times for walks should stay the same.
Before: If the new house is not too far from the old one, you can bring your pet for walks in the new area at least once a week, to get them used to it.
During: Even when you are in the middle of the hustle and bustle of moving, try to walk your dog to allow him to move around and relax, and get away from the chaos of the move.
After: If you are moving to a smaller home, make sure to walk your dog even more, and not to forget to play with him as well, to ensure he doesn’t get bored.
3) Once in place
Allow your dog easy access to their toys as well as a few of their favourite treats.
Cats tend to be attached to their environments, and they emit pheromones all over to mark their territory. A move is therefore quite traumatic for them, and they may have difficulty getting used to the new setting. Even changing a piece of furniture can be enough to disturb them.
1) Pack their things at the last minute
Allow your cat keep their toys and objects for as long as possible in the build-up to the move.
2) Prepare their new living space
You can spread their pheromones in the new home before moving in to help them to feel more at ease. Rub a cloth with their scent on it on various passageways around the home (windows, the jambs of the doors, etc.) and additionally give them a cloth or a rag containing odours from the new home to play with before the move.
Try to reserve a calm area just for them, with their feeding dishes, litter trays, scratching post and toys, as well as a corner where they can hide themselves (behind an armchair, under a bed, on top of a wardrobe, etc.). The goal of having this calm, isolated room is to allow the cat to play calmly with familiar objects, which carry it’s own scent, as finding themselves in the middle of moving furniture could stress them out greatly. If the cat wishes, they can also hide themselves in cardboard boxes and play in them – we know how much they love getting into small spaces!
3) Bring them on a tour of the new house
Help them get used to the new house room by room, without forcing them to go where they don’t want to, or without going too quickly – there will be plenty of time for them to discover every little nook and cranny as time goes on! Why not go there in advance of moving day, to allow them to get used to the new areas?
The cat will need to familiarise himself with the new house before being allowed in the garden. Certain cats run away from a new home the minute they get the chance. Be careful not to leave doors and windows open.
If the cat doesn’t move around much and stays hidden during the first few days, leave them alone, they will come out when they get hungry enough. Obviously, avoid changing their normal food during this period (before, during and after the move) so as not to cause further disruption.
A few additional recommendations for both animals:
- Try to stay as calm as possible. How can your pet stay calm if you are on the edge of a nervous breakdown? Deep breaths!
- If the journey to the new house takes a long time, take regular breaks and allow your pet to keep their toys and favourite objects close to them to reassure them.
- At times, pets can get up to mischief or have accidents at the early stages of moving into a new environment. It is not unusual for dogs to try to mark their territory. This is completely normal, and you need to be patient and avoid scolding them. Simply clean up after them and reassure yourself that this behaviour won’t last.
- If possible, stay near your pet the day after the move. Being close to you will reassure them.