If you are a fur-mommy or -daddy, your pet is more than just a companion. They are part of the family. When you are moving to a new place, especially one far away, it can be traumatic to all members of your tribe, but especially for your kitty or pup. Pets thrive on familiarity for comfort and a feeling of security, and moving can feel like all that good stuff is being ripped away. Anxiety and stress can manifest in ways like growling, barking (or crying, for cats), unusual potty regression, inability to calm down and sleep, and other negative behaviors. Luckily, there are ways to make a move easier on your furry friends.
Get them away on moving day.
Moving day is stressful for everyone. For your pets, the constant opening and closing of doors, the banging of furniture being moved, the noise, and the general chaos can wreak havoc on their emotional wellbeing. Cats are usually okay with just being confined to one room while everything goes on (make sure to put a sign on the door to keep people from entering), provided it’s fairly quiet, but dogs should be kenneled or boarded elsewhere for a day or two. This will give you time to set up their things and make home feel familiar for them before they arrive at the new place.
Resist the urge to wash their stuff.
It can be very tempting to want to start afresh in a new house with everything clean and new, but do not replace or even wash your pet’s “stuff.” Their bed(s), blankie, toys, food and water bowls, and other accessories are marked with their scent, and they associate these things with “home.” It is scary enough to face a new house, but taking away the familiarity of their everyday playthings and snugglies is just too much. In fact, these things should all be in a place similar to where they were at the old house and set out just like the pet remembers to give them a sense of comfort and belonging in their new home.
Keep a closer eye than usual.
Be wary of turning pets loose in new surroundings until they (and you) know their limits. A new fence, for example, may look tall enough that your dog can’t jump out, but too often new homeowners are unpleasantly surprised. Likewise, if you have an outdoor cat (which is irresponsible pet parenting, by the way), perhaps accompany them into the yard and as they stroll around the neighborhood to make sure that they know their way home. Dogs should be walked, step by step, around their new walking path so that they can get familiar with their surroundings. Never let a newly-relocated dog off its leash (or ever, really… see my note on responsible pet ownership). Another dog, a child, or a passing car could be enough to spook an already-discomfited pooch and make them run, attack, or growl. A pet with owners that take time to reassure them and cast an eye towards their comfort is a happy pet.