Moving with your pet (c) 2016-2019 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Moving is one of the top three stressful experiences for humans and when the move
includes our pets, the stress can affect everyone in the family. However, humans do get
to offset some anxiety through exercising some choice and control over what the move
might bring while our animals simply get none. Planning and executing a move for us,
includes all sorts of think ahead moments from anticipating potential issues and figuring
how best to address them to what to look to forward to in your new home. Each new
experience from packing boxes to moving trucks to rearranging furniture are events that
your cat or dog or both get to show up to without knowing ahead of time they are coming.
As many plans and expectations as you have for your new place you pet simply cannot
share them. This is all foreign, uncharted territory outside of the realm of the routine
world your cat or dog has come to know and depend on. Knowing this, how can you make
that move less stressful for the companion animals in your household?
Before you go: Pack for your pet too- Toys, beds, scratch posts, litter pans and other pet
paraphernalia need to be as recognizable as possible to provide familiar smells and known
object recognition (think “their stuff’). You know how you hear that packing a suitcase
for humans is a good idea for that initial settling in period of your new place? Your pet
needs one also.
Moving day: is sure to be chaotic with everyone coming, going and doors left ajar, open,
slammed, not to mention all sorts of strangers to your pets in the form of moving men,
etc. Keep it safe the day of for cats by making sure to confine pets to the last room anyone
will enter with a securely closed door. Even better, place cats the morning of, after food
and litter breaks, into cat carriers with one of your worn t shirts to provide scent and
comfort. Position the carriers against a wall and not in the center of the room for
additional security. Partially cover the tops of the carrier with a pillow case to block
some visual exposure making sure there is sufficient airflow. A spritz of Rescue Remedy
on muzzle and/or paws is helpful for both cats and dogs.
Larger dogs can be kept with you on lead and smaller dogs can also be confined to
carriers. Make sure and bring your animals with you and never on the moving van and
check frequently on them to monitor stress.
Your new place: Allow for less is more with cats initially. While you may think having
an option to explore the new digs is the way to go for felines all that new space is over-
whelming and scary. Keep cats in one room for the first week or two. Your bedroom is the
ideal space especially since you will be spending all those nocturnal hours together and is
full of your scent, all of which is incredibly reassuring in a new space . Install familiar cat
beds, toys, litter box, and a feeding station. Cat houses or beds on a raised surface or cat
towers are ideal for hiding and getting familiar with things in cat time. Allow for cats
going incognito when they arrive and do remember to greet kitties by name on each
entrance and exit to and from the room for reassurance in this new scary space.
Explore your new place with your dog- Make sure and take the time to allow the dog to
sniff around, on a leash, the block, yard, perimeter of your home. This walk around
should also include the indoor areas of your home. Remember to engage with your dog
at all times in the process-talk to your dog in a happy and calm voice, explain what is
going on and where you are now even if it is to describe each new room. While your
dog may not understand every word you are saying, your tone of voice and accompany-
ing body language will reassure your dog that he or she is in a possibly welcome and
safe place. Keeping the dog on leash with you keeps the dog physically connected to
you, helping to foster both emotional and physical security for the both of you.
Keep the routine: Maintain consistency where you can. This means feeding and litter
box cleaning at the same times as before, the same for walk schedules and other outings.
Your pets anticipate events like these and keeping on schedule will give much needed
structure to getting everyone familiar with a new environment.
Share what’s good about your move: You know the things you can look forward to
about your new neighborhood or home, your pet does not. Consider the pet perspective in
cat tower placement –in the corner near that sunny window or other pet perfect spots for
beds and cat houses. Map out the route to a new dog park or a great walk with lots of sniff
potential. Remember to start small, all that great newness can overwhelming so keep that
familiar cat environment confined to one room for the first ten days or two weeks before
spreading out cat furniture to the whole house and keep walks and dog parks visits shorter
for starters as well.
Allow for excitement/reaction: Your pets will no doubt respond to changes with a level
of excitement or inhibition. Be the social support that your pet needs by providing routine
and calm energy. Talking to your pets and playing classical music at home on the first few
days is soothing. After the first several days introduce interactive play time with cats and
a five minute morning and evening training session for dogs (sit, down, stand or any
variation of three commands five times in a row) to provide engagement, comfort and
structure with all that excitement.
Allow for mistakes: Even with the best house training your home is new to your dog
or cat, there are no familiar smells in the walls, or safe and comfortable corners to be
in, yet. Should there be a break in house-training, know that this loss of control may be
stress related. Avoid any reprimands as they will only serve to create more stress.
Moving is a stressful and exciting experience. Here’s to making the best of it from
the canine, feline and human point of view.
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"Pack for your pet too- Toys,
beds, scratch posts, litter pans
and other pet paraphernalia
need to be as recognizable
as possible to provide familiar
smells and known object
recognition (think “their stuff’).
You know how you hear that
packing a suitcase for humans
is a good idea for that initial
settling in period of your new
place? Your pet needs one
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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