My parents bought the house I grew up in a year or so before I was born. We stayed in that house until my siblings and I eventually went off to college and started our own families.
As a kid, I fantasized about what it would be like to move to a new house. I thought our house was too boring, too small, and too old. So I was sort of obsessed with the idea of moving. I’d beg my parents to take me to new housing developments to tour model homes just so I could imagine what life would be like in any house other than our own.
As an adult though, I’ve moved many, MANY times over the years. I’ve been lucky to have a pretty awesome career that has made it possible for me to live in some really cool cities all over the world.
Since I’ve always had pets, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on how to successfully move with pets without too much trauma or fuss. A couple of weeks ago, I had to employ these skills again on a smaller scale when I moved offices.
My dogs Ollie and Maddie come to work with me every day – so over the last couple of years, they’ve gotten used to a pretty specific daily routine. We’re doing some office shuffling at work to accommodate all the amazing new things we have planned in 2020, so the Community Relations team packed up and moved across campus to be closer to our friends in Development.
Logistically, the move went really smoothly.
For my dogs though, the adjustment has been a slower process. Since Ollie is deaf and blind, he takes a little longer to acclimate to new surroundings – so I’ve done my best to minimize his stress by recreating as much of his normal routine as I could given our new circumstances.
Now that I’m unpacked and settled in my adorable new office, and thanks to my gyspy nature, I’m here to pass on some tips to help you manage your move with little stress to your furry friends.
First, calm down.
Moving is stressful, right? So when we are stressed, we tend to act differently – and your pets pick up on it. While it’s easier said than done, the best way to keep animals calm when moving is to stay calm yourself — or at least fake it and refrain from uncensored freak-outs in front of your pets.
If your move involves a long flight or car ride, there are a couple of things you can do to ease the stress of that journey.
A few days before the move, reduce your pets food servings by one-third, so she won’t have a full tummy when she’s rocking on a plane or bouncing in a car.
Make sure dogs are microchipped and have ID tags with your new address on them. That way, if they escape during the move, they can easily be traced back to you. Definitely make sure to update the contact information on your microchip with your new address information prior to your move.
If you’re moving internationally, work with your veterinarian to find out what tests, vaccinations, paperwork, or inspections are required by your destination country. Some countries have a six-month waiting period between when the paperwork is filed and the animal is allowed into the country. Refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to learn more about international pet regulations.
If you’re transporting Fifi in a carrier, let her smell and inspect it before moving day. Put her favorite blanket and treats in the carrier to make it a more positive experience. It’s important to do this well in advance of the move to minimize as much stress as possible associated with being in a carrier in the first place.
Get copies of your dog’s health records, so you can give them to your new veterinarian, and a health certificate, which is required by some states.
What to Do on Moving Day
Moving day is chaotic for dogs when they see strangers carting off their favorite furniture and familiar surroundings. When I moved offices a couple of weeks ago, I left the dogs at home with Andrew (who was fortunately on vacation that week) so they wouldn’t have to be in the middle of all the chaos.
If possible, arrange a dog playdate with a trusted friend or relative who can keep your dog out of harm’s way during the move. If that’s not possible, place the dog in a pet crate or quiet room where movers won’t go.
When it’s time to leave for your new home, pack your dog or cat into the car last, so he won’t overheat. At first, cover the dog crate with a light blanket, so your dog won’t see the passing scenery, which can be frightening. After a couple of hours, when they have calmed down, you can remove the blanket.
Introducing Pets to Their New Home
Before you let little Rory explore his new home, inspect it first to make sure no health hazards have been left behind, including cleaning products and rat poisons he can ingest, or holes in cabinets or walls where he can hide. Then open the crate, and let him investigate at his leisure.
Dogs are curious animals, and most will dart out and madly sniff around their new home. Cats may be more reticent and take their time getting to know this strange place you’ve dragged them to, so be patient and don’t rush them.
When movers arrive with your belongings, segregate the dog or cat again in a crate or a safe room. If possible, set up furniture in a familiar pattern, which will be less stressful for dogs and people, and re-establish a familiar feeding and potty schedule. In other words: If your dog is used to sleeping with you, don’t try to establish a new normal directly after a move — snuggle up and give your four-legged family member time to adjust.