The last time I moved I said I would never do that again, ever. So I have BIG sympathy for all the pet parents I seem to know who are needing to pack up right now and you have my empathy too. Even if it’s a positive move to start a great new job, move to a dream home, or gain an amazing backyard, moves can be taxing, stressful, and just plain no fun for humans and critters.
Here are some things you might want to consider in advance of the move, at the time of the move, or during the settle in process to try to ease the transition for your pet.
In preparation well before the move:
- Check out the new space with an eye towards your pet’s needs. For example, if you currently use window coverings as part of your management strategy, examine the layout of the new space and determine if you need to get some window film or other supplies to maintain your successful management at the new location. If you use baby gates to cordon off certain spaces, will your existing equipment work in the new space or do you need to get something else before moving in? What might be new spots to set up your pet’s safe space(s)?
- Think about what work may need to be done in the new place once you move in, and determine if it could be done before the pet moves in. Off gassing from paint can be noxious to pets and us, but can be lethal to birds. If you want to do some sprucing, if possible, find a way to do it before you move;
- Start to get the lay of the land in your new neighborhood; e.g. scout out safe/calm places for you and your pet to continue your routine activities;
- Prepare for the actual trip – which might be a short drive or walk, or maybe a long-distance trek, whatever the length get your pet and what they might need for the journey prepped;
- Try to accommodate your pet in your packing plans, assess if your pet will be more comfortable with a slow approach, ie, gradually packing over time, or a quick let’s get it all wrapped up in a day or two, and,
- If you have a dog that struggles with strangers, you may want to find a way to have them out of the house if you’re using movers, e.g. can they go to daycare, visit fav human friends or relatives?
Close to move day:
- Pack your pet’s critical items separately and clearly label the box, cause honestly the boxes all start looking the same, i.e. box up food, medication, things you use to deliver meals, safe space bedding, favorite toys, sound masking machines, whatever; the goal is to have handy the critical items you need for your pet to settle in once you arrive.
During the move:
- If your pet that is stressed by people coming and going, setting them up in a backroom with an activity might be less stressful and less of a door-dashing risk; and,
- I find it helpful to explicitly designate who is on ‘pet-duty’, i.e, which of us is monitoring the pets so it doesn’t become the “oh but I thought you were watching out for Boon (one of our dogs)” misunderstanding and something happens because both of us were focused on moving activities resulting in no one was watching the “kids”.
When you get there:
- Try to make it the best place ever for your pet when you arrive: extra special treats, time to explore, stress-relieving activities;
- Pull out all your most effective enrichment strategies to help them establish their routine in the new place;
- Keep an eye out for potential risks – you may not realize your dog will try to dig under the fence until they try to dig under the fence;
- Observe your pet: they might find something unexpectedly spooky (e.g. open backed stairs, unfinished basement or weird sounding radiant heaters) – we can help them if you notice their reactions and behavior – and,
- Know that your management plan may need to be tweaked (e.g. who knew a barky dog was going to be on the same floor of your building?!)–that’s okay, we can help!
- Be kind to yourself and remember, moving is stressful not matter what.
- Look at the phases listed above and map out steps that you might want to consider in your upcoming move.
- If you’d like help tweaking your existing management plan or to build a plan before you move so that everyone is safe and stress is minimized, please reach out to us. We’d love to help!