Monday, October 24, 2016

Tips For Moving With Pets

Everyone seems to be moving lately.  So many of my friends have bought homes or moved to a new home.  We moved this Summer as well, from Arizona to New York.  If you plan to move, it’s important to consider how moving will effect your pets.  As stressful as moving is for us, imagine how uneasy it makes your pet feel!  They don’t know you’re moving to a new home, they don’t understand what’s going on.


Why doesn't this chair feel soft anymore, I don't like it!
Why Does Moving Stress Pets Out So Much?
Moving creates lots of stress for people, there’s so much to coordinate, packing is exhausting, and so much can go wrong.   Pets sense that something is happening and that you’re stressed about it but they don’t know what it is.  This stresses them out too!

Pets like routine and familiar surroundings.  Their home is their safe, stable environment.   Seeing you pack up ALL of the family’s belongings can be distressing to pets.  It’s especially distressing when they witness their own belongings like pet beds and toys being tossed into boxes and taken away.
Phoebe wasn't too sure what I was doing with her toys but she didn't like it!
Realtors come in and out of the home to discuss putting your home up for sale and moving companies come to do estimates on the move.  They go from room to room inspecting things, and then sit down with you for discussion.  These meetings probably make you a bit stressed, which pets pick up on, making them stressed as well.

Your packing activities, the sight and sounds of strange packaging materials not only stress them out but there are some safety hazards as well.  Pets are curious and may get into packing materials.  Plastic wrapping, boxes and box fillings (like foam peanuts), packing tape, and large heavy blankets could all potentially be a safety risk to pets.  They may even try to burrow and hide in some of these items which could be disastrous.  My Husky couldn’t stand the sound of us taping up boxes using tape and the tape gun!  She’d run to the back door to get away from it and we’d have to let her out in the yard.  Phoebe didn’t much like seeing me pack up some of their toys in a box and cart it out to the garage, she was visibly upset and kept poking her head in the box and looking back at me like “What are you doing with my toys?!?”.  I felt so bad!


The dogs didn't understand what all the moving boxes were for!
If  you’re selling your home, once the home is listed for sale a myriad of strangers come traipsing through the place, making your pet feel like their safe, home sweet home is being attacked!   While movers are working it’s noisy and chaotic which can be very scary for pets.  They can get underfoot, slip out an open door, or get injured by movers carrying heavy items.

As you pack and move, watch for signs of stress in your pet like lip licking, tail between the legs or very stiff, pacing, excessive panting or drooling, yawning, and whining.  If your pet is stressed, try to distract them or calm them down.

How To Make Moving With Your Pet Easier
Moving with pets doesn't have to be stressful for them, there are some things you can do to make moving easier for your pet. It’s a good idea to get the pets OUT of the house for awhile during critical times throughout your move.  A familiar and trusted family member or friend, a reputable boarding facility, or a pet sitter who can take your dog to their home can be so helpful in keeping your pet calm.  Doggie day camp is also a good idea if you just want to get them safely out of the house during the day while you show the home or meet with moving professionals.  It’s worth adding a few bucks to your moving cost to keep pets safe and reduce stress on you and your pet.

If you can move out before putting your home up for sale that’s a huge plus!  We were fortunate enough to be able to do that with our move this Summer.   We grappled with the decision to pack up and put the Phoenix house up for sale while we were all still living there, or move to New York first and then have my husband travel back to Phoenix to get the house ready for sale and listed.


It takes awhile to settle into a new home.  Things are often in disarray for a long time.  As long as the dogs had their stuff around them, they were ok.
After a lot of thought and discussion we decided that moving us and the dogs out of the house before listing it would be the best thing to do.    We packed everything up and had it sent ahead while we made the 6 day road trip to New York.  We kept a good amount of the dogs’ possessions with us on the trip, and had packed up their stuff last.  We wanted them to have their things around them for as long as possible and have their favorite beds, toys & a few chew sticks, with them for the trip to New York.

If we had decided to remain in the house while we had it up for sale we would have scheduled day camp at PetSmart for Icy so she could be out of the house when it was being shown and also burn lots of energy playing.  Phoebe could easily be kept out of the way, she’s small and not nearly as…. how should I put it….. excited when people come over as Icy is!   We didn’t know how long it might take to sell the house so it might have been a lot of running back and forth to daycamp and/or boarding.

As it turned out, our house sold quickly.   I often wonder if it was because the house was so clean (and no pet hair!), largely open and empty, with just a few “staged” pieces left to showcase the space.  It worked out great, although we did miss my husband when he had to go back to Phoenix for 3 weeks to get the house ready for sale, meet with the realtor, and list it.  He traveled back once more for the closing.  It was so worth it though, some extra travel expense for him but so much less stress for us and the dogs!

If you’re not driving to your new home and need to fly, it helps if you can get settled before your pet joins you.  My cat Maggie flew from New York to Phoenix when we moved out there.  My parents agreed to keep her until our 3 month house search was complete and we were moved in.   I was grateful they were able (and willing) to help us with Maggie.  It was so helpful to have her arrive in our new house and see all the familiar furniture, and her bed and toys all ready for her.

When Your Pets Arrive At The New Home
As soon as you arrive at your new home, introduce your dog to the area through walks through the neighborhood and drives around the area.  I love taking my dogs to the local Starbucks.  They’re used to Starbucks and they LOVE a good Puppuccino !  Take them to the local PetSmart or Petco if they’ve visited those places in the old neighborhood.  These stores tend to look and smell very similar from city to city so it may seem familiar.  It’s also a great distraction, and if you give them some treats they’ll really enjoy the trip. 


Taking your pet to a new place that seems familiar, like a PetSmart store, may make them feel more comfortable in a new neighborhood.
Try to introduce your dog to the neighbors next door and directly behind you if they’re friendly – the neighbors, that is!  This will not only be helpful for your dog, but it’s a good idea to let neighbors know what your pet looks like in case they get out and wander.   If they recognize your pet, they'll contact you before calling Animal Control!

Packing, moving, & unpacking are stressful and time consuming but don’t forget about the dogs potty, meal, and playtime schedules!  You’ll need to get your dog used to the potty routine in your new home.   They'll need to learn where the doors are, which ones they’ll go out of for walks and pottying, and where they are permitted to potty.  Try to quickly establish the new routine for potty schedule & location, eating, playtime and walks.

Scents from  familiar bedding,  toys,  and blankets will help acclimate pets to the new home so unpack those early on.   As you unpack, scents from your old home will probably comfort your pet.  Each time I unpacked something, the dogs would sniff, sniff, sniff, and I could see they were happy to see familiar possessions come out of the boxes!

If you’ve packed away the carrier or crate, this is a good time to break it out!  It can offer some comfort in the new environment, especially if you have to start work right away or when you need to leave your pet alone in the house for any length of time.  A frightened or disoriented pet can be destructive!

If the new home is in a very different type of environment spend some extra time acclimating your pet.  If you’re moving from the suburbs to a city environment, loud and constant noises of the city may be unsettling.  Likewise, if you move from an urban environment to the suburbs or a rural area the sounds of wildlife or other animals and more darkness outside may frighten them.  When we moved back to our house in New York, Icy was a little freaked out by an opossum that took up residence behind our garage.  She had never encountered an opossum and was obsessed with him!   I was afraid she might get injured so I kept a close eye on her and didn’t let her spend more than just a few minutes outside to potty in the yard at night.



If you spend the time and effort getting your pet acclimated to their new home and neighborhood, you’ll both be on your way to a happy new life!

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
Tips for Road Trips With Dogs
Tips for Traveling By Air With Pets

Have you moved with pets before?  Leave us a comment and share your experience with us!  We always love hearing from you.

44 comments:

  1. Those are very good tips cause that sure can be challenging
    Snorts,
    Lily & Edward

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    1. Yes, it can! I'm so glad our move is over.

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  2. This will come in handy for us soon! ;) Nola's moved once before and handled it quite well, but everyone else hasn't moved yet.

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    1. Oh, I hope these tips can help you! Let me know how the move goes. It's so weird, everyone seems to be moving these days. Maybe because the economy has finally started to improve.

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  3. You couldn't have written this at a better time for me. I'm keeping this post for reference. You ROCK!

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    1. Thank You So Much for saying that!!! I'm so glad it will help you, it took a lot of planning to move with two dogs! Moving (us & them) out beforehand helped SO much. I recommend that if at all possible.

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  4. Wonderful post and lots of great info. Spending the time on acclamation is so important.

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    1. Thanks Nichole! I'm so glad you think it's valuable. Acclimation is definitely critical to help pets feel more secure.

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  5. Great tips - it can be very stressful moving with pets, especially when you have many of them. Last time, we put the cats in the cattery for 2 days so we could move around freely and get the packing and moving done.

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    1. It is very stressful both for people & pets. Removing the cats for a few days was smart, they really hate when things change in their environment, even more than dogs do!

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  6. Very helpful tips. I've moved tons of times, and even before I would bring one box home, they always sensed something was up.

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    1. They always seem to know what's going on! We just can't hide anything from them can we?

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  7. Arizona to New York must have been a really big change even for dogs! Actually those two places we want to live one day. :D I love your tip on taking him to familiar place like PetSmart. We will remember that! :)

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    1. It's a huge change, but fortunately they've visited NY a lot so it wasn't such a shock. I always love to take them to a PetSmart even when we travel, it's familiar to them.

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  8. We moved twice about four years ago. It was incredibly stressful for all of us. As you point out, the selling process is also stressful. We would load our two cats, dog, and bunny in the car every time we showed the house. OMG, so glad that is behind us now.

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    1. Oh my gosh, that must have been SO stressful! I'm glad we were able to get the pets & most of our furniture moved out before we showed the house, it was the best decision.

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  9. Fantastic post it is so important to consider so many things to consider when you move home where your pet is concerned. Thank you for the tips

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    1. Thanks, I'm so glad you like the post! It really takes a lot of additional planning with pets.

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  10. What a great post and tips. Although we have never had to move with our dogs we will keep these in mind! Sharing!!

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    1. So glad you found it helpful! If you ever need to move with your dogs you'll want to do lots of planning!

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  11. When I sold my condo I had it professionally cleaned then took my cat to my mother's for a week. Fortunately I found a buyer that week because I had already agreed to by the townhouse I'm in now. Kaitlynn, the cat I had then, loved it. More room and light and a small backyard - she acclimated immediately.

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    1. You really lucked out on so many levels! I'm glad your cat loved the new place, that's so nice.

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  12. I have moved with my kitties twice before. It is always stressful on the cats. Since I didn't move very far, I made sure to move the cats last. It was easier for them to come into the new house with a bunch of things that smell like them already there. Another thing I've done is to close the cats into one room for the first day or so. This lets them calm down a little bit before exploring the new home. Manna wants to explore right away, but Cinco was always timid about it.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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    1. Great idea to have familiar scent in the new place and to confine them to one room for a day or so and get them calmed down. Otherwise it can be chaos!

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  13. I'm considering moving within the next two years and I hope I will be in the position where I can have the girls out of the house before I put it up for sale.

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    1. Oh definitely, that is the best thing to do with 2 kitties. Pets can so easily & quickly slip out the door while a house is being shown, even more than a dog can.

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  14. I'm dreading this day - we'll likely start looking in late 2017 as we've been in our house for over ten years and the market is good. I think it's going to stress out our dogs and I'm already worried about it. I'll pin this and save it as there are so many tips here. it's overwhelming to think about!

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    1. Planning ahead is the key to success. You are great at managing your dogs stress so I think you will handle it beautifully! Thanks for pinning, I hope it helps when the time comes to move.

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  15. Excellent tips! We will be moving within the next few months. My Delia has moved with us before, but this will be the first move for my Chewy. I hope to make it as stress-free as possible for them.

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you like these tips! Definitely a smart idea to make a move as stress free as possible.

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  16. These are great tips. The last time we moved was to a town about 30 minutes away, so it was really easy to let our dog adjust to it. The dogs from my childhood adjusted pretty quickly every time we moved (about every 3 years since my dad was in the military.)

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    1. Oh wow, you have lots of experience moving with pets! I'm glad you find these tips useful.

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  17. We haven't moved with Mr. N but I feel like he would take it in his stride. He's never perturbed going to new places or sleeping in new places.

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    1. I think he'd do well, he's such a Man About Town moving won't phase him too much! The only issue could be if you have to show your current house to prospective buyers or renters while he is still there. That could be a challenge.

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  18. Great tips. Thanks so much for sharing

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    1. I'm glad you think so Kimberly thanks!

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  19. Great info! My boyfriend is moving and the kittens are going to live with him so this info is especially helpful right now!

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    1. I'm so glad you find it helpful! I hope the move goes smoothly.

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  20. Our guys actually did very well with our moves. I guess they're not so fussy about their surroundings as long as they have their beds and we are all together.

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    1. That's so good! You are lucky in that respect for sure.

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  21. Ugh! Moving is a pain! The last time we moved was pre-corgi, but I had three cats. I was SO worried about the oldest one (who had been allowed outside a lot in my previous home) getting attacked by a wild animal or lost in the new area, that I boarded her through the move and only let her in the new house when all the stuff was in it's proper place (she was boarded for 3 nights). Since that day she has never once asked to go outside (8 years now). I cannot imagine how we'd manage a move with our current crew of nine!

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    1. Wow, 9 pets and a move is definitely a challenge! I think boarding your cat and having all the stuff placed in the new home was a good idea. I'm sure it relieved her of stress.

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