How to Move With Pets

Uprooting yourself and moving long distance, or locally, is an overwhelming and sometimes disorienting event. There’s so much to think about and keep track of, it’s important to make time to help your pets transition.

Most pets, like cats and dogs, are territorial by nature, which means they are instinctually connected to your house, yard, neighborhood, and everywhere else they roam. The connection to the actual house is strongest in indoor house cats, as you might imagine.

Routines are also a significant part of a pet’s life. So, do as much as you can to maintain typical routines when you move in to your new home. When things don’t go completely right—or at all—take a breath. Every animal has her/his own personality and will behave in a variety of ways in reaction to a move.

Most people don’t have a process for packing and transporting all their possessions and family—including pets. Unless you’re in the moving business, the process can seem unmanageable. That’s why we put together the Residential Moving Checklist.

Optimum Moving is one of the best moving companies in NJ because our long-term growth strategy depends on attracting and retaining customers by delivering unmatched, white-glove service.

The in-depth article you’re reading now expands on that checklist by providing 7 tips for moving your pets with love.

Preparation Advice

  1. Find a new veterinarian. Local movers can skip this section, and for everyone making a long-distance move, start early to establish a relationship with a new vet. Get recommendations from your current vet and pet owners in the new area. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find a vet you like.

Pro tip: Pets can get car sickness. Consult your current vet well before moving day to get individualized advice, prescription medications, and feeding guidelines to reduce the risk of a bad experience.

  1. Get kitty cozy in a car carrier. Most cats don’t spend a lot of time in cars, like dogs do. Also, cats don’t typically do crates. So, the car ride is going to completely disrupt your cat’s world. To make it a tolerable experience for you both, get your feline friend comfortable with a secure, well-ventilated pet carrier. Outfit it with a blanket, leave the door open, and put some treats inside. She may start to enjoy hanging out in there. Then, go for a test drive. Start with short, 10-minute rides, and work up to 20-minute cruises. Cats typically get used to traveling with a little persistence.
  2. Dogs on the other hand. . . . Small dogs should be transported in a secure, well-ventilated pet carrier. Larger dogs can travel in a vehicle without a carrier if they’re used to it, but never in an open truck bed, trunk of a car, or in the storage compartment of a moving van.

While packing, don’t isolate your dog. It may be a good idea to crate her, but keep her with the family. She’ll be much less stressed out by seeing what everyone’s doing.

Pro tip: Keep all dogs leashed and under control. The stress of moving can cause the most obedient dogs to act hyperactive, jump, bark, and run away.

  1. New collars and ID tags. Even if your pet already has a collar and tag, get new ones. The chances of a pet getting lost or running away in new surroundings is good, and if the tag is worn or discolored, you run the risk of someone not being able to read it. Microchipping is also an option for some pet owners.
  2. Check in at pet-friendly hotels. Long-distance movers will be happy to know there are vacancies for you and your pet. Find them at Pets Welcome and Pet Friendly Hotels.

Settling In Advice (Dogs Are From Mars, Cats Are From Venus)

  1. Cats. Secure the area before letting your cat out of the carrier. Many cats will dash for the darkest, farthest out-of-reach spot and hide. Pick one room for your cat and make it his sanctuary. Include the carrier, a scratching post, litter box, toys, a shirt or blanket with your scent on it, and whatever else he likes. He still may disappear when he starts roaming the house, and good eaters may need to be coaxed into having meals, and that’s okay.

Pro tip: Put a secondary litter box wherever you intend it to be permanently. When he’s settled in, remove the one from the sanctuary room.

When you get into your regular routine, he’ll catch on and you both can settle into your new digs.

  1. Dogs. If you’re moving locally, take your dog to the new neighborhood a few times to walk around and become familiar with it. When you arrive at your new home, keep your dog leashed and give her the grand tour. Let her stay with you, under control, so she can feel confident in her new surroundings. Never leave a dog unattended outside until you know the other pets in the neighborhood, they know your dog, and she feels like your new house is her home.

Try to spend a few days at home with your dog before going back to work. Take the time to help your dog adjust to being alone in the new house. Start small, by leaving the house for a few minutes, and work up to longer periods of time away.

Like cats, once you get into your normal routine, your dog will feel much more at home.

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