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Easing your Pet’s Transition When You Move

dogMoving to a new home is an exciting, but stressful, time for everyone — including the family pet.

Most pets are reasonably adaptable, and Rover and Kitty will be happy as long as they remain with their family, and their basic needs are met. Best Friends pet care experts offer the following advice to help you prepare for and ease your pets’ transition to your new home.

Before moving day …

  • Know the rules. Investigate your new community’s rules on pet vaccinations, license requirements and leash laws. Some states and communities restrict the number of dogs/cats per household. There may also be a ban on particular dog breeds.
  • Visit your vet. Be sure your pets’ shots are current and that they have been treated for any previous problems. If you are moving to a new area of the country, inquire about local parasites against which your pet may need protection. Get a copy of your pets’ records, and stock up on medications. (Be sure you have enough until you find a new vet.) Your current vet can help with referrals to in your new area, or visit the American Animal Hospital Association website at www.aahanet.org.
  • Clean the house. If your new home is one in which a pet had been living previously, be sure to have it thoroughly cleaned before you move in. This way, your dog/cat will not smell the odors of the previous owner’s pet and want to mark this new territory for himself.
  • Train your pet. Reinforce obedience commands with your dog. If he has never been trained, or if his skills have slipped from lack of practice, consider signing up for a six-week refresher course to help you both remember basic training.
  • Get a crate. If you don’t already own one, purchase a secure crate for your pet so he can be confined while the moving men are packing, and for the journey to your new home. It’s a good idea to practice with the device, so the move is not the first time your pet experiences the crate. Check with your local Best Friends for advice on choosing the right one for your pet.
  • Keep a routine. Try to maintain your pet’s regular schedule as much as possible as you prepare to move. Dogs, and especially cats, are creatures of habit and can sense stress, so maintaining a routine can help calm your pet (and you, too!).

On moving day …

  • Carry ID. Be sure to have updated proper identification on your pets at all times. A tag should have your dog’s or cat’s name, your name and a contact phone number. It’s also wise to have current pictures of your pet, along with a written description, to carry with you.
  • Consider boarding your pet during the move, or placing him in day care. Lauren Greene, dog trainer at the Best Friends Pet Resort in Marietta, says she’s seen many dogs get lost during a move. Moving day can be chaotic, and a home in transition is not a fit environment for an anxious pet.
  • Pack his things. If your pet is traveling with you by car to your new home, pack a few of his favorite toys, blankets and snacks for the ride. Be sure your pet is secured safely in his crate or harness, and keep your dog’s leash with you at all times. Keep plenty of water in the car. Be prepared to clean up after your dog at rest stops. Bring plastic bags and kitty litter.
  • If you and your pet are traveling by air, keep in mind that most airlines now only accept pets prepared by professional transport companies who are aware of the shipping regulations, the use of approved crates and equipment, and proper filing of paperwork. For more information, visit The Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association International website at www.ipata.com.

And, at your new home

  • Unpack your pet’s bed, toys, and food and water bowls immediately. Place them in a location similar to where they were located in his previous home.
  • Begin boundary training for your dog as soon as possible. Do not let your dog roam freely around the house, says Best Friends Oklahoma City trainer Penny Nichols. Place him on a leash and walk him around the interior of the house, and the perimeter of the new property.
  • Let Kitty relax. Place Kitty in a room with as little distraction and activity as possible. Let him rest quietly with his belongings (and perhaps something with your scent on it). Be sure the windows and doors are securely closed.

It takes time, patience and training to give your pet security and confidence, say Best Friends professional trainers. Cats and dogs are territorial animals, and can take several days, or even weeks, to adjust to a new environment.