Moving house may be one of the most stressful and exciting life events a pet (as well as a person) can go through. Unexpected activity, noise, strange removal people, even stranger smells, and the sudden loss of territory can all make moving home overwhelming for any pet.
Whatever kind of pet you have, whether it be a dog, rabbit, guinea pig or budgie, there are many things you can do to help them through this challenging time.
So, not sure what to do with your pets when moving house? Here are our top tips for moving pets into a new home, including extra tips for moving dogs and cats.
Ask someone to look after your pet on moving day
Consider asking a friend or relative to look after your pet on the day you plan to move house to save them stress caused by the hustle and bustle. Not only will this be good for your pet’s mental health, but it will also give you peace of mind that they are safe.
Moving day can be dangerous for pets. Open doors, towers of boxes, dismantled furniture and left out cleaning chemicals are all hazards for scared and curious pets. Not the mention the risk to you if you suddenly find them under your feet whilst trying to manoeuvre heavy boxes or furniture.
Keep your pet in a separate room while you pack
If you can’t find anyone to look after your pets, make sure they’re kept out of the way while you pack. Try to keep them in a separate room with bedding, plenty of water and no hazards.
Get permission if you need it
If you are moving into rented accommodation or a leasehold property, you will probably need permission from the landlord to bring your pets. Try to get this permission in writing so you have evidence if you need it later on.
Update your pet’s tag and microchip as soon as possible
It is the law that all dogs and cats must be microchipped and dogs must have a physical tag with your name and address attached to their collar or harness when you take them out in public.
Your pet’s safety is likely to be one of your highest priorities when you move house. Make sure you update your address on their physical tag and microchip as soon as possible after moving in so if they get lost they can find their way back to you quickly.
Don’t feed your pet just before they get in the car
Resist feeding your pet anything for at least a few hours before getting in the car to go to the new home. The stress plus the moving car can be a deadly combination for pets and they are more likely to get car sick. However, always make sure your pet has access to clean water.
Pack your pet an ‘overnight bag’
Just like you will probably pack yourself some clothes and toiletries for your first few nights in your new home, do the same for your pet so they have everything they need from the moment you move in.
Their essentials could include their food (and their usual bowls), bedding, a favourite toy, scratching post, treats, dog waste bags or cat litter and tray, and collars and lead. Make sure to include any medication they need too.
Don’t wash your pet’s bedding straight away
The strange smells of a new home can be very unsettling for pets. Although it might be tempting to wash everything the moment you move into your new home, try to resist washing your pet’s bedding for at least a week. This gives them a safe place to go where it still smells like their old territory. This can help them adjust to their new surroundings.
Stick to your pet’s routine
You can help your worried pets settle in quickly by sticking to their routine. This means feeding them at the same time, taking them for walks at the same time, and putting them to bed at the same time (and going to bed at the same time yourself).
Give your pet lots of love and reassurance
Moving house is a busy time, but don’t forget to give your pet plenty of love and reassurance to let them know that everything will be okay.
Extra tips for moving home with cats
Create a safe, quiet space for your cat in your new home
Create a safe haven for your cat to retreat to where they can have peace and quiet away from the uncertainty of the move. Make sure their little sanctuary contains their bedding (unwashed so it still smells like their old territory), litter tray, water, scratching post and toys. Bonus points if you can provide a space that lets them climb up high as this will provide an extra feeling of security.
Use your cat’s scent to familiarise them with their new home
Cats rely heavily on smell to help them process the world around them. Cats also find their own scent comforting. So, when in your new home, wipe a cloth gently on your cat’s cheeks then wipe it onto doorframes and furniture to transfer their scent to their new territory.
Let your cat explore in their own time
Don’t pressure your cat into embracing their new environment. Let them hang out in their sanctuary then gradually come out to explore when they’re ready. There’s no ‘right’ length of time it will take. Older cats in particular will take longer to adjust, so just give them time. Once they start rubbing up against surfaces and furniture you will know they’re starting to settle in.
Don’t let your cat outside straight away
You should wait around 3 weeks before letting your cat outside for the first time at your new home. If you have a garden, make it as attractive as possible for them by providing things like plants or bushes to hide in, places they can jump on or climb to gain height, and a convenient cat flap so they can easily come back home.
Get your cat’s vaccinations up to date
Outdoor cats in particular can be prone to health threats posed by a new territory. Before letting them roam and explore, make sure their vaccinations are fully up to date to protect them from unwanted health issues.
Extra tips for moving home with dogs
Check your new back garden is secure
Make sure there’s no way your dog can escape before letting them into the garden for the first time. For small dogs, check for things like holes in fences or gaps in gates. For big dogs, check that the fences aren’t low enough to jump over and check whether there are any areas of weak fence they can break through.
Let your dog outside as soon as possible
New surroundings can confuse your dog, particularly if they are young. To avoid any indoor accidents, let them into the garden as soon as you’ve checked it’s secure. Once they do their business, give them lots of praise to let them know they’ve done the right thing.
Spend time with your dog on their level
Invest in some quality ‘floor time’ with your dog to play and cuddle in your new home. Not only will this provide them with plenty of love, fun and reassurance, by spending time on the floor you will spread your scent around at their level and help them adjust faster.
Prepare to retrain good behaviours
Toileting habits may not be the only area to need to reinforce your dog’s training. When everything is new, it can be hard for your dog to work out how to behave, particularly if they are young or lived in your old home for many years. Have lots of ‘high-value’ treats to hand and be prepared to praise them for doing the right thing, whether that’s staying off the furniture, staying out of the kitchen when you’re cooking, or leaving your laundry alone.
Don’t scold too much
Dogs are very prone to anxiety when suddenly moved to a new home. This, combined with confusion over how to behave in their new surroundings, can result in bad behaviour. Remember that your dog isn’t being ‘naughty’ on purpose. In fact, they’re probably trying very hard to be good. So, try to ignore their bad behaviour and heap on extra praise whenever they do something good.
Do you need advice about moving home with pets?
Moving house with pets can be stressful for both you and your furry friend, so take the weight off your shoulders wherever you can. At Bird & Co, our specialist team of residential conveyancing solicitors can help you handle all the legal aspects of your house move, from the moment your offer is accepted to the day to you move in. With us by your side, you can trust that your property transaction will be perfectly executed, giving you more time to help your pet adjust to their new home.