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Tips for a successful move with your pet

Over the course of your pet’s life you’ll probably move house at least once. But in contrast to how humans feel about moving – usually excited to start a new chapter of our lives – it can often be a stressful experience for your pet. The good news is that there are so many ways to make the move easier on your pet and make them feel more at home, both during and after your big house move.

Make sure your move is as successful as possible for your pet by considering these three key questions:

1. What should I do before the move?

Pets can read their human’s body language and get a sense of how you’re feeling. In many cases, if you are feeling stressed then your pet will begin to display signs of stress as well. Because of this, it’s important to keep yourself calm during the pre-move process.

That means managing your own mood when packing up all your belongings in boxes, doing your final house clean and perhaps even having new tenants inspecting your home.

If you have a dog, also think about introducing them to their new neighbourhood before your big move. If the new location is within driving distance, think about exercising your dog around the area, giving them a chance to acclimatise to the neighbourhood and breathe in all those new smells. That way when you arrive for good it won’t be such a major shock.

Travel can be a stressful experience for pets and is a high-risk time for becoming lost. Make sure you have a travel carrier for your dog or cat and get them used to this at least a few weeks – before the trip. You can do this by implementing a positive reward-based training program whereby you gradually introduce them to the carrier and get them comfortable being inside.

You can find vet-recommended carriers in most pet stores or speak to your local vet about their preferences. If your pet has any health or behavioural issues, consult your vet for advice well before the move.

And remember to organise an identification tag with your new address, attach this to your pet’s collar before you move, and notify the relevant Animal Registry to update your pet’s microchip details in case they go missing.

2. Where should my pet go on the day of the move?

You’ll no doubt be very busy on the day of the move, which means it’s important that your pet is still well cared for and supervised. Think ahead and don’t leave your pet unsupervised for the day, especially if there will be unfamiliar faces coming into your home and moving out your stuff – that’s a recipe for a stressed pet! There’s also the risk that if someone leaves a door or gate open your pet could go missing.

Instead, think about placing your pet with trusted friends, family or a pet sitter for the day, or booking them in at a pet hotel, kennel or cattery for the length of time you’ll be busy moving. Otherwise, keep them secured in one room with enough food and water, as well as their familiar belongings. Or if your pet is crate trained, you can keep them in their crate in a safe and quiet place, but make sure to check in on them to see if they are displaying signs of anxiety or stress.

3. How should I introduce my pet to our new home?

Once you’re all moved in, it’s time to introduce your pet to their new home. With dogs, let them explore each room one by one. They’ll likely be very interested in all the new smells mixed with the familiar smells of your furniture and their bedding. Let them go at their own pace, and make sure they are as comfortable as possible and that any potential escape routes have been blocked. Reward them for calm exploratory behaviour with treats and/or attention.

This process needs to be taken more slowly with cats, who are strongly territorial and likely to find any move quite stressful. Keep them confined for the first couple of days to one room filled with their familiar bedding, food and water bowls, litter tray and toys. You can then introduce them gradually to the rest of the house. Just like with dogs, let them explore each room one by one, let them go at their own pace, and make sure they are as comfortable as possible and that any potential escape routes have been blocked. The RSPCA encourages keeping cats in an enclosed area (within the owner's property boundaries) rather than letting them roam. Access to an outdoor escape-proof enclosure/run is highly recommended as this can greatly increase the opportunity for activity and stimulation for contained cats.

Be aware that if your cat does escape your property during these early days in your new home, they are in danger of becoming lost or being injured, so it’s extra important to have their microchip details updated and be vigilant about not leaving doors open.

For dogs you can let them go at their own pace when exploring your new property, so long as any other animals or little humans aren’t in their vicinity. Depending on their temperament they may want to explore things quickly or take it cautiously. If letting them out into your backyard, make sure the fences are high enough, so they can’t jump over, are solid enough at the base so they are unable to dig underneath and are well maintained so they can’t break through. At all times, supervision is essential until both you and your dog are comfortable with their new surroundings.

Over the long term, routine is essential for a happy and healthy pet. So, despite them being in a new environment, your pet will begin to thrive as soon as you slide them back into a routine. Stick to your normal schedule for exercising and feeding once you’ve moved in and, if you have a dog, think about taking them back to their favourite exercise spots and parks in the initial weeks, if possible.

The bottom line: just like any form of travelling with your pet, it’s important to be prepared when moving home. That way, both you and your pet can enjoy your new home stress-free.

You might be able to plan everything when moving home, but you can’t plan for the unexpected – which is why pet insurance can financially protect you when your pet falls ill or is injured. To find out more, request a call back on 1300 881 492 or get a quote and buy online today.