Tips for Moving with Pets

Moving is stressful enough, but when you add pets into the mix, it can get a whole lot more complicated.

Over the years, we’ve moved a lot, sometimes across town and sometimes across the country—most recently we moved nearly 900 miles with three dogs, a cat, and a foster puppy. Here are a few things I’ve learned to make moving with pets much easier.

Pack Their Stuff Last

If suddenly your dogs’ beds are moved, your cat’s food dish isn’t where it’s always been, and no one can find their water bowl, they’ll start to freak out. Pets need consistency. Their things—bowls, beds, favorite toys—should be packed last and unpacked first. Maintaining routine and familiarity will help keep them calm, especially as boxes pile up around them.

Update Their Info

Prior to heading to your new destination—regardless of whether it’s cross-town or cross-country—update your pet’s collar tags and microchip with your new address and your cell phone number. Moving is chaotic, and even if you’re being extra careful, pets do occasionally get separated from their families. By having their information updated on collars and microchips, you’re increasing the chances of reuniting with your pet in that worst-case scenario.

Make Pet-Friendly Travel Plans

Renting a car or truck? Double-check the company’s pet policies before you hit the road to ensure you’re compliant. If you’re flying, contact the airline to determine any required paperwork and carrier specifications. For long drives, select pet-friendly hotels that accommodate your specific type of pet; for example, not all hotels allow cats or large dogs. And, for long drives, don’t forget a plan to combat carsickness.

Plan for Arrival

Before you arrive at your new home, make a plan for your pet’s safety on move-in day. Will you have movers? They might not be cognizant of keeping the front door securely shut. Consider securing your pets in a room, and hang a sign on the door that says something like “Pets inside. Do not open.” Or, if you anticipate a crazy day with movers, the cable guy, your new landlord, and friends and family dropping by, consider boarding them at a previously-arranged daycare facility or veterinarian’s office.

Unpack Their Stuff First

Finally, unpack their stuff first. Give them their usual places and things to eat from, sleep on, and play with. Try to adhere to your usual routine with feeding, walking, and sleeping times, and they’ll feel more confident in their new space!

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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