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Helping pets with the stress of moving

Moving is stressful. In fact, a poll in the UK found that it’s actually seen as more stressful than divorce! While we don’t recommend staying in one place forever as a remedy to this stress, we do want to help you and your loved ones alleviate some of the pressure. Which is why, in the next 3 weeks, we’ll have a three-part series on how to make moving less stressful: for your pets, your kids and – of course (dead last, as usual) – you.

First up, let’s talk pets.

Chances are, unless you take them to a pet day care facility, your pets spend more time in your home than anyone else. They have a favourite spot to soak in the sun; a favourite window to look out of; and a favourite closet to pee in (uh oh, you didn’t know about that one, did you!). As much as pets are up for a little adventure, they are also very much creatures of habit. And, when those habits get interrupted, it can make for a miserable furry friend.

Some of this discomfort is inevitable. But, there are ways to mitigate the pain.


1. Get them used to a pet carrier

You need to prep your pet for the move well before the big day. If your pet is already familiar and comfortable with a crate or pet carrier, you can skip right to step two. But, for those of us for whom the pet carrier is a foreign and unpleasant object to be met with suspicion and mistrust, we need to spend some time before the move allowing our pets to grow accustomed to the carrier, and even seek it out for a sense of security. Introduce the carrier/crate early and use treats, favourite toys and blankets, and positive association to establish it as a safe space. Go on short car rides with your pet in the carrier so they get used to it. On the day of, make sure the carrier/crate is available to them to retreat to, but don’t lock them up in it all day. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with your contact information in case they try to escape the chaos and move your pet to the new house last.

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2. Let them get used to the new space

If your pet is especially anxious, let them explore just one room at a time, with their carrier/crate always available for retreat. Cats may hide for a few days when they are stressed, so make sure to keep them secured in a safe space with all of their necessities and comforts. Dogs will need time to explore the new house, but don’t leave them unsupervised outside for long periods – there are many tales of dogs scaling high fences to return to familiar territory.

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3. Return to routine

Both kinds of pets will need you to return to their normal routines – or as close as you can approximate – as soon as possible. Don’t wash your dog or cat’s favourite blanket just yet – leave some familiar smells around. Try your best to help your pet acclimate to the new space by bringing as much of old life in as possible. This isn’t the time to get them a new bed and to get rid of all of your old furniture.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that no matter how much effort you put in, your pets will most likely be anxious. Give them extra love and patience during this time. And, be thankful that you don’t have it this bad: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/11/dogs-dont-understand-basic-concepts.html