If you’re reading this, you already know: four-legged friends make a huge impact on our lives. Dog owners in particular report higher levels of physical activity than non-pet owners, lower incidences of depression, and often a more mindful approach to their everyday lives. Indeed, our pets teach us about trust, patience, loyalty, consistency, and maybe even encourage us to be better humans. They can also be great conversation starters out at the park, help us make friends on a walk, or push us to explore a new trail. So, when the humans make the decision to move homes, it’s important to think about how that decision will impact the four-legged family members, too.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, the safety of your pet should be a top priority, with their comfort as a close second. As creatures of habit and routine, pets can get disoriented by a move. And yet, as highly adaptable animals, if their humans take all of the right precautions, they can also get into the groove of their new home relatively quickly. Here are a few tips on how to accommodate your pet during your move.

  1. Come up with a plan. Yes – just setting aside time with your family to discuss a plan for your pet during the move is a really good start. Sometimes in the chaos of moving, what to do with the pets on moving day becomes an after-thought, and that’s where trouble can begin. Sketch out the days leading up to moving day and the days after you’ve settled in your new spot, and make sure someone is taking notes so you can refer back to “the plan.” Use this working document to capture additional questions, share with anyone who may be helping with the move, and think through logistics.

  2. Check in with your vet. If you’re making a long-distance move, you’ll want to get recommendations for a good provider wherever you’re headed. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, tests, or treatments before you make the move. Get your veterinarian to print your pet’s records and place in a file, to be transported with the other “important files” separate from all of the other stuff.

  3. Consider sending them to Grandma’s house. If you have friends or family who have cared for your pets before, it might be a good idea to ask them to pet-sit for a few days before and after the move. That way you won’t worry about the cat getting packed into moving boxes, or the dog running out the door when you’re loading things into the car. Even if you have to pay a professional pet-sitting service, the peace of mind might be worth it.

  4. Set up your pet’s new “home base.” Sometimes it’s helpful to give access to just a few rooms at first, so your pets can explore their new surroundings gradually. Besides the obvious things like a bed, water and food dish and litter box, think of other ways you can make your pet feel at home. Of course, some extra snuggles and dedicated attention will also go a long way.

  5. Create a “go bag.” Just the same way you’ll keep out some clothing, medicine, toothbrush, and other essentials for yourself during the move, put together a bag for your pet. This should include food, medications, leash, treats, and a few favorite toys that are easily accessible (not packed away in boxes) for immediate comfort.

  6. Think through pet enhancements in your new home. What would help maximize your (and your pet’s) enjoyment? A doggie door? A dog wash station? A window perch for looking out the window? If possible, have the builder complete any changes before you bring your pet home, so there is not additional chaos in the new house.

  7. Bring water from home. Water in every region, city, and neighborhood has its own unique qualities, so it’s nice to bring a jug from your old home for your pet. Then you can gradually introduce the “new” water in your new house.

  8. Keep them on a leash. Even if Fido is usually great off-leash, during a move he can get anxious or excited, and then get disoriented in a new place. Until you and your pet feel totally comfortable with your new digs, make sure he/she is leashed and supervised, even in a fenced yard.

  9. Scope out any potential dangers. Broken glass on the sidewalk? A potentially aggressive dog at the end of the block? It’s nice to identify potential hazards before they become a problem for your pet, so take a few minutes to cruise around the area before you bring your pet out with you.

Now that you’ve moved, and your pet is starting to get the hang of your new home, it’s time to enjoy! Though cats should be kept inside for a longer period of time (especially in areas with natural predators), dogs will be eager to get out and explore their surroundings. As an added bonus, your four-legged companion can be a great way to meet new neighbors, who will often help you discover good walking trails, dog parks, and other dog-friendly neighborhood amenities.
So… now you’re ready to move with your four-legged family member. Are you ready to learn more about buying a new home? Or perhaps curious about the process of getting a loan for that dream property? Take a look at some of our resource guides, including our New Home Buying Guide, First Time Home Buyer Guide, or Home Loan Guide. We look forward to helping you and your pet get settled in one of our Shea Homes communities!

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