As anyone who has ever had to move can attest, moving is stressful. Making sure everything is in order, getting everything packed, and getting everything cleaned up is daunting enough without pets. Moving with pets is a whole new level.
Your pets may try as hard as they can to obey and please you, but expecting them to be on their best behavior during a stressful event like moving may be asking too much. Therefore, it rests solely on your shoulders to get them prepared for the big move and settled in at the new home.
All of the moving activities should be approached with the simple understanding that pets are very precious cargo. With proper planning, you can help make sure the ordeal goes a little smoother and without it, you could have a nightmare on your hands and some very unhappy pets.
Before the Move
- Remain as calm as possible through the entire event. Pets pick up on their people’s stress and anxiety and seem to feed off of it. If you remain calm, they are more likely to feel calm.
- Move gradually. If you pack everything the night before the move, your pets are more likely to feel anxious and stressed the heck out. Instead, pack things up over several days to a few weeks and take lots of breaks in between packing to give your pets a chance to relax and go on about their business as normally as possible.
- Use a kennel and introduce it early. If you’re going to have to move your dog or cat in a kennel, get them used to it early on. Using treats or toys, coax them into it and try to encourage them to sleep in it for several days before the big move. If you’re going to be driving a long trip, take your pets on several short trips first to get them used to riding in the kennel and the car. Make sure the kennel you choose will be approved by the airline if you plan to fly.
- Don’t have your pets around on moving day. Moving day is really stressful with all the frantic packing and loading and new sights and sounds. Drop them off with a friend, family member, or boarding kennel during the big day.
Driving vs. Flying
Deciding whether to drive or fly usually depends on the distance and the budget. If you are moving across very long distances, especially to a new country, you are more likely to fly. If you are moving to a new home that is not so far, you will most likely be making the move via automobile.
Flying with a pet is not as simple as pet owners would like. Airlines each have their own distinct rules and regulations regarding flying with pets. Most airlines will allow smaller dogs and cats to ride in a carrier but require larger dogs to travel in their airline-approved kennel via the cargo hold.
Contact the airline well in advance to find out if your animal can ride with you and how much extra it will cost and make sure that if your dog has to ride in the cargo hold that there will be room for him to ride on the same trip as you. You will also want to find out exactly which type of kennel you will need early on so you can start the adjustment period as soon as possible.
If you have to transport your pets in the cargo hold, try to only travel when the temperature will cooperate. While most cargo holds are temperature controlled, there may still be some higher or lower temps than the passenger sections of the plane. If you are traveling in summer, try to book a flight that is early morning or late evening and if you are flying in the winter, try to book a flight that runs through the warmest hours of the day. Also, don’t forget your pet’s vaccination records.
If you choose to drive to your new home, be aware that long distances will require you to stop frequently to allow your pets to relieve themselves and stretch their legs. The practice trips you took before the big move should have given you an idea of how often your pet needs you to stop and should have gotten them slightly adjusted to the feeling of being inside a moving vehicle. If your pet gets carsick, you will want to avoid feeding him just before or during the trip if it can be avoided.
If you plan on staying overnight in a hotel, contact the hotel’s manager ahead of time and double check that they allow pets and if there is any extra fee for pets. Also, ask the manager if your pet will be allowed to stay in the room alone in case you want to step out for dinner and find out where the doggy relief area is.