Whether moving a few miles across town or many miles across the country, relocating with the family pet can be a challenge. A little planning can make the transition smooth for human and furry friend alike.
If moving across town, you have the advantage of being familiar with the pet care providers, pet supply stores and emergency clinics available to you. If you are moving a greater distance, depend on the internet to assist your transition.
Do a search to find possible veterinarians to get your pets established in their new community.
Notifying your previous vet and letting them know you will be requesting records to be transferred to your new vet should be done before you actually need it.
If your pet gets sick, it can be stressful and nerve-wracking, so check online for potential vets that have the services you would be interested in ahead of time.
Some vets offer services such as acupuncture, physical therapy, or holistic treatments in addition to traditional medical care. Knowing in advance where you would like to establish yourself as a client will make the record transfer between clinics less stressful.
You might also find yourself in need of pet sitting services in your new town.
If you relied on family or next door neighbors to let your dog out occasionally, you won’t have that familiar back up at first. Using a pet sitting service means there will always be someone available to care for your pet until you have made personal connections in your city. A professional service offers other advantages. Often, companies are bonded and insured and background check their sitters, giving you peace of mind.
Another surprise you may experience when moving is finding out that your pet’s favorite brand or type of pet food is not available in your new location.
Looking up distributors ahead of time will allow you to either stock up before you leave, or transition to a new food slowly to not cause gastric upset. If your pet has a special diet or food allergies, this is critical.
Before the move, get your dog used to staying in a crate periodically.
Make the crate GREAT by using food puzzles, toys, chews, and other games. This will serve you well when it is time for the movers and others to come through your home. Your dog won’t be able to dash out the door while everyone is busy, and when you arrive at your new home, he will not be able to escape in an unfamiliar area. A new neighborhood is a high risk for a lost pet, as they don’t know their way around.
Dogs like routines, and all the activity can stress them out.
It is very common for a dog to have some house training accidents in a new place. Unlike people, dogs don’t think in generalities, and just because they are house trained in one house doesn’t mean they understand the rules apply to new houses. Go back to some basic house training rules for a while, even if your dog is an adult. The crate training established before you left your previous house will be extremely helpful.
If your pet starts having trouble with house training in the new house, be sure he is supervised at all times, and has a regular routine for going outside. Consider a trip to the vet to check for urinary tract or bladder infections. If there are still problems despite good vigilance, then a professional floor cleaning may be in order, using a supplemental product designed to eliminate set in pet odors, particularly if the home you purchased was pre-owned. A previous pet resident could have left odors undetectable to human. Then contact a certified professional positive reinforcement trainer for assistance.
It seems obvious, but it is often overlooked. Get new pet ID tags and make sure your pet wears them.
Notify your microchip company to update your address and phone numbers. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, consider getting one before you move, and register it. Once in your new house, check all gates and fencing to make sure they are escape proof. Don’t leave your pet unattended in your yard, they may find a way out, despite your best efforts. For a while, your pet may not feel “at home” there, and seek a way out.
From your list of veterinarians’ websites you made before you left your old home, make a “meet in person” appointment before you need a real visit. Take your dog, and treats so the staff can “meet and treat” so your dog feels comfortable and relaxed with his new medical team. Look up the nearest emergency vet clinic, have the phone numbers handy, and know the route to get there. Keep the first few weeks at home quiet and routinely boring to allow your dog to settle in and acclimate, but do begin a regular walking outing to get to know the neighborhood and make new friends.
If you are moving with a cat, keep in mind that cats like change even less than dogs and are experts at hiding and sneaking outside. Close kitty in a quiet room with his food, litter, familiar scratcher and toys when you are occupied with moving furniture and boxes to avoid “cat”astrophe. Be a good neighbor in your new neighborhood, and keep your cats indoors at all times to prevent spreading illnesses or triggering altercations with other animals. It may take a few weeks or more for a kitty to adjust, so be patient.
Lastly, know and follow the leash laws, pet waste removal laws, and pet licensure laws in your new city.
Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs’ problem behaviors.
Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.
She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.