Moving? How to make your pet's transition to a new home as smooth as possible

STRESS LESS: Preparation and remaining calm will help make relocation much easier on pets.
STRESS LESS: Preparation and remaining calm will help make relocation much easier on pets.

Research tells us that moving houses is one of the most stressful events we experience in our lifetime.

The same may be said for our pets, who have even less ability to prepare for this transition than us.

From the animal's perspective, their life changes in an instant - their familiar home replaced by new sights, new smells and new sounds.

As a caring and responsible pet owner, there are a few things you can do to help them adjust and make the move as smooth as possible.

Before the move

Pets can read body language, so try to remain calm in the weeks leading up to the big day.

If you are feeling stressed, it's likely your animal will too.

If you have a dog, it's a good idea to introduce them to their new neighbourhood before moving day.

Take them on a few walks in your new area, or the local dog park.

This will familiarise your dog with the environment around them and increase their confidence when you make the move.

It can be a bit more difficult to prepare your cat, but you can make it less stressful with comfortable car travel.

Try some positive reward-based training by leaving treats, blankets and toys in the carrier in the weeks before the move.

By making their travel carrier a happy and safe place to be, you will help alleviate any additional anxiety on the day of the move.

Before the move, make sure your pet is microchipped, has an ID tag and that the contact details for you are up to date.

During the move

The day of the move will be the most overwhelming for your pet.

The home they know and love is changing before their eyes and there will be lots of unfamiliar people coming and going all day.

Don't leave your pet unsupervised as there is an increased risk someone may leave the front door or gate open and your pet could go missing.

Think about placing your dog with a trusted pet sitter or friend for the day of the move. This removes them from the situation entirely and means you can just pick them up at the end of the day when the dust has settled.

For cats and other small animals, consider containing them in one room for most of the day and instruct the removalists to clear this room last.

Choose a room they are comfortable in, such as the bedroom. Put some food, water and a litter tray in there and shut the door.

Set up a room in the new house for them in the same way, with some of their own familiar items like toys and bedding.

Once this is done, before the removalists are ready to clear their room at the old house, move them to their new safe space in the new house and shut the door to keep them safely contained.

After the move

Arriving in your new home will be a relief for you, but not for your pet who may be confused at this sudden change in environment.

Let your dog explore the rooms one by one, taking time to assess the new smells. Reward calm or curious behaviour with treats.

Keep cats and small animals confined to one room for the first couple of days.

Make sure there are plenty of familiar smells around and you can even lay out some of your own clothing to comfort them.

Moving is also an opportune time to transition your cats to a stay-at-home lifestyle (either set up a safe contained outdoor space for them at your new home or keep them indoors only), keeping them safe from disease, road accidents and getting lost.

Particularly fearful pets may stop eating or toilet inappropriately during this time.

These are all signs of anxiety so never discipline your pet for these behaviours. Instead, monitor them and if concerned contact your local vet for advice.

Most importantly, ensure you have updated your change of address on your pets' microchip, ID tags, vet clinic and local council.

Keeping their details up to date is vital to ensure you will be reunited with your pet if they become lost.