Relocating With Pets: How to Avoid a 'Ruff' Time -
Relocating With Pets: How to Avoid a ‘Ruff’ Time

Moving from one home to another is an incredible opportunity – but it’s also a time that can come with plenty of challenges. For pet parents, keeping up with everything that goes into moving can be even trickier when you’re relocating with cats or dogs in tow. 

Just as a big move can be stressful for humans, your pets may also start to feel anxious or stressed out. Animals are very susceptible to changes, both large and small. Throughout the relocation process, it’s important to regularly check in with your furriest family members, to make sure they’re safe, comfortable, and feeling good. 

Want to avoid a “ruff” patch? Here are some key steps you can take before, during, and after the transition, in order to make this big move as smooth and seamless as possible for all the adorable animals in your life. 

Before You Go

The days and weeks leading up to your move can help set the tone for the transition to come, for you and for your four-legged friends. You can get your pets ready to move by taking time to:

Ease Into the Changes

If possible, try to start slow and then ramp up your moving checklist over time. For instance, you can bring in moving boxes ahead of time, to give your dogs and cats plenty of time to investigate the new additions. Pack thoroughly and in stages, so your animal friend gets acclimated to the changes. Keep up your pet’s food and exercise routines, and try to exude calm. If you feel positive and prepared for the move, your furry friend will pick up on your emotions and follow suit.

Help Your Animal Get Used to Traveling

Before the move, it’s going to be important to get your cat or dog familiar with their kennel or crate. In the weeks before you go, start getting your pet acclimated to using their kennel by encouraging them in with toys, food, and positive reinforcement. Give them plenty of time to get used to their kennel, traveling crate, or harness, and help them get to know what it’s like to be on the go. Take your cat or dog out for car rides, and make them progressively longer each time, to get your animal companion accustomed to the sights and sounds of being on the road. 

Visit the Vet

If you’re moving to a new state, take some time to research their requirements for pet ownership, and make sure that your animal is fully up to date on tests and routine vaccinations. Make sure that you have their prescription medicines ready to go, along with their toys, water, and food. Finally, make sure to update your pet’s collar tags or microchip data to match your moving address and current phone number. 

On the Move

Moving day can be hectic and stressful, even under the best of circumstances. Before the movers arrive and you hit the road, here are a few pet-friendly tips to keep in mind: 

Keep Your Pet Secluded on the Day of the Move

While the big move is underway, try to find a way to keep your pet safe, secure, and separate from the action. Moving can be a big source of stress for animals, with new sights, smells, and sounds everywhere. Agitated pets may try to escape through an open door, or put themselves and others in danger by getting underfoot while movers shift furniture or boxes around. While the great move-out is underway, keep your furry friend confined to their kennel, or keep them in a separate room with the door closed. You can put up a sign to make sure they’re not disturbed, or assign a designated dog watcher for the day. If possible, you may even consider dropping off your pet at a friend’s house or a doggy day care for the busiest few hours of packing and loading. 

Make Travel Plans

Before the big day, take time to decide on the best way to travel with your pet, and make suitable accommodations. 

If traveling by car, make sure to have plenty of food, water, and toys ready to go. Make sure you have a secure harness or traveling crate, and put down seat covers if you’re worried about your car’s upholstery. Be prepared to stop for bathroom and stretch breaks regularly. If you have to make an overnight stop, be sure to call ahead to make sure all hotels are truly pet-friendly . 

If your only choice is to move by plane, it’s going to be important to work closely with the airline to make sure your pet can make the trip. Learn the airline’s policies well in advance. For instance, many airlines will allow service animals to fly free, but charge a fee to keep a small pet with you in the cabin. Larger pets will likely need to fly in the cargo area of the plane, in airline-approved kennels. You will also likely need to present proof of vaccinations for your pet to fly. There may also be restrictions on when you can travel with a pet; as the New York Times explains, some airlines “will not transport pets if any stop in your journey is colder than 45 degrees or warmer than 85 degrees.”

Finally, depending on your timeline and budget, you may want to look into professional pet moving services. There are many options out there, offering a variety of services, from chartering planes, to providing rides in a private car, to helping you find the best route via commercial air. Make sure they are licensed, and be sure to do plenty of research and read reviews before committing to any one pet relocation company. 

Settling In

It can take some time for a new place to start to feel like home. For pets, the transition into a new space can be even tougher. Fortunately, you can make settling in easier for your fur baby by making sure that you: 

Give Your Pet Plenty of Time to Adjust

Once you’ve arrived, you may want to keep your dog or cat in their kennel for a few hours, in order to help them feel more secure and prevent them from running off. 

As you unpack, set up a “landing area” for your pet by unloading their essentials first, and setting up an accommodating room complete with food, water, their litter box, and their favorite toys. It may help to introduce your pet to the house gradually, one area or room at a time. To create a sense of continuity between your old home and your new, try setting up litter boxes and feeding areas in roughly the same spots around the house.

And be ready for a big reaction! Cats may try to hide for a few days, or come off as moody, angry, or anxious while they adjust to a new space. In contrast, dogs may be boisterous and excited, and eager to explore every inch of the property. Give them time to get to know their new home, and your animal friend will almost certainly warm up to the changes.

Take Care to Pet-Proof

Safety first! As you set up your new home, make sure that pet-friendliness is a high priority. Tuck away exposed electrical cords; look for holes or gaps behind appliances; make sure that windows have secure screens; set up gates, and dog doors; and get rid of poisonous houseplants or pest traps around the house. 

Keep Up a Normal Routine

Pets thrive on a stable, steady routine. To help them adjust more quickly, try to get back into the swing of things as soon as possible after relocating. For instance, try to go for walks at the same time as always, and put out food at a regular, dependable time. Immediately after the move, try to spend as much time with your pets as possible, then gradually increase your away time in increments, to help them feel more comfortable being alone in their new space. 

Have Any Questions About Relocating? Get Help From Chicagoland’s Experts

At Baird & Warner, we’ve placed a fierce focus on making every aspect of real estate easier since we got started back in 1855. Along the way, we’ve innovated and grown to become Chicagoland’s largest independent real estate company, offering an unparalleled one-stop shopping experience with sales, mortgage, and title services all in-house. 

We’re also Chicagoland’s relocation experts! Whether you’re coming to Chicagoland for the first time or heading overseas for a job opportunity, we have solutions to make the transition easier for everyone.