MAKING THE TRANSITION AS EASY AND STRESS-FREE AS POSSIBLE
My husband found us our dream home, a farmhouse in the country with just enough land to be manageable and provide endless new scents for the dogs to sniff. We knew they would love it too – when they got over the stress and confusion of the move.
I grew up on a farm in the country, and now that I’m an adult, I appreciate having spent my childhood in that wide open space, surrounded by nature. It’s funny how we take things for granted when we’re little. We don’t question the choices our parents’ make, that’s just the way things are. Animals are adaptable and like children, are affected by the choices we make – good and bad.
This is Henry and Reese’s second move and the first for Jack and Goose. Jack has been with us just over a year and is still incredibly nervous and anxious. The pack knew something was happening and watched with the utmost curiosity as hubby and I packed all of our belongings into boxes. Fortunately, the time between purchase and move wasn’t long, so the process was complete within a few weeks. Unfortunately, that meant most of our ‘down time’ was spent packing and getting things organized for a hasty exit.
The following is an account of how we made things as stress-free as possible for them (and us).
Even though it was a rush to get everything packed, sold, given away or dumped, we made sure the dogs were walked, and spent time playing in the garden with them.
Exercise helps to calm them and maintaining a routine is essential!
We did not pack any toys, dog beds or other, recognizable items until the very end. In fact, the toy box was loaded directly into the truck ‘as is.’ No packing required.
During a move, household smells become unrecognizable and change dramatically; it isn’t surprising that our companions become stressed. The day of our closing, we took cleaning items, two mattresses (ours, and one for my parents), bedding and all dog items to the new house. I did not change our bedding from the beginning of the week as I wanted this to be something familiar to the dogs and Ricky. We loaded up the truck, my car, and my dad’s van and headed to the new house.
The dogs seemed content to run around the (mostly) empty space examining each room thoroughly before testing out the new digs for dinner. Again, we kept the same routine; Reese and Henry waited on their bed, and Jack sat in front of his dish-stand while I served up their dinner. Goose waited patiently for his turn.
We had scheduled a contractor to come that very first weekend to install a fence to secure the dogs. For the first couple of days, we had to hook them up with leads and take them out to do their business. It was no different than when we go away for weekends or on holiday. In fact, it’s good practice to use leashes until you determine a new area to be safe without gaps in fences, etc. Many animals become ‘flight risks’ when relocated – this is especially true of new rescues. Take extra precautions to ensure their safety when doors are opened. The new house has a door from the house to the mudroom and another from the mudroom to the great outdoors. A rule was established: one door must be closed before the other opened.
Unlike dogs, cats need to be kept inside for several days before letting them out. This gives them time to become familiar with their new home, the location, and smells. More on transitioning cats will be provided in a follow-up post.
Make sure your dog is wearing some form of identification. A collar and tag with name, address and contact number should be worn at all times and microchipping your companions is recommended.
DO NOT FORGET TO INFORM YOUR MICROCHIP PROVIDER OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS AND CONTACT INFORMATION!
If your dog does go missing, notify the new owners of your old home immediately and inform local animal control, police, veterinary clinics, rescue organizations and shelters, and post on community Facebook groups and Lost Pets groups.
The furries thought nothing of sleeping on a mattress on the floor of our new room. I think Reese appreciated not having to jump up to the bench and then up again, to the bed.
The next morning, John dropped the dogs off at the groomers. Yes, the dogs had a day at the spa while the rest of us finished last minute packing and assisted movers with loading. I didn’t want the dogs to see the house being emptied. Plus, the front door was open the entire time. If your dog is familiar with a kennel, you might consider boarding them for the duration of the move.
Goose was quite happy to sunbathe on his favourite rock in the garden; he was oblivious to what was going on inside his house. Another option, to prevent cats from disappearing while movers are going in and out, is to close them in a room with food, water, bed and litter box. Make sure movers know to keep the door shut and place a sign on the door as a reminder.
It was comforting to know my companions were safe and stress-free and I was able to focus on getting us moved. After their grooming, the dogs (and cat) were taken to the new house to explore until the movers arrived. At which time Granny was put in charge of the animals and took them (and her reading book) to our new bedroom where they would be safely out of the way. Yes, Granny included! Ensure the doors and windows of the room are closed and lock the door if possible. The movers were instructed to leave anything marked ‘Master Bedroom’ in the hallway and not enter the room. A sign on the door and crating your dog might also be considered.
Once the movers had left, and the house was safe for four-legged explorers, the cat, dogs, and Granny, were let out to explore the new environment.
The crew began to settle once they recognized the furniture, area rugs, and other items from our old house. They set about rubbing their chops on anything that had not yet been claimed. It took Reese less than five minutes to find the toy box – she was home!
Regular treats, a new chew bone, a new toy each, as well as continued daily walks and play time in the new garden, ensured this new place was a pretty cool place to be.
Do you know any pet parents on the move? Please share these tips with them.