Moving to a new place can be thrilling, especially if you've found the perfect place for you and your soulful sidekick to enjoy together! But there's so much to consider after you've found a fantastic pet-friendly rental, signed all the paperwork and paid all the fees.
The moving process is hectic as it is, but imagine it from your pet's point of view. Not only do they have to cope with moving day, but they also have to get used to a completely unfamiliar place!
But being the good pet parent that you are, you'll be prepared to make your pet as anxiety-free as possible during the move so you can both settle in and enjoy your new digs. Here are a few things to keep in mind when moving into a new rental with your pet.
1. Establish your daily routine before, during, and after the move
Animals need a routine to feel safe and secure. It reassures them they'll be fed, walked, and smothered with attention every day! The daily routine is especially important before a significant life change, like moving.
Before you begin the move:
Make it a point to lock in your pet's routine and adhere to the same schedule after the move.
Keep mealtime and potty breaks at the usual time every day.
Keep walks and playtime on the same schedule, too.
Your pet will feel much more at ease when they figure out that not everything is changing, and they'll still get fetch and snuggle time every day!
2. Make sure your pet is comfortable with their carrier/crate
Some pets are already comfortable in a carrier or crate, while others aren't. If your pet isn't a fan, try leaving the carrier/crate open a couple of weeks before the move to let them explore it independently.
Offer treats or feed them inside the crate or carrier to earn their trust and show them there's nothing to be afraid of. When delicious treats are involved, it's in their best interest to get used to it!
3. Confirm any rental terms
Rental apartments usually have stringent rules about allowing pets. Even if your application was approved, you've signed the lease and paid your fees, it's still a good idea to validate that everything is ready to go so there won't be any surprises.
For dog owners, make sure you're clear on where you are and are not allowed to walk your dog on the apartment grounds. Verify the hours and leash policy if the property has a dog park.
4. Prepare for the chaos of moving day
It can be stressful for a pet to watch the hectic process of moving! A steady stream of human traffic, people leaving the doors open, noisy truck monsters: it's enough to make a pet want to hide under the bed! But of course, there is no bed anymore, as some stranger put it in that noisy truck monster.
You can help quell your pet's anxiety by taking them to a friend or family member who will give them lots of love and affection while you're busy. They'll appreciate the attention, and you don't have to worry about them barking at the moving truck or bolting down the street. Win/win!
If that isn't an option, leave them with their crate/carrier in one partially unpacked room with their toys, bed, food, water bowls, litter boxes, leashes, and other familiar and comforting objects.
Then, when it's time to walk out the door, all you need to do is put them in their moving transport and pack up their stuff in a separate bag to keep with you.
That way, you'll have everything you need for them within reach during and after the move. (Remember any medications they may be taking as well.)
5. Prepare and pet-proof your new digs
Often, a misbehaving pet is an anxious pet, so prepare to be patient with any unusually naughty behavior as you transition to the new place. Sometimes dogs chew when they're nervous, so until you get settled in, try to block potential problem areas (think door frames and windowsills) if possible. Also, provide plenty of chewies and toys to keep them occupied.
Cat owners should beware, too. Protect tempting surfaces (again, door frames and windowsills, but especially carpets) by giving your kitty plenty of scratch towers or pads where it's okay to stretch their claws. A little catnip to sweeten the deal never hurts, either. Also, be sure to keep your cat's litter box somewhere that gives her a little privacy and she can easily access it.
Put all houseplants out of reach; not only are some toxic to animals, but they may also be tempting to dig through. Speaking of digging, consider using a locking trash can and storing all food items where your pet can't get to them.
Finally, put baby-proof locks on your cabinets and drawers, especially in bathrooms and kitchens where household cleaners and other toxic chemicals are typically stored.
6. Get acclimated
After you're pet-proofed and moved in, hang out with your pet and let them sniff and explore their new home on their own. It may take a little time to get used to the change in surroundings, but it'll be easier if you take your time and keep your regular mealtimes, walks, playtime schedule, etc.
Once you both get comfortable, if your dog is social, take the opportunity to introduce yourselves to the neighbors. You may even make some friends for future puppy playdates!
Part of the excitement of moving into a new place is getting cozy and exploring your new neighborhood! During the moving process, part of your job as a pet parent is to make sure they understand that no matter where you go, you're still their human, and nothing's changed except the scenery.
Before you know it, they'll find their new favorite window, the best patch of sun for napping, and they'll be ruling the (new) roost.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.