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How to Move Your Pets: Tips on Moving With Dogs, Cats and More

Make moving stress-free for pets and help them get acclimated to their new home

By Mitch Kline on July 9, 2014

How to Move Your Pets: Tips on Moving With Dogs, Cats and More
Jeff Adkins

Pets add complications to buying and selling a home, but with a bit of planning moving your animals can go smoothly. The key is to avoid stressing your furry friends while keeping things easy on yourself. Consider the following tips whether you’re moving dogs, cats or other pets.

Know Local Laws and Regulations

Many municipalities require dogs, cats and large or exotic animals to be registered. Some places require pets, especially dogs, to wear tags identifying that they are current on vaccinations against rabies or other diseases. Zoning regulations may prohibit animals like pigs, goats and chickens. If you're moving into a subdivision check with the homeowners' association to see if the neighborhood requires pet owners to fence their yards, or has a limit on the number of dogs and cats you may have. Most apartment complexes and condo associations have rules about what kinds of animals are allowed and where they can be walked in common areas.

Pets and Potential Homebuyers Shouldn't Mix

If you're selling a home, there are going to be lots of strangers coming in – realtors, potential buyers, inspectors. Make plans for your pet during these times. Letting dogs and cats have free reign of your home as potential buyers take a tour is a recipe for disaster. Many real estate pros advise sellers to hide pet paraphernalia, because buyers are often turned off when they see chewed up toys, fur covered beds and dirty food bowls. If your pet must stay in the house during a showing consider confining them to a familiar crate or keep them in the garage so they don't frighten house hunters. A particularly sensitive animal might do better staying with a neighbor or boarding at a kennel during these times.

Meeting the Neighbors

Consider introducing your new neighbors to your pet, particularly if it's going to be kept outside or let out frequently. At the very least let your neighbors know what kind of animal you have and that they may see it out from time to time. Many pets are prone to exploring new areas, so letting the neighbors know you've got a dog or cat can prepare them for an unexpected visit. Also, if they know what your pet looks like they can contact you in the event it gets out and decided to roam the neighborhood. If you're neighbors also have pets you'll want to make sure your animals are somewhat compatible, Having, for instance, two dogs barking at each other through a fence all day can turn into a stressful situation on both sides.

Breaking Them In

After moving into a new house, immediately walk your dog around the neighborhood so that he/she becomes familiar with the new area. Establish boundaries in the yard for your dog to roam, and help him/her become accustomed to the new environment by maintaining a regular feeding and walking schedule.

Take Things Slow with Cats

Try not to expose your cat to your new living arrangements all at once. It’s a good idea to limit the number of rooms the cat is allowed in and gradually let him/her explore. Surround the cat with familiar items during the move to reduce emotional stress, and once you’re in your new home, don’t let your cat outside until he/she is familiar with the new living environment to reduce the risk of running away.

Air Buds

If you're moving your pet by airplane, contact the airlines for rules and regulations, transportation charges and container/carrier requirements. Make your reservations well in advance because pet approval is granted on a first-come, first-served basis. And feed your pet no less than five or six hours before flight time. Give him/her water about two hours before take-off.

Road Crew

If you're moving your pet by car, start making a list of items you'll need for a pet travel kit, including a carrier, collapsible dishes, favorite toys, water, food and treats. If your pet isn't used to car travel, start practicing with short trips around the neighborhood. If necessary, ask your vet about tranquilizers to relax the animal. And when traveling with a pet, it’s a good idea to have a “clean-up kit” in the car for motion sickness situations. Don’t forget to take a few exercise, water and bathroom breaks, and remember, you won’t be able to stop for leisurely meals if you have an animal in the car.

Familiar Surroundings

Because you’re in a “new” home, often with new décor and furniture, you may be tempted to replace your pet’s old favorites, too. But it’s better to use your pet’s familiar food and water dishes, bed, blanket and toys to make him/her feel “at home.” Try to keep things in the same locations as they were in your previous residence, as well.

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