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How to keep your pets happy when moving house

When deciding to move homes it’s quite normal to make a list of to-do’s ranging from finding boxes to making sure you change the locks on the new home. If beloved pets are also considered the decisions may become harder and options fewer, making the whole process more stressful than it should be if not adequately planned for.

Taking good care of your pet during this process does not begin and end on moving day. As soon as you’ve decided to put your current home up for sale or give notice at your rented accommodation, your duties as responsible pet owner begins.

Responsible show days

Walking the dog

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Whatever your current situation you will have interested parties looking at the property. Your first task is to make sure the property looks good and is free of any pet-related mess. Clean up after your pets by ensuring the garden and any litter boxes are clean and visible hair on carpets or muddy footprints on tiled floors are vacuumed or swept clean.

If you are a dog owner it is important to take your pet for enough regular walks; this will minimise the risk of your beloved animal destroying your garden or carefully planned patio set-up minutes before the open house is set to start. On the day of the show house try to arrange for your dogs to not be at home as anxious visitors will be scared of even small dogs.

Cat owners will know the temperament of their cat. If your cat is especially skittish it might be worth considering a cattery for the few hours of the open house to avoid the cat running away. Another option is to place enough food and water in a discreet location where your cat will feel safe to wait it out.

Finding a new home

When looking for a new home to buy or rent your pets are a vitally important consideration. Firstly, consider starting the search well in advance since our cities and towns are full of estates and sectional title developments with no-pets policies.

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Once you have found possible homes you will need to weigh up a multitude of factors when deciding on the perfect home. Is the garden big enough? Will older dogs or puppies be able to get out to the garden easily enough? Will it be safe for your cats?

All of these and more are questions you will need to ask yourself, based on the knowledge you have of each of your pets’ needs.

Prepping for the move

Cat in the box

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Cats and scared or sensitive dogs will pick up on the chaotic atmosphere and stress you are feeling while packing up your home. To minimise this start early and leave one room where your pet is most comfortable for last. It might be a good idea to ask friends or family to look after your pets for the last day or two while packing up your home.

Top tip: This is also a great time to start introducing your pets to the crates or carriers they will be transported in on moving day:

#1: A good place to start is by putting food in the crate. The goal here is to eventually have your pet eating with the carrier closed.

#2: Carry your pets around in the carrier and even take short drives with them eventually.

#3: Help your pets have a positive association with their crate or carrier by playing or providing treats.

Moving day

Before moving your pets to the new home make sure that the entire property has been “pet proofed” – there should not be any poisonous or dangerous plants in the garden, take care to ensure that small dogs and cats cannot get out without your knowledge, and the perimeter wall and gates should also be secure so that animals cannot get out into the street. This is particularly relevant in the case of small dogs that can squeeze through palisades or other tight spots.

On the day keep small animals safe in a calm room of your old home and move them last. Make sure that they have enough water and food and are given enough chances to go outside for bathroom breaks.  Give your pet something with your smell to help keep them calm. This will also help with the transition at your new home.

Settling in

Happy cat and dog on couch

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Once your pets are safely at the new home you may be tempted to set them free to explore the new garden and home. This can be very over-whelming.

Rather introduce your small pet to its new home one room at a time. There should be once space where you can put favourite toys, food and litter boxes. In the next couple of weeks or months help your pets settle into their new home armed with your knowledge of their comfort zone, and never exposing them to more than you know they can handle one day at a time.

If you feel that your pets are particularly anxious and having a hard time adjusting it is always advisable to consult your vet.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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