Despite the fact that approximately 11% of the U.S. population moved in 2017 and the majority of people move to a new home at least once in their lives, that doesn’t mean this transition will be easy. Clearing out the clutter, packing up your belongings, and hiring a moving company can often be an extremely taxing process. And if you’ve got pets at home, your move is certainly going to become more complicated.

That said, your next move doesn’t have to be “ruff” — even if yours is one of the 44% of American families that have at least one dog. If you follow the tips below, both you and your furry friend will be settling into your new digs in no time.

Keep Your Pets Sequestered

You might want your pet near you at all times, but this could actually be detrimental to your furry best friend during a move. It’s generally a good idea to keep your pet in a familiar room (usually, the one you’ll pack up last) while you’re working to keep your pet out of trouble. On moving day, this can be a good strategy, as long as you make sure the room they’re in is quiet. The last thing you want is a trip to your local urgent care if your pet lashes out because they’re nervous. However, it’s actually better to take your pet to the house of a relative or friend during the move itself. Alternatively, you could board your pet. It’s important to make sure your pet receives attention during the move and that their routine is kept as normal as possible. However, it’s better to not have to divide your attention between the move and your pet, as there’s a chance your pet could get scared and escape during all the hubbub. And you definitely don’t want them getting into your already packed jewelry or any other valuables during your move. For their safety and your sanity, it’s best to keep your pet separate from all the action.

Start Packing Early

When packing for a move, you should plan ahead. It’s a good idea to form two or three piles and fill a few bags with items that you can throw away or donate first, as this can save you both time and money. Another thing that will save you time (and can potentially safeguard your sanity) is to start the packing process earlier than you think you need to. Not only can this allow you to reduce your own stress levels by avoiding the last-minute rush, but it can reduce your pet’s anxiety, as well. Cats (and even some dogs) really don’t like change, and the hustle and bustle associated with a move can be incredibly disruptive to many pets. Even bringing in a bunch of moving boxes and scattering your belongings around can be distressing. That’s why you should bring in moving boxes and other essentials as early as possible, which will allow your pet to get used to their presence. Hosting a packing party can be a great way to get this stage of your move over with, too. Just don’t forget the coffee. If you pack in stages, rather than running around in a crazy time crunch, you’ll be able to keep the excitement to a minimum.

Get Them Used to Trips

While you’re getting your pet used to the presence of moving boxes, you should also try to get them used to traveling. Although some dogs love car rides, it may be a different story when they’re stuck in a crate for several hours. A lot of cats don’t really enjoy being transported in a carrier, either. You can help them feel more comfortable by adding a blanket and treats before taking short rides in the car. Leaving the carrier out in the house can also allow your pet to get used to it; they may even choose to sleep or eat inside, which can take some of that anxiety away. If you’re able to bring your dog to your new neighborhood to explore on a walk, this may help them become more familiar with these new scents. Bringing an item from the new house for your pet to smell can also be beneficial.

Give Them Time to Adjust

When adding new coral to a reef in an aquarium, it may take only 15 minutes for that coral to acclimate. But most animals need significantly more time to adjust to a new place. You should bring your pet in last, after everything else has been moved in, to avoid confusion, stress, and the potential for escape. Once you’ve inspected the home for potential hazards, you can let your pet out of their carrier or crate and let them explore. Many experts recommend that you create a “home base” for them that will allow them to adjust more gradually. Cats, in particular, may have a harder time acclimating to new surroundings; some might disappear for a few days to hide. Eventually, though, your pet will start becoming used to this new environment. During this adjustment period, stay with your pets as much as possible and refrain from welcoming visitors. Encourage your pet by keeping their regular routine, as this will provide comfort and a sense of normalcy.

Moves aren’t easy, even without worrying about how your animals will adjust. As the standard home in America has almost doubled since the 1950s and now averages around 2,500 square feet, you have a lot of space to fill while ensuring that everyone feels comfortable in the new environment. The adjustment certainly won’t be instant and will take some time. But with these tips in mind, every member of the family will soon feel right at home.

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