Yay, you finally get to bring your bundle of joy home! Your pup's Gotcha Day can be very exciting, and I don't blame you, what's more exciting than picking up a new puppy! You finally get to meet the little fur baby that will be joining your family. Pick-up day can be stressful for your puppy because they are experiencing a lot of changes in one day. This page will help make sure you are prepared for pick-up day, travelling, and finally bringing your puppy into your home for the first time.
Please read over all of our other Puppy Manual pages and have a plan for transitioning your puppy into your home. Think over your puppy's sleeping arrangements, vet appointments, potty breaks, meal time, play time, and training sessions and how they are going to work with your daily schedule. Don't forget to go over safety measures like puppy proofing your home.
TRAVELING WITH A PUPPY
Although it is safest to drive with a puppy in a secured travel crate, many families choose to have a passenger hold their puppy on the way home. Puppies almost always fall asleep within 20 minutes into the drive, and having someone hold the puppy, instead of being in a crate can be very comforting. Expect some crying at first, especially of your puppy is travelling in a crate. Although puppies usually travel fairly well, just like people, some can be prone to car sickness. They may also have accidents in the vehicle. If your puppy throws up or is slightly drooling, don't worry it's normal. Puppies usually outgrow car sickness as they get older if they are socialized to vehicle travel properly. The stress of travel and transitioning to a new home may also cause your puppy to have loose stool. Some puppies go through a lot of stress on gotcha day, as they are experiencing new people, places, things, sounds, and smells. Some signs of stress can include shaking, whining, drooling, tucked tail, quicker breathing/heat rate, and panting. Although we do our best to socialize your puppy, there will always be puppies in every litter that have quieter personalities, and these puppies can be more easily overwhelmed and you will have to take everything a little slower with them. Please respect your puppy's limits and try to make Gotcha Day a positive, rewarding, and fun experience for them.
Below are some traveling tips.
- Open a window a crack. This helps bring in fresh air and reduce the vehicles air pressure.
- Bring old towels or blankets to use in a crate or for holding your puppy on the drive home.
- Bring paper towel, cleaning spray, and garbage bags for possible clean-up in the vehicle. Baby wipes are also great for clean-up when travelling with a dog.
- Follow biosecurity protocols. DO NOT take your puppy shopping or for potty breaks in public spaces. Your puppy is not protected against deadly viruses like Parvo until they receive their full course of puppy vaccinations (approximately 16-20 weeks of age). For potty breaks use low traffic/non-public areas such as the side of a dirt road when travelling.
- Never leave your dog in the vehicle on a warm day, it can be fatal.
- Bring a chew like a Bully Stick for your puppy to chew on during the drive. Having a tasty treat to distract them can be a great mental stimulation and make the drive rewarding for your pup. Just make sure the chew is soft enough for their puppy teeth.
INTRODUCING YOUR PUPPY TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD
When you arrive home, start by taking your puppy for a potty break. Select a designated potty area for your puppy in your yard. If your puppy does relieve themselves, use a command that the members of your family will stick with, like "go potty" and remember to praise your puppy for using their potty area.
Introduce your puppy to your home. Set up a puppy-proof area of your house for your puppy to explore. Many people think they should just let the puppy loose to explore the entire house, but this is a sensory overload. Too many new places, smells, and people at once may confuse your puppy. Instead, let your puppy explore a designated area. Perhaps where his food, water, and crate are. Let your puppy get used to their puppy-proof space before you go on further exploratory missions. Then introduce your puppy to the rest of the house, one room at a time, skipping the rooms you've decided are off-limits.
Introduce your puppy to his/her new family members. Preferably one person at a time, although this will be difficult with the excitement about a new puppy. Try to give everyone a chance to meet the puppy in a quiet environment. Make sure children are well-mannered and know how to properly handle a puppy. Remember to watch your puppy with children. Puppies have very sharp teeth that can hurt if they playfully nip someone.
Puppies like to chew and bite. The best way to discourage inappropriate chewing/biting is to redirect your puppy or to disengage from play. You can also purchase an anti-chew spray to deter your puppy from chewing on things like furniture, etc. Provide your puppy with appropriate and safe puppy chew toys. There are many soft teether toys made for puppies, and many edible long-lasting treat options that are soft enough for puppy teeth, such as bully sticks.
Show your puppy a designated sleeping place. Puppies sleep a lot, and although they likely will drop in their tracks for a nap, it is important that your puppy has a space they feel safe and comfortable to sleep. Contrary to what you may think, crates are not "doggie jail." Dogs prefer the security of a den, and their crate can become a safe place, with some encouragement.
There is no doubt that your puppy will likely test your patience in the first few weeks of transitioning to your home. The puppy phase is going to be hard, but it is also going to be very fun! Just remember, consistency and patience are the key to training your new puppy. The puppy phase will be over before you know it, and you will miss when your puppy was so little and cute, so don't take it for granted. And remember, take lots of pictures and videos, you won't regret it, haha!