If you’ve already done the work of searching for an ethical dog breeder and your home is prepared with items from a good puppy checklist, then the actual day when you get to pick up your new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding day. For humans it’s a feeling akin to waking up on Christmas or a birthday – but for the puppy themselves, it can be challenging and stressful.
Your puppy has spent the first eight weeks of their life nestled with their mother and littermates, receiving enrichment and growing steadily. The trip home is going to be a big change into an unfamiliar environment, and it’s understandable that your puppy might get a little upset or distressed.
To give your new family member a proper welcome, we’ve put together a list of things you should bring along to help make the journey a little more comfortable and a little less frightening for your new puppy.
Before You Bring The New Puppy Home
There’s a little bit of prepwork you can do to ensure that your first few days with your puppy are happier and less stressful.
- If possible, pick up the puppy over a long weekend or any couple of days when you can ensure that you only focus on them. The more time you can spend with your new puppy as they are introduced into your home, the better! Puppies at eight weeks old need a lot of supervision and attention.
- A couple of weeks before the pick-up date, give the dog breeder a clean towel or blanket that they can place with the puppy in the whelping box. You’ll bring this towel with you on pickup day, and its scent will help soothe the puppy as you make the trip home. You can also do the same with a soft toy, but towels can be wrapped around the puppy if they’re feeling especially anxious.
- Bring as many members of the household as possible, so that your new puppy gets introduced to them immediately and starts to bond with them on the ride home. It’s also better if there’s someone to handle any puppy emergencies while someone else drives.
- Plan to stay a couple of hours at the breeder’s premises so that you can play with your puppy and tire them out so that they sleep through as much of the journey as possible.
What To Bring When Picking Up a New Puppy
Now that you’ve done the prepwork, you can start putting together all that you need for your puppy’s big first day with you.
Puppy-safe cleaning supplies
It’s entirely possible that your puppy will have an accident in the car on the way home – dogs may pee or poo when they get scared, and puppies don’t yet have great control over their bowels. Depending on the length of the ride, they may also simply need to go. Keep your puppy (and car) as clean as possible so that you don’t arrive home with a stinky, unhappy pup.
You should have paper towels, poop bags, and a vet-approved cleaning spray – enzymatic cleaners work best for pee, poo and vomit. It’s also a good idea to bring a larger garbage bag for soiled towels that need to be replaced.
A secure and appropriately-sized crate
In many western countries it’s against the law for dogs to be unsecured during transport. While adult dogs can use harnesses and seat belts, puppies are far too small for those and need to be placed in a crate. It’s also important for the crate to be the right size for the puppy – they’ll be most comfortable if they can just barely stand up inside it and turn around, and have enough space to lay down.
Crate training is also an important part of owning a dog, and the earlier you start, the easier it will be.
Puppy travel bowl, food and water
If you’re going to be travelling for a long time, your puppy may get hungry or thirsty. Bring along a collapsible travel bowl and some puppy food and clean drinking water so that you can feed them and keep them hydrated. You don’t need to bring a lot, since puppies have small stomachs and can’t digest that much at one time.
Clean towels or blankets
If you have a small breed puppy or the crate you have is simply too large, you can fill in the empty space with clean towels or blankets. These towels can also be used to replace the towel you left with the breeder if it gets soiled, and to clean up any messes that escape from the crate.
Collar or harness and a leash
If the drive will take a couple of hours and you’ll be making any stops, it’s best to bring the puppy with you when you stretch your legs. It’s generally not a good idea to let them walk around where other dogs have been, but they should be brought out of the car along with you. They may not want to walk around with a new collar and leash, but you can have them wear it as a back-up safety while you carry them with you.
Takeaways and Final Words
With some preparation, your puppy’s trip home with you can be comfortable, and maybe even fun for them. Remember that the first couple of days with your puppy can set the tone for your entire relationship, and give them everything they need to thrive. If you can do that, you and your pup will have a great start.