Bringing your puppy home for the first time can be exciting there are a lot of things to think about to make your pup’s first journey as pleasant as possible! Here are our five tips for ensuring your puppy arrives home as safely and happily as they can.
1: Safety First
Although it can be tempting to cuddle your puppy all the way home or pop them on the front seat, this isn’t the safest option for you or your puppy, particularly if you’re driving. Not only can your puppy distract you, but in the case of an emergency stop or accident, velocity means they become a projectile weapon. They could be thrown forward, injuring themselves or you. While it’s not necessarily illegal to have an unrestrained dog in the car, in most countries, it’s at least strongly advised against, and may result in a distracted or dangerous driving charge. It may also invalidate your insurance.
So, it’s always best to buy a suitable dog crate before collecting your puppy, preferably one that will accommodate him as he grows up. A crate can provide some protection for your puppy in the case of an emergency stop or crash, and it helps to eliminate dangerous distractions. You wouldn’t bring a baby home without a car seat, so care for your puppy in the same way!
If you don’t have a crate, take someone else along to hold the puppy. They should sit in the back seat, minimising distraction for the driver and ensuring your puppy is in no danger from a deployed airbag.
2: Cuddles and Smells are Important
Give your puppy lots of cuddles before getting in the car. This will help them feel more relaxed and they’ll start getting used to your smell, which is important to start the bonding process. Sniffing interesting smells will keep them calm and give them something else to think about.
A snuggly blanket in their crate will make them feel more comfy, preferably one that has been left near their mum to pick up her smell.
Adaptil Calm Transport Spray can help to make your puppy more relaxed and less scared.
3: Take Puppy Refreshments
If it’s a long journey home, your puppy will need a drink. Take along some water and a bowl (many dog crates come with a bowl accessory that attaches securely to the side of the crate). Very small, tasty puppy treats might help to distract and soothe your puppy, but don’t overfeed anything new – it’s the easiest way to upset their tummy.
4: Be Prepared for Smelly Messes
Most crates have a waterproof bottom or inner and will contain any puppy wees, but your puppy may also be travel sick. Take a cloth along with you so that on longer journeys, you can stop off, check your puppy and spend time cleaning them up. Give plenty of reassurance and fusses. If this is a problem that persists when you get your puppy home, take a look at our tips on preventing puppy travel sickness. Open a window a little to let in fresh air and keep the car at a comfortable temperature. Remember that your puppy is unlikely to have had his protective inoculations so don’t allow him to walk about outside.
5. Be aware that this is a very scary time
Your puppy has just left his mother, the most important being in his life, and his littermates. He is going to find the next few weeks very scary but also very exciting. Remember what he has lost and be kind! If your journey was a long one and his breeder didn’t take time getting the litter used to car travel, he has every reason to build up a negative association with travelling in the car. So for the first few weeks when you are home, make the car a nice place to be. Feed him in his crate (to prevent your car from being messed up), take him for very short rides with nice destinations (but remember that he can’t walk where other dogs have been until he has completed his vaccinations). Give him chews in the car without the engine running and make it fun to be in there. This should ensure that he associates his crate and the car with fun and want to be in it.
Good luck with your new puppy!