The big day has arrived, and everyone is excited to meet the pup for the return trip home. It is important to take a moment to think about your pup and what he will experience today. Your pup has known littermates for his whole life. He has grown up in our home and known this environment from the time he first opened his eyes. He is familiar with its scent and sounds, and the rhythm of the people that move about.
As we consider your first day with your pup, let’s take time to introduce him to new things slowly and in a way that creates a positive association for him. When you pick your pup up, we will have had a busy day. First, we will make sure that he has had his morning meal, he will have had a chance to run and play so he is slightly tired, he will have had a bath and he will likely have had his nails trimmed that morning (unless they were done within a few days).
First the car ride home.
Your car ride may be less than an hour across the county, or a multi-day trip across states. Be sure that your pup is introduced to your crate with a treat, a chew, and something snuggly that he can cuddle with. Because he has had exercise and because the movement and vibration of cars is soothing to most pups, your pup may settle right in and sleep for the trip. He may however decide that there is too much new and want out of his crate. This can be trying for a motivated pup can pull hard on the heart strings until he decides to give up and rest. This generally only lasts 20 minutes or so but that can be a long 20 min. Be sure to plan for stops every 1 1/2 - 2 hours to run and play and to relieve himself. As a rule, I dont feed prior to or during car rides - and if necassary, only a snack.
Next up, is the pups first night.
As a rule, I plan to spend the first three nights on a sofa next to a new pup in his crate. This is for many reasons. First, I feel that your pup should be introduced to his sleeping area straight away. Next, while your pup is familiar with Crates, having had access to them for weeks prior to pickup, a closed crate for the night is new. By staying with him on a nearby sofa you can reassure your pup that he is not alone, can comfort him and will help him settle into his new sleeping arrangement quickly. If time permits, I recommend giving him treats or chews in his crate during the afternoon for short periods to get him used to his new home.
It is important to be on the lookout for panic. While your pup may not like the idea of being closed into his crate, and make lots of noise trying to get out, it is important to reassure him IN his crate until such time as his yelping turns to panic. You don’t want your pup to reach the stage at which he is acting at a primal survival level – this will lead to future anxiety issues. If this should happen, and you are unable to reassure and calm him while crated, let him out, reassure and comfort him, place a treat or chew in his crate, and return him. Your puppy is used to white noise and has been accommodated to calming peaceful music from Classical to peaceful instrumental. This may also help him relax.
Your pup will not want to mess his crate. Help him by removing water at least 2 hours prior to bedtime and expect that he will need to get up once or twice during the night. He still has a small bladder.
I hope that this advice eases any concerns you may have about the first day and night, and makes this important transition a little easier.