COLLECTING A NEW PUPPY/DOG
Assuming you have read the earlier chapters and you have found the right pup or adult dog for yourselves from a good breeder, rescue centre or owner with a good neutering environment with a friendly mother in attendance (if a pup), then its time to plan to pick up your new best friend. The following should help get things off to a good start.
You should have had the DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) plug in working in place in your home for two weeks before going to pick him/her up to help provide a calming environment in your home for your return with the new dog/pup. It would also help to purchase the same DAP product in the spray form and use it in the vehicle you plan to pick them up in, spray half a dozen times in the car 20-30 mins before you leave, this will help them relax a bit more in the car, (I have seen these sprays calm down some dogs not too keen about being groomed by the groomers). I must add that some dogs may be so worked up that they might not have much effect, and also that this product only works well if your pup or dog did indeed spend their first 8 weeks with mum, so experiencing the use of the mothers calming pheromones when anxious (which adaptil copies synthetically), I would highly recommend trying them. Personally I think it would be a good idea to pick your new friend up in someone else's car if possible, so if your new friend does develop a bad association with the vehicle that separated them from mum, littermates and old home, then that association is not with your car, the one that you will be using throughout their lives; this could stop a lifelong problem with going in your car.
Another measure you could take if your choice of four legged friend is a puppy is to hand the pups breeder or owner a piece of your clothing or new dog bedding a couple of weeks before you plan to take them, have it left with the pups and mum to get their scent on it, you can then have this around the pup in the car when you first take them to help reassure the pup with the familiar smells. Obviously if your new friend is an adult dog then this doesn’t apply though the DAP plug in and spray does as the association with the nursing bitches soothing pheromones when an anxious pup carries on into adult life.
Hopefully you have managed to see your new friend before the day you go to pick them up and this is not your first visit. Anyone could see how traumatic it is to be separated from your mother and litter mates at a young 8 weeks, and for an older dog to be taken from his/her home and existing family, so the more familiar they are with you the better. If you are taking on a rescue dog then there is no reason why you couldn’t have got to know them a bit before taking them home.
When you do go to the breeders or owners address try to be level headed and calm, try not to fuss too much (no, ahhhh it will be all right etc ) as this will reinforce your new friends worries that something bad is indeed happening to them, try to have a jolly matter of fact atmosphere going on. Don't worry about asking any questions you might have of the old owners, just ask them, it would be a good idea to take some of your new dog/pups present food home with you if the owner (THEY SHOULD) has some. If you want to change their food when they become yours it is best to do it gradually over a few days weaning them of the old food and onto the new to avoid digestive problems; add the new food in increasing amounts over four or five days.
For travelling home, if a pup, then loosely wrapped in the security of the material you gave the breeder to leave with pups and mum, and held so they can see out of the vehicle sometimes as well as on your lap is good. If you are on your own then take someone else with you to hold the pup, preferably someone who has seen them before with you.
If an older dog then you need to decide how you want the dog to travel in your vehicle assuming they want to willingly get into it, and try to start as you mean to go on. Hopefully your new dog will dive into the car and off you go. Many dogs have a problem with travelling in a car be that car sickness or just afraid to travel or get in one. For whatever reason they have a bad association with the vehicle and you have to change this association to a good one, obviously you cannot do this in the ten minutes before you pick up your dog and it will have to be something to work on when you get home for it will no doubt take a fair amount of time and effort (it usually does), you can look at the /problems-travelling-in-the-car-with-your-dog section.
For now you have to get your new friend home, you should have used your DAP spray in the car 20 mins previous. Any dog needs to be properly contained in the car for if you have an accident the increases in forces would be like having a baby rhino flying around in the car, not good for you or them. Keeping them in the hatch back or estate boot with a guard between will stop them coming through to the front but they will still fly around in the back. There are special dog harness that fit to the vehicles rears seat belt systems that allow the dog to move around while being safe in an accident. You can use a crate in the back hatch or estate boot etc, make sure these crates are large enough for the dog to stand in and turn around in and lay outstretched in, supply decent bedding for comfort and a water container of safe design and if possible try to secure the crate somehow.
If this is to be the dogs first time in a crate or in the back etc you might have a battle on your hands (you might not), have some special treats handy to reward your dog for getting in the car/crate/harness, try not to get angry, keep the atmosphere jolly and normal if possible, you don’t want to give your new friend a phobia of the car from the start. If you have to travel for the first time with the dog on the back seat with someone with them then so be it, you can work on things later when you get home, for you really don’t want to push things to the extreme on the first go and end up giving them a lifelong phobia or fear. Obviously I would only recommend safe travelling in a car with your dog but you have to be realistic for your first time and you need to get them home. However you do it make it as safe as possible.
If your new best friend happens to be a puppy of any of the very large or giant breeds then care must be taken not to allow the pup to jump in and out of the vehicle for fear of damaging the growth plates of these slower developing dogs, indeed care should be taken with all young pups and indeed juveniles even up to 18 months for the large and giant breeds and their crosses. When travelling in the car try to keep the atmosphere calm and a little jolly, not over the top either way as continuous reassurance or over the top jolliness will make the dog think something is amiss one way or the other.
Of course you might not be picking your new best friend up by vehicle so calmness and very slight jolliness is the order of the day when you pick them up and on the walk home, difficult I know, but try to make things as normal as possible for the dog during this time. Have some treats on you to reward good behaviour, don’t just hand them out willy nilly, use them to reward actual good behaviour on your walk home, you can however reward them periodically for being quiet and calm so they begin to associate good things with quiet calm behaviour, treat also for a good interaction with another dog, but always ensure the reward very quickly follows the good behaviour so they associate the reward with that behaviour and not something that happened later.
Allow your new friend to stop for a sniff or a wee on the way if they want to, this is what its all about for a dog, give them time to do their business and if they stay in one place for a long length of time then they are probably trying it on with you so move them on with a c'mon or similar and a few short easy tugs on the lead (not one big long tug ending in a tug of war). Follow the above for any early walks with your dog too.
When you do finally get your new friend home let them know that this is the place to be, a good place, without being too over the top with the jolliness. A visit to the garden for a first wee should be high on the agenda after you arrive for pup or adult dog, reward it with high praise and a nice treat so they know this is the place to go (see /housetraining-your-dog).
Why not have a read of my first book, a realistic novel about a wolf called Elmer, his family and their life. My hope is that you will learn much about wolves and mother nature, and come to understand why man first thought to domesticate these amazing social animals to give us our best friend the dog.