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Bringing home a new puppy for the first time

A reader would like some advice for the journey home with the youngster.

breeding cocker spaniels puppies

Cocker spaniel puppies

Q: We are acquiring a new puppy as a companion for our eight-year-old spaniel. The journey home after we collect her from the breeder will take more than three hours and we were wondering if you could advise how best she should travel in the car and if it would be wise to take our other dog? 

A: Liaise with the breeder and try to collect the puppy early in the morning so that it has plenty of time that day to settle down in its new home. Ideally the puppy will have a light meal only and time to run around relieve itself before travelling.

  • Collapsible travel boxes and dog crates can be useful to confine the puppy, make it feel more secure and less prone to travel sickness.
  • It will also help if you use dog appeasement pheromone (DAP) preparations, available as sprays and collars. Before leaving the breeder, put the collar on the puppy and spray the back of the car and any bedding that it will travel home on.

Introducing the new puppy to an older dog

  • Assuming that your dog is sociable with others and the breeder has helped you to select a puppy with a suitable temperament – one that is most likely to settle with an older dog – it will probably do no harm to take your dog when you collect the puppy.
  • Leave the older dog in the car and introduce the puppy to it. As long as the older dog immediately accepts the puppy, they can probably travel home together.
  • If there is any sign of resentment, however, transport the puppy separately – perhaps accompanying one of you on the back seat – and try introducing them again later, once you are home.

What about puppy travel sickness?

It might be wise to have your vet prescribe treatment for puppy travel sickness, but don’t necessarily use it in the first instance.

If the puppy vomits

  1. Stop somewhere safe
  2. Clean up
  3. Give the puppy a tablet
  4. Allow some time for it to settle down and for the treatment to take effect before you set off again

First night in new home

Q: Is there anything that we can do to help a puppy to settle so that we can leave it on its own to sleep at night?

A: The first night in a new home is always one of the most stressful, for both new puppies and new owners alike. If you intend for the puppy to sleep in a particular room or place, it is a good idea to give it something, either to play with or to eat, before you leave it alone. A few biscuits will generally be all that is needed just to take a pup’s mind off the fact that you are leaving it to sleep by itself.

The puppy will doubtless cry a little at first, but you must harden your heart. As long as you are sure the puppy is warm enough and not asking to be let outside, let it cry. If you keep going back every time it whines, your new dog will quickly learn that whining and crying will bring you back, and consequently cry even more.

If you are having difficulties, you might try using a dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP), a substance given off by lactating bitches. It can be detected by dogs, but won’t be by humans. Using the DAP will calm puppies and thus help them to settle.

The product is produced in a variety of forms, including a vaporiser that can be conveniently plugged into an electrical socket near where the pup sleeps. It is often helpful to use in these situations