The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Papillons" by Tarah Schwartz. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Tarah Schwartz
The Importance of Having a Plan
Having a thorough plan for bringing home your new Papillon will make the transition smoother and less stressful for both your family and your new dog. If you bring your new companion home and realize you don’t have the proper supplies and don’t know where your Papillon will spend the first night, it can create a chaotic and stressful environment. Thoroughly planning the arrival of your new dog will minimize the stress for both of you and hopefully make the introduction a positive experience.
If you have other dogs, or have previously had dogs, you may already have the experience to cope with any problems that arise. However, if you are a new dog owner, experiencing problems with your new dog within the first few days and weeks can lead to panic. Having a plan and being able to refer to it when necessary will give you a resource to go to when things aren’t going as planned. For instance, if you plan your car ride home, you won’t be upset or unprepared when your dog becomes car sick. If you’ve already purchased the necessary supplies, you’ll be ready for cleanup when your puppy has its first accident in the house. Bringing a new family member home can be a stressful event, but being prepared and having a plan can make this exciting time more pleasant for the whole family.
The Ride Home
This may be your Papillon’s first time in a car, so ensuring that it’s a good experience for everyone will set the tone for future trips in the car. You may be excited about finally bringing your new family member home, but it’s important to stay calm throughout the drive. Your dog won’t understand that your elevated emotions are due to him, not due to the car, and he may show signs of anxiety or panic.
An unrestrained dog in the car can be an accident waiting to happen. Depending on the age and size of your new Papillon and previous experiences with cars, there are several options for safe restraint. Older, more experienced dogs can be fitted with a harness and seat belt to keep them in place until you’ve arrived home safely. If your Papillon is young, or you’re not sure about its previous experiences, a kennel may be your best option. Papillons are small dogs and appropriately sized kennels fit easily into most vehicles. If you’d prefer, there are many mesh or metal barriers on the market that will prevent your dog from jumping into the front seat where it can become a hazard to the driver.
Be prepared for any possible car sickness with your new dog. Even experienced travelers can become sick on occasion, so invest in seat covers, or bring along a few towels in case your Papillon becomes ill during the drive. If you’ve set up a crate in the car, lining it with a few washable towels or blankets will allow for easy cleanup when you get home.
Some dogs react badly when riding in the car for the first time. They may bark, cry, or even try to escape. Placing the dog in a kennel for the duration of the trip can help calm him while also keeping him safely restrained. Some dogs do well with a blanket or towel draped over their kennel to give them a sense of security. Again, remaining calm is essential to this important training opportunity. If you become anxious, your dog may become even more upset. If your breeder or foster family allows it, try bringing along your dog’s favorite toy or blanket. The familiar smell can be soothing and may give the dog a sense of comfort in an otherwise stressful event.
The First Night Home
For your Papillon’s first night home, it’s best if you don’t have any early appointments the next morning since it may not be a particularly restful night, especially if you’re bringing home a puppy. This will be your puppy’s first night away from his mother and littermates, so he may be somewhat distressed. If you’re bringing home an adult dog, it can still be an upsetting change for him, especially if he’s gotten used to a foster home or has come from a breeder’s home.
Where you have your Papillon spend his first night can have a big impact on how upset he gets. It may be tempting to put him somewhere out of earshot, so you can rest peacefully, but the isolation will probably cause to howl and squeal throughout the entire night. Even if your long-term plan is for your dog to sleep in bed with you or on his own bed on the floor, it may be wise to have your dog sleep in a crate until you can fully trust him in the house. This way, you can put the crate somewhere near your own bed, so he knows he’s not alone.
Be sure to take your dog outside to go to the bathroom as late as possible before you go to bed. You will also need to take him out first thing in the morning, so plan on taking him outside immediately after waking up. Depending on the age of your dog, you may also need to take him out at some point during the night. It may take some time for you to determine the difference between cries for attention and cries to go outside, but most young puppies will have to relieve themselves every few hours, even at night.
It may be difficult, but it’s important to ignore your Papillon’s initial cries once you put him in the crate to sleep. You can be assured that he doesn’t have to go to the bathroom if you’ve just taken him out, so it is probably just upset about the situation. It may be hard to ignore a crying puppy, but the more you react to his cries, the more he’ll howl to get your attention. Eventually, he’ll settle down and realize it’s time for sleep. If the puppy begins crying again in the middle of the night, it’s safe to assume he has to relieve himself so it’s best to take him outside as soon as possible.
The First Vet Visit
Since your dog will be visiting the vet on a regular basis for its entire life, it’s important that the first visit is a good experience for everyone. Regardless of whether your dog is ready for his next round of vaccines, you should take him to visit your local veterinarian within a few days of bringing him home. Many breeders require this in their contracts, but it’s generally considered a good idea to make sure your new Papillon is happy and healthy.
During your dog’s first visit, your veterinarian will weigh your dog to determine if he is an appropriate weight for his age and size. He will then listen to your Papillon’s heart and lungs, followed by checking his temperature. Next, a physical examination will determine if your dog’s eyes, ears, teeth, skin, and abdomen are all in good health. The vet may ask if your dog is eating, drinking, and eliminating normally. If you have any concerns about your puppy’s health, now is the time to mention them.
If your dog is due for vaccines, your veterinarian will discuss which vaccines are needed at this time and when you should bring your dog back for the next round. Your veterinarian should also explain any potential reactions your dog may have to the vaccines. Although most dogs receive their regular shots without problems, if your dog shows any reaction such as hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing, bring your dog back to the veterinary clinic immediately for treatment.
As part of his first physical, your Papillon may undergo a fecal test to determine if he has any intestinal parasites. Even if your dog isn’t showing symptoms, it’s generally standard procedure to test new patients, especially puppies, for parasites. Roundworms are especially common in puppies but are easy to treat. If your puppy tests positive for parasites, you may have to give him several doses of deworming paste or tablets, but most puppies handle this treatment with little concern.
Your veterinarian may talk to you about microchipping your puppy. This procedure involves inserting a microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, beneath the dog’s skin above the withers. This microchip can be scanned by any approved scanner which will then display a unique number that will allow the person scanning your dog to look up your contact information. Although this procedure is not required in most places, it’s a convenient way to make sure your dog can find his its way back to you if he disappears without his collar and identification tags and gets lost.
The first visit is a great time to discuss spaying and neutering with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to recommend what age and weight your puppy should be before undergoing any procedure. They’ll also be able to give you an idea of the cost of the surgery, so you can be prepared when the time comes. Many pet owners can be nervous about the idea of their beloved pet being anesthetized, so if you have any concerns, mention them to your veterinarian and he or she will be able to explain the procedure in detail and answer any questions you may have.
Puppy classes are basic obedience classes intended to teach young dogs basic manners, such as walking on a leash without pulling and coming when called. Many new owners struggle with getting their excited young Papillon to focus, so working with a professional trainer is a great way to begin your relationship with your new dog. In addition to learning the basic commands of sit, down, and stay, puppy classes are a great place to get advice on house-training and good manners.
Most puppy classes will require your Papillon to be a certain age before beginning training. This is for the health and safety of your dog as well as the others in the class. The age requirements are meant to ensure that puppies have had at least one round of vaccines and deworming before socializing with other dogs. Parasites and disease can spread quickly among puppies who haven’t yet built up a strong immunity, so most trainers will ask for proof of vaccinations before allowing you and your puppy to come to class.
Depending on the area in which you live, you’ll likely have plenty of choices for puppy classes. From formal obedience schools to individual trainers, do your research and talk to a few trainers before signing up. If you’ve purchased your Papillon from a breeder, he or she may have recommendations as well. Many shelters or rescues organize relatively low-cost puppy classes as a way of helping the community care for their dogs. If you aren’t quite sure you’re ready for puppy classes, you can also have a trainer visit your home to help you with basic commands until you’re ready for obedience classes.
If you’ve brought home an adult Papillon, the same businesses and trainers that offer puppy classes should also offer basic obedience classes for adult dogs. Even adult dogs should be up-to-date on vaccines before arriving at their first class. If your Papillon has any serious behavioral problems, you may need to discuss them with your trainer. Group classes can be overwhelming to under-socialized dogs or those with aggression issues, so your trainer may recommend private lessons to begin with.
Obedience classes are also a great place to socialize your new Papillon in a safe, controlled environment. Proper socialization can prevent your dog from becoming fearful or aggressive with new people or dogs in the future. It also teaches your dog to focus on you and listen to your commands in any environment, not just at home. Socializing your dog will also help his confidence when introduced to new places and situations. Your Papillon will want to accompany you everywhere you go, so it’s important to ensure that he’ll approach new experiences with confidence and good manners.
Cost Breakdown for the First Year
The first year of dog ownership can be costly, so if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you may need to reconsider bringing a dog into your household. However, even on a tight budget, with proper planning and preparation, the cost of dog ownership can be managed.
If you choose to adopt your Papillon from a rescue organization or shelter, you’ll likely pay an adoption fee, which helps cover the costs of care provided before the adoption. This fee can range anywhere from $50 to $350 or more, depending on the area, organization, and care given to the dog. Many rescues require their dogs to be spayed or neutered prior to adoption and they are generally updated on any necessary vaccines.
If you choose to purchase your Papillon from a breeder, you may pay anywhere from $800 to several thousand dollars. This price can vary based on the breeder’s health testing and guarantees, the parents’ performance records, and the show or performance potential of the individual puppy. Breeders will also have given the puppies at least one round of vaccines.
The initial cost of the dog will be the least of your financial concerns. Supplies and routine veterinary care are mandatory expenses for all dog owners and can add up quickly. Depending on the average costs in your area and your choices in food and supplies, these costs can range from $815 to $2730, not including the initial adoption fee or purchase price. Here’s a breakdown of the potential cost of dog ownership in the first year:
|Food||$150 – $500|
|Food and Water Dishes||$10 – $50|
|Treats||$50 – $100|
|Toys||$20 – $200|
|Collars and Leashes||$10 – $100|
|Crate||$25 – $75|
|Dog Beds||$25 – $100|
|Vaccines and Routine Veterinary Care||$100 – $350|
|Heartworm Testing||$10 – $35|
|Heartworm Prevention||$25 – $125|
|Flea and Tick Prevention||$40 – $200|
|Spaying or Neutering||$150 – $400|
|Puppy Classes||$200 – $500|
|Total||$815 – $2730|
Your potential costs within the first year are not just limited to basic supplies and care. If you choose to take your Papillon to a professional groomer, you must be prepared to spend approximately $25 to $65 every six to eight weeks. Many owners are more than happy to let a professional handle their dog’s grooming needs, but just remember to factor this expense into your budget.
If you plan on traveling without your Papillon, you must also consider the cost of hiring a pet sitter or boarding your dog at a kennel or boarding facility. Depending on your area and the level of care, this can be upwards of $50 per day. Of course, if you have friends or family who are dog lovers, you may be able to ask them to care for your Papillon in your absence.
The biggest potential expense to be prepared for is emergency veterinary care. As a pet parent, you will do your best to keep your Papillon safe and healthy, but accidents can and do happen. Emergency veterinary care can range from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Many dog owners choose to set aside money on a regular basis to help cover the cost of emergencies.
|Professional Grooming||$150 – $600|
|Emergency Veterinary Services||$200 – $1000+|
|Pet Sitting or Boarding||$15 – $50+ per day|
This section is not intended to scare you away from dog ownership; it’s simply meant to prepare you for the financial burden of caring for an animal. Bringing a Papillon into your home is a big responsibility, so you need to carefully consider whether you’re willing to spend the money necessary for proper care. Careful planning and budgeting can help you provide the best care possible without putting unnecessary strain on your finances.
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