The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Poodles" by Tarah Schwartz. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Tarah Schwartz
The Importance of Having a Plan
Bringing your new Poodle puppy home will be exciting and stressful for both you and the dog. If you don’t have a plan and thoroughly prepare for the arrival of your new family member, the stress may leave a negative impression on you both. Having a plan will not only ease this transition, but it will give you more time to spend bonding with your puppy, rather than rushing around trying to prepare. Forgetting to set up your puppy’s designated area, or not having the correct supplies on hand can set your new relationship off on the wrong foot. However, if you take the time to prepare your home and make a plan for the first few days with your new dog, you’ll be able to devote more of your time on your new puppy.
Moves are Stressful, Patience is Key
It’s also important to have realistic expectations about the first few days and weeks with your new Poodle. Remember, whether you’re bringing home a puppy or an adult dog, moving into a new home with a new family can be a worrying time for the dog, so things may not go as smoothly as you’d like. Sharon Heath of Kokopelli Standard Poodles says:
“Depending on the age of the Poodle you are bringing into your home, it could be missing its siblings and will need to transfer that connection to you. If it’s an older pup, it could be scared, as they do go through a fear stage at about 12 to 16 weeks. An older poodle may be confused if they suddenly lost their previous owner, and that takes a while, but they fall in love very easy with kindness.”
No matter what happens, be patient and consistent in your training and your new Poodle will settle into his new home in no time.
The Ride Home
Before you pick up your new Poodle from the breeder or shelter, you need to consider how you’re going to get him home. Safety should be your top priority, so consider your options carefully and prepare accordingly. If you’re bringing your Poodle home by car, he should be properly restrained for your safety as well as his. Letting the puppy ride unrestrained in the back seat or in a passenger’s lap is not a good idea. An unrestrained puppy can easily jump into the driver’s lap or onto the floor, potentially causing an accident. In the case of an accident caused by another driver or outside force, an unrestrained puppy can be seriously injured or even killed in a wreck. He may also escape the car and flee out of fear, so to prevent any potential tragedies, it’s best to use some sort of restraint system.
Making sure your Poodle is Comfortable in the Car
Many Poodle owners keep crates in the cargo areas or back seats of their cars. This is one of the safest methods of transporting a dog in a car and it also provides a certain level of comfort for insecure or frightened dogs. The crates can be covered if the dog prefers the seclusion, and they can be easily removed and cleaned out if the dog becomes carsick. Choose your crate depending on the size of your Poodle. Hard-sided plastic crates or wire crates are excellent choices. Putting a blanket or towel in the crate will give your dog something comfortable to sit on that is easily washed if he soils it. If your breeder or shelter allows it, you might want to put a small towel, blanket, or toy from the dog’s previous home in his crate to comfort him during this stressful time. Crates are also excellent choices for dogs that are fearful about riding in cars. Some dogs may try to bolt once the car door is opened and a crate allows you to open the car door and prepare for your dog’s exit without worrying about him running off. A crate is probably the best option for your puppy’s first ride home and once he has more training and experience riding in cars, you can decide whether you’d like to continue using the crate or try something different.
Seat belts are also a great option for older, more experienced travelers. Doggy seat belts consist of a short leash which attaches to the seat-belt buckle on one end and the dog’s harness at the other. Be sure to always use a harness with a seat-belt attachment, rather than a collar. In the case of an accident, a harness will spread the pressure out over the dog’s entire chest, rather than just his neck. A seat-belt leash attached to a collar can seriously injure or kill a dog. The downside to doggy seat belts is that the dog will be able to soil the car’s seats and floors if he becomes carsick. He may also bring sticks, dirt, or sand into the car from the outside. Owners who choose to use seat belts with their dogs often invest in seat covers to prevent any permanent damage to their car’s seats.
If crates and seat belts aren’t your style, you may want to consider metal or fabric barriers for your car. These barriers are usually either pressure mounted or attach to the car’s seats. They can be used to keep your dog in the cargo area or back seat and prevent him from jumping into the front seat. Many owners also use seat or cargo area covers in combination with barriers to keep their car clean. These are an excellent choice for well-behaved Poodles who can be trusted not to chew up your car’s seats or bolt out the door when you arrive at your destination. The only downside to barriers is that if you are in an accident, your dog may still be injured if he is thrown into the barrier or sides of the car. If the windows are damaged, he may also be able to escape and run away. Carefully consider all of your options and decide which works best for you and your car.
The First Night Home
Your Poodle’s first night home will be stressful, and it’s unlikely you’ll get a restful night’s sleep. Your puppy will be nervous and frightened, spending the night in a new home away from his littermates. Keep your expectations low for the first few nights, as it may take some time for your puppy to settle in. Thorough preparation before bringing your puppy home and before putting your puppy to bed will make a significant difference in how well your first night goes.
Crates are Safe Spaces for Poodles
Decide where your puppy will be sleeping for the first night. In the distant future, you may want your dog to sleep in bed with you, or on a dog bed in your bedroom, but that’s not a wise choice for the first night. Until your dog is fully house-trained, you’ll need to keep him in a small, secure area during the night to discourage him from eliminating inside the house. Some owners choose to keep a crate in their bedroom for this purpose, while others set the puppy up in a crate or playpen in another part of the house. Some puppies may find comfort in being near you during the night, while others will cry regardless, so it’s up to you to decide where your puppy will sleep.
Potty Training Starts Night One
Be sure to take your puppy outside as late as possible before going to bed. You’ll probably be waking up a few times during the night to take him out anyway, but the later you take him out, the longer you can sleep between trips outside. Remember, your puppy will be able to go one hour for every month of his age between potty breaks, so if your puppy is three months old, he’ll be able to go three hours before needing to go outside. It may be difficult in the beginning to determine whether your puppy is crying because he needs to go outside or if he’s just upset, but keeping track of his potty breaks will help. If in doubt, take him out. In the following nights, try to take him out around the same time to establish a routine. Soon, your puppy will understand that it’s bedtime after this last trip outside, and he should quiet down sooner as he adjusts to his new schedule.
Choosing a Vet and the First Visit
If you do not already have a regular vet, the best resource for finding a good vet is the breeder you got your puppy from. Their veterinarian is likely knowledgeable about Poodles and aware of common problems with the breed. If your breeder isn’t local, you can also ask friends, family, or other Poodle owners in the area for their recommendations. If you prefer a more holistic approach, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has a list of veterinarians on their website that can be searched by location as well as specialty.
Have Your Questions Ready
Your puppy’s first visit to the vet will likely be quite short and simple. Your puppy will be weighed and given a physical examination. The veterinarian may ask you a few questions regarding your Poodle’s diet and eating habits. Depending on his age, your puppy may also receive one or more vaccinations as a de-worming medication. The first visit is a great opportunity to get to know the team that will be taking care of your dog, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Here’s a great list of nine questions to ask on the first visit. The veterinarian or veterinary technician will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have. It’s also a great time to discuss future appointments for vaccinations or spaying or neutering, so if you have any questions about these procedures, this is an ideal time to ask them.
Don’t Stress, The Vets are there to Help
The key to making this first vet visit a success is not to worry about it. Dogs can sense your nervousness, so if you are tense, your puppy will pick up on your anxiety and may become fearful. Remember, the veterinarian and technicians are professionals and handle dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages every day. Your puppy is in caring hands, so trust your veterinary team and try not to let your nervousness affect your puppy’s behavior. Take a few deep breaths, hold the leash loosely, and relax. If your puppy does seem nervous in his new surroundings, try not to coddle him. This will make him believe there is a reason to be nervous and may make his behavior worse. If you act as though there is nothing to worry about, your puppy will follow your lead. The first vet visit should leave a positive impression on your puppy, since he will likely be visiting them regularly for the rest of his life.
If you’ve never trained a dog before, or you would like a little help, puppy classes are a great option. Depending on your area, they may be offered by independent trainers, pet stores, or even a local shelter or rescue. The prices of such classes will depend on where they’re held and how long the classes are. Most puppy classes take place once or twice a week for several weeks. Some places will also have different levels, so once your puppy completes his first series of classes, he can move on to the next. Each level will allow you to work on more advanced skills. Puppy classes are also a great way to socialize your Poodle and introduce him to new people and dogs in a controlled environment. If you encounter any problems along the way, your trainer will be right there to help you. Puppy classes are also a great place to meet other dog owners, who may want to set up playdates outside of class.
Private Lessons – a Good Choice for Some Poodles
If your new Poodle has any behavioral problems, or you’re not sure if you’re ready for a group class, most trainers offer private one-on-one lessons. Lessons can typically be held at your home, the trainer’s facility, or at a local park. Private lessons are generally more expensive than group lessons, but you do get the trainer’s complete attention during that time. If you’re bringing home a rescue dog, or have allowed your puppy to develop bad habits, a private training session may be exactly what you need to get your dog back on the right track. The trainer will be able to guide you through your problems and help you set goals to mark your progress. If you’re comfortable, you may be able to transition into group lessons after a few private sessions with the trainer.
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