The Ride Home & Arrival

The ride home is filled with butterflies in your stomach and occasional moments of panic (“what have we done??”). The journey with your new puppy has finally begun! Let’s talk about how to prep for this and best practices.

Ideally, before you pick up your puppy, you’ve communicated with the breeder or rescue and they will have a personal item (blanket, towel, or stuffie) that will smell like mum and the littermates. This is so helpful when transitioning to their new home. Dogs are so reliant on scent and this will provide comfort for days and even weeks to come. You may also ask that they withhold food for 4 hours prior, to prevent car-sickness. Water can be withheld 30 minutes before, but not longer. 

Remember that all they know is their current family and a major change like this is really difficult. 

Give your pup a potty break and then get settled. You may want to bring some very tiny treats (boiled chicken breast or boiled extra lean ground beef is likely the easiest on the tummy) as well as a towel, water, a small bowl, paper towels, plastic bags, and poop bags.

If you’re driving:

  • Some people like to have an airline-approved carrier secured to the backseat. This is the safest way to transport a small dog or puppy anyway! 
  • If your puppy is fussy or scared in the carrier, the passenger can hold the puppy on their lap – just be prepared for a mess as some puppies get car-sick, and ensure they do not distract the driver. 
  • If you’re driving solo, your puppy should absolutely be secured in a carrier and not on your lap as you drive. Puppies can be killed instantly in a collision, by the airbag or impact, and they can be too great a distraction while you should be focused on the road. 
  • Stop as needed for potty breaks if needed.

If you’re flying:

  • It’s key to have an appropriately sized carrier that can fit under your seat. 
  • If your puppy is fussy or scared in the carrier, holding your puppy on your lap for a short time is okay if permitted by the airline. 

What if my puppy gets car-sick?

This can certainly happen and that’s why I always suggest withholding food for 4 hours prior to a trip and water 30 minutes before (but not longer). If they do get sick, clean up and move on. A little fresh air might help. Make one change and see if it does help. If they’re loose in your arms, try the carrier. If they’re in the carrier, try loose in your arms (only if you’re the passenger – NOT the driver!). You get the picture! 

What next?

Go straight home. It may be tempting to pop by to introduce them to family and friends, but it’s more important to get them settled at home first and avoid overwhelm.

When home, go straight to the designated potty area and allow them to do some business if they need to. Reward handsomely immediately after! 

Once indoors, place them in their long-term confinement area with their carrier, blanket/towel from the breeder, a bowl of fresh water, and a couple of toys. Keep things quiet and low-key and make this space their sacred space from the first moment onward. No need to overwhelm them with the rest of the home just yet – you’ll have plenty of time for that later!  

Keep things quiet and calm. One person interacting at a time and let your puppy have a little space to get accustomed and relax. 

Welcome home, little pupper! 

Click the image to read the article, provided by Trupanion Pet Insurance.