Preparing for Pickup
The pup will be leaving the comfort and familiarity of the nest, where it has been warmly nestled with its mother and littermates for the first few months of its life. Entering the vast new world of your home will be like a trip to a distant galaxy for this little sprite. Even if you are adopting an older dog, the transition to a new environment may be stressful and scary. You need to be reassuring as it makes this transition.
If you are getting a puppy from a breeder, visiting your puppy several times before it is weaned will familiarize it with your presence — your face, voice, touch, and, most importantly, your smell.
A dog's smelling ability is the most highly developed of all its senses. With about twenty-five more olfactory receptors than humans, a dog's sense of smell is 1,000 to 10,000 times more powerful than ours.
A dog's nose is hardwired to its brain. As it sniffs every blade of grass and patch of pavement out on its daily walk, it is catching up on the news. You can harness this key to your dog's learning ability to ease its adjustment into your home. A few days before you are scheduled to pick up the pup, bring an old blanket or towel to the breeder and ask to have the mother dog's tummy wiped down with it to capture her scent. Leave this blankie with the puppy until pickup day, and then wrap the new arrival up in it for the trip home with you.
Bringing a new dog into your home will affect every member of the household. Ideally, all family members have been part of the decision before you acquired this pet. If you have children, they should also have visited their new buddy prior to its arrival and have been instructed in the proper way to act around this little creature. The small fry in the family are no doubt excited about their new pet, but they need to be reminded to curb their enthusiasm. Small dogs can be high-strung, and they are easily stressed by a lot of noise and excitement. Tell your children their job will be to make the little newcomer feel safe and secure in your home. They must also be taught not to bother the dog when it is eating or sleeping.
Before you bring your new dog home, take the time to rally the troops once more to let them know what's in store and what they can do to help. This is a good time to set some ground rules about pet care. Remind them that rough handling and wild behavior involving yelling and racing around will not be allowed. Discuss each person's responsibilities, such as who will be feeding, exercising, and potty-training the new dog, as well as how everyone can help with socializing and cleanup chores.
If you are adopting an older dog from a breed rescue or a shelter, expect a transition period before it settles in. First traumatized by being uprooted from its original home, then placed in the shelter setting, and now finding itself in yet another strange environment with you, it may take a few weeks for the dog's true personality to shine through.
At bedtime, the dog will feel more secure if it is rooming in with an adult. Even though it looks like a little stuffed toy, the children should not be allowed to carry your dog around or take it into bed with them. If they dropped it and it became injured or worse, you would bear the dual responsibility for the pup getting hurt and the child's heavy burden of guilt. All interactions must be supervised between any dog, especially a new one, and very young children.