Congratulations, you’re the proud owner of a new bouncing fur ball of retrieving joy. Bringing home your Golden Retriever puppy from a breeder is an essential first step but one that can be stressful – for both you and the puppy – if you’re not prepared.
It’s often an overlooked step until the day comes, or worse yet, you’re on the road to get your puppy. Only then do you realize it might have been a good idea to formulate a plan before bringing your Golden Retriever puppy home from a breeder.
Bringing a Golden Retriever puppy home from the breeder requires some planning that should include:
- Getting directions
- Bringing along the breeder’s contact information
- Enlisting help
- Taking supplies
- Other considerations such as crate use, overnight stays, kids, weather, rest stops, and time off work.
The car ride home from the breeder is an exciting one that can be stressful, and this is especially true if the trip will be a long one. But, planning can minimize stress and help make the trip as fun and enjoyable as possible.
Keep in mind that a 12-hour car ride for your puppy will need a different approach and supplies than a 30 minute one, so you need to plan your trip accordingly.
Get Directions: Know the Route
Whether the trip is a longer or shorter one, unless you know exactly where you are going, it’s best to ask the breeder for directions. Once you have directions, you can use Google to estimate the time it will take, and you can familiarize yourself with the route.
While GPS systems are useful, keep in mind that mapping programs can be inaccurate, especially for farms or ranches. As a precaution, it’s wise to still ask the breeder for directions.
If possible, try to visit the breeder beforehand. After our Golden Retriever puppy was born, we made a trip to the breeder in the first week to meet its parents and see how the breeder was raising the puppies. Guess what?
We went to the wrong house on the breeder’s ranch and ended up getting directions from the renters living there. Not a big deal, but it would have added unnecessary stress had this happened on the day of picking up the pup.
Another advantage of knowing the route beforehand is that you can plan for rest stops and stretch the legs.
Bring Contact Information
You might get lost. It happens. You don’t want to have to drive all the way home because you left the address or phone number of the breeder at home. It’s a good idea to have the phone number in your cell phone contacts just in case.
Life happens. Maybe your car breaks down, or you get a flat tire. Or you run into some inclement weather. Having the breeder’s contact information ensures you can keep the breeder apprised of your trip status and any unforeseen delays or issues.
It may also be wise to write the contact information down on a piece of paper. Cell phones can get lost or break. Or, chargers can be forgotten.
If you plan in advance, there should be no issues with finding someone to help. After all, almost everyone loves puppies. Who wouldn’t want to come along? And, having a second person in the car is essential to monitor and keep the puppy safe. So, enlist help.
The puppy should not ride in the front seat with you. Not on the front seat by itself and not on the lap of a person sitting in the front seat. And not on the lap of the driver.
Even if someone in the front seat is holding the puppy, it’s a bad idea. If there is an accident, the airbag will most likely kill the puppy and traumatize you. If the driver gets distracted, it’s not going to end well for any of the parties.
Take Necessary Supplies
Before you leave on the trip, you’ll need some essential supplies. No matter how short or long the trip, it is best to take some minimal items because accidents will most likely happen.
As such, it’s a good idea to bring along the following:
- Puppy pads (optional)
- Paper towels
- Old towel/rags
- Plastic bags
- Plastic bin (or something similar) – optional
Your new furry bundle of joy is likely going to go potty. Puppies at this age go every hour or less, so expect some “whoops” moments. Or, your new puppy may be scared and urinate out of fear.
If you brought the list of things above, then this should not be an issue. You are prepared for it.
Be patient and understanding. Your Golden puppy will be scared and nervous enough, so stay calm and reassuring if an accident happens. A puppy does not know any better and cannot hold its bladder for long periods. Geting frustrated with an already scared puppy is not helpful.
If the puppy wants to snuggle in your lap, then put a puppy pad (or an old towel/rag) on your lap first, and you can wrap the puppy in a towel or blanket if it is comfortable with that. Lap time is an excellent opportunity for you and your puppy to bond. It would help if you took every chance to build that bridge as early and often as you can.
Like introductions and crate training, potty training can wait until another day. Now is not the time. If the pup does go on the towel, put the towel in the plastic bag for washing (or disposal) later.
And what to do with any unexpected poop presents? That’s what plastic bags are for. Any soiled items are put in a plastic bag and sealed until they can be dropped in a waste bin. If your towels or blankets get soiled, and you want to relaunder, put them in a separate bag. Odors can be controlled by tossing a deodorizer in the bag.
And this is where the plastic container comes in. It serves two purposes. One, it’s great for packing everything and keeping it organized – dog food, toys, blankets, bed, paper towels – pretty much everything will fit in there.
Secondly, it makes it much easier to carry any supplies you have packed (especially if you have to stop for the night).
Also, your new puppy may get car sick. If it has never been in a car before, the car’s motion may result in a little puppy puke—same advice as above. Stay calm, clean it up, and put it in the bag until disposal time.
Bedding, Snacks, and Water
Just like we need Doritos and other assorted snacks on a long car ride, so does your puppy. No, I’m not advising giving your pup Doritos. Instead, bring some healthy snacks. You can buy some commercial treats at the pet store or use a bit of the puppy’s kibble.
If the trip is a long one, bring along a bowl or two because your puppy will need to eat and drink water.
A good breeder should provide you with some of the food that the puppy has been eating. Switching your puppy’s food from what they’re accustomed to eating to something else too quickly will cause some digestive issues (diarrhea). So, you want to transition a puppy to another food slowly.
Sometime before picking up your puppy, ask your breeder if they will supply some of the puppy food when you pick up the dog. If they do not, then ask them for the brand and where they purchased it so you can get some before arriving.
Puppies sleep a lot, and with the added stress of the trip, your new puppy may want to chill. So, bring a bed or blankets. If you take a bed, make sure your line it with a puppy pad or some layers of old towels or rags. You don’t want it sleeping afterward on bedding that it has gone potty on.
Your puppy might be playful and want to play. Some puppies adapt faster to new situations and have an extroverted personality. Bringing toys along gives your puppy something to play with and is excellent for distracting it on the ride home.
Just make sure any toys you bring are age-appropriate for your new puppy’s size and age. Avoid small toys or ones that your puppy can chew small pieces off to avoid choking hazards.
Puppies tire fast and typically don’t last long before passing out for a nap. Your puppy may even sleep most of the trip. That’s perfectly fine.
Like people, some puppies may be more introverted and need more time to get accustomed to strange situations. Some puppies are timid, and some are not. Some will play right out of the gates; some will not. Be prepared, and you’ll be covered.
Using a Crate
What about crates? Crates can be the safest option IF your puppy is accustomed to it and definitely if traveling alone. However, if the puppy is scared and anxious, then tossing it in a scary place that’s unfamiliar and closing the door might not be the best course of action.
Ask the breeder if they familiarized the Golden puppy with the crate. If yes, then a crate may be a good option, but you should let the pup get familiar with the crate before departing the breeders.
If no crate training has occurred, then don’t force the puppy in and take your time. A bad experience can set back future crate training or affect it permanently. It can be traumatizing.
You can leave the crate training to a day when it can happen in a calm environment and when your puppy has become a bit familiar with its new home and family.
Even if the puppy goes in the crate and is perfectly fine with it, it’s still wise to have someone in the back monitoring the puppy.
Bottom line: a crate is a good option if your puppy is familiarized with the crate (thank you, breeder) or has no issues going in. If your puppy is not happy about it or outright opposed, have someone sit it in the backseat holding and monitoring the pup.
Leave The Kids at Home
Kids love puppies, and puppies love kids, but this is not the time to make that introduction.
Chances are your puppy might be scared – it’s away from its mother and littermates and is now with strangers and in a car for the first time. Add some exuberant, excited kids to the mix, and it’s extra stress for the puppy. And for you. And for the driver. The car is not the place to be distracted.
Be safe and keep the stress levels as low as possible. Leave the introductions for when you can control the interactions in a stable and comfortable environment at home.
If the kids are 12 or over, then you can consider bringing them along. They’re old enough but instruct them on what to expect and how to behave with the puppy beforehand.
If the trip is a long one, then you may need to consider staying overnight.
If you stay at a hotel or motel, make sure you confirm that they allow dogs, especially puppies. Your puppy may whine a lot during its first night, so check with the hotel to determine if a more isolated room is available.
You can bring a crate along or a playpen and make a little confinement area in the room—kind of like when you were kids and built forts.
Also, overnight stays require some additional supplies. It would help if you planned on taking more food for your puppy, as well as snacks, paper towels, and any other supplies as required. In a pinch, you can always stop at the grocery store or gas station to top up.
If you’re driving in the winter or in poor weather, give yourself extra time. Even if it’s not winter, check the forecast before leaving. Rain can cause issues, as can any number of weather-related issues.
If traveling in bad weather, then pack accordingly. For winter, that means extra supplies such as blankets, food, winter clothing, a survival pack, and shovels.
Always advise family members or friends when you’re leaving, and be sure to give them a copy of your itinerary.
Time off work
Taking a week off of work is a good idea. The extra few days will give you time to ensure proper bonding with your puppy. And, if the trip is a long one you can take more time without rushing.
The first week is essential for bonding with your new puppy and developing trust. The puppy is adjusting to its new surrounding and family, and you want the time to work on routines.
Routines included potty training, feeding, and bedtime. You also want to work on preparing your puppy for the day you return to work. Taking time off work ensures you can slowly work on separation anxiety and gradually get your puppy used to being alone when you’re gone.
To learn about how to raise a golden Retriever puppy while working, this article may be of some help:
Raising a Golden Retriever Puppy While Working: Guilt-Free Solutions
Chance are you will need to pull over so your puppy (and you) can relieve itself and stretch the legs. However, it would be best if you were cautious where you stop.
Avoid stopping where dogs frequent as your puppy won’t be fully vaccinated at this age, making it vulnerable to nasty parasites such as Parvo. If you must stop, then consider going someplace with no or very little dog activity.
Rest stops are usually full of people with dogs, so I suggest avoiding those popular areas. If you must pull over, then do it someplace that seems dog isolated like a farm road.
Don’t leave your puppy unattended in the car, even for a few minutes. Not only is this potentially unsafe if it’s hot or cold out, but some people will snatch a puppy if given the opportunity.
Puppies fetch (no pun intended) a fair price these days, especially with demand increasing due to the pandemic and more people isolated at home.
If you must make a pit stop, take turns while one person attends to the puppy (another good reason to enlist some help and ensure someone comes along for the ride).
Relax and Have Fun
Having fun might be the most crucial step. While the steps outlined above are all important, remember it’ll all work out fine if you remember to keep your energy positive, loving, and have fun.
Dogs, especially puppies, really thrive in a caring environment and with lots of positive reinforcement. Doing so will help your puppy thrive from day one. That positive energy will lay the foundation to support your Golden Retriever puppy to prosper in the coming days and months.
If you follow the steps above, you are almost certain to have created a mostly stress-free environment when bringing home your new Golden Retriever puppy. And doing so paves the way to cherishing one of the most joyful experiences we can have in life—a new puppy.