Bringing Your Bulldog Home

Love Dog
In This Chapter
  • Picking up your Bulldog
  • Showing your Bulldog the house
  • Meeting other family members
  • Setting up a schedule
  • Detecting possible problems and sensible solutions

You chose the perfect Bulldog, and now the time has come to pick him up and bring him home. Remember, this process is new and strange for your Bully. Imagine how you’d feel if someone picked you up, took you away from your home and family, and set you down in a strange place where you didn’t know the language. This chapter gives you the ins and outs of introducing your Bulldog into his new home and family and preparing yourself for things your Bulldog may do when he’s exposed to his new life for the first time.

Bringing Home Bully

You don’t want to be rushed, so plan to pick up your Bulldog on a weekend, when no one works or has school. If the timing is right, and you can pick your Bulldog up at the start of a vacation, that situation is even better. The exception to the vacation situation is Christmas. Many breeders won’t even let people take puppies during the holidays. (See the sidebar “Christmas isn’t the season for a new pet.”)

Christmas isn’t the season for a new pet

Christmas is the worst time to get a dog. Puppies make a great gift idea, and you can picture your children’s faces when they open a box filled with the adorable puppy with a cute bow around his neck. Greeting cards and holiday commercials show puppies in stockings and under the tree, making the puppy seem like the ideal gift. Even though the family may be home, the trouble with the Christmas season is too much excitement and activity. The puppy may be overwhelmed and, in all the rush, ignored.
A housetraining schedule may be virtually impossible to establish, and your new dog may find it hard to adjust to his new place filled with friends and relatives. Your Bully needs a chance to be quietly introduced to the immediate family and to get to know the rooms of the house. Also, the chances of “excitement urination” increase with the addition of many people to meet and play with.
Besides not having an established schedule, the more people in your house, the more the chance exists that your puppy may be given “just a tiny piece” of cheese, turkey, or candy. A puppy’s digestive system is sensitive, and with strange foods and strange people in a strange place, your puppy can have diarrhea or an upset stomach causing vomiting. The puppy doesn’t need the added stress, and neither do you at this already-busy time of the year.
If you think that a dog is the perfect holiday surprise, take a picture of the dog for under the tree. Give a fancy gift certificate or a collar and lead. Wrap up a book on dog care, and plan to pick up the dog after the New Year. This presentation will make your entire family happier.
Whenever you pick up your Bulldog, take along a small crate (or size-appropriate carrier) or a cardboard box for the ride home. Line the carrier with newspapers or a towel or two. If you’re bringing home a puppy, you should get the following from the breeder:
  • Your puppy’s three-generation pedigree
  • A health record for your Bully
  • Food for two or three days
  • A toy or two (optional)
You should also expect that your breeder will give you support. Knowing that you can call your breeder whenever you have a question or problem is important. Support gives you peace of mind, as well as help when you need it.

Giving Your Bully the Guided House Tour

Note the word guided in the header above. Don’t just open the door of the house and let your Bulldog roam unattended. Your pup will have plenty of time later to have a little adventure on his own. For now, remember that everything is totally new to him. He needs guidance:
1. Give your puppy a “pit stop” in the yard before taking him into the house.
When you get your Bulldog home, make the first stop the yard. In a new or strange environment, even adult dogs may need to heed the call of nature. If you’ve chosen a specific area of the yard you want to use as a doggy bathroom, be sure that is where you set him down when you first come home.
2. Take him in to his food and water dishes.
Have a bowl of water waiting for him. Show him the bowl, and give him a chance to have a drink. Put a few pieces of kibble or a small spoonful of canned food in his bowl. Don’t worry if he doesn’t eat it. Sometimes puppies won’t eat at first. Remember, this time can be stressful. The bite of food is just to let him know that this spot is where he dines in the future.
3. Take him to his crate, and put him inside.
If he’s already used to a crate, you may want to shut the door for a few minutes and let your Bulldog relax. If you’re not using a crate, put the puppy in the box or room where he’ll be sleeping, and let him explore.
4. Return the pup to the yard.
Although showing the dog around may not have taken long, now is a good time to take your dog back outside. Your puppy may have gone when you set him down in the yard before you brought him into the house, but puppies don’t have control of their bladders yet, and excitement can make them have to go.
If he relieved himself earlier, return to that spot in the yard. Returning to that spot helps your puppy smell where he went before and reminds him of what he’s there to do. If he goes, tell your Bully how wonderful he is. If you have a treat in your pocket, give it to him. Then you can go back into the house for further introductions.

Getting to Know the Kids

If you have children, chances are you don’t need to make formal introductions because they went with you when you picked up the puppy. Still, follow these basic rules for interaction between children and puppies:

Teach your children to approach any animal quietly and slowly. No running and no grabbing.

Teach your children to be gentle. A puppy isn’t a toy. Children should gently stroke the puppy — soft pats, not hard thumps. Don’t pull ears or tails or legs.

Supervise interactions with younger children at all times. Young children may not understand about being gentle.

Warning!

Never leave a baby alone with any dog. Puppies can nip; nails can scratch; and a baby isn’t a dog’s toy any more than a puppy is a baby’s toy.

Educate your children on how to pick up and hold a puppy. Don’t grab the dog around the middle and haul her around. Slip a hand under the puppy’s chest and hold the hindquarters with the other hand. Hold the puppy gently but firmly against your chest. If a child is too small to hold the puppy, supervise a cuddle session with the child sitting down and the puppy in her lap.

Remember that puppies, like small children, need naps. Your children may want to play with the puppy all the time. Make sure that you allow rest periods when your puppy can have an uninterrupted nap in his crate.

Depending on the age of your children, enlist them in the care of the puppy. Kids can take the puppy out and give him his meals as part of their chores. Taking care of an animal is a good way to teach responsibility.

Warning!

Just remember that the ultimate responsibility belongs to the adult. The puppy needs regular outings, meals, and fresh water. Providing dog care is up to you if your children fail to provide it. Your dog shouldn’t suffer when children forget their dog duties.

Meeting the Other Pets

If you have other pets, make proper introductions. You want your puppy and your other pets to get to know one another with a minimum of stress for everyone involved, especially you!
Here are some tips for introducing your pup to other dogs:

– Supervise the meeting in the yard — not in the house. The yard is a bit more neutral.

– If you have multiple dogs, let them meet the new addition one at a time.

Warning!

– Be careful and cautious in the beginning, but don’t leash the resident dog. Sometimes a lead, especially if it gets pulled tight, can make the leashed dog more aggressive or protective than if he’s left loose.

– Older dogs have different reactions to a puppy, and you need to know the personalities of your dogs. My male has always joyously greeted new puppies. One of my females considered all puppies hers to discipline as needed. Another of my girls just generally loved all other dogs, and still another was just amazed and bewildered at the small size of the newcomer.

If you have an adult cat or cats who aren’t used to dogs, take the introductions slow, and be careful. You don’t want your puppy’s first experience with a cat to be a scratched nose.

Tip

One idea is to find a friend with a cat-friendly dog and invite your friend and dog over to the house before you bring home the puppy. Although the cat may hide, this process helps her get used to the idea of a dog.

When you finally bring your puppy home, put the cat in a room and close the door. Let the puppy and the cat get to know each other by sniffing at the crack under the door. When you let the cat out, make sure that the puppy is in his crate or in an exercise pen. Let the cat approach at her own pace, and encourage her to sniff around the crate. The cat shouldn’t be threatened, therefore alleviating potential problems. The other advantage of crating your dog for the meeting is the cat won’t run and the puppy won’t be tempted to chase.
Don’t rush things. When you finally let your animals meet without a barrier, keep the following tips in mind:

– Hold the puppy for the initial nose-to-nose hello.

– If everything seems friendly, put the puppy down, and let the animals interact. Continue to watch them.

– Don’t let the puppy bother the cat when she’s eating or in the litter box.

– Also, don’t let the cat wander over to the puppy when he’s eating. Keep them separate during meals so squabbling over food doesn’t occur.

– Make sure that the cat always has a way to escape the attentions of the puppy. Cats can easily bound over a baby gate into a safe room or leap up to a kitchen counter if that’Technical Stuff allowed. Eventually, your cat and dog may become best friends.

Warning!

Your cats and dogs can become bosom buddies, but when it comes to smaller pets, hamsters and guinea pigs are likely to become lunch. Dogs are predators, and they look on small, rapidly moving, squeaky animals as prey. Occasionally, you may read of a dog and a guinea pig cuddling, but that situation is rare. Safeguard smaller pets and birds by putting their cages up high so your dog can’t reach them. If relocating the cage isn’t possible, make sure that your dog is never left alone in the same room as the smaller critters. If you let your bird or smaller pet out for playtime, put your dog in his crate, or shut him in another room. No reliable way exists to teach a dog not to chase (or kill) one of these smaller animals.

Setting Up Your Puppy’s Schedule

Your puppy thrives on a schedule. Housetraining schedules are covered in Chapter Housetraining Your Bulldog, including suggested feeding and play times, as well as nap times. Play is vital but equally essential is rest. Help your children set a schedule for playing with the puppy and then putting the puppy in his bed or crate and letting him sleep. Post this schedule on the refrigerator door beside the housetraining schedule. With younger children, set a timer or alarm clock so playtime and naptime are observed.

Surviving the First Night

Although most puppies adjust quickly to a crate, your puppy may cry at bedtime the first few nights in his new home. Whining is understandable and natural. After all, you’re new; the house is strange; and other, unfamiliar animals may be walking around. Your puppy is away from his mom and his littermates and the people he knew for the first eight weeks or so of his life. The surroundings even smell different to your dog.
Here are some tips on how to make the first night with your new dog a little more calm and stress free:

Make sure that your puppy is well fed. Even a small meal before bedtime can help your dog fight the late-night tummy grumbles that may wake him and keep him from sleeping soundly.

Before bedtime, take your puppy outdoors. A final pit stop ensures that your puppy isn’t crying because he has to go.

Give your puppy a snuggly, soft dog toy to curl up with. Remember your favorite stuffed toy when you were a child and how it comforted you? Your puppy can get comfort out of a toy as well.

Make sure that your puppy has soft bedding. Provide enough padding to make a nest and to keep your dog warm. A warm environment is more conducive to dozing off than a cold, hard crate bottom.

Wrap an alarm clock that ticks in an old shirt or a towel. Place the clock in the crate. The ticking sounds like a mother’s heartbeat and can calm your jittery puppy.

After you’ve made sure that the puppy is well fed, dry, warm, and comfortable, if he is still crying, harden your heart, grit your teeth, and endure. Don’t take your puppy out of the crate and into your bed unless that’s where you intend to let your dog sleep for the rest of his life. I had a puppy once who was fine in his crate during the day, but at bedtime, his cries were pathetic and loud. Twenty minutes passed each night for about a week before he settled down, but it finally happened, and now he’s very attached to his crate.

Tackling Problems before They Start

Have you heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It’s a concise way of saying that sometimes it’s easier to stop a problem before it starts. Try to think about what will happen in the future based on what’s going on now. For example, the idea of sharing your bed with your adorable puppy may appeal to you. Before you invite him to share your pillow, think about what he’ll be like full grown. If you’ll want 60 pounds of dog snuggling next to you, fine. If not, don’t start. The same goes for being on furniture or begging at the table. What you start now, be prepared to continue for the life of your dog.

Be firm and consistent in all your dealings with your puppy; call your breeder if you have specific questions about behavior or development; and memorize your veterinarian’s phone number.
Follow those suggestions, and you should live through your Bully’s puppyhood without acquiring too many gray hairs.

Examining the crate size

If, in spite of your closely followed housetraining schedule, your puppy consistently has accidents in his crate, consider whether his crate may be too big. Dogs generally don’t want to go where they sleep, but if a crate is too big, a puppy can easily have a sleeping area at one end and a bathroom area at the other. Insert a divider into the carrier, or invest in or borrow a smaller crate so your puppy has enough room for sleeping but not enough room for a bathroom corner.

Throwing up

Is your puppy frequently regurgitating his food? He may be playing excessively too closely to feeding time. An excited, full puppy may need to empty his stomach. If your puppy is fine otherwise — active, playful, and with no temperature — the food he eats may be too rich for your puppy’s stomach. Not every food is perfect for every puppy, and the food that his littermates thrive on may not be right for your pup. Gradually change over to another food, over the course of about a week. If problems persist, see your veterinarian.

Getting a grip

Nail clipping shouldn’t be a problem yet, but start now to get your puppy used to having his nails clipped. Handle his feet every time you pick him up. Hold a paw for a few seconds. See Chapter Grooming Your Bulldog for more specific instructions on nail clipping.

Warning!

Bulldogs are determined dogs, but they aren’t built for struggles. Although you may be able eventually to get an adult of another breed to stop fighting you when you’re cutting nails or holding a foot, a Bulldog won’t stop. This struggle can lead to shortness of breath (for your dog and maybe you too) and threaten your dog’s health. Use patience and perseverance, but never use force with your Bulldog, and don’t fight with your Bulldog over something for so long that he is gasping for air.

by Susan M.Ewing

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