Coming Home

Love Dog

In This Chapter

  • The first journey: Bringing your Pom home
  • Connecting with the family
  • Surviving the first night — you and your Pom!
Congratulations! It’s a Pom! The big day is finally here. You’ve Pom-proofed your house and filled the puppy basket with necessities — you’re ready to welcome your new addition!
But wait! You have a few more preparations to make before you’re ready to roll. For example, you need a way to comfortably transport your new addition and a game plan for introducing her to the new house, family, and other pets, if you have them.
Your happy homecoming will be exciting, but you still want to manage that excitement. Remember, your little Pom may be more than a little anxious about leaving the only home she’s ever known and saying good-bye to Mom and the other kids. You want her first impression of her new home and family to be a happy occasion, not a terrifying misadventure.
With the suggestions in this chapter, you can make this event a good memory. I provide you with solid advice on the first trip home, the first hours around new faces and surroundings, and . . . the first night alone.

Making that First Trip Safe and Sound

You’ve picked out your Pom; now it’s time to pick him up and bring him home. Whether it’s a trip across town or from a neighboring state, plan to coordinate your pickup with the breeder.

Scheduling the pickup time

Schedule your arrival time early in the day; you’re likely to be at the breeder’s a while and you want to get home well before your pup’s bedtime. The breeder will want to give you care instructions (feeding, grooming, and early training) and make sure you understand them. These guidelines may seem overwhelming, and you may end up feeling frazzled. If only there was a book about Pomeranians for new owners that could help you know what to expect. Oh, wait! You’re reading it, aren’t you? So don’t worry — you’ll do fine on the first day.

Remember

Be sure to confirm your arrival time with the breeder so he doesn’t feed the puppy right beforehand. This timing should lessen the possibility of car sickness or nervous diarrhea. Yuck!

Tip

If you work during the week, arrange to get your new dog on a Friday or just before your vacation time. That way you can spend plenty of time with him and be able to nap when he naps. With any luck, you won’t feel like a walking zombie from sleep deprivation on Monday morning.

Preparing to drive Miss Daisy: What to bring

Ready to hop in the car and cruise to the breeder’s? Not so fast! That car may not look — or smell — so pretty when you get home unless you bring some stuff with you to make the trip go a little more smoothly. And chances are your little one doesn’t have much car-riding experience.
Here are the necessities for your trip:

Another adult: Even a good friend may not be so thrilled if you pack her in with the rest of the gear, so save the front seat for her. She can ride along with you and lend an extra pair of hands. You’ll be grateful for the help if the puppy starts fussing.

Carrier: Just as a new baby doesn’t ride home from the hospital in your arms, neither should a new puppy — or even an older dog. Regardless of the length of the trip, bring a dog carrier with a towel in the bottom. Bring extra towels in case of accidents.

Cleanup supplies: Some rinse-free shampoo and paper towels are also handy just in case he has an accident and gets it all over himself.

Drinking water: Bring some bottled water or an empty bottle that you can fill with water from the breeder’s home. Changes in water can give some dogs upset stomachs. Why risk it in the car?

Money: When you head to the breeder’s place, don’t forget your money! Unless the breeder has indicated a personal check is acceptable, bring cash or a cashier’s check.

Toys: Be sure to bring something (a chew toy or even a stuffed animal for cuddling) to occupy him.

Food: If the trip will last a couple of hours or longer, bring some of the same food he’s been eating. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a concern in these little ones (see Chapter Eating Out of the Pom of Your Hand for more on this), so don’t put off a meal too long just because you’re traveling. Ask the breeder ahead of time what your dog has been eating; either buy a small bag of it in advance or ask the breeder whether you can buy a few days’ supply from him.

Have your pup’s first meal waiting at your home. Even if you don’t have a long ride, chances are the breeder won’t feed her right before she leaves for your house.

Note: Even if you’ve selected the ultimate canine ambrosia, start by feeding the same food the breeder has been feeding her. She’s facing enough changes without having to cope with a new food that may upset her tummy — and your housetraining plans. If you plan to switch her to another food eventually, be sure to do it gradually. Abrupt changes in diet can lead to puppy diarrhea.

Collar and leash: Bring a secure leash and collar just in case you have to take him out. You don’t want him bolting away, falling down a storm drain, hiding under a parked car, or doing any of the hundreds of dangerous tricks a loose puppy can do. But be forewarned; he probably doesn’t know how to walk on a leash. Don’t get your hopes up for much walking or relieving.

Tip

If you’ve planned an overnight trip to collect your Pom, read about traveling with a Pom in Chapter Traveling with a Pom Pilot (Or Leaving Him in Others’ Care). Bring a playpen or exercise pen and place plastic sheeting beneath it.

Remember

Your new pup may not look like the pup you chose a few weeks ago. If you’re concerned, say so. Good breeders would never switch puppies on you, so if you’ve chosen a trustworthy breeder (check out Chapter In Search of Your Soul Mate), you don’t have to worry about this scenario. Chances are, your puppy has just changed with age. However, if she no longer looks healthy, ask whether you can come back at a later date to get her. A good breeder doesn’t want you leaving with a sick puppy any more than you do.

When the dog flies home

To collect your dog from the airport, give yourself plenty of time to locate him.

– If he’s flying air freight, he may go to the air freight office, which may not be part of the main terminal.

– If he goes to the baggage pickup, he must be hand carried from the door. (He won’t be placed on the conveyor belt!) Be sure you’re there to meet him, and have identification with you in case you’re asked for it.

He probably messed his shipping crate, so be ready with extra towels and cleanup supplies. Also bring some scissors to cut the plastic cable ties that airlines often add for extra security. You can’t open the crate unless you can cut through those ties. (And try not to look dangerous while wielding your scissors or knife in the airport!)
Technically, you’re supposed to keep your dog in the shipping kennel until you’re outside the terminal. Obviously, this doesn’t work with big dogs, so most airports allow you to take the dog out right away as long as you don’t abuse the privilege. In other words, keep him in your arms and on a leash until you get outside. If you find a grassy area, give him a chance to urinate.

Managing a Happy Homecoming

As you pull into your driveway, it hits you — your life will never be the same! You now have a new little one ruling over your every move. Your household may become a tiny Pom dynasty, but that’s a small price to pay for Pomeranian pleasures.
Now, did you catch the emphasis on little, tiny, and small? As tempting as it may be, this is not the time for a welcome home party with friends and neighbors. Stop a minute and try to view this from your pup’s low-down-close-to-the-ground perspective: Your little Pom (whether pup or adult) was driven in a big, unfamiliar car to a big, unfamiliar house to meet big, unfamiliar people. And there may be some big, unfamiliar pet mates to boot.
Your new Pom needs to figure out who’s who and how to be brave in her big, new world. Being greeted by a wall of noisy new faces, reaching hands, and sniffing noses isn’t going to help. Let her focus on just you and your family this first day and night.

Gaining a sense of place

Your first goal is to give your new Pom a sense of place, to become familiar with his surroundings. Keep distractions (like other people and pets) to an absolute minimum because your Pom has a lot of sights and smells to process. Consider these suggestions:

Calm the kids. If you have children, they’ll likely be excited to see the new puppy. But they have to be calm or else wait in another room.

Secure other animals. Make sure all your other animals are put up.

Take him to the grass. Introduce your Pom to the spot you’ve decided will be a good bathroom (read more about this in Chapter Saving the Carpets: Housetraining). He probably won’t use it because he has no idea what you want. But at least you’ve given him a chance.

Show him the Pom-approved spaces. After he’s had a little time to check out the outside bathroom, take him inside and let him loose in the part of the house you’ve designated as Pom friendly (Chapter Prepare to Be Pomerized! has more details on this step).

  • Start by introducing him to the places most important to him: his eating area and sleeping area. Put a bit of food in his bowl so he’ll get the idea.
  • He may be glad to be out of his crate, so don’t expect him to go back in for a while. He’s also probably curious about this strange new world, if a little scared. But don’t overwhelm him with a tour of the whole house — even if you live in a one-room apartment. Leave something for later!

Tip

Always stay with him as he explores. He may never have been loose in a house before, so he’s a prime candidate for trouble. If he chews on an electric cord, give a harsh warning sound like Ahgt! and remove him from temptation.

Remember

Don’t be surprised if he has an accident inside almost right away. That’s why you want to take him back to the bathroom area several times while he’s looking around. Review your Pom’s gotta-go signs in Chapter Saving the Carpets: Housetraining, and be ready.

Meeting the family

Now that your new Pom has had some time to begin settling down in her new environment, you can begin introducing her to the people in your family. If it’s just you and another adult, then you may have accomplished this mission during the ride home. If you have children, especially young ones, they’ll need to develop a little care and a lot of calm for your Pom.
Here are a few guidelines for your kids to follow when they meet the new dog for the first time:

Patiently take turns holding the new dog. Avoid any fighting over the puppy or any rough handling. Small dogs are fragile, and even the best-intentioned children can end up causing injury.

Use indoor voices and avoid being too loud around the dog. Screaming with excitement may put the dog on edge.

Avoid chasing the puppy. It’s hard not to get carried away with a game of chase! But a fun game to the two-legged chasers may feel like a run-for-your-life situation to the chasee.

Sit on the floor nearer the new dog’s level. The Pom can easily move from one seated person to the next without being dropped or tripping a child. Note: A puppy can trip a toddler, but the toddler’s still big enough to squish the puppy if he falls on her.

This is such an exciting time, and kids tend to forget all these guidelines when the Pom starts bouncing around. If you take time to explain that these guidelines help the dog feel safer and more secure, your children will most likely show care as they meet the new member of the family.

Tip

Everyone in the house needs to know how to hold a puppy (see Figure 6-1). Always pick the dog up with one hand cradled under her chest (never by her legs, nape of neck, or anywhere else). Then rest the dog against your chest and hold her securely underneath with your other hand.

Saying “Hello” to doggy or kitty

If you have other animal family members, chances are they’re very curious about the little intruder you’ve allowed in their home. “Surely,” they think, “you don’t intend to keep that thing in the house, do you? Woof! Hiss!”
Even if you have abnormally friendly dogs and cats, oversee these introductions carefully to ensure that the bigger or rougher animals don’t injure the small Pom. You also want to be sure the established animals don’t become jealous of the newcomer. If you have more than one other pet, make these introductions one at a time.
Figure 6-1: How to hold a Pom correctly.

Meeting dog to dog

The best place for new dogs to meet is in neutral territory so your resident dog doesn’t start acting uppity and territorial. You can go to a neighbor’s yard or for a walk side by side — assuming your puppy will walk on a leash! For meeting one or more other dogs in the house, place the puppy in his exercise pen or crate before letting the other dogs into the room, one at a time, to see him. You can also sit and hold the new Pom on your lap. Note: If your other dog is large, avoid holding your Pom up above him because dogs have a tendency to jump and grab at things held up in the air.

Tip

Either separate the dogs by a barrier or have them both on leashes. Some dogs use the barrier as an excuse to start fence fighting, which means acting ferocious as long as something’s between them. If this fighting starts, you can separate the two dogs, place them on leashes, and try again.

Keeping an eye on the dogs’ behaviors


Watch how the resident dog and your newcomer react to one another. A puppy will probably be curious but cautious. Some pups get excited, in which case you need to prevent her from jumping all over the resident dog or from starting a chase-me scene. An older new Pom may be laid back, frightened, or have a devil-may-care attitude — you never know.

Meanwhile, a resident dog may be curious, approach the puppy, and try to sniff. These are all good signs. Watch for these other signs that the introduction is going well:

– Your resident dog is sniffing, with ears relaxed or held slightly forward.

– Your resident dog is in a play bow position, with front legs on the floor and butt in the air (see Figure 6-2).

– You can distract your resident dog with a treat.

Some dogs rush up to the new dog, overwhelming her. Even if the resident dog’s intentions are friendly, the newcomer can become so frightened that she tries to bolt, which can trigger a chase response in the other dog. Note: If the resident dog is bigger, you may have a cops-and-robbers chase scene right in your own home! Don’t allow any chasing or rushing at this point.
Some dogs approach stiff-legged, like they do with a strange adult. This response can be appropriate, but after the dog figures out the newcomer is a youngster, he needs to stop the tough-guy act and sniff nicely.
Figure 6-2: The play bow position means a dog is in a good mood.

Warning!

Watch for these trouble signs. You may want to stay close or at least keep the resident dog on a leash:

– Your resident dog is walking stiff-legged.

– Your resident dog is staring intently at the Pom.

– Your resident dog jumps at the Pom without play bowing (see Figure 6-2).

– Your resident dog growls or snarls at the Pom.

Fostering a friendly canine relationship

Try not to rush a new dog’s relationship with your other dog — they probably won’t become instant buddies. As they get to know one another during the next week, make sure you lay the groundwork for a good relationship. Here are a few guidelines:

– Your resident dog is the king or queen and should remain so. This fact means he gets fed before the new dog, gets loved before the new dog, goes through doors before the new dog, and basically gets treated like royalty in comparison. This show of favoritism is tough when you’re so enthralled with the new dog, but the perfect recipe for jealousy is to push the resident dog into the background while you gush over the newcomer.

Warning!

If an older dog has a hard time getting over this jealousy, she may lash out to put the usurper in her place. The reaction is the older dog’s misguided attempt to show you exactly who’s more deserving.

– There’s no need to lock the older dog away whenever the puppy comes out to play. However, allowing the puppy on your lap while you make the older dog stay on the floor isn’t a good idea.

Make the puppy’s presence a sign of good times to come. For example, when the puppy eats all those extra puppy meals, give your older dog a small treat too.

– Puppies often come with a get-out-of-trouble-free pass with older dogs. This apparent liberty means the pup can crawl on them, bite them, and do all sorts of tricks that an adult dog doesn’t allow another adult to do.

Your older dog’s tolerance doesn’t mean she likes that kind of play. Make sure your grown dog has an escape route (perhaps a high sofa she can get on or her own crate) so she can get away from the little pest. And be ready to put the pest up.

Tip

– Allow your adult dog to warn an irritating puppy. In other words, let her growl at times (like an older sibling tells a younger one to leave her alone!). If you don’t allow this response, the dog may tolerate the pesky pup too long and jump the pup — without warning! If your puppy doesn’t heed the warning, help him out by removing him and placing him back in his exercise pen.

– Keep your puppy from eating out of the other dog’s bowl, especially if the other dog is larger. Although you don’t want to encourage food-possessive behavior, it’s a natural reaction when dogs are around other dogs. Until your puppy understands proper etiquette, he needs your help to avoid dumb stunts.

Meeting the cat of the house

Cats rule! Or at least they think so. Your Pom will probably try to make friends with your cat, but your cat may have other ideas. Most cats don’t like strangers rushing up to them, especially ones that lick, nip, and yip. For this reason, have your Pom in a pen or on a leash when you introduce her to the cat. And make sure the cat has a higher place to jump to so he can look down and feel superior to this little vermin you call family (Hrmph!).

Warning!

If the dog starts to chase the cat (or vice versa), put an end to it immediately. If the dog gets too fresh with the cat, the cat’s likely to swipe her with his paw. Don’t punish the cat; just hope the dog is smart enough to need only one lesson.

As with older dogs (see the previous section “Fostering a friendly canine relationship”), follow this advice:

– Make sure you don’t give your cat reason to be jealous of the new Pom.

– Heap on the attention and treats to your cat when the puppy’s around.

– Make sure the cat has abundant puppy-free zones in the house.

Settling In on the First Night

You’ve made it through the first day — your pup is safe in your home, introductions have been made, he has begun sizing up his new kingdom (inside and out!), and he has some idea of where his next meal is coming from. Nice job! Just a few more hours and you can say your first day is really over. This section helps you call it a success by giving you suggestions for the nighttime challenges.

Starting a routine from the get-go

Just like young children, young dogs benefit from a bedtime routine. Naturally, the first part of establishing a routine involves picking a set bedtime for every night. Here’s one to consider:

1. About 30 minutes before bedtime, feed your young puppy his last meal of the day.

Reduce this to a snack for older puppies.

2. About 20 minutes after your dog eats, take him out to the bathroom.

He must take care of his business before hitting the sack.

3. Take him to his sleeping quarters and settle him inside.

4. Go to bed.

At least, try to go to bed. If your Pom is experiencing some anxiety, read the next section for guidance on what to do next.

5. If he awakens in the middle of the night, carry him out to the potty place again.

This is not a time for playing. Give him a few minutes and return him to bed. Even better, set an alarm clock for the middle of the night so you, not the puppy, decide when he goes out. No fair hitting the snooze!

This cycle may repeat throughout the night, but it really does get better!

Calming those first-night jitters

When the first night falls, you place your pup in her crate (see the previous section for the steps that precede this and Chapter Prepare to Be Pomerized! for more on the crate), say “G’night,” turn out the lights, and all’s well. Right? Maybe. Scared and lonely, a Pom pup does what most pups do in that situation: She screams and cries in an attempt to be reunited with her family.

Remember

Your Pom puppy is coping with a situation you can’t even imagine for a human baby — she’s suddenly removed from her family and home, the two elements that have made her feel secure her entire life. This situation is far less traumatic if the breeder separates the puppies for increasing lengths of time before they leave, but this preparation may not alleviate the sudden stress of a new home.

Even older or pre-owned Poms are nervous in a new setting. After all, how would you like to find yourself suddenly spending the night in a stranger’s house? Try these suggestions:

– Give your Pom a place he can call his own — a crate, bed, or special corner of the couch — to help him feel at home.

– A treat or chewie can help keep him in place and convince him this new place is pretty neat!

Tip

You may have been told to ignore your wailing puppy so you don’t spoil or reward her for crying. But what does that really teach her? Only that in the most frightening situation she’s ever encountered, nobody’s there to help her — no matter what she does. Her real mother would never treat her that way. Some dog behaviorists now believe this traditional advice may contribute to separation anxiety (see Chapter Dealing with Doggy Delinquents) in adulthood.

This new attitude doesn’t mean you spend the rest of your life rushing in at the slightest cry, offering your dog a floorshow or a buffet. It simply means that you take her out of the crate, attend to her basic needs, comfort her, and place her back in the crate, much as you would a crying baby. (Okay, so the crate’s not a good visual for a baby, but you get the idea.)
You’ve already decided on sleeping quarters for your puppy in a place not too far from your family activities (Chapter Prepare to Be Pomerized! covers this topic). But if that choice means she’s all alone in a remote part of the house at night, it can get awfully lonely over there! You may have to amend your plans. The easiest solution is to bring her sleeping quarters into your bedroom, at least for a few nights (and with your spouse’s approval of course!).

Warning!

What about your Pom sleeping on your bed? This isn’t a good idea, mostly because of safety concerns. Consider these possibilities:

– A Pomeranian puppy is so small you can roll onto him in your sleep.

– Even if you’re a light sleeper, he can still fall off the bed.

– The bed may be so large that he feels comfortable making one corner his personal bathroom — bad for your bed sheets, your sleep, and his housetraining.

If you want to hold him for a while as he drifts off to sleep, fine, but then carefully place him in his own bed for the night. If you sleep alone, you can place the crate on the bed. This way you can stick your fingers in it so he can gain some comfort from you.

by D.Caroline Coile,Ph.D.

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