Bringing home a new puppy is such an exciting time, so it's very easy to overlook certain important preparations during all that excitement!
No matter how hard you try, there's always a couple of last minute things that can easily get forgotten before bringing your puppy home.
I hope to help your little Cocker Spaniel settle quickly and happily into his new home.
I'm assuming you've already puppy-proofed your home and garden and that you have sufficient puppy supplies to get you through at least the first couple of weeks. If not, go ahead and read the linked articles and then return to this page.
I've split this page into four separate sections, covering the following topics:
About a week before bringing home your new puppy, I recommend you leave a tee-shirt that you've worn for a couple of days (but not washed) with the breeder.
This will have your scent on it and can be given to your pup to sleep on for a couple of nights to help him get used to your scent.
A couple of days before he's due to come home with you, leave a blanket and a soft toy with your breeder so that it can be placed in the whelping box. By the time you're ready to collect him, both the blanket and toy will have his mother's and his litter-mates' scent on them.
Their scent will almost certainly make your Cocker Spaniel feel much more comfortable and secure in his new and strange world.
When bringing home a new puppy, it's a good idea to take along a dog carrier that's been layered with plenty of old newspaper, as he will almost certainly need to pee, and maybe even poop, on your way home - especially if you have a long drive ahead of you.
Also, take a roll of kitchen towel with you, a plastic bag and perhaps some wet wipes, just in case he gets car-sick and you need to clean up.
If you're bringing home your new puppy on a hot day, and/or you have a long journey ahead of you, it would be wise to take a bottle of water and a small bowl with you so you can give him a drink if he gets thirsty.
When bringing home a new puppy I recommend you take someone with you. If your pup becomes restless or anxious, your friend will be able to take care of him, allowing you to concentrate on driving safely.
However, if you're on your own, I suggest you take a dog crate, a pet carrier, or even a cardboard box with you to make sure he's not loose in the car.
If it's a very warm, sunny day, your car may become too hot for him so you may need to create some shade from the sun whilst he's in the car.
If it's a cold, wintry day, why not wrap him up in his new 'scented' blanket? It will certainly keep him warm and toasty and make him feel much more comfortable.
When you're bringing home a new puppy, never be tempted to stop at the side of the road to let him out of the car to potty. I've heard of puppies being killed in similar situations, after having darted into the middle of a busy road!
It doesn't bear thinking about, does it? However, fatal accidents happen all too easily, and all too quickly!
If your pup needs to pee let him do so on newspaper in the foot well of the car, or in the boot. If you let him into the boot, carry him and be very careful not to let him escape.
Personally, I'd keep him inside the car and wouldn't take any risks at all - let him pee on you if he has too - he's too precious!
At last - you've arrived home with your new baby Cocker, but now what do you do?
Where on earth do you begin? Well, first things first.
Immediately after bringing your new puppy home, take him into the garden and let him wander around for a little while to see if he wants to pee, but don't leave him on his own.
This is a strange new world you've brought him to, you'll want to keep him close to you until he learns his way around.
After a few minutes, regardless of whether he's pee'd or not, take him inside, introduce him to his new family and then show him around his new home.
Let him see his sleeping area and give him a few minutes to explore it.
Show him his food bowl (with a morsel of food) and his water bowl - he may be thirsty and want a drink after his journey.
If you have children, make sure you've read them the riot act and that they are aware of how to behave around their dog.
For now, when the pup is around, they must remain calm and reasonably quiet, making no sudden moves that could frighten him.
Next, take your new pet into a room where you can sit down and relax with him.
He may be quite lively if he's slept during the journey, in which case let him explore but keep a watchful eye on him.
If he's tired, let him fall asleep, and then gently place him in his new crate and leave him.
As soon as he wakes, take him outside again to see if he wants to pee, then bring him inside and offer him some food.
Bringing home a new puppy can be quite upsetting for the pup, so don't be surprised if he doesn't eat. He may simply need some time to adjust to his new surroundings and his new family.
He may also be missing the familiar smell and comfort of his mother and his brothers and sisters, but the blanket you left in the whelping box will (hopefully) help him feel a little easier.
However, if your pup fails to eat over the next couple of days, is sick, or has prolonged diarrhoea, or seems generally unwell, don't hesitate to contact your vet - the sooner the better.
Your vet won't mind if it's a false alarm - it's better to be safe than sorry with a young Cocker!
Just like babies, puppies thrive on a routine, so before bringing home a new puppy, I strongly recommend that you consider exactly what that routine is going to be.
Establish his care routine from day one and stick to it!
A few hours before you plan to put him to bed for the night he should be offered a little food and water.
When he's finished eating, take him into the garden and place him where you want him to do his toilet. Stay with him for a few minutes to give him the opportunity to empty his bladder.
Bring him back inside and let him settle for a while.
Have a little play time before bedtime. Apart from the benefit of mental stimulation, play will help to tire him out and he may sleep soundly during his first night.
Take him out for another pee - you'll be doing this a lot until he's fully house-trained!
Bring him back inside, give him a cuddle to 'wind him down' and then put him into his crate for the night, along with the 'scented' soft toy and blanket.
With a bit of luck he may play quietly or snuggle up to his soft toy before falling asleep.
It's highly likely that your puppy will miss the warmth and comfort of his mother and his litter-mates and may cry during the first couple of nights when left on his own.
I recommend you leave him alone - he will get over this, I promise.
Although it will be heartbreaking to hear your pup cry, it will be better in the long run if you leave him.
However, if you just can't bear to leave him, or if he becomes too distressed, then you might want to bring him into your bedroom to sleep (in his crate) and move him back into his own sleeping place when he's settled down, or fallen asleep.
Some Cocker owners swear by placing a ticking clock by the crate for the first few nights; the ticking sound is said to replicate the mother's heartbeat and has helped to soothe many an unsettled puppy.
A word of warning though, please remember to switch off the alarm!
If your puppy continues to cry subsequent nights and you know he's warm and comfortable, not ill, or in pain, you'll need to stand firm and leave him where he is, otherwise he'll learn that when he cries you'll always come to him.
Believe me - that's a recipe for disaster!
If your pup is not yet fully house trained, he may mess in his crate overnight; don't scold him for it - you weren't there to let him out. Simply take him outside and let him do what he needs to.
I hope my guide and dog care tips have helped you to feel more confident about bringing home your new puppy and getting through his first night in his new home.
Now you have your precious little bundle at home, the work begins!
If you haven't already done so, please my article on feeding your pup to give him the best start in life!
These pages will help to ensure your little boy gets just the right amount of nutrition to help him grow and develop into a happy, healthy, adult Cocker Spaniel.
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Credits for Bringing Home a New Puppy - In order of viewing:
1. Willeecole at http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-cocker-spaniel-puppy-image16929421
2. Willeecole at http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-puppy-chasing-piece-dog-food-image7324311
3. Ken Moffat at Flickr.com
4. Jaskirat Singh Bawa at Flickr.com
5. Cynoclub at http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-10051067-cute-puppy.php
6. Herr Bert at Flickr.com