Welcoming Your Poodle Home

In This Chapter
  • Taking your Poodle home
  • Showing your Poodle around the house
  • Introducing family members (of all kinds) to your Poodle
  • Getting through the first night
  • Anticipating and solving potential problems
If you’re jumping into this chapter, you’ve most likely chosen the Poodle that’s right for you. Congratulations! (If not, you can head to Chapter Deciding Whether a Poodle Is Right for You to find out how.) This chapter gives you tips for picking up your Poodle and introducing her to the rest of the family, to other pets, and to her designated spaces (see Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You), all with a minimal level of stress for both of you. I also show you how to make it through the first night with ease and how to handle any problems that may crop up at the outset.

Picking Up Your Poodle


The big day has arrived. Your wonderful Poodle is finally joining the family. Things may seem a little hectic at first, so take a minute to plan ahead so that the first day at home goes smoothly for both you and the Poodle. In the following sections, I explain how to choose the best day and time for pickup, the items to bring home along with the Poodle, and how to transport your Poodle safely.

Selecting the right day and the right time


Ideally, your Poodle should join the family on a day when you can devote your time to getting her settled. Weekend days are a good choice because no one is rushing to get to work or school, and everyone can help out. If you decide to pick up the Poodle on a Saturday, try to get her in the morning. That gives you two full days before the Monday-morning routine.
Warning!
If you want to get your Poodle on a Friday, go as early in the afternoon as you can. If you go too late in the day, your Poodle may only have time for a quick tour before bedtime, which may make it harder for her to get to sleep. Even if you do follow this advice, though, odds are your puppy will cry the first night or two. Even an adult Poodle that you adopt may whine a bit.
Another option for bringing your Poodle home is at the beginning of a vacation. By spending the family vacation at home, you and your Poodle have plenty of time to adjust to each other.

If your schedule is just too crazy for a long introduction, and Wednesday night after supper is the only time you can pick up the Poodle, that’s okay, too. In time, you’ll all adjust.

Taking home other items besides the Poodle


Most likely, you’re picking up your puppy from a breeder (see Chapter Deciding Whether a Poodle Is Right for You for details on places to find a Poodle). At the appointed time, you arrive at the breeder’s pickup location, and he gives you your adorable Poodle puppy. However, that’s not all you should receive. The breeder should also give you the following:
- A three-generation pedigree
- The American Kennel Club (AKC) registration slip (see Chapter Socializing Your Poodle for more information on the AKC and Chapter Deciding Whether a Poodle Is Right for You for more on pedigrees and registrations)
- Your puppy’s health record and health guarantee
- A sales contract
- A two- or three-day supply of whatever food your puppy has been eating
Remember
As long as you know what kind of food your puppy has been eating, you can get your own if the breeder doesn’t offer some. However, you should make sure that you leave with a bill of sale (and/or a contract), the registration slip, and the health information. Don’t pay for and accept a puppy without these items.
Remember
Whatever else your breeder gives you, the most important extra item you can get is his phone number. Reputable breeders want the best for their puppies and for the people who buy them.
You should be able to call your breeder if you have a question or problem, and he should be happy to help you. Don’t just call with problems, either. Your breeder will be delighted to hear that your darling graduated from kindergarten or behaved perfectly at the groomer’s office.

If you’re picking up an older Poodle from a shelter, you’ll probably just get the dog. However, if you ask, the shelter also may give you health records if the Poodle has been vaccinated and/or spayed or neutered. The pickup policies of rescue organizations vary; one may send a dog to a new home with some food and a favorite toy. Others come prepared with registration papers, but most of the time shelters can’t provide them.

Traveling home safely


If your breeder gives you a crate, or if you already have a crate, be sure to use it for the ride home. The crate makes the trip home safe and simple. You can line the crate with newspaper to help absorb accidents and add a bit of toweling or a blanket for the puppy’s comfort. A cuddly toy may keep the puppy happy. (See Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You for full details on selecting a crate for your Poodle.)

Is it wise to get a Christmas puppy?


Christmas has long been the one holiday that is not considered a good time to get a new puppy. Many breeders refuse to sell puppies two weeks before or two weeks after Christmas. The reason for this reluctance is that Christmas is a hectic time, with a lot of activities, friends, and relatives hustling in and out, leaving little time for puppy care. Puppies need structure, especially as housetraining begins, and the Christmas break may not allow for that structure.

Lately, some shelters have found that if a family fully understands the demands of a new pet, the Christmas break gives the family the time it needs with the pet, and the adoption works quite well.

If you think Christmas break can work, consider the age of your children. For families with very young children, I still say Christmas is a bad time. For homes with older children or adults-only homes, it may work, but Christmas time still wouldn’t be my first choice. In fact, I’d prefer getting a puppy when housetraining didn’t mean bundling up and wading through snowdrifts every hour or two.

And, no matter what anyone says, Christmas Day is too hectic for getting a puppy. Put a lead and a collar, dog dishes, or a training book (or this book!) under the tree, and pick up your puppy the week after Christmas.

If you don’t have a crate yet, you can use a cardboard box and add the same items. Make sure the box is high enough so that your new puppy can’t scramble out during the ride home. If your new dog is an adult and you don’t have a crate, you should invest in a special seatbelt harness to keep your Poodle secure during the ride. (See Chapter Hitting the Road with Your Poodle for more tips on traveling with your Poodle.)

Giving Your Poodle the Grand Tour


You shouldn’t just turn your Poodle loose to explore when she first gets to her new home. You need to be a tour guide and structure her exploration. Help make the introduction to her new home a positive experience. You can start with a brief visit to the yard so she has a chance to eliminate, which lessens the chance of an accident in the house. After this trip, take your Poodle to the following spots (see Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You for details on selecting specific places in your home):
1. The eating spot: Take your Poodle to the spot you’ve chosen for her food and water dishes (Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You lets you know what kind of dishes to buy). Give her a chance to take a drink, if she wants one. Put a few tasty treats in her bowl. Don’t worry if she doesn’t eat them; she may be too overwhelmed, but at least she knows that she’s in the right spot for food. (See Chapter Making a Match with a Poodle for more on a Poodle’s diet.)
2. The sleeping spot: The next stop should be your Poodle’s bed, which may be her crate at first (see Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You for info on buying bedding). Wherever you’ve decided to put her crate, take your Poodle to that spot, and put her in her crate. Depending on how long the trip was from the breeder (or shelter) to your home, you may want to let her have a little rest. Keep people and other pets away from the crate and let her have a nap.
3. The potty spot: When the nap is over, take your Poodle directly to her potty spot. If your Poodle went to the bathroom in the yard when you first got home, take her back to that same area. Her nose can tell her that she’s in the right spot. If she goes, praise her.
If you’ve decided that you’re going to paper-train your Poodle or teach her to use a litter box, take her to the appropriate area indoors. Your puppy may have a few accidents before she becomes housetrained, but the sooner you start taking her to the appropriate area and the sooner she starts using it, the faster and easier housetraining is. (Head to Chapter Keeping Your Poodle Clean and Attractive for full details on housetraining.)

Meeting Other Family Members


Having a Poodle come into your home for the first time is a lifechanging event for you — and for the other members of your household. Other family members may be children, or they may be different kinds of animals — dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and so on. Your job as a tour guide isn’t over yet; you need to introduce your Poodle to whoever and whatever lives beneath your roof.

Kids in the house


Your children were probably in on the Poodle-selection process, because most breeders won’t sell puppies to families with children until they’ve seen the children with the puppies. Besides, how do you manage to keep children out of the selection process after they know about it? Your children also may have gone with you when you picked up your Poodle (see the previous sections of this chapter).

If the kids remained at home, however, and haven’t seen the Poodle since the selection was made, now’s the time to reintroduce them. If you have young children, have them sit on the floor before you hand them the puppy. Supervise the interaction. Toddlers may want to grab the puppy from a sibling. Teach them that puppies aren’t toys, and that they need to be gentle. No grabbing or pulling any part of the puppy.

If you have a baby, have one person hold the baby and someone else hold the dog on a loose lead. Allow the dog to smell the baby. Praise the dog and offer a treat. If you have a puppy, have everyone sit on the floor. Let the puppy smell the baby, but don’t let her mouth the baby. (Mouthing is covered in Chapter Housetraining Made Easy.) Always supervise contact.
Warning!
Never leave a baby alone with a dog. Babies are even more defenseless than puppies. Dogs can nip, and nails can scratch, and in more serious situations, a baby’s high-pitched noises can trigger a dog’s instinctive response to nearby prey. Introduce your baby and Poodle, but never leave them alone together.
After introductions, you should teach your children how to pick up the Poodle. A puppy shouldn’t be grabbed around the middle like a teddy bear. A person should slip a hand under the puppy’s chest and use the other hand to cradle the hindquarters. Hold the puppy firmly but gently against your chest. Very small children may not be able to manage this, so you should have them sit on the floor so you can put the puppy in their laps. Discourage children under the age of 8 from ever picking up the puppy. It’s too easy for a young child to drop a squirming puppy and injure her.

Playtime is good for both children and puppies, but remember that all youngsters need naps. Supervise the play between your children and puppy, and then put the puppy in her crate for her nap.
Tip
Depending on the age of your kids, you may want to let them help care for the Poodle. Even children under the age of 7 may be able to fill the water dish. A child of 10 or 12 can take the dog out to the yard or feed her. Just remember that your Poodle is a living entity, and that you’re responsible for her care. If your children forget their dog chores, you still need to make sure your Poodle is fed, watered, and exercised. If you have a puppy, make sure you leave housetraining chores to adults or teenagers who have a better sense of how to stick to a schedule.
Remember
You need to use caution when introducing an adult Poodle as well. A full-grown Standard Poodle can intimidate a small child, not to mention knock him down. Sit the child in a chair, and keep the dog on her lead for introductions. As with puppies, allow no grabbing or pulling of any part of the dog.

Other pets


In the following sections, I explain how to introduce your new Poodle to other pets in your home, including dogs, cats, and smaller animals.

Other dogs


Most adult dogs are just fine with puppies. They seem to recognize that the puppies are young and helpless, but you should still supervise their initial meeting to avoid trouble.
Remember
Introduce your resident dog to the new dog out in the yard, not in the house. Your current dog may be more territorial in the house. If you have more than one dog, let them meet the newcomer individually. Supervise the introductions. You don’t have to leash your resident dog, but if you feel safer with the dogs on leads, keep the leads loose. Sometimes, a dog on a lead can be more aggressive than one that’s loose — especially if the lead is tight.
Tip
Even if introductions go smoothly, be careful that the puppy doesn’t try to eat from the adult dog’s food dish. Even friendly dogs can get cranky if another dog tries to steal their food. Give treats separately for the same reason.

Cats and smaller animals


If you have an adult cat that’s used to dogs, he probably can accept the Poodle with no fuss, but you should still make the introduction carefully. A bouncy Poodle may earn a scratch on the nose!
Remember
If your cat isn’t used to dogs, you should take things even slower. Use the following steps to introduce your Poodle to your feline:
1. Before you bring the Poodle into the house, put your cat in a room and close the door.
2. Let the cat and the dog get to know each other by way of the crack under the door. Let them sniff each other.
3. When you finally open the door, make sure the Poodle is in her crate or in an exercise pen (see Chapter Choosing the Best Poodle for You). This way, the cat can approach the dog at his own pace, and the dog can’t chase or pounce on the cat.
The whole introduction process may take several days, depending on how accepting of the Poodle your cat is. When the cat seems comfortable with the dog, hold your Poodle for the first nose-tonose meeting. Continue to watch the animals as the days go by. It may take awhile, but eventually your cat and dog will probably become best friends.
Tip
If you have a friend with a cat-friendly dog, invite your friend and dog over for a visit before you bring your Poodle home. Your cat doesn’t have to actually meet the dog, but it may help get him used to the idea of a dog.
You have a few other tricks up your sleeve to make your house a Poodle/cat friendly place:
- Make sure that your cat always has a place to escape the Poodle’s attentions. Put a baby gate in a doorway of a “safe room.” Your cat can jump in, but your Poodle is kept out.
- If putting up a gate isn’t possible, make sure your cat has a high area in every room for escaping purposes. Clear off the top of a dresser or a shelf on a bookcase.
- Don’t let either animal pester the other when they’re eating or using the litter box. And speaking of the litter box, you may want to keep it out of your Poodle’s reach for another reason. Many dogs consider litter-box contents a tasty treat. (Eeeewww!)
Remember
You’ve probably seen pictures of a dog snuggling a rabbit or a parakeet sitting on a dog’s head, but these images are the exceptions. Protect your other pets from your dog. Put cages up high so that your dog can’t reach them, or put them in a room that’s off limits to the dog. If you like to let your bird out for exercise or want your bunny out for playtime, put your dog in her crate.

Surviving the First Night


You’ve given your Poodle a tour of your place and made the proper introductions. Now’s the time to settle down for the night. This may be where your adorable Poodle stops seeming so adorable.

Up until now, your Poodle has had her mom and her siblings. She’s slept in a pile of puppies, and the humans in her life have always been there. Now she’s in a strange house. She’s on her own, with no mother and no brothers and sisters. It shouldn’t surprise you that she may whine and cry the first night or two (or three).
Tip
You can try a few of the following tips to help make your Poodle comfortable and more willing to settle down and go to sleep:
- Give her a little something to eat. She’s more apt to curl up and fall asleep if she’s full.
- Take her out for a final potty break before bedtime.
- Make sure her bed is warm and cozy. If she gets cold, she may wake up, and if she wakes up, chances are you need to make another trip to the yard.
- A ticking clock may help to calm your Poodle. Wrap the clock in an old towel or soft shirt. You also can purchase beds and pillows that produce the sound of a heartbeat for up to 30 minutes.
With luck, these tips can help your puppy drift off to dreamland. Or, you may end up with a puppy who’s inconsolable. She’s warm, well-fed, and has just gone to the bathroom; yet, she’s whining or crying loudly and pathetically. It’s enough to break your heart! But you need to harden your heart. Eventually, she’ll stop crying and fall asleep, and so will you.
Tip
Many breeders begin crate training at seven weeks, teaching the puppies to spend time alone in a crate away from the litter. This makes it much easier for a puppy to adjust to a new home away from littermates. Ask your breeder if he does this or can do this with your puppy so that the change of scenery isn’t so sudden and stressful.

Anticipating Possible Problems and Planning Sensible Solutions


One old saying states that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s much easier to teach your Poodle the right way to do something than it is to retrain her or to break her of a bad habit. This section helps you supply the “ounce” of prevention so you’ll never need the “pound.”

Avoiding bad habits from the outset


Nothing is cuter than a puppy, but if you’re not careful, that adorable Poodle can have you wrapped around her paw in no time. Enjoy her puppyhood, but don’t let her develop bad habits that you’ll have a hard time breaking in the future.

If you’re prepared to share your bed for the next 14 years or so with your Poodle, you can welcome her to your pillow top. However, if you don’t want to share your bed, especially with a Standard Poodle, don’t start this habit.

The same goes for furniture. You can teach your Poodle not to snooze on the sofa. The best way to do that is to never let her up on the sofa in the first place. Decide now what your policy is going to be, and stick with it. Make sure all the members of the family know the rules and obey them.
Tip
If you bring home an adult Poodle, she may already have certain habits. If she’s used to sleeping on the couch, but you don’t want her to continue this habit, be firm and consistent about removing her. Encourage her to lie in a special spot by giving her treats and plenty of praise. You also can cover your sofa with a washable throw and let her sleep there if the habit proves hard to break.
Remember
You don’t have to be an ogre, but be firm and consistent, and start her training immediately. If you have questions about behavior, call your breeder for advice. Put his number on speed dial now. (See Chapter Housetraining Made Easy for tips on instilling good manners in your Poodle.)

Handling food issues


Your Poodle should be doing just fine on whatever food your breeder or the shelter recommends, but sometimes that isn’t the case, as you can see in the following scenarios:
- Sometimes, a food that’s perfect for all the other puppies in the litter is just too rich for one of them. If your puppy is regurgitating her food, this could be why. If she seems healthy otherwise, she’s active, and she has no temperature, her problem may be the food. Gradually (over the span of a week) switch to another food. If your Poodle still has a problem, see your veterinarian. (Chapter Taking Basic Care of Your Poodle’s Health has tips on selecting the right vet for your Poodle.)
- Another consideration is that your Poodle is being too active right after a meal. Let your dog rest or quietly explore right after a meal, and discourage rough and tumble games.
Chapter Making a Match with a Poodle has full details on feeding your Poodle.

Getting used to grooming


By the time you pick up your Poodle puppy at 8 or 10 weeks, she should’ve been clipped several times in a puppy clip, which calls for the shaving of the face, feet, and tail (see Chapter Providing Your Poodle with a Nutritious Diet). The sooner the breeder starts clipping, the more comfortable the Poodle will be with it. If you put off grooming until your Poodle gets older, she’ll be very frightened of the clippers and may never be as accepting of grooming practices. As soon as you get your Poodle, make an appointment with a good groomer for no more than four weeks later. If you want to learn how to clip your Poodle yourself, ask the groomer if you can observe.
Tip
Grooming is going to be a big part of your Poodle’s life. Whether you intend to show your Poodle (see Chapter Showing Off and Enjoying Your Poodle’s Talents) or just keep her in a pet clip, you have a lot of brushing and trimming ahead of you. Start with the following tips:
- Handle your Poodle’s feet daily. You don’t need to actually cut her nails, but hold her paws in your hand. Give her treats. If you plan to use a grinder instead of nail clippers, turn on the grinder and hold one of your dog’s paw on it. Let her feel the vibration and get used to the noise.
- Brush your dog daily. This beauty routine doesn’t have to be a full grooming session. Just run the brush over her body. Start teaching her to hold still while you brush. She can either stand or lie down for these brief grooming sessions. As an adult — especially if your dog is a Standard Poodle — grooming takes some time, and she may be more comfortable lying down. If you intend to groom your Poodle yourself, invest in a grooming table.
If you adopt an adult Poodle, you can safely assume that she’s used to the grooming process. You can play it safe by applying these same tips to your adult Poodle. Chapter Providing Your Poodle with a Nutritious Diet gives you more detailed information about grooming, but for now, just start slow and get your Poodle comfortable with the process.

by Susan M.Ewing

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