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If a puppy has yet to be introduced to a crate, is it more stressful to crate the dog (and thus possibly create a bad association with the crate) or should we try some other method of transporting the pup during his/her first ride home?

I was thinking I could possibly sit in the back of the car and hold the pup on my lap by the collar while petting and soothing the pup, but this seems a recipe for disaster.

Should we just toss a treat (puppy kong?) in the crate and hope for the best? Or is there a way I haven't thought of? The ride should be a mere hour to ninety minutes, depending on traffic.

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Assuming you're taking him home from the breeder at around 8 weeks of age, he's still in his critical (socialisation) period, meaning that they are very open to new experiences and won't have a priori a fear reaction. Also the pup should already be socialised to humans and be confident being handled by humans.

So what I would recommend:

  • take something with the smell of his litter, a towel, a toy, everything will be different for him, but a least he has something smelling familiar, that should help
  • take him with you in the back of the car, that way you can have him on your lap, he'll have a first idea of who you are and you can help him relax (slow, long, gentle petting). Speak to him with a normal voice. Don't overplay it if he's showing signs of anxiety, that would reinforce his fear
  • have a box or a small open crate with you so that you can take a break, 90 minutes with a pup on your lap is a long time (in some way that can be some initial crate training). As he falls asleep you can put him in the crate.
  • take a bunch of treats with you and create a very positive experience for him being with you. If he's too distressed he'll probably refuse to eat and you'll know that something is wrong
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  • I don't know if I'll be able to get something that smells like its litter--that's a great idea that I'll try to implement-- but I know for a fact that the pups are getting socialized. They are posting pictures of snuggled puppies to their facebook page at least. These are people who put up the whelping boxes in the family room so they are always around people...just sweet, awesome folks. – SnappingShrimp May 20 '15 at 20:52
  • Sounds goods for the pup! You could probably ask if you can take a toy the pups used and you bring them another (new) one (that's what I did). – Cedric H. May 20 '15 at 21:12

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