Aside from making sure that your Boxer will be comfortable in your home, you also have to make sure that your home is safe for your Boxer. This means taking precautions to make sure that your pup will not get into anything he should not get into and that there is nothing within his reach that may harm him should he sniff it, chew it, inspect it, etc. This probably seems obvious since, while you are primarily concerned with your pup’s safety, at the same time you do not want your belongings to be ruined. Breakables should be placed out of reach if your dog is to have full run of the house. If he is to be limited to certain places within the house, keep any potentially dangerous items in the “offlimits” areas. An electrical cord can pose a danger should the puppy decide to taste it—and who is going to convince a pup that it would not make a great chew toy? Cords should be fastened tightly against the wall. If your dog is going to spend time in a crate, make sure that there is nothing near his crate that he can reach if he sticks his curious little nose or paws through the openings. And just as you would with a child, keep all household cleaners and chemicals where the pup cannot get to them.
It is just as important to make sure that the outside of your home is safe. Of course your puppy should never be unsupervised, but a pup let loose in the yard will want to run and explore, and he should be granted that freedom. Do not let a fence give you a false sense of security; you would be surprised how crafty (and persistent) a dog can be in figuring out how to dig under and squeeze his way through small holes, or to jump or climb over a fence. The remedy is to make the fence high enough so that it really is impossible for your dog to get over it (about 6 feet should suffice), and well embedded into the ground. Be sure to repair or secure any gaps or weak spots in the fence. Check the fence periodically to ensure that it is in good shape and make repairs as needed; a very determined pup may return to the same spot to “work on it” until he is able to get through.
First Trip to the Vet
Okay, you have picked out your puppy, your home and family are ready, now all you have to do is pick your Boxer up from the breeder and the fun begins, right? Well…not so fast. Something else you need to prepare for is your pup’s first trip to the veterinarian. Perhaps the breeder can recommend someone in the area who specializes in Boxers, or maybe you know some other Boxer owners who can suggest a good vet. Either way, you should have an appointment arranged for your pup before you pick him up; plan on taking him for a checkup within the first few days of bringing him home.
The pup’s first visit will consist of an overall examination to make sure that the pup does not have any problems that are not apparent to you. The veterinarian will also set up a schedule for the pup’s vaccinations; the breeder will inform you of which ones the pup has already received and the vet can continue from there.
Introduction to the Family
Everyone in the house will be excited about the puppy’s coming home and will want to pet him and play with him, but it is best to make the introduction low-key so as not to overwhelm the puppy. He is apprehensive already; it is the first time he has been separated from his mother and the breeder, and the ride to your home is likely the first time he has been in a car. The last thing you want to do is smother him, as this will only frighten him further. This is not to say that human contact is not extremely necessary at this stage, because this is the time when an instant connection between the pup and his human family are formed. Gentle petting and soothing words should help console him, as well as just putting him down and letting him explore on his own (under your watchful eye, of course).
The pup may approach the family members or may busy himself with exploring for a while. Gradually, each person should spend some time with the pup, one at a time, crouching down to get as close to the pup’s level as possible and letting him sniff their hands and petting him gently. He definitely needs human attention and he needs to be touched—this is how to form an immediate bond. Just remember that the pup is experiencing a lot of things for the first time, all at the same time. There are new people, new noises, new smells, and new things to investigate, so be gentle, be affectionate and be as comforting as you can be.
Your Pup’s First Night Home
You have traveled home with your new charge safely in his crate or on a family members lap. He’s been to the vet for a thorough check-up; he’s been weighed, his papers examined; perhaps he’s even been vaccinated and wormed as well. He’s met the family and licked the whole family, including the excited children and the less than- happy cat. He’s explored his area, his new bed, the yard and anywhere else he’s been permitted. He’s eaten his first meal at home and relieved himself in the proper place. He’s heard lots of new sounds, smelled new friends and seen more of the outside world than ever before.
That was just the first day! He’s exhausted and is ready for bed…or so you think!
It’s puppy’s first night and you are ready to say “Good night”— keep in mind that this is puppy’s first night ever to be sleeping alone. His dam and littermates are no longer at paw’s length and he’s a bit scared, cold and lonely. Be reassuring to your new family member, but this is not the time to spoil him and give in to his inevitable whining.
Puppies whine. They whine to let the others know where they are and hopefully to get company out of it. Place your pup in his new bed or crate in his room and close the door. Mercifully, he will fall asleep without a peep. When the inevitable occurs, ignore the whining; he is fine. Be strong and keep his interest in mind. Do not allow your heart to become guilty and visit the pup. He will fall asleep.
Many breeders recommend placing a piece of bedding from his former homestead in his new bed so that he recognizes the scent of his littermates. Others still advise placing a hot water bottle in his bed for warmth. This latter may be a good idea, provided the pup doesn’t attempt to suckle—he’ll get good and wet and may not fall asleep so fast.
Puppy’s first night can be somewhat stressful for the pup and his new family. Remember that you are setting the tone of nighttime at your house. Unless you want to play with your pup every night at 10 p.m., midnight and 2 a.m., don’t initiate the habit. Surely your family will thank you, and so will your pup!
Excerpt from Comprehensive Owner’s Guide: Boxer