Ask AKC: Traveling with a Puppy

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: What's the best age for bringing home a new puppy? We are scheduled to travel to the U.S. from Europe and back again just one week after picking up our new 8-week-old puppy. My concern is that this will be a disorienting experience for a little pup. The breeder could keep the pup an extra month until we return. I think letting the puppy remain with the breeder is best. However, my partner feels that we should get the dog earlier to start bonding and that the travel, while disruptive, will be preferable to getting the dog later. What's best? --Bonding vs. Boarding
Before debating the merits of whether the pup should travel with you, take the time to see if there are any airline restrictions, microchip requirements, paperwork for your canine passport or necessary vaccines that your pup needs beforehand. You may find that traveling with a pet just for a quick trip isn't worth the administrative nightmare since requirements vary from state to state in the US and country to country in Europe.

Some experts feel the ideal day to begin bonding with a puppy is day 49 or seven weeks old, so if you pick up the pup at 8 weeks you have already passed the ideal moment. Don't despair since bonding with a new owner begins almost immediately. Once you start to train him, get him into his new routine at home for that week before your trip, bonding will begin, even if you board him with the breeder during your trip.

As a breeder, I have also kept pups at my home until 12 weeks for families with conflicting schedules. Puppies always bond with their breeders regardless of when they go to a new home. But what ever you decided to do, the real issue during that 8-to16-week-old window is not who he bonds with but that puppy socialization and teaching basic manners begins or else you will have an unruly adult dog on your hands. So, keeping the pup with you as much as possible would help in that regard.

If you are really worried about long-term issues, then I would suggest one of you forgo the trip and stay home with the new pup to focus on socialization and training. Remember getting a dog is like having a new baby. It alters your lifestyle, your freedom, and your ability to travel at whim.


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