Unless you are lucky enough to have found a great breeder right in your area, chances are your puppy will have a fairly long journey ahead of them to get to their new home. You will either be driving your puppy home or flying them with a pet transport company.
It is required by law that your puppy be adequately restrained in the car, to prevent distractions to the driver. This means you are not allowed to have your puppy on your lap for the journey, no matter how tiny they may be! You could face a fine if you are pulled over and your dog is not securely restrained.
Just like young children, dogs are vulnerable to the impact of airbags if they go off during an accident, so it is much safer to have them sit in the back seat, rather than the front.
There are 3 options for safe restraint in the car:
1. A harness with car-seat attachment
This is a popular option. This means that your dog can sit on your back seat, either on their own or next to someone. The car harness is clipped in like a seatbelt, and the dog is then safely restrained in their seat. Many car harnesses allow enough space for the dog to turn around or lie down in their seat, but not so much that they can walk around or climb into the front. They can be combined with a dog car seat for a slightly comfier ride. Seat covers to protect your car seats from accidents are also a handy idea.
2. A secured crate
Possibly the best option for a very small puppy where finding a suitable fitting harness is challenging. The crate needs to be secured in place with a seatbelt or other secure mechanism, so larger crates can be bulky and tricky to install. The puppy is likely to find this option fairly comfortable.
3. Back of the car or boot, with a cargo barrier installed.
If your car is suitable for this then it is a simple option, ideal for larger dogs. However, it is not quite as safe for the dog in an accident as they are not strapped in.
Make sure you have thought about everything you will need for the drive, especially if it is a long trip:
Food and water bowls
Small amount of food and plenty of water
Poo bags & absorbent toilet training pads
Towels and blankets
A collar & lead or harness & lead for pit-stops
Cleaning supplies for accidents or car sickness!
Many breeders will help supply you with the things you need for your trip so definitely speak to them in advance for advice.
Remember this journey is likely to be quite overwhelming for your new friend. They will need regular stops for a water break and the toilet. Bear in mind that your puppy is not fully vaccinated yet, so try not to let them near spots that lots of other dogs have already toileted on – take your puppy training mats out for this if possible.
Never leave your dog in a locked car. Cars can heat up very quickly once the engine is off and it is never safe to leave a dog in a hot car, even with the window slightly open. If you know you will have to leave your pup for bathroom breaks yourself, plan to have two people on this roadtrip.
There are several pet transport companies who can organise flying your new pet to you, within the State, Interstate or from Overseas. They will provide either a door-to-door or an airport-to-airport service.
Your breeder might have a preference for a particular company they like to work with, so be sure to liaise with them before booking something. Your breeder will need to file paperwork with the transport company to make sure the puppy gets sent off ok, so ensure you have checked with them what information you will need at your end so the puppy is successfully released into your care (eg. pick-up location, time, what ID or documents you need to show).
If you are picking up your puppy from the airport, see the previous section on driving, to ensure you are all set up for this, even if it is a short drive.
Some popular pet transport companies include: