Monday, August 14, 2006

Dog Breeder's Guide To Shipping Puppies

I am getting ready to send one of our puppies on a plane ride to their new home. Her new family paid for her a year ago, before she was even conceived, so they are super excited.

I thought I would share how this is done. It's not that hard. I know many breeders do not ship and for the majority of them, it seems the only thing holding them back is the fear of the unknown or thinking it may be a giant hassle.

First, I require the puppy AND the shipping paid for in full before I will make arrangements to ship. Puppies must also be at least 8 wks of age to ship.

Then I get a vet appointment lined up to get a health certificate per airline regulations. This paperwork will cost you a little more than just a regular well puppy check due to the extra paperwork the vet will have to do in order to make the airlines happy. If the puppy is old enough for a rabies vaccination, you may also need to get that done in order to ship to your destination. Your vet can check this requirement for you. This exam must be no more than 10 days old at the time the puppy will be shipped so time this exam wisely. Be sure to worm your puppies 3 days or so before your vet visit so fecals are all clear or they won't pass your exam. If your worming prevention program is up to par, this shouldn't be a problem at all. Just more prevention.

Then you will need to buy a crate. Make sure this crate is airline approved. Airline approved crates will have a sticker or comment on the packaging saying that they are airline approved. These crates come in two pieces - top and bottom. The two most popular styles are clip together and those that have plastic bolts to screw them together. I prefer the later for security reasons. Less likely for accidental crate openings or intentional tampering. This crate must be big enough that the puppy can stand up without touching their head on the top and wide enough that they can comfortably turn around. I like to get a crate large enough that the new owners can use for a while during house training. After all, we are asking them to pay for it so get them one they will be happy with. They may later become repeat buyers.

Get the new owners full name, address (no P.O. boxes, physical address only) and their phone number. Also know the date and time frame you and the puppy buyer is wanting to work with ahead of time. Find out what airport they would like to use. This must be a commercial airport not a small hanger type airport. Think Delta, Northwest, American Airlines, etc. Then call the airport on your end and get a price quote for shipping your puppy from there to the destination airport. Make sure you ask for the most direct flight possible. No layovers are ideal. If you do have a layover, make sure they are short ones. Otherwise, pass. You may want to call several airlines to get the best price/flight plan. I personally ship NW and ship the puppies VIP. Cost more but the care is better. They will likely tell you to bring your puppy an hour before the flight is to leave. Be sure you get there when they tell you! They need to do paperwork, check your puppies crate (for explosives, etc is the reason for this) and get them taken to where they need to go to board the plane. If your not on time, they may turn you away.

I like to line the bottom of the crate with newspaper and then put in a generous amount of shredded paper on top. Some use blankets or old towels. Use your own discretion. I like the shredded paper as if they are in there a long time, it will help sheild the puppy from getting wet or messed on by their own doggie-doo. Not a nice thought for a new owner to open a crate to grab a much anticipated puppy only to have them soiled on themselves. For this reason, I also do not feed or water the puppy before the trip. I will feed and offer water a TINY amount while at the airport. Only because on the sheet they will have you fill out will ask and they require them fed and watered shortly before the trip. For the water, I freeze the water dish that comes with the crate the night before I go. I then keep it in one of the mini-coolers that come with vaccinations. This way, they have access to something to 'drink' but it's not so likely to spill before they get a chance to drink it. You may need to buy feed/water cups for your crate if they either don't come with them or perhaps they are too small to be of much use.

I like to stay when they examine the crate as they will want to take the puppy out of the crate to do this. I prefer to be the one to take the puppy out and place puppy back in. I then either use their zip ties or my own (be sure to bring your own just in case) and fasten the door shut. You don't want anyone tampering with your puppy but you do want it to be easy enough to break open should they have to in order to provide needed care to your puppy for good reason.

I will put in a toy or something for the puppy BUT and it's a big BUT... be sure it's NOT something they can choke on, get tangled in or otherwise cause injury to themselves. I will NEVER use rawhide. This is a choke hazzard for any dog and I wish they wouldn't even sell it. (unless you get the chipped and pressed kind) I prefer the flavored nyla bones. Super study, holds their interest and satisfies the desire of teething or to chew due to anxiety. Be VERY, VERY picky about what you put in there. Or don't put in anything.

Be sure the new owner will call you to let you know the puppy was received okay and that all is well. If they don't, call them to check. Make sure they have been given the flight #, individual crate #, expected arrival time, etc.

Things to charge the puppy owner for: vet exam/paperwork, airline fee, crate, toy and gas money. Figure this ahead of time and round it off. I charge a flat $400 shipping fee. If it goes over that, I eat it. Under that, I keep it for time/trouble. But most times, I'm right on mark.

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