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Helpful Puppy Information Please, read. 🙂
Welcoming Home Your Labs
Some information below is doubled up. Raising a pup overlaps into several categories. I hope you find this information helpful.
How fun! While you wait for pup to grow nice and strong, you will want to prepare a few things for the arrival of your new puppy.
Bringing Your Puppy Home
What do you need?
Before you bring your puppy home, you may want to have some of these supplies. They are NOT all necessary to have but you may want to read through them.
- Premium dog food to get your new puppy off to a good start. We will send you with 5 pounds of Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold.
- Stainless steel, non-tip food and water bowls.
- Identification tag with your puppy’s name (if you know the name of your newest family member), your name, phone number and your veterinarian’s name and phone number.
- A home and travel crate that will accommodate your puppy. This crate will serve as your puppy’s new “den” at home, when traveling or riding to the veterinarian’s office. The crate will provide comfort and a sense of security during these potentially stressful times. I also love the protection that a crate offers a puppy when you go to the vet because their feet don’t touch the ground at the vet and other dogs don’t come up to sniff your new puppy. This is a protection for your puppy to not be licked by other dogs.We like the medium size plastic crate with a handle to start. Fleet Farm sells one for about $27 dollars.
- Stain remover for accidental soiling.
- Brushes and combs suited to your puppy’s coat. We like the Furminater.
- Dog shampoo (baby shampoo is great), toothbrush and paste.
- Flea, tick and parasite controls as needed and recommended by your vet. Each geographical area is different and I would also not give any heavy medications when a puppy is quite young.
- Ear cleaner and Nail clippers (get the scissor type and NOT the guillotine type .
- Treats (We generally use the puppy food for baiting/training treats. Many other treats are not really healthy for your puppy) We occasionally do use raw-hides but not the kind with knots on the end…only the ones that are long and rolled in a tube shape. Bully sticks/treats are a natural option.
- High-quality, safe chew toys to ease teething. I always look at the ingredients and where the toys were made. Please, be aware of this so that the toys are fun AND safe and not toxic.
His/Her favorite toys are the “squeaky ones” and a Kong Binkie and balls. One favorite toy is a rolling ball that makes noise. I have found a really nice one at Fleet Farm that has a gentle noise and has rubber edges so they can grab and chew. Tennis balls can be wonderful as well. I would not recommend any stuffed animal toys unless they are covered with that tough almost nylon fabric. Anything stuffed that they can chew up…they probably will. We have a squeaky pig that they love -purchased at Chuck and Don’s. At Petco and Fleet Farm there is a large heavy duty ball with a triangular handle- great for individual play and fetch. They also have a ball that is inside another ball that allows for curious play.
I love the West Paw Hurley chew toy. It is a bounce and float toy. Its bright color makes it easy to find. Even our large dogs can’t chew it apart. It’s almost $12.00 and worth it in my view.
I prefer toys that can be thoroughly cleaned and toys that won’t get torn apart. I don’t care for tied cloth toys. I like toys that I am confident they won’t carry germs and won’t break into pieces in the pups sharp mouth. I am always getting new toys- there are so many great ones out there. Have fun choosing and always keep your eyes open for new and challenging toys that you think your pup would like. I think it is important to have things that pup can play with and chew on. This makes life pleasant for pup and people.
- I also love to have cushy, comfortable beds for our dogs. Your puppy may not be able to have a big bed for the first few weeks until he or she is fully trained but they certainly can learn ‘bed’ or ‘rest’ or learn perimeters from right away and having a bed during wake hours can be a fun training tool option. During the first 1-3 weeks I would suggest that you have a towel or a baby blanket in your dogs crate because they are easy to wash.
Helpful Hints- Training Formal and Informal
I strongly encourage you to start looking into basic training obedience programs in your area. You shouldn’t begin anything in a group setting until all of the first puppy shots are complete at four months. If you start to look around now, then you will be set when you pup is old enough. Formal training is a wonderful way to bond with your dog, to learn how smart your dog is, and to have a well-mannered adult. Some pups pick up on things right away and don’t require much correction or reminders and others will make you work a bit more. They are just like children in that way. The rewards of a well-behaved friend are huge.
Making a Home Safe
Make your home safe for your new puppy.
- Eliminate potential hazards/chemicals around the house and store them in safe places
- Keep breakable objects out of reach.
- Puppies like to chew so remove things that a puppy could ingest.
- Put up puppy gates in areas that are off limits or not safe for your puppy.
- Deny access to electrical cords by hiding or covering them; make outlets safe with plastic outlet plugs.
- Keep the following house and garden plants out of reach: poinsettias, azaleas, rhododendrons, dumb cane, Japanese yew, oleander and English ivy among others.
- In the garage, be sure engine lubricants and other poisonous chemicals (especially antifreeze) are safely stored.
- If you own a pool or hot tub, check the cover or the surrounding fence to be sure they’re in good condition.
- If you provide your puppy with an outdoor kennel, place it in an area that provides sun and shelter in the pen.
It wont be long now! You will be holding your sweet puppy!
Settling in at home… The First Days at Home
I don’t treat a puppy as young as 7 to 12-weeks old like an adult dog, however, from right away I love, teach and guide. Don’t think that your puppy is too young to learn…quite the opposite…your puppy will thrive on being exposed to people, places and things and learning how to interact with their world. Treat him/her the same way you would your own infant or toddler: with patience, constant supervision and a gentle touch. The way you interact with your puppy at this age is important to his/her socialization and identity.
The ideal time to bring home a new puppy is when you are in your regular routine. It is nice if you have a bit more flexible time and definitely availability, but puppy will get used to YOUR routine. Establish a daily routine and follow these steps:
Over the first few days you are going to get used to one another. The routine of the day changes for all involved. You will learn the sounds, smells and routine of the puppy as the puppy learns yours. The bonding time and getting to know you time is special and needed. Beyond the connecting and you watching that puppy is healthy the next biggest thing is Potty Training, teaching your puppy not to be mouthy and crate training.
Potty Training: Before bringing him/her in the house, take puppy to the area in your yard that will serve as his “bathroom” and spend a few minutes there. Sprinkle the saw dust, PINE NOT CEDAR, on the ground for a familiar reminder to your pup that this is the new “potty spot”. We will send a gallon zip-lock with you and this should be an adequate amount for transitioning. If s/he goes, praise your puppy. Some people use Clicker training (briefly described below) and this would be a time to have your clicker in hand. If pup does not take care of business, proceed into the house but be sure to take him to this spot each time you teach the correct potty.
As you play with and interact with your puppy then be alert for signs (sniffing and circling) that he has to go to the bathroom, then take him outside immediately.
Praise your puppy every time he goes to the bathroom outside. Stick with potty training…if there is a mistake, and there probably will be, just start again with consistency and YOU WILL FIND SUCCESS! Don’t give up! Your pup was well on the way to potty training using the saw dust as “the potty area” since s/he was four weeks old.
Watch for signals from you pup, unusual anxiousness, looking for an exit, circling, or barking without obvious reason. It is better to offer MORE potty opportunities over the first several days so that it is clear that outside is the place to go. If you observe the pup squatting in the house (it can happen quickly) I say a strong, “EGH!” take the pup to the appropriate place and say, “go, pee, go pee” or “go poo, go poo” or “business time”. These little phrases, it can be whatever you choose, can become trigger words is used consistently and may greatly help if you are traveling or need the pup to take care of business before you head out the door for a bit…they take care of their duty without much song and dance. These are very trainable smart pups…just stick with consistency for a couple of weeks and you will have a pleasant, house-trained puppy. You can do this immediately, I highly recommend it. There is no need to wait until they are older or are more familiar with you. What you begin RIGHT AWAY will have the most staying power.
Stay with your pup when they go out for the first two weeks or so even if they have a fenced yard. This way you can help them know “the potty spot” and you are certain that pup is taking care of business. If you don’t watch the pup and you assume business was taken care of and you let him/her inside to play…you may have a surprise. Also, keep your eye on the stools so that you can make sure it is a bit firm. Right after travel, stress can been detected in stools…a soft, even a rather loose stool is common, but you don’t want it like water and you don’t want it loose for more than a day or two.
Take mouthy behavior seriously:
Puppies use their mouths to learn about their world and they have pulled and chased their littermates which is fine but they need to know that they interact with people in a different way.
Have many toys and positive options for puppy to chew. Distraction and physically turning puppy when s/he is mouthy is another method. I never recommend tug-of-war with your pup. When pup gets older you want to be able to walk by your pup without them grabbing on your pant leg and thinking it is a fun game. Fetch and retrieving makes the pup quite happy. Also, don’t let your pup bite your hand and push it off as cute puppy behavior. You want your pup to be able to be around all people at all times.
If the pup gets used to play biting on hands and a four year old is playing with the pup this could be very hurtful. They want to bite and chew…that is normal but don’t let them bite and chew on people parts just puppy toys. If a pup bites and you have tried offering good options and tried distracting puppy and the behavior continues then you need to take another action. At this time we suggest (an adult) to immediately grab the top of the snout, pinch and fold the lip around the top teeth and say, “EGH!” and they end up biting down a bit on themselves. If everyone that interacts with the pup is consistent and doesn’t allow biting, (keep in mind they are all going to try to bite) you should successfully be able to teach the pup how to bite acceptably. Always have plenty of chew toys available for your pup and handy for you to grab and put in the pup’s mouth when correcting where to place biting tendencies. Again, if the pup gets “rough” just put the pup on it’s back and place your hand on it’s chest (gently but firm) until the pup does not look you in the eyes. This re-establishes that you are the “top dog” and that they submit to what you say.
Crate Training: When the pup is in the house with you make sure that you are watching the pup, cuddling or playing with the pup otherwise I recommend that you keep puppy in the crate. The pup may be noisy at first but they learn that you are in charge choosing the playtime and such and this is a safe, quiet spot for them until play/cuddle time comes. If the puppy cries in the crate…wait until a quiet MOMENT and that point take the calm pup out so you determine the crate time not the puppy. If you let the puppy out when it whines or cries, yet you know all of the pups basic needs have been tended to then you are teaching the puppy that whining gets his or her way. It is like rewarding a puppy that is pulling on a leash by giving more lead. Your puppy MUST know that you are the alpha and this can be done in a loving, consistent way. Your puppy wants to know expectations and boundaries and if you don’t lead and teach then puppy will lead you and that is where you can have an ill behaved, dominant dogs and it really is not the dogs fault. Don’t reward a noisy, demanding pup. Crate training is deliberate and may need to be done for 7-15 minute intervals several times a day at first until the pup finds some comfort and assurance that you will come and get pup out to cuddle and play. By using the crate they won’t be running around unattended and have an “ooops”. Slowly giving them more area and privileges will greatly benefit you in the end. We have 10, yes 10 dogs, that are regularly in our home and they are all house trained. They are very well mannered because they know reasonable behavior and they are living with us in a pleasant way.
Continue to establish order as needed: Observe and interact with your puppy while s/he’s acclimating to his/her new family. This will help forge a sense of pack and establish you as the pack leader. If the pup gets “rough” just put the pup on it’s back and place your hand on it’s chest (gently but firm) until the pup does not look you in the eyes. This re-establishes that you are the “top dog” and that they submit to what you say. They are used to establishing, challenging, and re-establishing position of dog rank in their litter and this will continue with you. Make sure you end up on top.
Puppy selections are made on the Welcome Home Day, which is at 8 weeks of age. We choose at 8 weeks of age because we can see their temperaments and tendencies more fully which aids in making the best matches for you and puppy. They also have enough puppy confidence built by now and a natural timing of being ‘ready to connect’ with their new families along with a prime trainability in the puppies so we believe that this is great timing.
If for some reason someone is unable to make their pick at the established time we will pass over their pick in fairness to others (unless it is arranged ahead of time). The family would still get a puppy but they would just forfeit their pick option position.
FROMM LARGE BREED PUPPY FORMULA is what we use and recommend.
We will send you with 5 pounds of Fromm Large Breed Puppy Gold when you come to welcome your puppy.
Even if the label looks similar ingredients are probably really different between the diets, so switching the animals slowly between the two diets, taking 7-10 days to make the switch, would be the way to prevent transitional problems.
Start with a 25% new, 75% old food ratio. Feed that for several days, and move up to a 50:50 mix if the stools are normal, and no other problems noted. Hold for several days, as before, and move to a 75:25 mix.
When should I switch foods?
If you can’t find Fromm in your area you can use another food but definitely use a high quality food! PURINA PRO PLAN SHREDDED CHICKEN & RICE or EUKANUBA or something high quality would be fine. We have found dogs do respond differently to different foods. Make sure that you use a high quality food, which is actually more economical because you feed a lesser amount and get great nutrition instead of great amounts of filler. Watch their stools, feel their sides, it shouldn’t be where the ribs are showing but you should be able to feel the ribs without too much trouble, watch their coat. Be sure to transition your pup when switching foods so that they don’t get stressed. Stay consistent with the quality food that you choose. When shopping, look for an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials ) certification on the bag. This means it was formulated to be a complete balanced food for your dog.
Meeting Resident Pet(s)
Typically, Labradors are pretty easy going and puppies are just curious and friendly. So, unless you are unsure of how your resident (older) dog will behave/respond to a puppy then I think meeting one another is a special part of the welcome home time. It can be good to have your puppy in his/her crate so that the dogs can smell and see one another without too much contact.
Give your resident pet access to the crate area. Let pets smell and touch each other through the crate or pet gate. Do this several times over the next few days if you feel this is necessary. After that, give the resident pet access to the den area with your new puppy out of his crate. Supervise their meeting and go back to through-the-gate/crate meetings if trouble arises.
Our recommendation of what NOT to do is to NOT introduce the resident pet with the puppy on the residents pet’s bed or near the resident pup’s food. This could potentially make the resident animal feel protective of items and space and feel threatened by the puppies presence. As long as you make sure to LOVE up and spend alone time with your resident animal(s) without the puppy then the animals typically are buddies within a few days and the resident pet won’t be jealous because of how you are still hugely loving on your first pet (s).
Clicker Training and Information
I am including this here as an example of how clicker training can work. You can do all of these basic training needs/ideas without the clicker but it is a helpful method for some households and dogs do respond to it.
House-training Your Puppy with a clicker
Experienced dog owners who are new to clicker training are often heard to say, “I wish I started clicking when my dog was a puppy.” Clicker training is a powerful method of molding a puppy’s attitude and capacity to learn. When a puppy knows right from the beginning that it can earn rewards in the form of a treat or a chance to play with you by paying attention and learning new behaviors, it matures into an extraordinary canine companion. Clicking will give your puppy confidence and comfort through positive experiences and clear communication. Here’s how to get started house training the clicker way with the potty training. Clicker training can be used in all training and I recommend that you and your family look into it to see if it is a puppy training method for your household .
Clicker training for the potty spot
Your goal is to teach your puppy the right place to eliminate. The first thing you must do is choose one spot that will be his permanent bathroom: the “potty” spot. When you take your puppy out to potty, always use the same door and go to the same potty spot.
Watch your puppy carefully in the potty spot. Plan on waiting for him. Let him sniff around. When he begins going, quietly say your potty cue a word that will tell your dog that this is the place and time to go. (Be careful in choosing your “potty” word. You will want to use this word in public. This cue will come in very handy when you’re away from home.)
Click and treat just as your puppy is finishing his business. You want to click while the behavior is still happening, but not so early in the process that your puppy stops eliminating prematurely in order to get to his treat. With a bit of practice you’ll quickly learn to time your click and treat so that your puppy associates his reward with eliminating in the right place yet isn’t interrupted before completion.
Soon your puppy will know that: potty in house = no reward; potty in potty spot = really great rewards!
Clicker training for the outside bell signal
A bell can be a useful tool for your dog to tell you he wants to go out. Because s/he can’t speak to you in your language, he must use a signal to tell you he needs to go out. You must learn to recognize that signal. Put a bell on the door that leads to the potty spot. The bell rings every time someone goes in or out that door. Remember how fast a dog learns what a doorbell means? Well, your puppy will learn that the bell means that the door is opening. Many puppies will go to the bell and ring it without any special training. However, to speed up the process, take him/her to the bell. If s/he touches it, click and treat him. Then quickly open the door and run outside, praising him. If s/he shows no interest in touching the bell, you can rub A LITTLE cheese or peanut butter on it.
Day use: It is a good idea to put the puppy in a crate during the day when you can’t watch him/her AND all of your puppies needs have been tended to from eating, bathroom to playing and cuddles. If used correctly, a crate can be a welcomed place for your puppy. It is a natural den spot. Most puppies don’t want to eliminate in their nest. If your puppy is very small and you have a large crate, divide it up so the puppy has enough room to stand up and turn around but not a whole lot more Crates are excellent tools so that you aren’t finding surprises and trying to teach puppy from behind but rather watch and be attentive with your puppy while your puppy is out of the crate and then they sleep in their den when you are there to teach. The idea is that the crate is used as a tool initially as your puppy learns the rules/flow of the home and then it will be optional in time if your dog would rather nap at your feet, on a kitchen rug or in their crate.
Crate are also great tools for night training as well.
Depending on the age of the puppy, you may have to get up in the middle of the night to take him out. Some people like to keep their puppy’s crate in their bedroom at night, so they can easily hear when he wakes and can take him out before he eliminates in his crate. Remember that your puppy will wiggle, make noises and adjust and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to go outside for a potty break. The puppy will have a few transition days/nights (3-14) as they are get used to not having their litter mates to cuddle with. Of course at first this is normal and often a needed step in the teaching of where to take care of potty business. If your puppy is still needing to be taken outside during the night after a few weeks then maybe there are other adjustments that you can make during the wake hours. First of all, be sure that the night isn’t too long and that the last one up in the house lets puppy out before bed and the first one up in your house lets puppy out first thing in the morning. At 10 weeks old, from our experience, I think it is reasonable to expect a puppy stay dry for a 7 hour night. Secondly, if you are still having trouble then pull the water earlier in the evening. Also, be sure that you are exercising puppy after dinner before you snuggle up. Consider maybe gibing dinner to your puppy a bit earlier. Lastly, if you have a towel or a blanket in the crate at night and that is wet or has a pile in it regularly then remove the bedding until puppy has learned to stay dry and clean. A puppy can learn to pee and poop in their bedding because that isn’t uncomfortable for the puppy. We always use the idea and methods that align with setting up your puppy for success. There ARE things that we can do to make this a reasonably quick transition. Make sure you do what is best for your family as a whole. If you are up at night a lot and you are tired in the day…that isn’t helpful for you. You want to have your time with your pup as positive playing, loving time and your pup will learn to enjoy a full night sleep if you help to encourage this from early on.
House training/ Potty training/ Accidents
Your puppy is counting on YOU to TEACH him or her.
If your puppy has an accident, try not to be angry or upset (this is sometimes hard but it WON’T help the teaching if you get upset). If s/he fears you it will slow his learning. Remember that your puppy is counting on you to teach and show the way. These English Lab puppies are really smart and they WILL learn rather quickly if you give them opportunity to be consistently taught. This is not an instant process, but if it’s done properly your dog won’t fear you and s/he will learn what you want quickly. Most of the puppies that start out at Welcome Home Labs are fully potty trained by 11 weeks of age if not sooner. Many people have said that their puppies came trained but I give credit to observant, committed families that continued to teach and train their puppies and made this a priority. Not matter what the season or situation…COMMIT yourself to potty training your puppy. If you make this a focus for two weeks then you should have many, many, many years to enjoy your Lab and you will also TRUST your Lab.
If you understand when your puppy needs to go out, then you can eliminate many accidents. The following suggestions will help your puppy succeed with his retraining.
Don’t punish an accident just give opportunity to display the correct behavior. Never push his nose in the waste or scold him. He won’t understand, and may learn to go to the bathroom when you’re out of sight.
- Always watch your puppy.
- You can tie him/her to you with a lead while you are in the house.
- You can also crate train your puppy. Take puppy directly outside after being in the crate.
- Feed on a fixed schedule.
- Usually s/he will need to go potty right after s/he has eaten (2-15 minutes).
- Always take him/her out after eating, playing, or any excitement or after a nap/ cuddle time.
The first step is to give your puppy ample times to go in the correct spot ALL throughout the day and sometime in the night. They will only go inside if they are not taught where the correct spot is to go outside and or if they are not taught to be able to count on you to give them ample opportunities and they don’t know how to communicate to you that they need to go. They were taught here at Welcome Home Labs from four weeks of age that there is ‘a spot’ to go and they all detected the sensation to go potty ahead of time and walked to that spot on their own about 99% of the time. The ‘accidents’ are more accidents of the people and not the puppies. 😉 Watch your puppy and teach and there won’t be ‘accidents’.
When the puppy has an accident in the house remain as calm as possible. If you’re watching your puppy, you will catch him/her before he finishes. Quietly get the puppy and take him out to his potty spot. You can use an item that makes some noise to toss near your puppy to startle him or her a bit so that they stop peeing mid-way through but only do that if it is an immediate response on your behalf. Either way, swoop up your puppy and continue to go outside using the words of “outside” and “go potty” and such along the way but at a much more quickened pace. Use your potty cue, and if s/he goes, click and treat him/her. (If s/he doesn’t eliminate, try again later. When s/he does go, click, make a fuss over him, and reward him with a treat or play.)
Go back into the house and use paper towels to pick up the mistake. Place the towels in the outdoor potty spot. Leave the towels there as a signal to your dog that this is the correct place for him to eliminate. It is also wise to keep a couple of poop piles in the correct outdoor potty spot during the training days.
Clean up the area your puppy used by mistake with white vinegar. Vinegar will help eliminate the odor. You can also buy products at pet stores to help remove the smell. Removal of the odor is important in discouraging the puppy from using that spot again.
All of the pups from Welcome Home Labs come with an Avid Micro-Chip.
Now that s/he has a microchip, s/he may be easily identified if s/he were lost or stolen. This also can confirm identity of the dog if there would happen to be an issue for a return due to hips or eyes. You will see the registration form in your folder. Simply, fill out the contact information, enclose the fee and send in the form to register your dog for safety.