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Tips for your new puppy

Every puppy has a right to expect:

Healthcare: including proper immunizations, prevention of internal and external parasites, and prompt veterinary attention for signs of ill health.

Correct feeding: including sufficient but not excessive amounts of wholesome, nutritious foods. Obesity is more of a problem than underfeeding in the pet world today. Regular access to fresh water is essential.

Grooming: at regular intervals appropriate to the breed, the coat, and the time of year. Toenails, teeth, and ears must be cared for as well.

Secure confinement: to the owner’s property for the dog’s own safety and out of consideration for the rights of neighbors.

Regular exercise: appropriate for the size and original purpose for which the breed was developed.

Training: including a clear knowledge of what is expected of him/her as well as consistency in both correction and praise.

Individual attention: socialization and love. 


Feed the pup three times per day until he/she is approximately four months old. At that time, most pups are content in going to two meals per day. They will signal this by toying with their noon meal or not eating it all (but probably not, because they're labs!).


Pups should be fed approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of preferably the same food they are fed by us - Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy, gradually increasing the amount as they grow. Their bellies should bulge after a meal, but not be too bloated. Overfeeding can be dangerous for several reasons, including that overweight pups that are growing rapidly can develop weak hip joints.


Experts also suggest that feeding puppy chow to labs can cause them to grow too fast and their joints don't have time to develop. Therefore, if you feel your pup is growing too rapidly, we recommend using a mixture of ½ puppy chow and ½ adult food for two to four months.


Leftover meat and vegetables or plain yogurt can be added to each feeding.


Avoid feeding your dog milk or raw eggs. Keep them away from chocolate, grapes, and onions.

Training Methods and Commands

Clicker or Whistle Training involves using a clear, consistent and distinctive sound as a cue for your dog to perform an action. Clickers and whistles can be purchased very inexpensively at pet stores. These methods are sometimes more effective than sounds you make with your mouth because they are more consistent and clear than different people’s voices. In the beginning of the training, make sure that you are very consistent. Every time you make the sound, give your dog a treat, some food, or something that they naturally crave like a toy, praise, or water. After a while, your dog will associate the sound they hear with something that they desire.


Commands should always be one-word. Say “down” instead of “lay down” or “come” instead of “come here.” The whole family should agree on which command words to use or your dog will get confused and training will take longer.


Use a firm, pleasant tone when giving a command. Do not yell or whisper. Give the command once. Your dog hears you. After saying the command word once, show the pup what you want him/her to do. Say, “sit” and then gently push his/her bottom down. Give praise or treats for completing the task.


Hand signals are very effective with dogs. Many dogs respond better to a hand signal. This is probably because they study and understand body language and our verbal language is not natural to a dog.


Training sessions should be frequent but short. Puppies are like small children; they do not have a very long attention span. It is best to train your pup when there are as few distractions as possible. If you get frustrated, that is a good time to stop the session.


Puppies bite. The best way to teach them to quit this habit is to grab their mouths and sternly say “No.” Hitting a dog is not an OK way to tell them to stop any behavior, as it is more likely to make them fearful of you than to associate the punishment with the bite.


You do not have to use big treats for training. In fact, break up treats into several pieces or use dog food kibbles as rewards. All work.

House Breaking

A puppy does not gain reliable control over muscles that are involved in elimination until they are about 12 weeks old. Some puppies gain the control sooner than others. It is important to realize that punishing a dog for mistakes when they are very young is not helpful. Pushing a dog’s nose into their messes at a young age will only make them timid of you.

Dogs must know where you want them to perform in order to do it. You may try to feed the puppy outside in his/her pen until he/she is urinating and defecating there, or bring the pup outside immediately after feeding, as this is a prime time to use the bathroom.

At night, confine the puppy to a small area or crate. Animals do not want to go to the bathroom where they sleep, and will try to avoid messing in their sleeping area. If the dog cries a lot, you may want to put a blanket over the crate. This calms and soothes them, muffles the sound for you, and prevents the pup from knowing that daylight has come and its time to be awake.

Try not to allow the puppy to make the first mistake. When someone cannot watch or play with the dog, he/she should be confined to his crate or pen. This not only trains him/her, but also teaches the pup to be patient when he/she is alone. Do not let the puppy wander the house freely when small.

Be sure that the dog is in good health and is free of intestinal parasites. No dog can be house trained if he/she has uncontrollable diarrhea. Pups get diarrhea somewhat easily – it could come from other animals, poor water, worms, etc. Keep an eye out for problems.

About one hour before bedtime, it is a good idea to take up all of the water. Before bed, always bring the dog to the toilet area to relieve him/herself before being crated for the night.

Keep the pup on a consistent time schedule – weekends should be treated as much like weekdays as you can. Pups don’t know what day it is, but they do follow their time schedule.

General Tips

Control is important at all times. The pup should be supervised when loose in the house. Otherwise, the pup should be in a crate or pen. An old baby pen can be handy.


Give the puppy a big raw beef bone (knuckle or shin). This is good for their teeth and jaws. They cannot splinter it, and it will discourage them from chewing on other things.


Do not give the pup slippers, shoes, etc. Dogs are creatures of habit and they habituate very quickly. Bad habits can be very hard to break. Knotting old towels together or letting them play with tennis balls is a much better idea.


Do not allow neighborhood dogs around your puppy, as pups are vulnerable to infections that other dogs may be carrying.


Do not allow small children to maul, tease, or abuse your puppy. Encourage children to play games that the puppy can succeed in, such as retrieving, which labs were born to do.


Do not allow your dog to roam. Not only is it dangerous or bothersome if they get in the road, have a run-in with a skunk or other wild animal, or roll in some mud, but roaming dogs become pests and nuisances to the neighbors. If you allow a dog to roam freely, they will see home as a place to eat and not as a place to protect and care about.


In the event of an illness, consult your veterinarian. Do not use home remedies. Dogs can be difficult to diagnose.


Never leave your dog unattended while wearing a choke collar. Sadly, many dogs have suffered horrible deaths when their choke collar became entangled on their fencing or crates.


Likewise, never leave a puppy chained up on a very hot day without shade and water. Even with those two provisions, if a dog becomes hung up out of the reach of both shade and water, the dog can die. If the weather forecast says its going to be extremely hot, your best bet would be to leave the dog inside.

Also Note

Anyone not willing to commit themselves to a life-long (6 to 15 years) provision of these essentials should seriously question their reasons for purchasing a dog. This is a living, breathing family member who will need you to provide reliable housing and care. It's not a stuffed animal that can be discarded.

Anyone who finds that owning a pup is too much to handle is encouraged to return him/her to the breeder for placement - not to a pound.  

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