Congratulations! You’re the new owner of one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Your Labrador puppy is full of energy and enthusiasm. Because he descends from a long line of hunting and working dogs, he needs firm direction, love and consistency to reach his potential.
Training and Socializing
Set boundaries as soon as you bring your Labrador puppy home. This breed is excessively playful and curious. Your puppy won’t outgrow his boisterousness until he's 3 or 4 years old.
Enroll your little Lab in a puppy kindergarten class as soon as possible. A Labrador’s natural hunting instinct can be tempered by exposing him to other dogs in a controlled class setting while he’s young.
Exercise your Lab as often as possible, but at least twice a day for 30 minutes each time. Labs are high-drive dogs and they need a chance to burn off excess energy. You can avoid many behavior problems just by giving your Lab adequate exercise.
Train your Lab to respond to the basic dog obedience commands. He should sit, stay, heel, down and come on command. This ensures that you can control your Lab in any situation just by issuing a verbal command.
Use positive reinforcement for good behavior and avoid scolding. Labs love pleasing their owners and they will do just about anything to get in your good graces. If your puppy is acting out and demanding your attention, turn away and ignore him. When he minds, praise him, pet him and give him treats.
Expose your puppy to new things. Take him to the dog park. Teach him to sit while children pet him. Take him for rides in the car. Labs should learn social manners early on.
Diet, Health and Grooming
Visit your veterinarian within two days of bringing your puppy home. Your puppy will need regular vaccinations to keep him healthy.
Feed your Labrador puppy a high quality large-breed puppy food for the first six months of his life. After that, ask your vet about switching him over to an adult food to ensure healthy bone growth.
Brush your Labrador at least once a week with a rounded-bristle dog brush. He’ll love it and you’ll remove loose hair. About twice a year, your Lab will shed heavily for about three weeks. Brush him daily during that time.
Bathe your puppy when he’s dirty, but use a gentle conditioning shampoo made for dogs and make sure to rinse it all out. Labs can have sensitive skin and frequent bathing can irritate it, which can leave your little guy scratching up a storm.
- Despite their high-drive, Labradors are highly trainable. Your puppy is a natural swimmer and he can master advanced skills, including agility and search -and-rescue tasks. Labs are also great therapy dogs, but early training is essential to curb their natural instincts.
- AKC: Labrador Retriever History
- Howell Book of Dogs – The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties; Liz Palika
- labrador image by JEAN-MARC MEDINA from Fotolia.com
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