How to Care for a Labrador Puppy
Animal file: Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are one of the most beloved dog breeds in the world. They are loyal, playful and affectionate dogs that make great companion dogs!
In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain how to care for a Labrador Retriever puppy. We'll go through their diet, exercise, training, health care and more. Continue reading to learn more!
About the Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever originated in Canada in the 19th century and is now a world-wide beloved dog breed. These dogs are medium-sized dogs, females have a height of 21.5-23.5 inches and males have a height of 22.5-24.5 inches at the withers. Their average weight as an adult is 55-70 pounds for females and 68-80 pounds for males.
They have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. When it comes to their temperament, Labrador retrievers are very loyal, friendly and affectionate companion dogs. They are known for being very social towards strangers and other dogs. Labrador retrievers also come in three colours: black, brown or yellow.
These dogs are very active as they need plenty of walks, play time and affection. They are great with children and make a great companion dog. If you're thinking of adopting a Labrador retriever puppy, keep reading as we go through how to care for them!
Learn more about the Labrador Retriever in our breed sheet.
When to collect your Labrador puppy
You can adopt and collect your Labrador puppy once they are 8 weeks old. This way, you make sure that they have had enough time to socialize with their family, mother and siblings. It also makes sure that they have developed good bite moderation before being adopted to their new family.
Other advantages are that they have had time to drink their mother's milk and properly wean off. They will also feel more independent and will transition better to their new home after being 8 weeks old.
Puppies collected under seven weeks old often have health problems and need special care, so it’s really important that puppies are left with their family until they are eight weeks old. We also encourage you to check out your local animal shelter before buying from a breeder.
Where your puppy should sleep the first night
When it comes to sleeping at night, your puppy will have some difficulties. This may be due to the new environment and new people. They may feel unprotected and disoriented. For this reason, it's normal to hear them cry as they may be calling their mother for guidance and company. Now that you've adopted this puppy, this is your job as their human companion. When they call out, try to be there for them as they are scared and lonely. Be understanding as your puppy learns to adapt to their new home.
As a puppy is very dependent and on their first night they will feel scared and disoriented, it's best they sleep near you on their first night. Remember that puppies tend to sleep with their siblings and their mother. Being alone in a new place for the first time will be difficult for them.
The best option for your new puppy is to sleep in their own bed inside your room, near you. So that if they feel scared or lost and cry, you can let them know that you are there with them. Once they feel more oriented and safe in their new home, you can move their bed to another location where they can sleep.
Learn more in our article where we elaborate on how to prepare for your puppy's first night in their new home.
What to feed your Labrador retriever puppy
When feeding your Labrador retriever puppy, you will need to provide them with a rich and balanced diet. Keep in mind that puppies begin weaning when they are around 3-4 weeks old. This means that they will slowly transition from their mother's milk to a solid food canine diet.
A natural canine diet mainly consists in essential fatty acids and meat-based protein. The protein should have two or three types of protein from meat. For example: whole chicken, lamb, beef and fish. For fat sources, you can opt for chicken fat. Good fat sources can solute some of the most important vitamins a dog needs.
When it comes to carbs, it should be kept in a low amount as dogs thrive on meat. If you are cooking for your dog, then we recommend to include low amounts of whole carbs, such as sweet potatoes. Lastly, you can offer some fruits and vegetables that provide good vitamins and minerals to help your dog's over-all health.
Training your Labrador retriever puppy
Labrador Retrievers are very active and intelligent dogs. Other than daily exercise, they will need basic dog training. Yes, even as a puppy! You can begin training your dog with paper training. Learn more about that in our article about paper training for puppies.
You can then begin to teach them basic commands, such as to sit, stay, or even to play fetch. Remember to always train them for short amounts of time each day, not exceeding 15min, and always through positive reinforcement. This way, training will be enjoyable for them and will help you create a greater bond with them.
To learn more, read our article about when to start training your puppy.
Exercising your Labrador retriever puppy
Your Labrador retriever puppy will needs plenty of exercise. Due to their small size as a puppy, this will mostly be at home. They will begin by playing with their siblings and walking or running around the house. Then, after their first round of vaccinations, usually around the age of 7 weeks old, puppies will begin to go outside.
This is a very important part of their puppyhood as they will learn to go out on walks with their caregivers and will begin their socialization period. During this period, they will meet and interact with new people and other dogs. They will also explore new places. It's very important that during this period they have good interactions and don't get traumatized.
When a puppy is well socialized from a young age, they will have a balanced temperament as adult dogs. Learn more in our article about socializing puppies.
Next, we're going to talk about maintaining our puppy's hygiene. As Labrador puppies haven't grown their full coat, they won't need to be brushed regularly just yet. A bath is only necessary when they get very dirty on their outdoor walks.
Dental hygiene is also important when it comes to caring for a puppy. You can opt for a dog tooth paste or a dental canine treat. Talk to your veterinarian to see which would be best for you puppy, and learn more in our article about dental hygiene for dogs.
Other than that, we must make sure that their everyday environment is also clean and that we refresh their water bowl everyday. This way, our puppy will have great personal hygiene and we can help them prevent certain health issues from a young age.
Lastly, we're going to talk about your Labrador retriever's health. The Labrador Retriever is a relatively healthy and long-living dog, especially if they stay in shape. However, the lack of genetic diversity resulting from breeding programs makes them prone to certain hereditary diseases and conditions, which are usually manifested as the dog grows old. For instance, Labradors tend to suffer from hip dysplasia.
When your Lab is a puppy, you must ensure they get the necessary vaccines, and you must follow their vaccination schedule during the rest of their lives. This will prevent them from suffering very serious diseases that tend to affect dogs. If you want your dog to stay as healthy as possible, go to the vet for check-ups every 6 months. You can prevent the development of common diseases by watching your Lab for symptoms and caring for them as best as you can.
Labrador Retrievers are prone to obesity - they love treats, and if they don't get enough exercise they will soon become overweight, with the related muscular and joint problems.
Helpful tips for caring for your puppy
We hope that this article has given you great insight when it comes to caring for a Labrador Retriever puppy. Here are some other helpful articles for caregivers that are adopting puppies:
If you want to read similar articles to How to Care for a Labrador Puppy, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.