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Those first nights with a brand new puppy are such a blur. It’s much like bringing home a newborn – lots of buying, pictures, “ooo” and “ahhh” and “look how cute!”. You’ll probably lose some sleep and you’ll clean up some “accidents”. You’ll say “no” a lot and you’ll (probably) have moments where you wonder: WHY THE HECK DID WE DO THIS? But… as soon as you find your rhythm, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without your pup.

Chocolate ENGLISH LABRADOR Puppy sleeping

So, how do you deal with those first days and weeks?

Each pup and each household is different so the first, and most important rule, is that you find a system that you will work CONSISTENTLY. Almost any schedule/training/rules/method that you try will work if done consistently. Some people favor some methods over others. Some folks want their pup to sleep in a kennel or in their room or on the other side of the house. Some families want their pup to learn to sleep outside (WEATHER AND SAFETY PERMITTING!). Whatever lifestyle you choose for your pup, be sure that you have a game plan in place before hand, and stick to it! If the rule is, “No dogs on the couch”, stick to it. It’s not fair to the pup to have it sometimes be allowed to jump on the couch, only to hear angry corrections the next time. Pick your rules – be consistent – it will work. In time.

Yellow English Lab Puppy at attention

The same goes for house-training/house-breaking. Listen – pups will have accidents. It is just part of the deal. BUT, there are a few things that can *really* help.

  • Do not free water/feed (letting them eat and drink/graze at will). Limiting food and water times helps you to know exactly when they ate or drank last, which lets you know exactly when to put them outside to potty. Most experts say that a pup will need to eliminate roughly 20 minutes after eating. Watch closely at first, keep a chart if that’s helpful. You will learn your pup’s system and how long they need between eating and drinking and eliminating.
  • Next, remember that a pup WILL follow their nose. A puppy will return to the scent of the crime, repeating their behavior in the same spot(s) over and over. They are creatures of habit, which is part of what makes them house-trainable in the first place. This means it is CRITICAL to remove ALL scent from every accident – even down to a pup’s nose. This means that the area needs to not only be cleaned and sanitized, but deodorized to prevent the puppy being drawn back to that area. We recommend Angry Orange for odor elimination. (I know many folks are sensitive to scents – but please, this will make it MUCH easier to stop accidents in your home.)
  • Remember that a pup will naturally want to keep their nest clean. Keeping their sleeping crate small enough that they don’t really have room to have a “potty area” and a “sleeping area” will help reduce the potential of them messing in their crates. Of course, some pups simply don’t care and it will be a tough few months until they “get it”.
  • Ultimately, Labrador retrievers WANT to please their owners, and lots and lots of positive affirmation will do wonders. Consistency, consistency, consistency. And remember, their body is going to eliminate waste when it needs to, so – try to make sure they are outside.

Exercise and Activity

The AKC recommends no more than 5 minutes of vigorous exercise per month of age at one time. Fetch in the backyard does not count as “vigorous”. We are talking hikes, runs, swimming, etc. Most backyard activities won’t wear out a pup, but we want to protect those hips and elbows as much as possible!

That said, most families run into the problem of not enough exercise, not too much. A puppy who is not given the proper amounts of exercise and active time will act out with behavioral issues. A tired puppy will be more content to chew on the cow hoof, not the couch. They will be looking to satisfy their natural desire to chew but NOT looking for entertainment wherever they can get it. A pup who is kenneled much of the day won’t be up for watching a movie that night without a little nightly exercise. On the bright side, we all need a reason to stay active, right?

What do I need to buy for a new puppy?

Again, much like the baby aisles of countless stores, there are always FAR more options for baby gadgets than are absolutely necessary. One mama swears by her wipe warmer, another mama’s wipe warmer gathers dust in the garage. For the most part, much of what is for sale in dog pet stores and online is just for fun – cute little toys and beds and vests to accessorize your pup. And why not? You have searched the internet, decided to go with your Kindred Pup, waited for the right litter and puppy, and now they are home! They’re your baby and you want to spoil them. I’m good with that. 🙂

But just remember – the only things you *need for a new puppy are:

Labrador Puppy Training classes

Obedience is King

Remember: an obedient pup is a happy pup. A puppy who knows their boundaries, knows the rules, and learns to behave in a pleasing and happy manner is one is loved and appreciated. A puppy who lives under the smile of their owner is happier and healthier than the pup who doesn’t know why he’s in trouble today when he wasn’t yesterday. Again – be consistent. Outsource when necessary. There are a number of fantastic options for obedience schools from Petsmart like our Kindred Pup graduate (above) to online courses. Do some research, figure out what works best for you and which system you are likely to consistently implement, and get working on that happy pup!

There are of course a lot more things to cover – but this is a good start!

Kindred Pup has pups available – look here for more info.

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