Labrador retrievers are, according to the American Kennel Club, the most popular dog in the United States. Labs are bred for retrieving and are often used as hunting companions, but have mild temperaments that make them excellent family dogs. Due to their high energy, sharp minds and love for affection, raising and taking care of a Lab or Lab mix requires a dedicated owner and an immense amount of effort. If left untrained and without enough exercise, Labradors can turn from family friend into household nuisance.
Bring your new Lab mix puppy to the veterinarian for a full health checkup. The vet can help you get set up with a vaccination schedule and important preventative medications.
Prepare your home for a new puppy. Check exterior fences for holes and gaps, and look through your home for things that the dog should not chew on. Labs love to chew, so it is important to get those children’s toys and shoes off the floor.
Enroll your puppy in a group training class. Group classes are effective because they help socialize your new dog while giving you the opportunity to learn the basics of obedience training. Most classes take puppies starting at eight weeks.
Pick up the supplies you will need for feeding and playing with your dog. This includes water and food bowls, dog food, small treats, safe chew toys and a ball for playing fetch.
Create a pattern for yourself and your new puppy and stick to it. Feed the dog twice a day and take him out at specific times. The more stable your routine, the easier basic hurdles like potty training become.
Give your Lab puppy a chance to run and play each day. Because Labs are bred to work, they need to burn off their excess energy. If your dog is restless and bored, he may turn to destructive behaviors.
Provide the puppy with a safe place to sleep. A crate is a solid option that can be helpful during training, but some owners prefer a simple dog bed.
Always talk to a veterinarian should you have any questions about your dog’s health or diet.
Taking care of a Lab puppy can be an exhausting task, but putting the work in early and giving your dog strong fundamentals will pay off in the long run.
Remember that a Lab mix’s behavior and temperament will be informed by the rest of his breed. Depending on the mix, your dog may be more high energy or more responsive to training.
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