Labs are one of the best companions you can have. They’re always ready to shower you in love, as well as plenty of hugs and kisses.
Although a Lab’s love may be unconditional, you’ll still need to put in plenty of work to take care of them. Dogs require a lot of time and commitment, and you should only bring a Lab into your family if you’re willing to put in the work.
Here’s some advice on how to prepare for your new Lab, as well as how to take care of them once they arrive.
Labs are medium to large sized dogs, with some reaching weights exceeding 75 pounds. That means that they need plenty of food to keep them happy and healthy.
When your Lab is less than 12 weeks old, you’re going to need to give them lots of food to keep them growing at a healthy rate. Most young Labs should eat around 4 times per day.
Once they hit 3 months, you can cut back to 3 times per day. And at half a year, you can switch to 2 meals per day.
Many Lab owners eventually end up feeding their dog once per day, although some choose to stick with 2 smaller meals per day. If your Lab is very active, they’ll be better off eating twice per day.
Choosing The Right Dog Food
There are quite a few different dog foods out there, and it can be difficult to find one that suits your dog. In general, Labs should be fed a high quality dog food designed for medium to large dogs.
Your Lab won’t need an expensive, premium dog food to stay healthy. However, you should still always check the ingredient list and make sure that the food is made mainly from meat, and that it has few additives.
Labs are known for gaining weight easily. It’s important that you avoid giving your dog food from the table. This food often has more calories than what Labs need, and it may lack key nutrients.
Give Your Lab Plenty Of Water
It’s also important that you give your Lab plenty of water, especially if they are active. Make sure that they have access to a water bowl if you’re not around. You should also clean their bowl out regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Labs started out as work dogs in Canada, and the breed then became popular hunting dogs when they were brought back to England. That means that they have a lot of energy, and they need to stay active to avoid boredom.
Try to get your Lab at least an hour of exercise per day, and preferably more if possible. Walks and runs are a great way of burning energy, as is playing fetch.
As you might expect from their name, Labs like to chase after objects and bring them back to you. This is an extinct they picked up as hunting dogs, and it’s a good way to stimulate your Lab and keep them from getting bored.
Labs are a social, gentle breed that likes to be around humans and other animals. But you’ll still need to make sure that your Lab gets the proper training and socialization.
Although you can certainly train an older Lab, it’ll be much easier if you start while they’re still young. A good way to begin is with an obedience class, where your Lab can learn basic commands.
Once your Lab has learned basic socialization and obedience, you can teach them more advanced commands.
It’s also crucial that you crate and potty train your Lab as soon as possible. Labs are social creatures, and it can take some time for them to adjust to being alone.
Pick out a crate that doesn’t have too much extra room, as your Lab may use it as a bathroom. Only give them enough room to lie down and they won’t use their crate to do their business.
Leave them alone for short periods so that they can adjust to life without you. This can be a tough step, for both you and your dog. But it’s important that your Lab learn that they can be alone without barking, and that you’ll always come back.
You should get started on potty training as soon as your new Lab arrives home. It can take a while for dogs to learn what is and what is not a bathroom, so be patient with your young Lab.
Try to keep them on a regular feeding schedule so that they know when their next potty break is coming. If they don’t, they may choose to do their business inside.
When your starting out with potty training, take your Lab outside on a leash and wait for them to go to the bathroom. When they do, give them plenty of praise and a treat. But only reward them if they go in the area where you tell them to.
It’s important that you be consistent when potty training. Take your Lab to the same spot outside so that they don’t get confused. Over time, you can allow them to buy anywhere outside.
Labs are some of the friendliest dogs out there. They need a lot of contact with other people and animals to be happy.
It’s important that you teach your Lab proper social skills when they’re still young. Since Labs have so much energy, they often react a bit too enthusiastically when they first meet new people.
Your Lab needs to learn that it’s not alright to jump up on or nibble on every person they meet. Keep them on a leash at first, and give them a firm verbal warning if they act up. When behave well, give them plenty of praise and treats.
A dog park is a great place to socialize your Lab, as well as let them blow off any extra steam. Just make sure that your dog has all of its vaccinations before you take them.
Take Your Time Introducing Puppies To Older Dogs
If you have older dogs, you should be careful when you bring your puppy home. Dogs can be quite territorial, and they might not like a puppy snooping around their turf.
Older dogs may also not have quite as much energy as your puppy. Your puppy’s youthful enthusiasm, while endearing to you, may irritate your older dog.
Try to give your older dog some space by keeping your puppy in their crate or play area. Let them hang out around each other for short periods. As they get used to each other, you can start leaving them unsupervised.
If you ever notice your older dog growling at the puppy, try to separate them as quickly as possible to prevent aggression.
Once your Lab is all set up at their new home, it’s time to take them to the vet. Depending on where you got your Lab, they may already have some immunizations. Make sure you get all of their medical records before going to the vet.
You should talk to your vet about your Lab’s diet, as well as see if they are growing at a healthy rate.
Ask your vet about flea and tick medication, as well as any worm medication that your Lab needs to take.
You should also ask about getting your dog microchipped, so you can find them in the event they get lost. Microchipping is fairly inexpensive, costing around $30 at most vet offices.
Labs are a fairly low maintenance dog breed. But you need to stay on top of grooming, especially during shedding season.
Try to brush your Lab every few days to keep their coat from getting tangles. During shedding season in the spring you may need to brush every day to prevent fur from getting caught in their coat.
Some Labs won’t like the grooming process, so try to start as young as possible so that they get used to it.
Be Careful With Shampoo
Although it may be tempting to shampoo your dog after they get dirty, you should always be careful when giving your Lab a bath.
Shampoo can strip away essential oils that protect your Lab’s coat, helping them regulate temperature. It can also leave hair dry and looking flat.
Trim Nails Regularly
Nail trimming is often one of the most difficult parts of the grooming process. But it’s important that you regularly trim your Lab’s nails to before they grow too long, as they may crack.
Start slow when you trim, as Labs are often very sensitive about being snooping around their paws. Give them plenty of treats as you trim, and take breaks between paws if they’re getting anxious.
Before you bring your Lab home, you need to make sure that your house is fully puppy proof, and that there is nothing outside in the yard that they could get into.
Keep all food or trash in locked cabinets that your nosy young Lab can’t access. Also make sure that you pick up any loose objects on the floor, as they could be a choking hazard.
Puppies will run around a lot, but they aren’t always the most coordinated. They often run into tables, knocking over objects. Make sure that there aren’t any heavy objects sitting on the edge of tables.
If you have extra space, you may want to gate off a small area in your house where your puppy can have free reign. This will keep them away from any dangerous areas of the house, as well as protect your furniture, without having to put them in a crate.
Many dogs get sick when they ride in the car, which can make vet visits quite a headache. Although you may never be able to make your Lab love road trips, you can take some simple steps to help them get used to the car.
Start taking your Lab on short car rides soon after you get them. Try to make them happy memories by taking them to somewhere they will enjoy, such as the dog park. Your Lab will learn that car rides don’t have to be so bad after all.
Labs are one of the best companions you can find. If you are interested in a Lab, head over to our puppy finder.
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