Settling Your Puppy at Home
It's amazing how quickly she will settle in
You've done it, finally you get to bring the little one home, your excited so is she, but she's also very nervous. This is a strange environment so you need to settle your puppy at home with the minimum fuss and maximum care.
Have a place for your puppy already prepared, bedding, toys, something with your scent on and a couple of tasty treats tucked away for her to find when exploring it.
A cage is an ideal home for your pup, she will identify it as her own space, take her toys in there and is where she will retreat to when she wants some 'quiet time'.
Put the towel / clothing you left with the breeder in there, the familiar smells to encourage her to go in. Do not lock the door straight away as you do not want her to see the cage as a place of confinement, leave it open in the day and at first close the door at nights to prevent wandering (remember to put a water bowl in).
If she's nervous try this cage training schedule
|First week (8 weeks old||wks 2 -3||wks10 - 12||3 months on|
|Day||Leave treats in the cage often, after a couple of days shut the door briefly. By the end of the week you should be able to close the door for a few minutes without upsetting her||Put her in the cage a few times a day for about 5 minutes a time. Have toys in there, gradually up the time to about 20 mins 3 times a day||You should now be able to direct the puppy into the cage, then close the door without fuss, do this 4 or 5 times a day, try leaving her in for about an hour twice a day||She should now regard the cage as her own territory, no need to shut the door, unless it's to stop her wandering if you have to leave for a short while. Do not leave her locked in the cage for more than 2 hours in a single day!|
|Night||If she is very nervous put the cage beside your bed for the first few days, then put her in the cage for a maximum 4 hours, give her a potty break then another 4 hours.||Move the cage into it's permanent position. Your puppy should be OK for about 4 hours, then a potty break and another 3-4 hours of sleep||She should be able to sleep for 6-7 hours a night without any accidents, but you need to be up early to let her out||Forget lie ins, she will happily sleep through the night but you're still going to have to get up a 6am to let her out for at least another year.|
Within a few weeks you will be able to leave the door open all the time or even remove it, covering the cage with an old curtain or blanket will give her privacy. We recommend getting a large (42" x 32") cage as it will become her den for life.
A bed or 'doggy cushion' in the corner of the room you use the most is also necessary, your Labrador is part of your family and she will want to spend time with you, this means sharing your living space, but just like we humans sometimes she will want some time on her own and will retreat to her own private space (her cage).
Although new Labrador puppies may seem as active as the Duracell bunny, over exercising them can cause serious health issues later on so please do not let your new puppy do the following :-
- Go up and down stairs
- Jump in and out of the car (lift her in and out instead)
- Run on a slippery floor or rugs that slide
- Take her for long walks. No more than 5 minutes or ¼ mile for each month of her life.
- Play active games (involving running) for more than a few minutes.
Basically you must prevent her from over-stressing her leg joints, so avoid any activity which may do so.
If you have a large garden, to stop her running around too much or exploring in areas which may have fox or badger runs you can use a puppy pen, we've found the best of these to be the Bunny business range. If using pens indoors, as many do not have floors, ensure it is secure so it doesn't wander or tilt when she jumps against the sides.
Labrador puppies will also become eating machines if you let them, overfeeding is dangerous it leads to too rapid growth and this stops bone from developing properly, your breeder should give you a feeding regime, stick to it.
Use the same food the puppy has been weaned on, stability in the diet will help maintain good digestion. Any change in diet should be made very gradually over at least a week to avoid upset and you should try a new diet for at least 10 days before making any further changes.
Meals should be split during the course of the day and ideally a young puppy should go approximately 4 hours between meals with the quantity of food approximately the same for each meal.
Here is the rough guide we give to our puppies new families. Get advice on your dogs requirements from your vet or breeder as large or fast growing breeds can sometimes need more food as puppies than they require as adults.
You can start her basic training almost immediately, this can be a wonderful time for both of you as Labradors are incredibly easy to train and love to be given things to do, we have some great tips on our Puppy Training page to get you started.
These are just a few tips, the Kennel Club website has a more in-depth guide to buying Labrador puppies safely, and there is always good advice to be had from reputable breeders, breed associations and dog clubs.
Please do some research before buying your pup, this will arm you with the knowledge needed to help make an informed choice, resulting in you owning a healthy, happy Labrador Retriever which will give you many years of wonderful companionship.