How To Care for Labrador Retriever Dogs and Puppies

From Shots and Licensing to Obedience School

Girl hugging her pet dog

Owning a Labrador Retriever is an amazing experience! They are sweet, loving, caring animals that need a good owner to become the best dog they can be.  

Here are some tips on how to care for Labrador Retrievers:

  1. Be sure to feed and provide water for your dog. As with any breed, caring for a Lab includes providing daily food and water. Set up a feeding schedule for your dog as soon as she comes into your home. Dogs should have access to water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Feeding Labrador Retriever dogs can be done once or twice a day, depending on your preference. Good dog health care begins with providing your dog the right forms of nutrition. Choose a healthy brand of food that provides good pet nutrition and feed according to the instructions on the bag. When you give your dog his bowl of food, tell him to sit and don't put the food on the floor until he has done so. Once he obeys the command, set the bowl on the floor for him, make him look at you (away from the bowl of tasty food), then release him so he can eat his meal. This will teach him that you are in charge of feeding him, not merely obeying his request for food.
  2. Give her a place to sleep that is her own. Many people don't enjoy sharing their bed with a large, hairy dog (these people are crazy... just kidding, of course); if you don't want your Lab to sleep with you, give her a bed that is her own. A large kennel with a blanket or dog bed should do the trick. As a puppy, train her that this is her bed, and stick to putting her in it and telling her to lie down when you are ready for her to go to bed. Many people think it is "mean" to put their dog into a pen or crate to sleep, especially when the dog cries because she wants to be with you. Though she may not like the idea of being away from you, it is really best for her to have her own place to sleep. This is true for any dog, as their ancestors used to sleep in a cave-like bed either on their own or with their pack. By providing your dog this "safe zone" in which to sleep, she also knows where she can go to get some peace and quiet.
  3. Take them to puppy/dog training or obedience classes. Never underestimate the importance of training your Lab. If you get your dog when he is a puppy, taking him to a puppy training class will teach him that you are his master and will also allow him to interact with other dogs. If he is still a baby, he likely doesn't know "come" from "sit," so the course will help teach you what you need to do to help your puppy learn how to obey. If he knows his stuff, a refresher course never hurt anyone, and it will give the two of you some great bonding time. Bring plenty of treats, love and patience to each of the dog obedience training classes!
  4. Groom and bathe your Lab regularly. Pet grooming does not have to be a chore if you use the time to bond with your dog. Since this breed tends to shed quite a bit, brushing and bathing them can help keep down the amount of hair that gathers on your floors. Clip their nails regularly as well - if you can hear nails clicking on the floor, it is time to clip them!
  5. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. This breed tend to become overweight if fed too much and exercised too little. The good news is that they are energetic and love to run and swim. Though it may not be convenient for her to take a dip in a pond, she needs to get out and walk or run every day. At least 30 minutes of exercise should be given to your dog each day to ensure good health. This is a great chance to spend time with your dog and get outside. Don't make it a chore -- make it fun for both of you!
  6. Get your dog his shots and licenses on time. Proper dog health care is vital. Not only are puppy shots, rabies shots and heart worm checks necessary to keep him healthy, they could save his life.  Your veterinarian will provide check-ups and vaccinations for your pup as well as provide general pet care. Your dog's health should always remain in the forefront of your mind. Take him to the vet regularly, and be sure you get his licenses on time to keep both of you out of trouble!
  7. Owning a Labrador Retriever means you can expect some general traits in your dog.
    • You now own a dog that loves the water. They were originally bred as a hunting dog for marshy/wet areas, and their job was to retrieve ducks and other waterfowl. If you live near water, his instinct tells him to run and jump right into it, so be prepared for that!
    • They are typically very gentle, loving dogs that get along great with children. My experience with Labs tells me that if there is a little kid nearby, he is going to want to be right there, licking her face! If you have small children, make sure you let them around your pet and teach your dog not to jump on people, as he could accidentally knock down a child in his race to lick her face.
    • Prepare for the large amount of shedding typical of the breed. If your dog is indoors, grooming should involve making it a habit to brush it regularly (at least every other day) and be prepared to vacuum a lot of dog hair! If you have allergies in the family, this may not be the breed for you.
    • Labs have a tendency (especially as a puppy) to chew on anything and everything in sight. If your puppy sees a shoe, she interprets it as a chew toy. That being said, keep lots of "real" chew toys accessible, train her early not to chew on chair legs, and keep anything off the floor that you wouldn't want destroyed by chewing or is dangerous for your pet to ingest.

Whether you are already the owner of a full grown Lab or have the good fortune to choose your pet from a litter of puppies, this breed of dog makes an excellent companion for people of any age. When having the knowledge of and implementing proper dog care, you can be assured they will be the perfect addition to any family.

I hope this helps and that you and your Lab are happy together for a very long time!

 

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