Labrador Puppy Care

Labrador retrievers make excellent pets, but Labrador puppy care is an important aspect to consider before you bring home your puppy. Though a grown lab can be a wonderful companion, a young lab requires training, proper exercise and socialization to reach that point.

Proper Diet and Feeding

Labrador adults are prone to weight gain because they love to eat and will inhale anything put in front of them. To avoid this, begin watching your dog's weight when he is just a puppy.

First, choose an appropriate food. Many commercial brands have cheap fillers that pack on the pounds without providing your dog with the right amount of nutrients. By choosing a food with healthy protein in the top three ingredients and paying a little more, you will save money in the long run by feeding less.

It's important that lab puppies eat puppy food. Because they grow to be so heavy, they need a lot of calcium for their bone density.

Second, feed your puppy less than it says to feed on the food label. Start with a veterinary recommended amount and move up or down depending on your puppy's weight. If your puppy starts to put on extra weight, cut back immediately.

Finally, don't free feed your lab. This can lead to overeating as you aren't properly monitoring how much food he gets. It can also lead to serious problems such as bloat if you dog eats too much and then becomes too active immediately afterward.

Appropriate Exercise

Exercise is paired with a proper diet in keeping the weight off, but young puppy bones can't tolerate excessive exercise. This could damage growing bones and joints. Thus, until your lab is six months old, try to limit exercise that involves jumping or running on hard surfaces.

Once your lab is six months old, he needs at least 40 minutes of full blown running daily. Teach him to play fetch or swim, so he can keep active. His exercise requirements will begin to slow a little as he gets older.

Training your Lab

Labs will eat anything, so it's important to crate train your lab puppy. If left alone, your lab can make a meal out of any household items, which can result in a trip to the emergency veterinarian. Also, don't leave him alone with toys that can be chewed into small pieces and swallowed.

It's also important to teach your lab to "leave it!", so you can teach him which objects are appropriate to chew on. Make this into a game when he's a puppy so he begins to learn right away.

Labs are also prone to separation anxiety because they love to be with their people. Begin teaching your puppy how to be alone as soon as you bring him home. If you spend two weeks never leaving the house and then expect him to be alone for 10 hours, you'll probably be unsuccessful. Start by leaving him alone for an hour or less and build up.

In addition, make sure to expose your lab puppy to many different types of people and stimulus before he's 16 weeks old. This will prevent fears from developing and help your puppy grow into a well adjusted labrador.