Riverbluff Retrievers
Pet Care Information
Riverbluff Retrievers
Specializing in ball catchers, face washers and fun family companions

The Labrador Retriever is well known for their fun loving and sociable personalities. They make excellent family pets and are very suitable for children of all ages. Labradors, originally bred for their retrieving capabilities while hunting waterfowl, have become one of Americas most favored pets. Their retrieving capabilities give them natural abilities to catch balls, fetch slippers, and other assorted articles. All it takes is a little training! Below are a few helpful hints to help you and your new puppy get off to a good start!

Feeding Instructions:
The puppies are currently eating Purina Proplan chicken and rice (focus)  puppy formula. It is advisable to keep the puppy on this diet to start with to avoid gastrointestinal upset. If you wish to change the diet do so gradually over 5-7 days. Each day you can mix more of your new food in and use less and less of the old food. Dry food is better for the puppy’s teeth and digestion; canned food can lead to an increase in dental tartar and diarrhea. During the first week with your puppy, you may add water to the dry food to soften it and make the diet more palatable. As the puppy ages, add less and less water until the puppy is eating completely dry food. It is best to feed the puppy three times daily in set meals. Allow the puppy to eat as much as it wants in a 15-20 minute period of time, then pick the remainder up and feed at the next meal. Lab puppies grow at an amazing rate. They will almost double their weight every 4 weeks for the first few months and as this weight changes so will the amount of food necessary to maintain their growing bodies. Feeding in set meals will give you several advantages. First, it helps to teach the puppy to eat its meal when fed. This is healthier for the puppy and will help greatly in house breaking. Scheduled meals will help lead to scheduled potty breaks. Second, in breeds prone to hip dysplasia, it has been found that feeding in set meals decreases the growth rate just enough to help decrease some of the risk of developing hip dysplasia. As the puppy matures to about 6 months the feedings can be reduced to twice daily. In large breeds of dogs, it is recommended to feed puppy food until your pet is about 18 months old. Dog treats can be given in small amounts as rewards for your puppy, but I strongly discourage the use of table food. Too many treats or table food distracts the puppy from eating its regular diet and unbalances a well-balanced dog food.

Crate Training:
Crate training is highly recommended as an effective and safe way to house train a puppy. There are many types of crates available. I prefer the Vari-Kennels® or plastic crates to other brands on the market. They are easy to clean, very durable, and safe. Wire cages can sometimes catch hair or toes! I recommend getting a crate that will fit your dog as an adult dog. The basis of crate training uses the idea that a dog does not like to soil its bed area to facilitate house breaking. The crate should be used anytime you cannot give your puppy your undivided attention. These times may include: dinnertime, cleaning the house, ect. If the puppy is unattended for any length of time it will have an accident. I do recommend confining the puppy to whatever area you are in to watch for behaviors that indicate the puppy needs to go potty. The puppy may need to go to the bathroom every 3-4 hours when crated and even more frequently if it is out in the house playing (every 30-45 minutes), but with time 4 to 8 hours can be achieved. Taking the puppy outside to its designated area, giving it its command to potty, and praising it for good behavior will aid greatly in house breaking. Treats may also be used to help the puppy want to go outdoors to potty. When the puppy has an accident in the house disciplining it with a firm “NO” generally suffices, then take the puppy outside immediately, when it resumes its business praise the puppy profusely. The emphasis on praise versus discipline produces better house breaking results! Correcting the puppy after the fact (without catching it in the act) only confuses the puppy since it has no clue why you are correcting him at that point in time. A towel and a few toys are recommended in the crate; food and water are discouraged unless you will be away for a long time. The puppy will try very hard not to urinate or defecate in the crate once it gets used to it. In time, the puppy will be able to go as long as 6 to 8 hours if necessary in the crate without an accident. I generally, do not recommend paper training in large breeds of dogs. It only confuses the puppy as to where the appropriate area to potty is located. We want that area to be outside and as few accidents in the house as possible will help you to achieve success quickly!.

The Chewing Problem:
The most common complaint of new puppy owners is chewing; not chewing on toys or rugs, but on fingers and toes! When the puppy has left its siblings, it soon decides that you and your family will make nice substitutes. Unfortunately, the puppy does not realize how painful its sharp teeth are. There are many suggestions to correct this problem. The puppy should not be allowed to chew on you or your family members from day one; substitute squeaky toys or rope toys for fingers and a firm “no” when needed to help eliminate this problem. However, puppies can be very persistent about chewing on your hands and at a young age do not fully understand “no”. Try a more firm correction staring directly into the puppy’s eyes to help establish you are the dominant person and hold the puppy firmly on either side of his head and give a very firm, deep “NO”. Keep in mind young puppies have lots of energy. Many of the destructive chewing behaviors and biting can be stopped by ensuring your puppy gets lots of exercise. Most large breed dogs require 45 minutes of play time or walks twice daily. A well exercised puppy is a happy puppy. If you like to run, we do not take dogs for this type of exercise until they reach full maturity at 1 ˝ years of age.

General Health Information:

You will be given a record of the puppy’s vaccination status and a schedule to follow for future vaccinations. Your veterinarian may alter the schedule to fit their recommendations. Basically, your puppy will require vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 17-19 weeks of age. Then yearly vaccinations are required. I also recommend keeping your puppy away from parks and areas where lots of other dogs go until the puppy vaccination series has been completed. It is O.K. to attend early puppy training classes as long as all puppies are required to be vaccinated.

Heartworm Prevention:
I highly recommend heartworm prevention. There are several different types available, some of which also prevent gastrointestinal parasites. Ask your veterinarian heartworm disease and other parasites!

Intestinal Parasites:
Intestinal parasites are very common in young puppies. There is a natural transimission of Roundworms from mother to babies. All of the puppies are dewormed on a schedule, but we still recommend having a fecal flotation test done on your first puppy visit with your veterinarian. Coccidia is another common parasite to young puppies. Their immune system is not as strong as an adult dog, so this parasite is often found especially during stressful events like weaning and changing homes. The puppies may be sent home with medication to prevent this problem. As dogs mature their immune system also matures. It is very rare to find Coccidia in the adult dog.

Your puppy can be bathed as frequently as once a week as a young puppy, then every 2-4 weeks as an adult dog. There are many shampoos available. I do recommend a shampoo that is designed for dogs, not humans. Oatmeal and Aloe shampoos are good choice for young puppies, as long as it is labeled safe for puppies. With Labs it is also a good idea to get your puppy used to having its ears cleaned and nails trimmed at bath time. If you are unsure of how to do this ask your veterinarian to show you at one of your puppy visits.

Spaying and neutering is healthy for any pet! If there is no intention of breeding your dog, then it is best to have it spayed/neutered at a young age, usually at 6 months. Unwanted male behavior starts due to hormonal reasons, but becomes a learned behavior within 1 to 2 years. Neutering an older male dog does not generally stop all of these behaviors, though they may decrease some.

If you have any problems or questions in the future, please do not hesitate to call or email me. I am always pleased to help you at anytime and love getting progress reports and pictures.

Julie Potter, DVM

Home Phone: 540-239-1734
Email Address: juliedvm@aol.com
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