What's NEW on the Tealwood Website




Tealwood Home Page 


   Current & planned litters

Previous Litters

The Boys

The Girls

Available Dogs

    Adults & older puppies

Web Design

  Specializing in

   dog & breeder sites

Loving Memorials

  To my departed friends

  "Gone but not forgotten"

Previous Dogs

    Dogs previously owned

  by Tealwood

Picture Album

   Miscellaneous Pictures

Tealwood Pups & Their Families

  Tealwood Puppies

   with their families

Boarding Kennel

  Pet Web Page Design

  for anyone who's lost

  their special friend

Puppy Tips on Raising a Puppy

  Tealwood booklet

   on raising a Lab pup

Recent Show Wins

Labrador Links

Fun Readings

  Cartoons and

   great poems & prose!

The AKC Labrador Retriever Breed Standard

AKC Title Abbreviations

Search Site

E-Mail Us

Tealwood Labradors

"Getting Started With a New Lab Puppy"


The following is a very concise, but comprehensive booklet that I wrote years ago and give to all my puppy buyers along with the shot records and other paperwork.  It covers the basics of starting out with a new Lab puppy ... advice that I often spend hours going over with puppy buyers.  It's become apparent that, for many people, it's helpful to have this information prior to the day the puppy is picked up, so here it is.  I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but this covers most of what I think is essential.  There are also many excellent books on raising a puppy, some of which are mentioned below.  This is not copyrighted, so feel free to make copies if desired.

If you have additional tips, e-mail me and maybe I can incorporate into the booklet!

Jenny Mitchell

Tealwood Labradors

Boyceville, Wisconsin


E-mail:  tealwoodlabs@yahoo.com

Website: www.tealwoodkennel.com



Your Tealwood Labrador Retriever has been selectively bred for health, superior intelligence and a loyal, cooperative disposition. The combination of good genetics, good socialization as a baby, loving care, and proper correction and training results in a dog that is capable of going far beyond the "family pet".  It produces the ideal intelligent companion that becomes a significant part of your lives for many years to come.

It is no accident that Labrador Retrievers have become the all-round #1 most popular dog in this country. For years, they have been renowned for their hunting ability, both in and out of water. Their superior nose, intelligence and disposition have resulted in the breed becoming more in demand as police investigative dogs, drug detection, customs, and search and rescue dogs than any other breed. They are also being trained and used extensively as "service dogs" and "therapy dogs".  And they make great dogs for doing obedience, agility and rally.  But, more importantly to most of us, this breed is unsurpassed as an intelligent, loyal companion.

I am confident that, with a little conscientious effort, your new puppy will bring you many years of enjoyment and companionship. Remember, Labrador Retrievers are "people-dogs". The more time they can spend with you, the happier, calmer, and better behaved they will be ... even at a very young age. Talk to your puppy, raise him as you would a young child ... with love, kindness, consistency, and firmness when needed.  If you do, you will see him attain that level of devotion and intelligence that exemplifies Labrador Retriever.  Just like with children, training with positive reinforcement will accomplish much more than negative reprimands, and will be more pleasant.  You are in control, so set up situations to allow your puppy to do the right thing, and avoid situations and conditions that will likely produce failures.

Your puppy will be adjusting to his new home for the first several days. Be patient and gentle if he is timid at first. He needs to get to know you and trust you and feel secure in his new home. Be tolerant and understanding if he cries the first night or two ... he is simply feeling lonely. He will be happiest when he is near you. Avoid excessive isolation, even with an older puppy or adult dog. Some time alone is good, and it's important for him to learn to accept being alone and trust that you will come back. But an ignored Labrador may very well become destructive, simply out of boredom and unhappiness.

A young puppy, like a baby, takes lots of naps during the day. Let him sleep when he needs to and prevent young children from over-handling him for a while. Also, make sure to protect him from other animals in the family, who may be either over-friendly or under-friendly to the new arrival! His own crate is an ideal solution, both for giving the puppy a safe haven of his own as well as expediting the housebreaking process.

Although I hope that your puppy will happily live out his entire life span with you, circumstances sometimes arise where you must find another home for him. If this should ever occur, I ask that you call me first as I may be interested in buying him/her back, or may have a  wonderful home just waiting for a dog like yours.  If you can not find a suitable permanent home for him, I will take him back and care for him until a permanent solution can be found. I do not ever want to see any of my puppies, young or old, left at a humane society shelter, nor dumped somewhere in the country, nor put into an unsuitable environment or with some unwilling relative or neighbor.



Your puppy has been raised on Premium Edge Chicken & Rice Puppy Formula.  This is an excellent quality food (better than the well-known "premium" foods such as Iams, Eukeneuba, Science Diet, etc.), but available at a somewhat more reasonable price. I researched for many months before switching to this food almost 10 years ago  (and still continue to research) and was amazed at the number of high-priced, so-called "premium" foods that had "by-products" as the first and primary ingredient, or were primarily grain-based, often not even whole grains.  Premium Edge contains real meat as the primary first two ingredients (no by-products at all) with an appropriate balance of whole grains, is naturally preserved (no chemicals)  and is a very palatable food.   There is no corn and no wheat.  You feed less volume and get more nutrition with this highly digestible food, plus omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for good skin and coat and appropriate vitamins and minerals including glucosamine for healthy joints (adult formulas only). They have a full line of dog and cat foods including two puppy formulas, chicken and rice or lamb and rice adult, low-fat adult, and a senior formula.  The Premium Edge website is: www.premiumedgepetfood.com.  Note that I do NOT feed the lamb-based "large breed" puppy formula that so many recommend to do for Labradors; I've found that my puppies simply do better on the chicken puppy formula as long as you feed the proper amount and switch to the chicken adult formula at the appropriate time.  If you want to or need to switch to another food, make sure to do so gradually by mixing some of both foods for 4-6 days.  And look for another food that meets criteria similar to this Premium Edge formula.  There are places on the internet where you can find independent evaluations of dog foods ... much more reliable than what a manufacturer may put on their bags.

A puppy should be fed 3 times a day for the first 4 months if possible; after that, you can switch to 2 meals per day.  Dogs should have 2 meals a day the rest of their lives, do not ever switch to 1 meal per day ... it's too much volume all at one time, risks bloat, and (like us), they get hungry!  An 8-week old puppy normally eats between 2 1/2 to 3 cups of food per day, which should be divided into 3 daily meals. As he gets into the rapid growth stage of 3-8 months, you will need to progressively increase the amount of food.  An 8-10 month youngster normally requires substantially more food than a mature adult dog.  If you feel that your puppy is growing at a faster rate than normal or is too heavy, switch immediately to the "adult" formula if you have been feeding a puppy formula and adjust the amount. 


The stress of going to a new home, and a change in water, frequently causes some diarrhea for a new puppy.  Overeating, changing food or increasing the amount of food too fast, are also common causes of diarrhea.  Or eating something not intended to be "food", as Labradors are inclined to do!  If diarrhea continues more than a day or two, you should consult your veterinarian;  or, if the puppy acts sickly, get to the vet immediately. A puppy with diarrhea can dehydrate very quickly, potentially becoming a life-threatening condition.   If you need to immediately treat diarrhea yourself, it's best to skip 1 or 2 meals to allow the digestive system to settle down.  You can give some Kao-Pectate but need to determine the right dosage.  Then, start feeding a bland food; you can get cans of Science Diet Prescription I/D (or comparable food) from your vet, or you can boil hamburger and rice, draining off all the fat & liquid.  It also is a good idea to give some type of probiotics for digestive problems (or if the dog has been on antibiotics);  plain yogurt will provide probiotics, or you can buy probiotics in powder or gel form from most vets.  Once the stool has improved, gradually add some regular puppy food, weaning him back over a couple days.  If the diarrhea continues, or has any mucous or blood in it, make sure your vet does a fecal test to check for worms, or the protozoan parasites Coccidia and Giardia.  They would have to be treated with specific medications.


YOU will have to judge your dog's weight throughout his lifetime ... when to increase or decrease the amount of food to keep him in proper weight.  Even changes in temperatures and exercise can alter caloric needs.   As everyone knows, a lean dog is healthier than an overweight dog, and puts less stress on his joints.  Research shows that excessively rapid growth and excess weight are very hard on bones and joints.  But, on the other hand, if you don't give your puppy enough nutrition during this growth spurt toward adulthood, you may forever stunt his development of bone and substance, and put him at a health risk.  SKINNY is not healthy.  Most pet owners rely on their vet for advice.  But, unfortunately, most veterinarians are used to seeing only the lankier, field trial/hunting type of Labrador.  Many of them have advised my puppy buyers that the puppy was too FAT when, in fact, it wasn't at all.  Labs from show bloodlines simply are stockier, with more substance, and have more coat.  Many vets who've only seen field Labs, misinterpret this to be "fat".  Thus, I advise you to feel your dog's ribs on a regular basis and judge for yourself.  If you can feel the ribs with a little bit of pressure, he is fine; if you can't feel the ribs, he has too thick a layer of fat and you should cut back a bit on the food (or treats????).  You should NEVER be able to see the ribs! 

 It is wise to get your puppy used to eating at designated mealtimes rather than leaving food available all the time. Give him about 15 minutes to eat in the same, quiet spot, then pick up the bowl.  His crate is an excellent place to feed the puppy.  Avoid times when he is too sleepy or too distracted to eat.

Lastly, ALWAYS have fresh water available for your dog.  Not in his crate, but all the rest of the time.



When you pick up your puppy at 8 weeks, he will have been de-wormed three times (at 3, 5 and 7 weeks) with a veterinary prescription wormer and will have had his first  8-week DA2PP puppy shot (for distemper, hepatitis, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza and parvovirus).   He does NOT have a full level of immunity at this stage so try to minimize his exposure to strange dogs and places they've been.  He will still need three more puppy shots, normally at 3-week intervals, and rabies which is normally done at 4-5 months.   Thereafter, follow your veterinarian's schedule for routine exams and vaccinations.  It is now recommended protocol to give a booster for the DA2PP and rabies one year after the puppy vaccinations, then every 3 years. 

Although all of my puppies are vet-checked, I still recommend you take him to your vet within several days for a thorough examination to ensure you and your vet are satisfied with your puppy's condition.  I highly recommend you carry  the puppy in and out of the vet's office until he's had all four puppy shots;   there's no way of knowing what diseases have just walked through the vet's office! 

I, personally, have been concerned for years with minimizing the amount of toxins to which my dogs are exposed.  We have a significant rise in cancer in our dogs and many feel that it is due to more and more toxins ... medications, vaccinations, preventatives, fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, carpet cleaners, etc.  Because of this, after much research, I avoid many toxic measures, have found some alternatives to keeping my dogs healthy.  But each pet owner will have to make their own decisions, along with their vet.

Heartworm preventatives: It is important to protect your dog from heartworm infestation, normally starting your puppy on a monthly or daily heartworm preventative by 3-4 months of age (in the south, prevention must continue year round).  Heartworm infestation can kill your dog, and the preventative medication can be dangerous if given to a dog or puppy already infested with heartworms.  Every dog should be heartworm tested every spring.  An alternative to using the heartworm preventative is to put the dog on a yeast & garlic treatment throughout the bug season;  it will help in repelling all kinds of insects ... fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, even some flies, and does not introduce any toxins to your dog.  This is what I do; the product dosage that I use is 1 tablet per 10 pounds so you can give the precise correct amount.  I have very few ticks and no fleas, and only one case of Lymes ... and it's actually healthy for the dogs.  Consult with your veterinarian during your first visit.

Note that we now have heartworm tests that test for 4 conditions:  (1) Heartworms, (2) Lymes disease/exposure, (3) Ehrlichiosis and (4) Anaplasmosis.

Flee & tick preventatives: Flea or tick infestations can be very hard, even deadly, to animals, thus need to be controlled.  There now are, unlike years ago, some very effective flee & tick preventatives ... topicals that are applied monthly to two spots on the dog and spread systemically.  But again, they are potent toxins, so I would recommend using only when necessary.  The yeast and garlic tablets that I use are a great deterrent; and there are other all-natural, non-toxic remedies to control flees and ticks.

Kennel cough vaccine (bordetella): I recommend vaccinating for the airborne, highly contagious kennel cough syndrome every six months if your dog is exposed to other dogs such as in a boarding kennel, at dog shows, puppy obedience classes, or trials.

Other vaccinations:  I do not recommend using any combo vaccine with LEPTO in it.  It has been responsible for too many serious, life-threatening reactions.  If your vet feels you are in a really high-risk area for Lepto, you can vaccinate for it using a separate Lepto vaccine, under close supervision by a vet.  I do not vaccinate for LYMES disease either, but you may be in an area where it is important to consider.  Again, you should consult with your vet and make your own decision.

Internal Parasites: Since stool sample analysis is not always conclusive (worms may not be evident during certain stages of cycling), I recommend automatic de-worming every six months, or at least annually, with a quality wormer (such as Strongid-T) available from your veterinarian.  Avoid "over-the-counter" wormers which may not be as effective and may unpredictable with side effects.  If you encounter on-going loose stools, you need to do some fecal tests to determine what parasite(s) may be responsible.  The common protozoan parasites (Coccidia and Giardia) need to be treated with specific medications.

Ear cleaning: Some Labs have a tendency for dirty, moist ears (due to ear carriage and frequent swimming). This results in a perfect environment for ear infections, both bacterial and yeast, as well as infestation by ear mites, which love dirty ears. Using a good routine ear cleaner (such as Epi-Otic or Oti-Clens) every week or two will greatly reduce the incidence of ear problems. Frequent shaking of the head, or smelly or reddened ears indicate ear problems which may require a vet check and special antibiotics, both in the ear and oral.  If the condition is chronic, with bad infections, sometimes it is necessary to have a vet "flush" the ears, removing the residual bacteria and infection from behind the ear drum.  Do NOT let ear infections go untreated.

Toenail clipping: Long nails are uncomfortable, can crack off and bleed, and look bad. Learn to clip off the growth tip (taking care not to cut into the quick) every 2 weeks or so, or have a veterinarian do it for you periodically. If the dog has good round, upright feet, walking frequently on concrete or asphalt will often keep nails worn down so that clipping is not necessary.  Do NOT let a vet or groomer deliberately cut back severely enough to cause pain and bleeding; this could make the dog afraid of nail clipping forever ... and it is cruel.  There are also rotary tools that grind down the nails, thus minimizing the chance of cutting into the quick.  If your dog still has dew claws, remember to keep them clipped also.

Teeth: Your puppy will be teething, losing baby teeth and getting permanent teeth, between 3-6 months of age. Watch for the occasional adult tooth trying to come in with the puppy tooth still in place ... the puppy tooth may have to be pulled. Provide plenty of safe, acceptable things for the puppy to chew, such as nylabones, chew ropes, natural sterilized bones, and occasional rawhides. These satisfy the Lab's lifetime desire to chew and carry things in his mouth as well as helping to remove tartar. Brushing the dog's teeth with a "doggy" toothpaste as often as possible is a great deterrent to tooth decay and the resulting "doggy breath". There are special toothbrushes for dogs, but a regular toothbrush works fine once the puppy is accustomed to the process; do not use toothpaste made for people.

General grooming: An occasional bath and periodic brushing (with a "slicker brush") is all that is normally needed to keep a Lab looking good. Bathing too often, not rinsing soap out well, and over-using flea products, can cause a dull coat and dry, itchy, flaky skin. Use a good dog shampoo ... never a shampoo made for people. And remember, good nutrition is essential to good coat.  Omega fatty acid supplements can be helpful for dry skin, even for some minor allergies.

The Spay/Neuter Issue:  Unless you are planning to show your dog in conformation, I strongly recommend that you spay/neuter her or him to avoid the problems of heat cycles, distracted males, and unwanted, unplanned puppies. My pet puppies are sold on AKC "limited" registration, which is a full AKC registration but with the restriction that you cannot register a litter out of or sired by the dog.  Only the original breeder can remove this restriction of "limited registration".  If you are considering breeding, please discuss with me.  Also discuss the subject thoroughly with your veterinarian and/or other breeders, read applicable books, consider facilities required, potential costs and risks involved, and the amount of work and knowledge involved.   Every potential parent should have hips and elbows x-rayed and certified, eyes certified by a canine eye specialist and be in top-notch health ... and should be a quality specimen of the breed with proper temperament. No bitch should be bred prior to 24 months of age, nor prior to the 2nd heat cycle, and should be cleared for brucellosis. And the pedigrees must be carefully examined to avoid poor breeding decisions, in-breeding and possible hereditary problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems such as PRA, cataracts, retinal folds/dysplasia, epilepsy, allergies, cardiac problems, etc.  For a variety of reasons, there are many wonderful dogs who should not be bred.

But I do not recommend doing the spay or neuter any younger than necessary.  There is substantial evidence that early neutering (6 months as often recommended) increases the incidence of orthopedic problems.  For females, it's usually safe to wait until 9-10 months and still avoid having to deal with the first heat cycle.  For males, I usually recommend you wait until the dog matures, develops his "masculinity", around 1 1/2 - 2 years of age, before you neuter him. 



The following contains numerous tips that I like to pass along to new puppy owners, and I am always available for questions that might arise ... even years in the future. I love to hear how my puppies are doing, and pictures or visits are always greatly appreciated. There are also numerous good books, videos, and magazines that can be very informative, covering a wide variety of topics from health to all types of training such as basic obedience and good manners, formal training for obedience, show, and field competition, and hunting. Some are geared to overcoming specific problems and understanding the way a dog's mind works. How To Raise A Puppy You Can Live With, by Rutherford & Neil (Alpine Publications) is an excellent book for around $10.00 (many available used at Amazon.com), and several books by Richard A. Wolters are very good for training a hunting companion. There are beautiful, informative books devoted to the Labrador Retriever, focusing on the origins of the breed, traits, the AKC standard, hereditary factors, etc., and The Labrador Quarterly (Hoflin Publishing, Wheat Ridge, CO) is an outstanding publication geared primarily to Lab breeders and exhibitors. I can recommend and possibly special order books that you may find helpful and interesting.



Your puppy is reliant upon you to provide a safe environment for him. Of primary concern is adequate shelter that offers protection from excessive heat as well as protection from the cold. Heatstroke can be a life or death situation, particularly for the very young or elderly dog. Make sure his shelter is well-ventilated or air-conditioned in summer months, and that shade and plenty of fresh water is always available. Rather than a doghouse, a wonderful, inexpensive option is installing a "doggy door" from the fenced yard to a utility room, kitchen or any other room that can be closed off from the rest of the house and "puppy-proofed".

As much as dogs may love to run, it is an unfair risk to your dog as well as to the family that loves him to ever allow him to run free without supervision. Even the best trained dog who "never leaves" his property is tempted on occasion by a squirrel, cat, or another dog. Too many "trusted" companions are shoveled up off the roads and highways every year, and I do not want to see your puppy become one of the statistics. Also, many dogs are stolen and then sold to researchers, or stolen for hunting season. Consider having your dog microchipped as a permanent means of identification.  Animal shelters and most vets have scanners and can trace a microchipped dog back to his owner;  also, responsible research facilities supposedly scan and will not use microchipped dogs.

Providing an adequately fenced area for your puppy is imperative. It does not have to be a huge area; a long, narrow run allows more exercise than a square-shaped kennel. Many fencing materials are available, some quite inexpensive that you can install yourself. Just make sure that gates are securely latched and locked. Another option called "invisible fencing" is now on the market; it should keep your dog in, but obviously will not keep strange dogs or predatory animals out. Chaining a dog is NOT a safe or humane method of confining a dog, particularly large dogs that need exercise or puppies who may panic and get tangled.  And, if chained, they are at the mercy of other animals  or people who may approach.

You will need to "puppy proof" your home, and continue many precautions throughout the dog's life.  In the home, keep dangerous or sharp objects out of reach. Electrical cords near the floor can be tempting and deadly. Even an open hot oven door can cause serious burns. Virtually all substances considered poisonous to humans are also poisonous to dogs, such as cleaning fluids, cleansers, fertilizers, cement, lime, caulks, fireworks containing phosphorus, insecticides, rat poisons, etc. Note that anti-freeze is particularly tasty to dogs ... and extremely deadly even in very small amounts.  And some foods that are fine for humans are poisonous to dogs (i.e., chocolate, onions, some chewing gums).  Also consider your house and yard plants as potentially dangerous ... puppies love to chew and many common plants are poisonous. 

When you are not able to keep an eye on your puppy, the safest place for him is in his outdoor run or in a crate.



Bad, unruly dogs are almost always the result of lack of training, or inconsistency, neglect, or abuse on the owners part. In as little as 5 to 10 minutes per day you can have a well-behaved, happy dog that the whole family, friends, and relatives will enjoy.

Do not allow your puppy to do anything now which you would not like him to do when he is full gown. Some think it is so cute when a little guy jumps up on your legs and rough-houses and chews you hands. But it is rarely appreciated when a 75-pound adult continues the same habits! Avoiding bad habits is much easier than breaking them, whether it be begging for food at the table, barking, jumping on people, or sleeping on the couch.

A sharp, loud "uh-uh" or "no" is sufficient reprimand for a puppy. Women with soft, sweet voices need to work at getting enough sternness in their voices so that the pup can distinguish between the happy voice and the unhappy voice. They learn fast and are eager to please you, and tone of voice often means more than the command words themselves. An effective form of more serious reprimand is the "scruff scold". When scolding the pup, hold him by the scruff of the neck (on both sides) and make him look into your eyes and pay attention. This maneuver is similar to the mother dog's discipline in the wild and helps establish you as the "leader of the pack". As soon as the offending behavior has stopped, praise him. Always remember to use a happy voice and praise warmly when your puppy does well.

Chewing things in the house is rarely a problem if you make an effort to avoid the problem. Remember, the puppy will be teething and needs to chew. So have plenty of acceptable things for him to chew, such as rawhide bones, chew/play ropes, kong toys, treated natural sterilized bones, nylabones or gumabones.  I keep a good selection of safe, tried-and-true toys and other supplies on hand for puppy buyers ... most considerably cheaper than pet shops.  Avoid anything he could swallow, such as bells inside rubber toys, etc. Also avoid regular meat bones (particularly chicken or pork bones), all of which can splinter and puncture internally if swallowed. Note that rawhide is fine for puppies but older Labs who are aggressive chewers can virtually inhale rawhide, sometimes resulting in vomiting and/or even life-threatening intestinal blockage.  Best to build the puppy's attachment for some of the safe, durable chew toys rather than spoil them with too much rawhide.  Do not give the dog toys with only ONE hole in them such as the Pimple Ball made by Four Paws; suction can cause the dog's tongue to get stuck inside and swell to the stage requiring amputation!  For a while, you may want to remove temptation by picking up expensive shoes, books, etc. from the floors. But if you watch the puppy and direct consistently, he will quickly learn that certain things are not for him.

Young puppies all "play-bite" at your hands, just like they did on their littermates. You can quickly teach them not to bite by not allowing them to get your hands in the mouth. When they do, scold with a warning sound or command such as "easy" or "careful". You also can pinch the puppy's lip a little to reinforce the idea.

Sometimes people have so much fun playing with a puppy or young dog that they forget how important it is to teach him to enjoy calm, quiet affection. A "live-wire" puppy can greatly benefit by holding, cuddling, and petting the puppy while praising him with a soothing, quiet voice. Limiting the amount of rough-housing with young children also helps calm down a young puppy. (And they love having their bellies softly rubbed.)

Jumping up on you can be stopped by always bending near to the pup's level and petting him when he approaches. That way you are also ready to hold him back and push him to the ground if he does leap ... and scold him with a command such as "off".

And ALWAYS recognize with praise and petting when the puppy (or adult dog) comes when called to come. Many people actually unknowingly train their dog not to come. A perfect example is when the dog is roaming too far away, or is investigating something not appropriate, and the owner calls "come". The dog stops what he's doing and starts to come; the owner (now satisfied), turns away and ignores the dog. Eventually, the dog learns that "come" must not mean come all the way to me, and he learns to ignore you just as you ignored him.

You can begin teaching your puppy a few things right away, but remember his attention span is very short and he gets sleepy quickly. Start calling him by his name right away to get his attention. By as early as 8 to 10 weeks, you can begin short training sessions (5 minutes once or twice a day) for simple commands such as "sit", "down" (lie down), "stay", "come", etc., as well as getting him accustomed to a soft collar/leash. And get him used to staying still for having his ears cleaned, his feet handled and toenails clipped. There is nothing wrong with reinforcing his good behavior with little treats as well as praise during these sessions.

Patience and consistency are keys to successful training and a happy, well-behaved dog. If you feel you are losing your patience, or the puppy is not concentrating at all, stop (preferably on a good note) and try again later. Remember, reinforcing good behavior is more effective than punishing poor behavior. You'll be amazed how quickly he'll learn these simple commands! If you are having consistent problems with certain things, it most likely is due to confusion. Try another approach to communicate what you want or don't want.

I strongly recommend some type of obedience training once your puppy is old enough, which can be fun and rewarding for both you and your dog. You both will learn a lot and it's great socialization for the puppy.  But please, don't start classes, exposing him to many other puppies who may be carrying various diseases, until he's completed his series of 4 puppy shots!  There are also many good books and videos on training dogs available at book stores, pet supply stores, and public libraries.



Housebreaking a puppy is always a major concern, and can be as frustrating to the puppy as it is to you. Keep in mind that your puppy really wants to please you, but he has two handicaps regarding the housebreaking issue. First, he may not initially understand at all what you want, nor that there is anything wrong with doing his business anywhere the urge arises; secondly, young puppies have to go often, and sometimes simply cannot hold it any longer, particularly if diarrhea has set in.  Most of my puppies, raised from 5-8 weeks in my indoor/outdoor kennel, have developed the instinct to use the doggy door to do their business outside;  but your home is very different and they won't have any idea how to get outside.

Timing is important in housebreaking. When very young, puppies will have to go every couple of hours. Your success in training can be expedited by being attentive during the first few weeks, and always taking him out at the following key times: (1) first thing in the morning, (2) after every nap, (3) after every meal, and (4) last thing at night. If he cries during the night, he may have to go out then also; however, it should not be long before he's sleeping through the night. The more conscientious about watching the puppy during the first several weeks (and trying to avoid accidents), the quicker the entire housebreaking process will progress and the more conscientious he will be.

It may sound silly, but it is a very useful practice to decide on a word to use to refer to the dog doing his business. You may use a word such as "potty", or use your own imagination. Remember though, that it is a word you will oftentimes be using around other people for many years!

Every time you take the puppy out, ask him in a happy voice: "Do you have to go potty?" Whenever possible, don't carry him out ... call him and let him walk to the door so he will learn where the exit is. The next step will be for him to let you know he has to go out by whining or scratching at the door. When at the designated spot, keep nicely repeating, "go potty". Do not distract him from his business by petting him or letting children run around him playing. When he does his business, get real excited and say "good potty, good boy, good potty!" Praise and positive reinforcement go a long way. Pet him, play with him a few moments, and make sure he knows you are very happy. Then take him inside so he understands why he was taken out. The puppy will quickly learn what the word means, and will respond when you ask him if he has to "go out and go potty". This can be invaluable when you travel and must take him out on a leash to a strange area. Instead of standing around for hours waiting, he will understand right away what he is there for.

Scolding a young puppy for a mess that you find after the fact is ineffective. He will not remember what he did wrong and will only be confused. After he is catching on, it can be effective to talk in a low, unhappy voice while cleaning up the accident.  If you catch the puppy in the act inside, quickly pick him up, scold him verbally and take him outside. Remember, Labrador Retrievers are normally sensitive dogs who really want to please. It is not necessary to rub his nose in it, nor to physically reprimand him. Your angry or unhappy voice is normally enough to make him pay attention and feel bad for what he's done.



Virtually every training expert and anyone who has ever tried it are avid believers in using a dog crate for housebreaking a puppy! It will greatly speed up the training process and reduce the number of indoor accidents ... and keep him out of trouble and danger when you can't keep a close eye on him.

The concept is simple. Most dogs and puppies do not want to mess their own nest or sleeping area. Thus, in a crate, they will try to wait until you take them out. If the puppy has been sleeping (or quiet) and starts to fuss, he's trying to tell you it's time. Take him immediately outside.

Keep in mind that you need to be available to let him out periodically, or you will give him no choice but to mess his crate ... which develops a very bad habit and a hard one to break. If no one is home during the day, he'll need a safe, sheltered outside area, or access to the outdoor yard thru a doggy door; then use the crate and housebreak him during the evening hours and during the night.  Or work out a plan so that someone can let him out several times a day, let him do his business, drink water and have a little "people time" and play time.

Many new puppies don't want to stay in a crate at first, but would rather be right beside you. Some may cry pitifully. If he does, let him cry for a while if you are sure that he does not have to "potty" and that he is not hungry or in pain. Usually, he will soon fall asleep. It may help at first to put treats in the crate and let him walk in and out. It also comforts him if you sit right outside his crate where he can see you until he falls asleep.

In the beginning, it is a good idea to put the crate in a room where you can hear him, but his fussing the first few nights does not keep you from getting some sleep. The first week or so, he more than likely will really need to go outside once during the night (somewhere between 2-4 AM). It is strongly advised to get up, take him out, praise him, and put him immediately back to bed. To ignore his fussing will result in a messy crate in the morning ... and teach him that it is of no use to try to be neat and clean. I recommend, at first, putting a bath towel in the crate ... it is much easier to launder in the case of an accident than a big blanket or crate cushion. Do not leave food or water in the crate.

Believe it or not, he will actually get to love his crate and will want to sleep in it or run to it when he feels threatened! It is an ideal solution to confining either a puppy or an adult dog when you are not there to keep an eye on him. And when traveling in the car, it is safer to crate him if room allows. The crate comes in handy when staying at a relative's home or in a motel room (some of which require dogs to be crated at night). And if you ever decide to show your dog, it is imperative that he be accustomed to and happy in his crate.  Last good reason to crate train: if your dog ever gets injured or requires surgery that calls for "bed rest" and no activity, you will have to crate him.  This time of stress would be made much worse if the dog was panicked at being confined to a crate; in contrast, a crate-trained dog will be relieved to be able to feel safe and rest on a comfy cushion in his own crate.

In other words, I believe that you are making training and life with your dog much more difficult than necessary if doing so without a crate! If you're buying one, remember to buy one big enough to accommodate the dog when he becomes full grown (preferably the X-LG crate, or a minimum of 24" x 36" x 28" high for a smaller Lab). They come in molded plastic (like airline crates) or welded wire that fold and carry like a suitcase. I often can order an appropriate wire crate for you at a much better price than most pet shops;  plastic crates are very reasonably priced at many stores such as Fleet Farm, Menards, Walmart, etc.  If you use a wire crate for a puppy, you may want to drape a blanket over the top to give him a sense of enclosure like a den.  Just make sure he doesn't pull part of it into his crate and eat it!

Good luck to you and your new puppy! If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to call. I'd love to receive pictures and updates ... or come back to visit whenever possible.


E-Mail Us

Website by Jenny Mitchell, Tealwood Kennel - Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008

Last modified: November 29, 2008