Trainers agree that most pet problems which dog owners experience have to do with the training they receive and the excess freedom they are given in the home. Your Labradoodle puppy is a sweet, intuitive, intelligent dog and capable of being a pleasing companion. Labradoodles enjoy training, playtime, and direction.
If you take the time to establish your loving authority early on, you will reap the benefits for years to come. Train your pup to be a good canine citizen and a welcome addition to your neighborhood. I have listed common mistakes which owners make, and a way for you to prevent those hardships.
Mistake #1: Not being puppy-educated.
Attend a puppy kindergarten class if possible, and read several training books before your new pup arrives. Get library books on your children's individual levels. Do role-playing with your children on sit, stay, and come commands, with you being the puppy and your child being the trainer. You will need to teach your children firmness in voice commands.
Mistake #2: Idealistic expectations.
Dogs are expensive. Dogs are trouble. Dogs are frustrating. Dogs are noisy. Dogs are messy. Be prepared for the bumps in the road (a chewed shoe), and the valleys (an emergency trip to the vet when an army man gets swallowed). You will be a much happier owner if you have realistic expectations.
Mistake #3: Lack of communication with children or between adult owners.
What are your expectations for your children? Do you want your new pup to teach them responsibility? If your child is younger than 8 years old and you plan for your pup to be your child's total responsibility, you may be disappointed. Of course, a puppy is a perfect tool for teaching responsibility, the need for discipline in life, and compassion for God's creatures. But there will be times when they don't follow through, and you will need to pick up the slack. Be reasonable about how you expect your children to fit into the life of your new pet.
A good way to begin your puppy adventure is with a contract between you and your children which states the needs of the puppy with clear plans for who will meet these needs. An example follows: By having a contract in advance, if your child balks at taking your dog on a walk, you may remind them of the agreement they signed.
Mistake #4: Not being prepared to sacrifice.
My husband and I often laugh about our experience bringing home our first child. We had spent weeks attending classes and breathing, reading books and breathing, visiting delivery rooms and more breathing. Then the delivery occurred. Days later, we brought home this squirmy, screeching, sleepless boy with no idea what to do with him.
We don't want your puppy parenthood experience to be marred with panic and sleep deprivation. Be prepared for the worst, and then reality will be a cupcake. For the first several nights, you will find it simpler to sleep on the couch next to your puppy's crate in a room near the door. Exercise your pup well before your bedtime. Do not offer water within a few hours of your bedtime. At bedtime, put your puppy in the crate with his comfort toys which the breeder sent along with him. Expect whining for a good long bit, but do not cave in and let your puppy sleep with you. Coo and comfort your new pup; pet him through the crate. You have the wisdom and you are in charge. You can train your pup to sleep through the night. Your goal is the get the little sweetheart through the night with only two potty outings, perhaps around 2:00 AM and 5:00 AM, but never wake a sleeping puppy - let him wake you.
During potty outings, do not cuddle or comfort your pup, although you will always carry your pup to the door in the beginning weeks of housebreaking, rather than have him walk. While on this nighttime potty outing, communicate to him that this is strictly business. Take him to his designated potty place and set him down. Your only words should be "Go potty" and then cheerfully praise him with "Good boy!" Be aware that some puppies will always potty twice within minutes. If you notice your puppy doing this, it's OK, and just expect this. Then go back to bed, settling him into his crate. This should only last a few nights, and he will soon surprise you by stretching a few more hours between potty outings. Always check his crate with your hand for a mistake. There is no need to scold mistakes at this stage. Simply remove his bedding and replace with dry bedding. All soiled bedding should be washed with vinegar or Nature's Miracle to eliminate the urine smells. Then, after he becomes fond of his crate in a few days, you may return to your bed. He will feel secure, and you will feel your sacrifice has been worthwhile.
Mistake #5: Expecting housebreaking too soon.
Many authors and even some trainers tout methods of housebreaking guaranteeing results in eight weeks. Most trainers would say that this is not a reasonable for all puppies. While some puppies may possibly be housebroken at that age, it is rare. For a puppy to be reliably housebroken, it must first meet a physiological developmental milestone in control. Some veterinarians claim that it is not reasonable to expect this 100% of the time until the puppy is near seven months old. While most puppies will be housebroken before that, it is wise to have reasonable expectations.
Mistake #6: Too much freedom too soon.
Your puppy will naturally want to keep his crate clean, provided it is only small enough for him to turn around in. Don't give him an adult-size crate which he can romp in, because he can then assign one side of the crate as his latrine (some crates are sold with adjustable panels which will grow with your puppy). Instead, begin immediately with crate training, which is the most humane and natural living quarters for your pup. By nature he wants a safe den to cuddle in (remember his wolf ancestry).
Your pup will be very sleepy in the beginning weeks, so take advantage of this. He will sleep and be ready to go on a potty outing every 1 1/2 hours. After each potty outing will be your play time, cuddle time, and training time. Afterwards, you will return him to his crate for a nap.
The playtime may be done in a small area (6-foot by 6-foot) which you designate as his romper room. This area, as well as the crate, should be in a part of the home the family gathers in, such as the kitchen. A flexible gate system is a terrific option. This way, if your child is playing with your pup and goes off to another room, your pup won't accidentally get lost in the house. This system will keep your pup safe from the myriad of choking hazards throughout your home. The flexible gate and crate combination prevents those unwanted accidents - in short, it will keep your stress level low.
My mistake with this system was in allowing my pups freedom beyond the gate before they were tried and true. Be quite sure your pup is housebroken reliably before extending his boundaries. When you do choose to extend the boundaries beyond the pen, do it gradually, adding a room at a time. Wait several weeks or a month of no accidents before you expand boundaries again. It is wise to have agreement early on as to which rooms will eventually be opened to your pet and which will not. If you plan for your puppy to never enter the study, for example, then make that known ahead of time.
Most trainers suggest that your trained dog should sleep on a dog bed beside your bed, but not on the bed. This prevents them from thinking that they are on your level of authority in the pack of your family. We routinely break this rule. (Do as the trainers say, not as we do.) When your pet does have freedom beyond the pen and begins to head for an off-limits room, simply scold him "Ah ah ah!" in a firm voice, followed by a cheerful "[insert name here] come!" He will know he has committed a no-no and return to you inside the boundaries. Praise him cheerfully. This takes commitment, and your pup should only be out of the pen when you are willing to pay attention and do training.
Mistake #7: Using too many words.
Your Labradoodle will be trained faster if everyone in your home uses the same terminology during training. Keep it simple - use commands which are easily understood by a dog's ear (hard consonants are more easily understood that soft consonants). For instance, to tell your dog to stop barking, you may use the command "Quiet!" or "No bark!" as opposed to "Hush!" The rebuke "Ah ah ah!" is useful in a multitude of situations.
Mistake #8: Grazing and over-treating.
We hope you will feed your Labradoodle with excellent health as your goal. At eight weeks, your puppy will need to eat three times a day on a regular schedule. The last feeding should be before 6:00 PM. No treats or water after dinner is best to help your dog achieve housebreaking. Feedings should be in the crate. Take your puppy out for potty immediately after a meal. After the meal has been offered for fifteen minutes, the food is removed. Keep track of how much your pup eats during the first months, as your vet may find this helpful. The reason that continual feeding (or grazing) is not best is twofold: It solidifies your role as the alpha, provider of the meal, and it also prevents your dog from becoming obese. Obesity in dogs is never healthy and may be an environmental factor contributing toward hip dysplasia.
Treats should be given only for performing a command. Make sure your treats are a healthy addition to your pup's nutrient-packed diet. Don't be tempted to buy chemically treated junk food. It is expensive and does not provide the pure nutrients your growing pup requires. Instead of junk treats, fill your treat jar with a premium-quality dry dog food which you do not currently use. For example, if you currently use Innova chicken, try a salmon-based food for treats.
On the subject of food, not all dog food is equal. Ancestors in the wild ate an all-protein "whatever you can catch" diet. Most grocery store brands of kibble contain a high percentage of fillers. The fillers themselves may have been in contact with pesticides or other chemicals. Now let's look at the protein: If beef is listed as an ingredient, which part of the cow do you suspect that might be? Never will you see a particular cut of beef listed, which means your dog food choice could be filled with parts you and I do not want to discuss.
There are commercial dog foods available which use human-grade standards, rather than animal standards. Ask in a premium pet store about human standards. You will pay much more for human-standard food, but your dog will eat considerably less, since it is packed with the nutrients his body craves. Most dog enthusiasts believe that chicken- or fish-based foods are digested more easily. Fish oils have been known to be beneficial to prevent scratching in dogs who experience dry skin due to environment, weather or allergies.
Considering getting two pups at once?
Dog behaviorists and professional dog trainers would wag their finger at you. They say that getting two pups at once is similar to raising quadruplet human babies. Why? Two pups the same age will take their cues from each other rather than you. Unless you plan to spend time separately with each one doing basic training individually each day, you may be better off having one puppy, train it to the Canine Good Citizen level, and then adding your second. Shedless in Seattle will give you a 20% discount on your second puppy from us, even a few years down the line.
How do we accidentally teach dogs to totally ignore us?
“Automatic attention is the mother of all behaviors and one of the first things you should teach your dog. There is no point in teaching your dog how to do things if he is going to ignore you when you ask him to do them. If your dog is off in a mentally distant land and you repeatedly call his name, you are just like static in the background to him. The only thing you will have accomplished is to devalue his name. Even if you got yourself one of the excellent dog training books out there and followed the instructions in it exactly, you would probably find that your Pigs Fly dog still doesn't perform when you want him to. That is often because he is not paying attention to you.” – Whole Dog Journal
Keeping Your Puppy Safe at Home
Dangers in your home that you would never think about, include the cleaning products that you choose, and lawn chemicals that you put on your grass, can be avoided with a little planning.
Before bringing the pup home, change out your cleaning products to less harsh alternatives such as vinegar and lemon juice for the wood floor. For yard chemicals, find pet friendly alternatives. Dryer sheets do not break down in an animals stomach, and cleaning gloves taste so yummy, but are the perfect size to stop up the GI system.
Buy pet toys and animal products (bully sticks, real meat bones both smoked or raw) from countries that have high standards for processing, like U.S. and Canada.
Chinese ingredients have killed thousands of pets in the past few years, including things that we are familiar with such as lead, and other products we have never even heard of. Until China cleans up their processing, simply do not use Chinese animal products or toys made in China.
Get your children in the habit of putting purses and backpacks up high, or hang on a peg, to prevent poisoning. Common products such as Tylenol, over the counter meds, and prescription medicines are toxic to dogs. Dogs love to shake those pill bottles! Did you know that some mints, toothpaste, gum all contain Zylitol as an artificial sweetener, and it it toxic to dogs? Especially when friends or houseguests are visiting, you have to be ahead of the risks. Pegs, hooks, and habits can prevent these costly and deadly accidents.
Puppy Care Team
Behaviorists suggest that a developing pup will be best socialized if he meets 100 people in his first four months of age. Our puppies get visits from their future owner, and from those who visit to put down a deposit on a future litter. "Over the years we have been blessed by friends who love to either volunteer or be employed to help with raising puppies by bathing, teaching leash walking, sit, come, and taking outings to busy places like Home Depot, or Starbucks". We believe that this provides a rich and diverse experience for our puppies, even before they go to their new home. Our owners are highly encouraged to continue very intentional socialization and desensitization to "all things new" when the pup settles in their new home.
Patricial Mcconnell has videos and books for you to keep on hand when growing up with your puppy. She is a highly respected author, trainer, speaker. Learn More Here