One of the most common questions I am asked (often in a panic-stricken voice) is, “How can I get my puppy to stop chewing my (insert item here)?” And, oh how I empathize because I certainly recognize the plea for a solution. While all of our years of puppy raising has not made us immune to the relentless chewing puppy; it has provided us with some experience and, therefor, wisdom as to what can be done to help deter this destructive habit.
Never, ever, leave your puppy alone to her own devices, with unlimited freedom! The motto on the farm is, “A quiet puppy is a puppy in trouble.” Unless, that is, that puppy is sleeping because she is worn out from all the mental and physical stimulation we try to give her throughout the day. But, even then, we make sure that said puppy is not out of our range of sight.
If we cannot supervise our puppy, then we put her in her crate or an area where she can be protected from herself! And, if we are busy doing chores around the house and would rather not put her in her crate, then I put her on her leash, tie it around my waste, and have her tag alongside me. This works perfectly as her curiosity keeps her engaged in all the “interesting” things I am doing around the house!
Mental and Physical Activity
“A good Lab is a tired Lab,” is a frequent quote we hear in the Labrador community. Nothing could be closer to the truth when referring to a Labrador puppy. Whether 8 weeks old or 8 months old, the Lab puppy is still actively learning about the world around him. Furthermore, all puppies, not just Labradors, learn by putting every new (and old) thing in their mouths.
As he gets older, a puppy’s curiosity, if untamed, can also get him into trouble. A great way to curtail this is to provide him with an ample amount of age-appropriate physical and mental exercise. Here are a few ideas:
* Mix-up your daily exercise. Taking a different direction or going to a different location on your walks can help keep your puppy from getting bored. Adding new sights, sounds, and smells can provide a plethora of new and exciting mental stimulation for him. You may also want to consider mixing up his daily exercise by adding in swimming and a game of fetch!
* Teach your dog a new trick. Daily mental exercises are just as important to your pup’s overall well-being as physical activity. In addition to a regular training regimen to help reinforce the basic commands your puppy has already learned, try adding a new command or trick to your routine. Some fun, yet simple, tricks you can teach him are: high-five, weave between your legs, and roll-over. Visit http://www.akc.org/content/dog-training/tricks/ to learn about other fun things you can teach your pup.
* Add interactive puzzles to your dog’s toy box. There are a number of puzzle-based and interactive toy products available to help exercise your dog’s brain. The extra bonus is that the mental stimulation will help to relieve his boredom (the lead cause of destructive chewing). Check out this article on The Labrador Site to learn about all the available options out there for interactive toys for your puppy.
Despite all of our efforts, there are still going to be periods of time when your puppy (especially your Labrador puppy) is going to have the urge and, oftentimes, need to chew. Your puppy will feel the need to chew in order to relieve the pressure not only during the teething phase, but even after that time, when the adult teeth are still settling into the gums. If you do not have acceptable chew toys around for your puppy, then she will turn to the next best thing: your furniture legs, your shoes, or even that brand new rug you just put in your dining room.
At the farm, our Labs, both young and senior, have a favorite chew toy: the elk antler. We always have 5 or 6 lying around the house, plus a couple extra in storage. The girls LOVE them anytime, but most especially when they are going through a chewing phase or when we are busy around the farm with other chores. The best thing about elk antlers is that they last for a long time, so while they can be pricey, I remind myself about all that expensive furniture I am protecting! We found an excellent resource for these antlers while participating in a recent dog show - Elk Antler Dog Treats. You can find these and other chew treats for your puppy on their website: https://elkantlerdogtreats.com.
While most puppies are chewers, there is no question that the Labrador puppy is one of the more relentless chewers. They are a “mouthy” breed, happiest when they have something in their mouth. While this is essentially unavoidable, taking these steps can help you to redirect your Lab puppy’s chewing energy towards other, more acceptable, behaviors.
While the early weeks of a puppy’s life are considered “critical” growth stages, by the time they reach 12 weeks old, they are entering into a crucial socialization period. This is the time when all of their experiences, both positive and negative, will influence their behavior as they grow into adult dogs. It is often referred to as the “foundational period” that informs who he becomes for the rest of his life.
So how can you help your puppy during this crucial period? The best way to do this is to expose him to as much as possible, ensuring that all of his experiences are positive. Now that his immunity has matured, it is safe to go to public places such as pet stores and parks. It is also a great time to enroll him in puppy kindergarten, such as the AKC STAR Puppy class, where he will have the opportunity to play and interact with a variety of other dogs, and people, while learning important social and behavioral skills.
Now is also the perfect time to start introducing your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. If you ensure that your puppy has positive experiences with different people, things, voices, and more, then he is less likely to be surprised, scared, or even worse, aggressive when he encounters something new.
The following is a checklist of suggested situations to expose your puppy to as he grows up:
Child on a bike
Man wearing a hat
Person walking a puppy/dog
Person in a wheel chair
Man with a beard
Child dancing and jumping
Person using a broom
A festival or party
Ride on an elevator
Person pushing a baby stroller
Person in a trench coat
Women in a dress
Man in a suit
Person with a ball
Child playing with a toy
People of different races
Person with sunglasses
Children at a playground
Person at a drive-through window
Trucks and Cars
Person in uniform
Outdoor sporting games (basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.)
Of course, these are only a few suggestions, as there are a number of other opportunities you may be aware of based upon your own neighborhood situations. The greater the variety of experiences, the more comfortable your dog will be when she comes into contact with these situations. A knowledgeable dog is a confident dog!
Most importantly, make sure you take the time to share as many positive moments with your puppy as possible. Nurturing that relationship now will lay the foundation for a lifelong, loving bond between you and your dog.
We are well into our sixth week of raising a beautiful litter of chocolate puppies. What never ceases to amaze me is how quickly they mature. It seems like it was only yesterday that they were snuggled up closely (and quietly) next to their mother. Now they are like miniature dogs with their own unique personalities and funny antics. No doubt, we are in full puppy mode!
In the first four weeks we really focused on a variety of socialization exercises, which will continue until they go home with their new families in a couple weeks. In these final weeks we have expanded our work with them to include potty training, name recognition, crate familiarization, and teaching commands like “sit” and “down”. The puppies’ brains are like sponges, so starting to work with them on these exercises now will help to ensure that they have a positive foundation to build upon when they go to their new “fur-ever” homes.
Here are the steps we use to begin teaching them the “sit” command:
It does not take more than a few of these early training sessions before the puppies begin to grasp the “sit” command. We work on this in a variety of settings to not only introduce them to this fundamental command, but also to discourage jumping and to help encourage overall good manners. As always, it is our goal to help build a foundation that helps our puppies to be adaptable in all the situations they will encounter in life.
We have had an exciting few days here at the farm! We helped Riley welcome into the world 6 beautiful chocolate Labrador puppies on Saturday, June 24. Riley and her puppies are all healthy and doing well. It is a miracle to watch Riley's maternal instincts kick in as she tends to and nurtures these most precious babies.
We have had a number of inquiries into the availability of puppies. All 4 of the females have been spoken for, as well as 1 male. We still are accepting applications for the adoption of 1 male. If interested in learning more about the adoption process, please email you inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for your daily dose of puppy sweetness!
Many of you who follow our Facebook page already have heard the news; however, for those you who are not on Facebook, we are excited to share with you that we have officially confirmed that Ms. Riley is expecting!
With the help of our friends at Green Gables Farm, Riley (aka Shallow Creek’s “Ask Me Why”) was paired with Clay (aka Green Gables “In the Potter’s Hand”) in late April. When are they due to arrive? Well, the average gestation period for dogs is about 63 days, which makes our approximate due date June 27.
So far Riley is doing exceptional! Right now we are focused on keeping her in good health. In addition to maintaining her healthy diet, each day we go on a long walk around the farm, which helps her to maintain her strength. The first few weeks all she wanted to do was sleep; however, recently it seems she has returned back to her normal happy and energetic self. We are also starting to notice that her waistline is steadily disappearing!
We are receiving multiple inquiries, on a daily basis, about adopting a puppy from this litter. While we will not begin accepting formal reservations until after the litter is born, we are accepting adoption applications. If you are interested in adding an Ashling Place Labradors puppy to your family, please send your inquiries to us at ashlingplacelabradors.com in order to begin the adoption process.