Your Labrador Retriever Puppy
Month by Month
By Terry Albert
This book takes you month by month through your puppy's first year. It includes everything you need to know about health, development, training, nutrition, socialization, and just how to have fun with your new Lab. It's the longest book I've ever written–330 pages packed with information–so I had the opportunity to go into great detail.
Numerous experts helped me with this book, and I hope you will find something new and interesting on every page! Many thanks to my friends Barb and Don Ironside, Deb Eldredge DVM, Susan Eberhardt, Nina Mann, Heather Luis, Liz Palika, Pat Hastings, Pat Schaap, Sarbit Singh DVM, Florence Scarinci, Christine Rinaldi, Cary Saunders, Melanie Montiero, Lorna O'Connor and Nancy Shahan-Wall. So many generous people gave their time and expertise. Thank you!
More about my co-authors:
Don and Barbara Ironside have owned Labs for 38 years and shown them in conformation, obedience, and hunting tests. Under the name Fawnhaven Labradors, they have owned and bred multiple breed champions and hunting dogs. Their achievements include Best of Breed at the Labrador Retriever National Specialty, plus numerous utility obedience titles and Master Hunters. Fawnhaven dogs have completed titles in obedience, tracking, hunting, agility, and flyball. Don worked in the dog food industry as an account representative and breeder adviser for 20 years. Barbara is a past president of the Shasta Kennel Club in California and Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Association in Washington State. Both are longtime members of The Labrador Retriever Club, the AKC parent club for the breed, and are AKC approved Hunt Test judges.
Deb Eldredge, DVM, graduated from Cornell University, where she was the first recipient of the Gentle Doctor Award given by the clinical faculty for best patient care. Dr. Eldredge is past president of the Dog Writers Association of America. She is the author of 10 books on pets and has won numerous awards from Dog Writers Association of America, Cat Writers Association (CWA), and most recently won the Amy Shojai Mentor Award from CWA.
Over 20 years ago, an 8-week-old yellow Labrador Retriever puppy named Tank came into my life. I had only owned one dog, a Sheltie, up until then, and I had no idea at the time that this puppy and the Labrador breed would become so special to me.
During our years together, we enjoyed obedience competition, hunting tests, and agility. He accompanied me as I rode my horse on miles of logging roads through the woods, and he went to work with me each day when I became a dog trainer. Then I volunteered for Labrador rescue and found out that every Lab I met was just as fun-loving and smart as my Tank. Today, I have a wonderful black Lab named Angus, and he is equaly special to me.
He was a challenging dog, a combination of field and show breeding. He was intense and focused; he did nothing halfway but threw himself into every adventure full force–I had to hurry to keep up! I never learned so much, made so many wonderful friends, or had so much fun as those years I spent with Tank, my first Labrador Retriever. Since then, more wonderful Labs have shared my home, and they have been equally devoted, fun, and cherished.
Here's an overview of the chapters:
Months 1 & 2: The Littermate
During Months 1 & 2, your newborn puppy grows rapidly. She can see, hear, taste and smell by week 3. Mother provides most of her care, while her fellow littermates and mother teach her skills she will need to know.
Month 3: Your lab Puppy Comes Home
During month 3, from 8-12 weeks, you get to choose your puppy and then go home and prepare for his arrival. When you bring him home, you introduce social skills, and work with his fear imprint period. You also get him his vaccines and start crate and house training.
Month 4: Finding Her Way
Teeth begins during month 4, 12-16 weeks. It's also important during this time to socialize her to other dogs and people. Beginning obedience skills, including puppy class, start in month 4, and you two have fun playing with toys.
Month 5: The Rebel
Puppy becomes more independent during month 5, 16- 20 weeks. You finish his vaccines and begin to socialize more in public. His obedience training and following of the household rules are reinforced now too.
Month 6: Full Speed Ahead
During month 6, your pup begins to look less like a puppy and more like a growing dog. Injuries become a risk as she romps and runs. You also have to deal with dog hair during this time, along with some behavior challenges. Thank goodness for obedience class!
Month 7: The Silly Tweenager
At 7 months, your pup is getting closer to sexual maturity and can be spayed or neutered. During this time, exercise is more important to burn off some of that puppy energy. Training continues, too, further cementing the bond between you two.
Month 8: Adolescence
Teenagers are a challenge, as you'll learn by month 8. Labs eat everything, so that's something to look forward to. You'll also need to watch out for and treat coat problems if they develop. This is the month to work on teaching your pup self-control and concentration, because believe me, he doesn't have any!
Month 9: In Search of a Leader
Your Lab begins to develop mature male and female characteristics this month. He will test your authority and needs a kind and fair leader to show him the way. Your pup also begins some advanced training to combat the "bull in a china shop" thing he has going on now.
Month 10: Transition
In month 10, you can begin comparing your puppy's appearance to the breed standard. You can also expect to deal with some teenage regression in behavior and prepare for off-leash control. Learn how to create some fun activities for your kids and pooch.
Month 11: Putting Your Lab to Work
At 11 months, your puppy is almost an adult. During this time, you can more easilly travel with your Lab and get him involved in dog sports. You'll also work on polishing obedience skills- and teach him some tricks!
Month 12 and Beyond: Your Lab Grows Up
More physical changes happen around month 12, and your pup goes in for her annual checkup. During this time, her nutritional needs change. As with previous months, you continue her training and exercise. And from here on out, enjoy your best friend!