Food & Feeding Schedule
Do not free water or free-feed your pup. Unless your pup is outdoors, you should limit their water to their feeding schedule, otherwise, especially during the puppy stage, you'll have more accidents and soiled crates. 1st Night Home – Feeding is not recommended for the 1st night only. Experts recommend this for a variety of reasons ranging from an easier first night of transition to the benefits of bonding. By not feeding them, they will wake up very hungry. After feeding them they will immediately realize how important you are to their own life which will immediately increase their desire to please you.
1st 3 days: ¾ cup 2x/day ~6/7 am & 4/5 pm, add 1.5 cup water with food & for girls only - 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar at each meal.
After 3 days 1 cup 2x/day ~6/7 am & 4/5 pm, add 2 cups water with food & for girls only - 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar at each meal - stop apple cider after 10 days. The quality of food is important.
Our pups eat Costco's Nature's Domain Puppy Formula The puppy food is in a blue bag and it's about $18 with tax. If you are not a Costco member, look for a super-premium puppy food with meat as the main ingredient. The main ingredient is listed first on the back of the label. However, we highly recommend you stick with the Costco brand puppy food that we start them on until they are 6 months old. A Costco membership only costs around $45 and the samples alone are worth the fee. Please be aware that we estimate that a small % pups that switch to new foods may show signs of being allergic. If you switch foods and your pup starts to have digestive issues - they may need hypoallergenic food. So far out of about 150 pups on the Labrador Retriever side, 1 pup has become allergic. With that said, not all pups will do well on the Costco brand puppy food - it is rich. It seems about 1 in 20 owners switch to a new food because the Costco brand just doesn't seem to sit well with their pup. Either way, if you do not want to continue the Costco brand, it takes around a 1 week to transition if you use the following ratios:
Transitioning to a New Food First 3 Days at Home - do not transition them, keep them on the Costco Brand to reduce stress.
Day 4 & 5 - 75% Costco Brand 25% New Food
Day 6 & 7 - 50% Costco, 50% New
Day 8 & 9 - 25% Costco, 75% New
Day 10+ 100% New For a list of 4 & 5-star foods, click here.
We recommend transitioning them to Costco's Adult Dog food starting at age 6 months in age. Another great food recommendation if you don't shop at Costco is Pro Plan FOCUS Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula. It's important to control your pup's portions and quality of food to prevent your pup from growing too quickly which can lead to hip dysplasia, joint, and skeletal issues. DO NOT FREE FEED YOUR PUP. To understand why here is a video by Dr. Karen Becker.
Your pup's feeding schedule will depend on your own schedule and what kind of lifestyle your pup will have. Generally, most pups should eat 2-3 X a day until they are around 5 months old. After that, you can feed 1-2 X a day. We feed them 2x a day starting the week before they go home. Generally, you should feed them 6-7 am and again at 4/5 pm. Be sure to consider the poop/pee time into your routine. If you take away water 3 hours before bed, house and crate training is much easier. Never take away water if your pup/dog is kept outdoors, they should have 24/7 access to water and shade at all times of the day. Remember, the sun moves and thus their shade spots move. Be sure to check if there is shade at 9 am, noon, 3 pm, and 7 pm. By feeding on a set schedule, house training is easier and faster.
Make it a habit to give your pup some quiet time after the meal. Do not let children romp and play with him or her for the first 30 minutes after eating otherwise the pup's stomach might get upset. Do not feed puppies treats other than their own kibble (puppy food). No Nubz, Greenies, etc until they are a bit older. Right now they just need to stay on puppy food and water for a couple of months until they get a stronger immunity and digestive system. Generally, you want to keep the Greenies and Nubz for keeping their teeth clean and for teething. All their little teeth will start to fall out at 4-5 months in age - so chew treats, Nubz, and Greenies are perfect for teething. Until then, they really don't need these kinds of chews, etc, just their toys for now. If you give them it now, it may upset their stomachs, causing gas and loose stool.
Adult Dog Food
Costco's Kirkland Signature Dog foods are a great choice. Otherwise, we recommend Pro Plan SPORT All Life Stages. If you want an organic choice, Castor & Pollux. However, seeing that the main ingredients of most high-quality dog foods are meat and sweet potatoes, you could simply buy those main ingredients and cook them up for your dog and get rid of all preservatives, and truly go organic.
The Best Diet for Dogs Is the Raw Food Diet. Raw meats, fruits, and vegetables. You could also consider feeding them fresh, raw eggs. Be sure to balance your dog's diet with fruits and vegetables, especially in puppies.
HARMFUL FOODS - DO NOT FEED Chocolate, Xylitol (a sweetener), Grapes, Raisins, Macadamia nuts, Avocados, Onions, Garlic, Salt, Tea Leaves, Coffee, Alcoholic beverages, Raw Yeast Dough, Spoiled Foods, Fatty Foods.
Pups should be kept indoors until they are at least 3 months old. Hawks and owls are able to prey on lab puppies up until they are around 3+ months old. Be sure to keep your eye on your pup when they are outdoors. Eventually, you may transition your lab to be an outdoor dog. If your lab will be active, primarily outdoors, or have other canine companions, you may consider giving them access to food and water on demand. Also, if you are planning outdoors, make sure that your lab has plenty of shade available at all times during the day and access to a pool or splash pool filled with water. As the sun moves from east to west and when seasons change, the shade spots change, so be sure to plan ahead. Check shade spots each season at 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 7 pm. Be sure to keep splash pools in the shade at all times. The water magnifies the sun rays, heats up very quickly, will grow algae and other bacteria if not kept in the shade. If you have a pool that is deep enough to require your lab to swim, make sure your lab can get out of the pool on its own. Though labs are naturally good swimmers, labs will drown if they can't get out of the pool.
Do not free water your pup. Unless your pup is outdoors, you should limit their water to their feeding schedule, otherwise, especially during the puppy stage, you'll have more accidents and soiled crates. The only time you should give them extra water outside of feeding time is if they've been outdoors exercising or romping around and they are panting. In that case, offer them as much as they want to drink for a couple of minutes.
We recommend bottled water over tap water. Tap water contains chlorine and is most often acidic. Chlorine does a great job at killing microorganisms. However, over time it has been shown to be in the top 5 causes of cancer. Bottled water is typically more alkaline and alkalinity is a known natural cancer-fighting agent. If you have to give them tap water, add a teaspoon of baking soda to their water every day to keep it alkaline and reduce their likeliness of getting cancer.
If your dog will be outside quite a bit, you may consider putting them on a monthly heart worm preventative. Infected mosquitos inject larvae into the dog, which travels to the heart. If your dog develops heartworm, it is often deadly. Those who upgrade to the Complete Package will receive 3 months supply. You will have to reorder thru your Vet as a prescription is needed.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease by age 3. As your pup starts life, his/her teeth are naturally clean, free from decay, because the teeth are just starting to come in. As your pup grows into an adult, decay and bacteria can cause bad breath, tooth decay, health problems, and reduce the amount of socialization and love they receive. Brushing your pet's teeth is a must for the long term health and happiness of you and your pet. By the time your pup is ready to go home they will have baby teeth. Even though all these baby teeth will fall out, getting acclimated to this the routine while they are young and easy to train, is the key to long term success.
In taking care of your pet's teeth, your house guests, neighbors, and family members will treasure your pet's company. In addition, your pet will feel more accepted, loved, and will be a much healthier dog in the long run. You will feel proud to take your pet out in public and feel confident when someone comes close to their face. An easy way to get started is to wet your finger and rub it gently on their teeth during the first month or so. We recommend you do this once a day and it only takes 30 seconds. Depending if you are a morning or night person, it can be the first thing in the morning - right before you let them out of their kennel, or our preference is to do it right before they are kenneled at night. The key to success is to make it part of your daily routine.
At 4-5 months your pup's teeth are coming in full force and are much larger. You will notice your pup will want to chew, chew, chew. At this time, it's recommended to switch over to a dog tooth brush and an enzymatic dog tooth paste. The enzymes "eat" the food right off their teeth. Feel free to rub the dog tooth paste on their teeth, leave it for a few minutes, then brush. One idea for your daily routine is to rub the enzyme tooth paste on, take them out for their potty right before bed, then brush them before you kennel. Their outside teeth are most prone to decay/bacteria, so you'll want to focus there the most. Use a ping pong ball when they are little and transition to a larger tennis ball as they get older, to hold open their mouth to access their back teeth. While you really don't need the ping pong ball when they are little, the point of it is to get them used to having a ball in their mouth during brushing because you will need to use a ball when they are older.
If you don't plan to brush regularly, once a year, take your dog to the Vet for a dental cleaning. It will cost around $180 - $250 (depending on how good or bad your dog's teeth are). They will put your dog to sleep during this process, but their teeth will come back immaculate. Their health and good breath is totally worth the cost!
Is my dog overweight?
Healthy Weight Don't look at your dog's weight, look at their waste. You should be able to see at least one rib in your dog's rib cage. I"m not saying you should see it clearly, but when they move, you should be able to see with your eyes, where their last rib is. Since labs can vary in size, there is no such thing as a general healthy weight. Here is a super helpful chart to help you understand what an ideal weight looks like.
4 Time Tested Tip to Keep Dander, Allergies, and Shedding to a Minimum
1) Feed a RAW food diet as much as possible. The mainstays of a nutritious well balanced diet includes healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes & a healthy protein such as chicken. You can buy precooked canned sweet potatoes at Wal-Mart, or place several sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet with parchment paper under it, cook on 350F for approximately 1 - 1.5 hours. You can also feed your dog a raw egg every other day for a beautiful shiny coat and a healthy immune system. Other popular items you can safely feed your dog are: Peas, broccoli, green beans, carrots, rice, brown rice, and other unprocessed meats. Liver is also super healthy for a dog but only plan to feed liver not more than once a week as it is rich in vitamin A and too much vitamin A is bad for both humans and dogs. Please note that it is best to stick to 1 type of meat to reduce the risk for allergies. If you start with chicken, stick with chicken. If you start with beef, it's best to stick with beef. Since chicken is much cheaper, it's best to start and stay with chicken. Most people are not comfortable feeding their dog raw chicken, so feel free to cook it. Cooking in batches and storing in the fridge is a great way to keep healthy dog food on hand and it's inexpensive to feed this way. Not only will you enjoy less shedding and dander, but their poop will not smell nearly as bad if you feed a pure RAW food diet, even if you cook the chicken. I know it's not always possible to feed a raw food diet, so supplement as needed with a high quality dog food such as Costco's (Kirkland) adult dog food in the maroon bag.
2) Use a De-Shedding Brush for 10 minutes once a month. Do not underestimate a Furminator tool. They work amazingly well to reduce shedding by removing loose hair that would otherwise fall to the ground eventually.
3) Brush your dog with a regular grooming brush daily. Brushing your dog not only increases your bond, but it stimulates the oils on their skin, protecting their skin and reducing dander. Another benefit is that it also collects loose hair that would otherwise fall to the ground.
4) Bathe infrequently The less you bathe your dog, the less dander they will produce. If you are going to bathe your dog, focus on the outer coat, not the skin. In other words, don't do a deep shampoo. Focus on the hair, not the skin. Also, we recommend you use an oatmeal shampoo to keep their skin moist, or Melaleuca shampoo which keeps the flora on their skin in tact, keeping their skin healthy and protected from bacteria that can cause skin infections.
Reduce shedding dramatically!! Labradoodles will lose their entire puppy coat and start to get their adult coat in, usually done by 8-18 months in age. As a result, it can feel like a lot of shedding. I highly recommend the FURminator. It works really really well, 10 minutes 1-2 times a month will really keep their shedding at bay. You can get rid of ~95% of it in about 10 minutes using the FURminator for long hair. It works so amazingly well. Just keep going over the fur, brushing both ways, not just in one direction, after a while, there won't be any loose hair to brush.
Pee on carpet
For the best results, act immediately. Pour an excessive amount of baking soda over the pee area, heaping it up high. Leave it there for a day. Vacuum it up the next day. The baking soda does an amazing job at soaking up the pee, drawing it out of the carpet, and deodorizing the area at the same time.
Dried on stains/tough stains out of carpet or clothes
Always test on your carpet 1st, we've never had any issues, but you never know. Try at your own risk. IMO, there is nothing better than using food-grade hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and hot water. The first step wet the area with a mix of vinegar, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, and steaming hot water. (When the water mixes with the Food grade hydrogen peroxide, it turns into oxygen, it will bubble and loosen any particles - sort of like oxi-clean on steroids but without the detergent residue that later will attract dirt). You don't need that much food grade hydrogen. For an area of 1 foot wide by 1 foot wide, I would estimate you need maybe 1/8 cup of food-grade hydrogen peroxide, a 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1 cup of steaming hot water. Mix it together, pour it on, let it soak for 2 hours. Next, sprinkle baking soda over it and scrub any areas - everything should come right off. Next, use a wet-dry vac to suck up the excess water. In the last step, pour 2 cups of clean hot water over the area and immediately wet dry vac it back up. Place a fan on the area to help it dry. For an individual shirt, put a rubber band around the part that is soiled to isolate the area. Dip it or apply enough food grade hydrogen peroxide to get it soaked. Next, place the isolated section into a cup or bowl of water and let it set for an hour. Most times the stain will be gone. If it's not all the way gone, ring out the excess water and repeat. For a load of laundry, add in a 1/4 cup of food grade hydrogen peroxide in the same place you put the detergent. For really stinky/disgusting laundry, add in a 1/2 cup vinegar.
Get rid of a terrible smell: Vinegar! Put it in your stinky tennis shoes and throw them in the wash, stinky blankets, soiled sheets, you name it! Vinegar works!