Labrador Advice

>>>Please send us lots of Lab advice.

OK, here goes. The short list of important Labrador advice -

bulletUse a prong collar. They're scary looking, but they don't hurt the dog, and they're much safer.
bulletWhen he's grown, 1 cup of Nutro dog food (or Eukanuba or other) = 30 lbs of dog. So Pinot, 75 lbs, gets 2 1/2 cups a day - a cup in the morning, 1 1/2 at night. That's it.
bulletCrate train the dog - it's not cruel, and the dog trains a lot faster because he's got clear feedback. (As opposed to a dog who can goof around all day without consequence and then get 20 minutes of feedback. Put the crate in sight of a door - and in the morning, open the door, open the crate, take the pup outside and praise him when he pees outside. He'll figure it out in 2-3 days. Get a crate that's about twice as big as he is - anything larger, and he'll divide it in two mentally and half will be the bathroom. We stopped using the crate at age 1 1/2 or so, but he still likes small spaces.
bulletHave someone go to school with the dog, and teach it to heel, sit, stay, come.
bulletWhen crossing a threshhold with the dog (between rooms, doors, sidewalks, alleys) stop and make him sit, then release him and go. It'll become automatic for him and hugely convenient for you. Pinot asks permission before coming in the dining room because of this.
bulletMake him sit when people or dogs approach you - it'll become habit for him.
bulletNo food anyplace but his bowl or as used in training.
bulletNever allow the dog in the dining room while eating. Never.
bulletHave someone learn to brush his teeth and clip his toenails when he's young - it'll make life easier when he's older - and you won't have to anaesthetize him ($$ and risk) to clean his teeth.
bulletThere's never really a reason to bathe a Labrador if he didn't get in anything stinky. It doesn't do them any good.
bulletBrush him a lot in the spring to get rid of the winter undercoat.
bulletCommunicate domination to him in dog language - not beatings, not yelling (though it works) but eye contact and pinning him to the ground. If the dog is out of line, make him lie down and don't let him up until he stops moving. If he doesn't know the "lie down" command yet, get on top of him and hold him until he stops trying to get up. (This is for when he tries to push you or a protected one (read "child") around.
bulletHand signals are better than voice. Both is best.
bulletGet it neutered before age 1.
bulletIf he's a strong retriever (Pinot isn't) keep an eye on him at the beach - they can't really stop retrieving, and can be injured if you let them overdo it.
bulletGo to a dog park, regularly if you can. It'll teach him how to behave around other dogs, and give you confidence with him. It's also a great place to talk to the kids about school social situations in terms of dog dominance behavior. It's my weekend coffee spot, and one boy or another usually joins me.

What does my dog think about?

He's basically a four-year-old child with certain obsessions -

  1. Is there food involved?
  2. Who's the leader? (Or, in an alpha, "am I the leader? Better check.")
  3. Who's turf is this? Hello Hello Hello
  4. Retrieve Retrieve Retrieve

Have fun.