Puppy Grooming

Grooming sessions with puppies can start as early as 3 weeks old. The sooner you start the better as the puppy may not be so agreeable to it as it gets older. Whilst puppies may not need a lot of grooming initially, it is not just about keeping your dog looking good. It promotes good health, gives you a chance to check his coat and body for any health issues and is also good bonding time. It is so important to get your puppy used to being handled and having his ears cleaned, coat brushed, and nails clipped as it makes visits to the vets and groomers less traumatic for him.

The skin and hair of a puppy is very much like that of a human. Both human and dog skin and hair is made of protein with oil to lubricate. Regular brushing will help to bring out the natural oils and will spread over the coat to give it a healthy sheen. A soft bristle brush or a pin brush for a thicker coat, would be ideal for a puppy.

In the past it was said that you should not bathe your dog too often, but modern shampoos are designed to help you groom puppy at home and can be used on all dogs of all ages and coat type and suitable to be used as often as your dog needs to be bathed. Mild shampoos that will not irritate the eyes are available for puppies. Use a good hypoallergenic shampoo for puppies and dogs with sensitive skin and allergies.

Tips on Grooming

Most puppies enjoy being bathed. Use warm water and lather up, making sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all the shampoo. It is best to towel dry and let the coat air dry. A dry shampoo can be used, but they are not as effective as a wet bath.

Puppies have sharp pointed nails which scratch so make sure their nails are trimmed. After the first trimming, the pup is usually active enough to keep them worn down for about six weeks, but regularly check and trim, as you would an older dog.

Use ear wipes to clean the ears, getting into all the creases. Check for any redness and if there is also a bad odour, this could be a sign of infection. Frequent head shaking and scratching at the ears should also be checked out with the vet.

Teeth brushing is not much fun for either you or the pup, but if you can get him used to this early on, it will reap reward. Bad teeth is very common in dogs so a good oral routine is a good habit to remove plaque. Finger brushes are a good idea and easier to use than a regular brush. Never use human toothpaste, always use dog toothpaste. Specially designed chew sticks and dental sticks also help to keep teeth clean.

If you intend to take your dog to the grooming parlour, take him for a visit during the puppy stage to get him used to the sounds and smells. A first grooming session can be quite scary! If you would like to see a video on how best to groom a puppy watch this here


My Puppy eats stones!

Puppies are always exploring and picking up things in their mouths. More often than not it tends to be things that are rather dangerous if swallowed. There are things you can be doing to stop puppies eating stones.

Chewing stones is a common problem, particularly with puppies. They usually grow out of this behaviour, but sometimes the habit continues into adulthood and often surgery is needed to remove them. You can see here a Labrador who ate 13 large stones!

We are not sure why stones are so attractive to chew or swallow, but it could be a throw back to their ancestory as wild coyotes and wolves are known to chew stones. However, vets do not advise you letting your dog eat them as they can break their teeth and get caught in their intestines and lead to serious health problems.

Sometimes there is an underlying health problem that makes your dog eat pebbles. It could be ill or in pain or another possibility is that it could be deficient in phosphorus, calcium or iron. Or it could just be plain boredom and the dog needs more stimulation and exercise.

So, If you have tried changing your dog’s diet, given it more exercise and attention and its still chewing stones, then it’s time to take it to the vet for a check-up as there could be a health problem. If your dog’s stomach is hard and tight, the indications are that it is full of stones that he is unable to pass. Again a necessary trip to the vet!

For puppies, the best solution is distraction. Practise getting your pup’s attention and offering praise and rewards when he looks up at you. Take a variety of toys and play with him so he learns there is an alternative to stones. Try not to tell him off as this can reinforce the behaviour.

This is also a good time to begin to introduce the ‘leave it’ command. Begin practising with a toy that your puppy is showing interest in. Hold it in one closed hand and let him sniff it. Tell him to ‘leave it’. Wait for him to turn away and then immediately praise and offer him a better reward from the other hand. Using this principle continue practising bringing in other toys that he finds more tempting. Try the technique with items on the floor as well.

Fortunately, with time and patience and plenty of playful interaction with toys this behaviour can be stopped. ‘Leave it’ training will not only help with the stones, but will also be useful to use when out walking and your dog picks up something undesirable that you need him to drop and not create a game of tug!


Finding the best reputable breeder and puppy

You have done your research and decided on a breed. The next big step is to find a reputable breeder. The best way is to find a  reputable and registered breeder is with the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme here.  Being a part of this scheme makes sure all the correct guidelines are followed and that puppies are happy, healthy, vaccinated and wormed and socialisation has already started before leaving the litter for their new home.

Don’t be put off if you find a breeder that has been rearing his puppies in a kennel or barn outside. It does not mean they have been neglected. Most good reputable breeders will keep the mum and her litter indoors for the first couple of weeks and then transfer them to a safe area outside where they will have more space to romp around. As long as they receive plenty of socialising and they are kept in a clean environment, the puppies will be perfectly well raised. You will find that most gun dog breeders always keep their puppies and dogs kennelled outside. However, if pups whether kept indoors or outside, are shut away and only getting basic care, they will not be ideal puppies to buy as they will not have had any essential socialisation and life experiences.

It is unfortunate that there are so many shady so called ‘breeders’ and back street dealings with puppies. There are some that will buy in puppies to sell on and the ‘mother’ dog you may be shown has nothing to do with them. Always ask to see the puppies with the mother while they are very young and see how they interact. This will also give you a good indication of how they will look as adults. Whilst some bitches will be quite happy for you to have interaction with their pups, up to 5 weeks old the mother will be very protective of her young and some may not be very happy to have visitors around. Some can get quite distressed or even snappy and if that is the case and the pups have to be separated for your visit, this does not mean the bitch has a bad temperament as some of the sweetest bitches can get very protective whilst pups are so young. If the breeder does show the pups and mother to you separately and then when you have left the litter, allows the mum to rejoin her pups so you can see she is the real mother, you can be assured that this is a good breeder who is considerate of the mum’s needs as well as yours. Don’t expect to see the father with the puppies as they are often separated from the litter as most usually the bitch will not want any adult dog near her young.

Choosing the puppy

When looking at a litter, a well socialised litter of pups will come bounding up to check you out and bounce around. If you are looking for a bold dog, the first one to approach you may be the one for you. But bold dogs don’t always fit with everyone and you will need the pup to fit in with the family. There may be one pup that will stay a little longer to interact with you on its own and often this is the one that has chosen you and the one you should go home with.

The pup who is sitting apart from the rest of the litter and observing you from a distance, may not be as shy as it appears. Often these are the more intelligent pups and maybe a good fit for someone that is looking for a close one to one bond and able to spend time to develop it. This pup may not be good for a big noisy family. The shy type or ‘thinkers’ can be demanding to train, but still make good dogs, so don’t dismiss this one if you can manage a clever dog.

However, a pup that runs and cowers and appears nervous of human contact, could be a difficult one to raise and perhaps better avoided unless you are up for a challenge and a skilled dog handler.

The saying goes ‘never choose the last pup’, but don’t worry, process of elimination means there will always be one left! That doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice, it just may not have been the right colour, temperament or whatever, for the other families. If you like the last pup and it likes you, don’t be put off because the other pups have gone first.

Good breeders spend a lot of time with their puppies and get to know each one well, so sometimes they will direct you towards a pup they think will fit well with your family.

For the first few weeks or until your pup has had all it’s vaccinations and the all clear from the vet to start the big experience outside, all you will need as a start is a crate, a nice comfy bed and blanket and a simple collar and lead. Don’t forget the toys, pups love to play and training can start straight away through playing and teaching them to sit, stay and fetch.

Most of all, enjoy your puppy, show him everything in the big wide outdoors – good socialisation is the key. They grow up so fast and it is such a fun time and the basis for a good all round happy adult dog.

If you require any other support or assistance in choosing your next puppy please contact us

About Labrador

The Labrador Retriever can trace its roots to the 1800’s in the St John’s region of Newfoundland in Canada where it was known as the Small Water Dog and worked with the fishermen off the Newfoundland coast swimming the fishing nets to shore so the fishermen could haul them in. Trade in salted cod brought the breed to Dorset, England where local landowners started to refine the breed for use as gun dogs and today, the Labrador is still a very valuable working gun dog and also in other occupations as an assistance dog, sniffer dog, search and rescue and of course guide dog. In fact the Labrador is so adaptable, it can be put to work and play at most things on land and water!

Labrador Types

The Labrador is a muscular, athletic dog, deep chested with well boned forelegs. They have gentle brown eyes and a short haired coat in colours, yellow, chocolate, black and fox red.

It has become one of the world’s most popular breeds due mainly to its loyalty, and family friendly, affable personality. It is also a very intelligent breed and responds well to training. However, it loves food and can become obese if his food intake is not monitored and is given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Some may remember the film ‘Marley and Me’ which was a story of a Labrador puppy and his influence on his human family. Marley was played by a lab named Jonah who totally stole the show from his co-stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. Such is the charm and cuteness of Labrador puppies who have been so sought after by photographers over the years.

Labs are very people orientated and most become much loved family pets, but the breed is also a traditional gun dog for retrieving. Introduction to gun dog retrieve training can take place very early in the puppy’s development. It is important to develop a good bond between puppy and owner and spend lots of time together. It is not always best to take two puppies from the same litter as often they are so used to being together they become too focused on each other. To help with the bonding, It is a good idea to have the same person feed the puppy even in a family environment. Make him sit before you put the food down so he soon gets to know that he has to work for his food and that if he sits he will get fed or a treat.

Balls are a great way to start introducing retrieving. Puppies love chasing balls and you can start this in the early weeks with rolling balls for them to bring back to you. At this age, it is instinctive for them to come back to you at the sound of your voice. You can then move on to hiding the ball so he has to use his nose to scent it out. Hiding lots of balls in one go is a good scent training game. These simple games are a good basis for more serious training as he gets older.

Many gun dogs are kennelled outside, although puppies should be indoors initially for at least a few weeks. The decision to keep indoors or out is purely personal and it is perfectly possible to have a well trained gun dog living with a family, especially as a gun dog will probably only work for 5 months of the year during the shooting season. For a kennelled dog it is important to keep his bed off the ground away from the damp so a raised dog bed is a good investment.

There are two key types of labrador and the english bred Labrador is a favourite chosen Gun Dog for more information on Labradors click here. If you would like some more help in choosing a dog or working dog please do not hesitate to contact us.