Frequently Asked Questions
Are your Labs English or American type?
We proudly raise well-bred, AKC standard Labrador Retrievers from "show" lines. Some people call them "English Labs", but we prefer not to use that term because the Labrador breed was actually a fishing dog developed in Newfoundland (a province of Canada). Plus my dogs are proudly made in the USA! :)
Do you remove dew claws?
Nope. Dogs use their dewclaws for gripping and climbing, and some owners prefer to have them left, so we do not remove them. If they are a problem, you can request to have your dog's dewclaws removed by the veterinarian when they go in for their spay/neuter surgery later in life.
Is there a difference in temperament or trainability between males & females?
In this breed, there should be no difference in temperament or trainability between males and females. Structural differences are the main differences you will notice, as males tend to get bigger & blockier, and females tend to be a little bit smaller and more feminine. Males may be more prone to roam, females may be more prone to get snippy with stranger dogs, both sexes will hump things, but honestly all of these behaviors are easily mitigated with training & socialization.
When should I start obedience training with my puppy?
You should start enforcing behavioral expectations the minute your puppy enters your household, and be consistent on what behaviors you allow/won't allow your puppy to do. I do a solo obedience training session with each of my dogs twice a day in 5-10 minute sessions. We work on tricks, commands, walking quietly on a leash, etc. during this time. Labs respond to positive reinforcement wonderfully due to their people-pleasing nature. Most are very food & praise-motivated, so keep treats on hand, and reward good behavior with plenty of enthusiasm. Obedience classes with a reputable trainer or kennel club are a fantastic way to learn how to train your dog. Contact me for my list of reputable trainers in Iowa!
What size crate should I get?
I recommend getting a 42" wire crate with a divider, so you can expand the space while your puppy grows. You want to make sure you are not giving the pup too much space to "do his business" in one side and sleep in the other.
Are crates humane?
If used correctly, crates are absolutely humane. They are a good way to keep a puppy safe and contained while you are busy. However, it is important not to over-use the crate. That "cozy den" can become a "prison cell" really quickly if you are using it excessively. The crate should be used for naptime and meal time only for the first few months of the puppy's life. After that, your dog should start to enjoy his time in his crate. It should never be used as "time out" or a punishment at any point in a dog's life.
How long can I leave my adult dog in a crate?
It is our opinion that no dog of any age should be crated for more than 6-8 hours a day. If somebody is not home regularly during the day, crating is probably not be the best way to contain your dog while you are gone. Imagine spending the majority of your waking hours confined to a small cage! If this applies to you, consider building an indoor-outdoor kennel enclosure so your dog can have some freedom. A "dog-proof room" in your house also works the same way so your dog can get up and move around while you are away from the house.
How do I train my puppy not to hate his crate?
It is important not to over-use the crate, especially during the first 8-11 weeks of your puppy's life. This a critical fear period in which puppies can develop separation anxiety. Ideally somebody will be home 24/7 to care for the puppy during the first few weeks after bringing puppy home, and the crate will only be used for meal time, nap time, and night time. After they hit 11 weeks old, puppies can begin to spend more time in their crate, but it is important to make this a positive experience. It's best to only crate them after they've expelled some energy and are ready for a nap. You can gradually work up to longer periods of time as long as your puppy seems comfortable. A good rule of thumb is that a puppy can spend an hour in the crate for every month he is old (so a 6 month old puppy should be able to be crated for 6 consecutive hours).
Do you have any potty training tips?
Read through this article on the Labrador Site. Our puppies tend to be reliably house trained by 6-8 months of age. Some puppies will be easier to train than others, but I've found that the majority of potty training issues stem from the human, and are usually pretty simple to fix! If you are struggling, don't hesitate to reach out to myself, a trainer, and/or a veterinarian for help. This article on common house training problems may be of help, too.
What should I put in my dog's crate?
I like to line the inside of the crate with a cozy blanket or mat (without stuffing or loose threads, as puppies can tear these apart and ingest the contents). We recommend Kongs filled with frozen yogurt or a little peanut butter to keep puppies & dogs occupied as they pass the time in the crate. As soon as my puppies are holding their bladders pretty well, I put a hanging water dish in the crate so they can drink as they please.