Toys/Chew Toys Chew Toys are essential.
Have several available from the time you adopt your puppy placed in different parts of your house so that one is ready to be used at any time. Be ready to replace them as they wear out. Pups especially love to chew toys that can be attached to a crate that will allow them to tug at it. At around 4 months, pups teeth start to come in dramatically and you will notice your pup will chew everything they can get their teeth on. At this time you will want to ensure your pet has plenty of chew toys, especially harder chew toys to help their baby teeth fall out. Some chew toys are not recommended such as tennis balls: the materials can wear teeth down quickly and increases the risk for tooth decay. Chicken jerky, bully sticks, dental chew toys, and dog bones are all good ideas to prevent issues associated with teething. The Humane Society recommends rope chew toys. Rawhide rolls are not recommended for pups under 4 months, it sometimes gives them diarrhea. Be sure to crate/kennel your pup at any time when you are not available to supervise especially during peak teething from 4 months to 1 year old. Pups that are not crate / kenneled during this time have been known to chew: shoes, toys, curtains, remote controls, electric cords, sprinkler systems, landscape lights, and even furniture. We recommend crating your pup when you leave the house until they are at least 2 years old. For 95% of dogs, by 2 years in age, most of your puppy follies of putting everything in their mouths have now passed.
PRO TIP: We love the 12" Cadet Bull Sticks at Costco $32 as of 4/6/21, especially for puppies as they won't upset their stomachs and they last quite a while. These are awesome for teething and 1 will last all day during teething. As adults, they are also great for keeping their teeth clean, but will only last a few hours. Be sure to rotate chew toys to keep them feeling "new" and "exciting" to your pup. Give them 1 or 2, then the next day, take them away and rotate in 2 new ones..rotating the old ones back in every 5 or 6 days.
Always check your chew toys for signs of wear and tear. If there are plastic parts that look like they are ready to fall off or fall apart, throw the chew toy away. If a pup ingests hard plastic it can get lodged in their intestinal tract causing serious health issues and a big expense at the Vet. Also, as your pup grows, you may want to get rid of chew toys that become too small to prevent a choking hazard. It may not fit down their throats as pups, but by the time they are 7 months old, they might be able to swallow it.
Attach rope chew toys to the crate with a clip. This allows your pup to tug at the chew toy, they will really enjoy it! Teething At around 4-5 months, pups teeth start to come in dramatically and you will notice your pup will chew everything they can get their teeth on. At this time you will want to ensure your pet has plenty of chew toys, especially harder chew toys to help their baby teeth fall out. Without something hard to chew on, it’s possible for your pup to retain a baby tooth in front of her adult tooth which can lead to an infection, so be sure to get them something harder to chew on. Some chew toys are not recommended such as tennis balls because the materials can wear their teeth down quickly, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Dental chew toys, raw hides, and dog bones are all good ideas to prevent issues associated with teething. The Humane Society recommends rope chew toys. Be sure to crate / kennel your pup at any time when you are not available to supervise especially during peak teething from 4 months to 1 year old (most labs are done by 8 months). Pups that are not crated / kenneled during this time have been known to chew shoes, toys, curtains, remote controls, electric cords, sprinkler systems, landscape lights, and even furniture.
A well-exercised dog is a happy, well-behaved dog. You should NEVER take your pup for organized jogs or runs until at least 12 months of age. It's simply too hard on their joints as this type of organized exercise is way too strenuous on their bodies and will likely result in hip, elbow, or joint problems later in life.
Labs are made for retrieving right? WRONG! Well, sort of. While they are great at retrieving, playing fetch, or throw the stick on a regular basis for more than a few throws at a time before 24 months in age increases your pup's environmental risk for hip dysplasia dramatically. It's ok to play fetch, but limit this to a low-key 3-4 throws at a time and only 1-2 times a week until they are over 24 months in age. Your training will also be rewarded.
Pups that play fetch/throw the stick on a regular basis become object-oriented and don't do as well on training and tend to be more hyperactive. A recent study in Norway based on 500 dogs, which included Labrador Retrievers, showed that puppies given the opportunity to exercise in a large open area before the age of 3 months were LESS LIKELY to develop hip dysplasia. Puppies that had to climb stairs on a regular basis during the same time period were at INCREASED RISK. The stresses and strains placed on the vulnerable growing joints by "organized" exercise are believed to be a contributory environmental factor in the development of inadequate hip joints. The evidence seems to suggest that a puppy will come to no harm from the opportunity to exercise or play on a flat surface. Therefore, taking a puppy for a long walk or asking him to go up very steep or uneven surfaces when he is little, is probably a bad idea.
The rule of thumb is a puppy should have no more than 5 minutes of "organized" exercise per day for every month of his/her age. So a 3 month old puppy could handle 15 minutes of exercise per day (3 x 5 = 15), while a 6 month old could handle 30 minutes and so on (6 x 5 = 30). "Organized" exercise means exercise that you are controlling such as "walks" or "training sessions". Puppies under 3 months old probably don't need any kind of "walks" at all, just access to a "play area" outdoors where they can run about for a few minutes several times a day. There is no need to prevent puppies from playing about the house as long as the puppy is free to stop and rest whenever they want.
Beware of letting a pup play for too long with an older dog that does not want to stop. Keep an eye on children who may accidentally exhaust a pup by encouraging the pup to play when he needs to sleep. It's important to keep balance with your pup. Build up exercise gradually and do not go for organized jogs or runs until they are 18 months old as this exercise is way too hard on their growing joints. Playing frisbee, fetch, or catch, is ok, just no continuous high-impact exercise like running or jogging. The recommended amount of exercise for an adult Mini Labradoodle is 30 minutes a day, 2 X a day.
Tip for walking your dog: You should walk your dog, your dog shouldn't walk you. If you find yourself the owner of the pup that likes to pull while being walked, stay away from the harnesses that go around their chests or bodies. These type of harnesses are effective for restraining but not for leash training and you will likely find yourself exhausted after going for a walk. However, if you need a good arm workout, look no further..haha! :) To overcome this problem, check out our training page. If your dog is already grown and leash training escaped you, the gentle lead head collar works really well to reduce unwanted pulling. The moment when the dog stops pulling, immediately say YES so that by the time you've said the S in YES, you are putting the treat in their mouth. Be sure to reduce their food intake for any kibble or treat given as a reward. Treats should be small, high quality, easy to administer (oftentimes just using their own dog food works if they are hungry and you are not over feeding them). After several walks on the gentle lead coupled with positive reinforcement when not pulling, your dog will be leash trained in no time. A properly leash-trained dog will walk by your side at your pace, never in front of you.
Exercise & Games and Activities that Build Good Social Skills
****Please note, not all of these activities are appropriate for puppies being placed into assistance training, this exercise is for PETS only.****
These toys and games that will give her healthy exercise and teach her problem solving skills, trust and appropriate behavior.
Toy Hide and Seek
Show the puppy her toy, and then hide it under a pillow, behind your back, etc. Let her use her nose and ingenuity to figure out where it went. Increase the difficulty to match the puppy’s abilities. This game is great mental exercise and fun for all.
“Take it” and “Give”
When the puppy takes a toy from you, say “take it,” and when she gives it back to you say “give.” Practice frequently, and “trade up”—give her something of higher value when she releases the item in her mouth. She will be much more willing to give up inappropriate or high value items if she is familiar with this game. Always encourage her to come to you to give up an item, rather than you chasing her, and always reward her when she gives up something, no matter how valuable or inappropriate the item is.
Fetch and Bring Back
In the puppy stage, keep it low-key by rolling or sliding a toy. As soon as she gets the toy in his mouth, start heading away from her so she will come toward you. Be silly to encourage her to keep coming. When she gets to you, play with her. Have her “give” the toy to you briefly, give her a treat and then return the toy to her. She will learn that bringing things to you is great fun. This is very handy when she has your shoe instead of a toy. Pointers: • Never chase the puppy or she will quickly learn to run away from you. Your goal is to make coming to you a lot of fun. If you find you are playing keep away, stop the game. Ignore her, but engage yourself in something she finds interesting. When she moves toward you, be ready to praise and treat. • Use a variety of toys and avoid using only one type, such as a ball or Frisbee, which the puppy may fixate on. Some dogs become so focused on retrieving that it can interfere with other training. • Use opportunities that do not involve throwing a toy. For instance, the puppy may find a stick in your fenced yard and you can turn it into a “bring back” game.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek games can be played indoors or outdoors in a fenced area and help teach the puppy to “tune in” to where you are. They work best in new surroundings. Wait for a moment when the puppy seems to forget about you and duck out of sight, but keep an eye on her. When she notices that you aren’t there, make a little noise to get her headed toward you but don’t give yourself away. Let her spend some time trying to find you, giving hints if needed. When she finds you, make it lots of fun by rewarding her with treats.
Swimming and wading are loads of fun for the puppy, especially when the weather is hot. A child’s wading pool in your fenced yard can provide hours of fun. If you take the puppy to a lake, use a long rope so you can safely keep her with you. Always remember that the puppy should never be off-leash unless in a fully enclosed area!
How to walk your dog on a treadmill Click here for a video! What you'll need: Collar, Harness, 3 leashes, a treadmill If you don't have the time or desire, or it's just too hot to do daily walks, use a treadmill. Most "hyper" behavior can be prevented just by getting them enough exercise on a daily basis. Whether you start when they are young or old, it's never too late to get them into a daily exercise routine. It's easier if you start when they are little (but not before they are 3 months!). Depending on the structure of your treadmill, you'll want to ensure that the pup/dog is kept in place and not able to jump off the treadmill belt. The first step is to get a dog harness and collar on your pup or dog. Tie one end of the leash to the top of the treadmill, tight enough so that he can't move forward or backward too much, but loose enough so that it's not choking him. Next, attach 1 leash to the left, and to the right side of the treadmills, tight enough to affix to his harness so that he can't exit the treadmill from the left or right. Next, start the speed slowly, increasing it until you feel your pup/dog is doing a brisk walk. Remember this speed the next time, then set the microwave timer accordingly. Remember, the rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month in age up to 45 minutes 2x daily. Don't have a treadmill? You can get used ones off Craigslist often for a great deal.