Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Yellow Labs Are Not just a Handful: They're a Mouth full!

Bugg's Yellow Labrador Side...

Bugg came into our lives at the end of January 2010, he is a absolute joy. Bugg's dad is a yellow labrador retriever and his mother is a American white shepherd but, he seems to have inherited a lot of the yellow lab traits. As with most Yellow Labradors, Bugg is full of energy, gets bored easily, will eat before he tastes and always, has to have something in his mouth. 

He must have the attention and demands it, that is why we call him Bugg aka (you must say this with a British accent), Buggah. 

I told my daughter a few weeks back, you have not lived a full life, unless you have raised a yellow labrador retriever. I have had a few dogs (of other breeds) before and I love them all but, the love a yellow labrador retriever brings to the deal, is above and beyond far greater than I have ever witnessed. 

Though they 'must' be trained.

I have been thinking of adding two puppies from the same litter to our family but, after Bugg and I's experience with Khloe and Sandy, I have decided it is not for me. I am sure many people have found it to be a wonderful experience.

I found it to be a exhausting experience for all of us, including the puppies.

Khloe and Sandy were visiting our family here in Alabama from Texas. Their family left them with us, so they could (as a new family) go sight seeing around Georgia and Alabama. 

Khloe and Sandy are 13 week old yellow labrador retriever puppies. They're cute that is for sure but, there were some drawbacks.  Having them the same age and having been from the same litter is two of them. 

I have found with those two things in common, it can only bring on bad behavior, if not addressed early on. Khloe and Sandy sure came to us full of (as we say in the south) piss and vinegar.

My Jackie gave birth to 9 puppies October 6, 1995. The one thing I had noticed is that, the mother keeps them in line to a certain degree but, it is still not enough once they become a member of their new human being pack.

Bugg is a Big Guy

Khloe and Sandy never left their dog pack mind set and have yet too be trained to live with their new non-furry family pack. 

I noticed one puppy led the other and that always seemed to be trouble in the end. 

At first, I had no control what so ever with them, and then add Bugg (7 1/2 months old) into the mix. That left me with 2 untrained puppies and 1 trained but, anxious puppy, whom is already in the 100 pound range.

When they first arrived here on Monday, they would do the 'sit' command half of the time but, they would get bored easily then start to play with each other, not giving me no mind and doing as they pleased. 

So yes, I needed to establish that, 'I am' the alpha in this pack. 

At first I worked with each puppy in a separate environment. When the puppies were together, they had strength in numbers and you will never win in this situation. 

So first make it clear that you are the pack leader and the best way to do this, is for you to be in control. 

You give the commands and they obey.
Teach Human & Animal

Your first command to teach your dog, happens to be the easiest to conquer and that would be, sit.

Walk over to your puppy, cupping a piece of chicken (or any treat they like) in your hand and as you say "sit.", in a firm (not mean) voice.  

Bring the chicken above their nose, in a forward motion. As you say "sit" and as they start to go into a sit position, make sure you then say "Good sit, atta girl/boy!", while giving them their treat. 

Puppies have short attention spans and if you do not tell them right away, why they get this treat. The command will go out the window in a matter of seconds.

If you have one that wont sit, go to your knees (or sit at their level), put the piece of chicken above their nose and gently push their butt down and at the same time, saying "sit.". Give them their treat and praise, as soon as their bottom hits the ground.

You should have one person do the initial training and then they train the rest of those that will be around your dog.

Especially the children: they also need to be looked at, as higher in the pack than the animal.


Make them sit and then walk back with your hand in front of you, while saying "stay.".

If your puppy does not want to stay.

Start them over with sit, praise them and walk away again, saying "stay.".

Do not make the puppy 'stay' too long when you first start, remember, they have short attention spans.

I would give them about 2 seconds of staying in the same place, then give them a treat, while praising them for doing good.
One Bowl Please!
One of Khloe and Sandy's biggest problem was, they were being fed in the same bowl. I was against those two being fed in the same bowl from the start but, they were only staying for 6 days.  The owners wanted me to do so, so I tried it.  It had taken me one time of feeding them this way, before I changed this. 

The first time I placed their food down on the floor, I was attacked by both of the puppies and they were out for blood.  In their minds they were still having to fight for their food, as they did while in the litter.  My hand ended up all scratched up. 

After I went through this painful first feeding, I decided to feed them using their own bowls and not a community bowl. 

Our dog Jackie had a litter and yes, we did feed all puppies out of two community bowls for the first few weeks but then, they all received their own bowls of food.  It is just like weening, you must break them of this habit and have them go it alone.

Both puppies were then feed in two rooms, they were told to sit and after they sat, they were given their food.  If they didn't sit then I would turn my back to them for a fee seconds, turn back and give them the command 'sit' again.  We will repeat it until the puppy/dog gets it right.

If you want a good puppy, then you must do the hard work.
Humans First!
After I taught Khloe and Sandy, to sit and stay for their meals, I then made them sit (As Bugg does) at every door opening, so I am able to go out first. 

If you go first, then they see you as the leader of the pack. Doing this one step will also give them more confidence.  

They can stop fighting to be the lead dog, since you have already established that.

Make your dog sit & stay and then you go out the door, turn to them and say "Come.".  If your dog gets up and they do not 'stay', then enter the house, close the door and repeat.

Do this until they stay in the sitting position and you have time to say "Come.".   Then as they get better at it, make them stay longer and longer.

This might take 100 times or just once but, no matter how long, this is key to you becoming their leader. 
Remember: A 6 week old puppy is still just a baby and they too need naps or they get overworked and then they will do destructive things.  Just imagine a tired child, they get cranky and want to lash out because, they need to rest their body and their minds. A puppy is exactly like a child.

When the puppies would finally fall asleep, Bugg and I would take this time to go outside and I would allow Bugg to get all of my attention. He has been a tremendous help with the girls and he deserves to just have one on one time with his mommy.  Bugg really seemed to enjoy this time.
One Command, Different Word
Bugg will 'not' go for the cracker by his foot
I have also found that when you have more than one dog, you can use different commands for the same tasks, so you don't confuse the dogs.

We found this out while using our normal command of 'off', when we didn't want Bugg to touch some thing.  

The problem with that is our blind dog Max would think we were talking to him and he would act like his feelings were hurt.  

I mean, he wasn't doing anything wrong and yet he was being scolded. You see, this had been Max's command for 11 years, so that was when we came up with 'leave it' for Bugg.

Bottom line is: Work with your puppy daily and remember they're like children, they will forget, they have a short attention span.  So have some patience.
Play, Yes, Rough, No!

This picture is of Khloe and Sandy resting while driving back to Texas. These are two well contented puppies.  I find that if their owners give them some guidance and a lot of love, they will be just fine.

I must tell you, Bugg and I were downright exhausted after these girls left.  Bugg and I then followed their lead and we also had taken a nap when they left.

I do want to add another dog to our family right now but, I think having Bugg is enough for me right now, maybe one day..

If you do decide to get two dogs from the same litter, then I suggest that you have a lot of energy because you will need it.  Make sure you start training them 'separately' from day one.

Also one of the most important things to remember is...

A puppy loves to play rough but, as cute as it might seem, it could also hurt you or even worse, a child.

Stop this behavior if it already exist or just do not rough house with them from the start.
A Mouth Full

Remember: Yellow Labrador Retriever's, open mouth, insert everything. Especially when they're teething. to combat this issue, ice cubes work great plus, the puppies enjoy playing with the ice cube. 

When your puppy starts to chew on your hand (because they will), say "Ouch, no bite!", This should stop them in their tracks, if it does not work, then dab a little bit of toothpaste (mint flavored) on the backside of your hand. As they go to bite your hand, still say "Ouch, no bite!", then allow them to get a little bit of the toothpaste.

Between you reprimanding the puppy and the toothpaste, this problem should be solved in no time.

Also, yellow labs are prone to mouthing, it is their nature, so we have supplied Bugg with a lot of toys he is able to carry around in his mouth and he does this all day. 

The girls were a pleasure to have but, I am glad it was a short visit. We will eventually get another dog but, Bugg and I must rest up from this last adventure, as we are dog tired.

More Bugg...

Bugg Wants Food!

MeMe Head:  Dog Biscuits

All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different and acceptable) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

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