Dew Claws: We do not typically remove dew claws at Aisling Labs unless there is a medical reason for doing so on a puppy by puppy basis. Contrary to popular belief, they continue to serve a purpose. Dr. M. Christine Zink of Johns Hopkins University, using stop-action photography, has shown that the dew claw is still used in running and to gain purchase on turns and pivots.
Carpal Arthritis: There is evidence that dogs who have had their dew claws removed are more susceptible to carpal arthritis. The dewclaws primary function is reducing the torque that is applied to the front legs, especially when dogs are turning. For more information:
courtesy of quartermoongoldens1 youtube channel
More detailed information is provided through pdf's emailed to our puppy families the week before Puppy Pick Up Day. If you would like this more detailed information emailed to you earlier than that, please let us know.
We recommend that prior to bringing your puppy home, you acquire an appropriate Crate that will serve your puppy through all life stages. Crates come with a divider that allows you to limit the available space for the puppy until such time as they require the entire crate for comfort.
Crate training serves several purposes; it provides safety and security for puppy during the "rapid growth" period (from 8 weeks until approximately 9 months); it aids in "house breaking" the puppy as most will not soil their "den"; it allows for the confinement of the dog after spaying, neutering, or recovery from illness or injury.
Labrador's are "piranha puppies" and "velcro dogs"......confining a young puppy into a safe place will limit the chance that shoes, books and other items will be destroyed by puppy teeth when you are unable to give them complete supervision.
More importantly, it protects your puppy from any older dogs you may have in your home; from over-stimulating attention that might be given to the puppy by your children or visitors to your home; and finally, it is a sure way to protect them from ingesting things that are dangerous or that may require surgery to remove.
Raising a puppy is very similar to raising a toddler; silence is not always golden and nap-time is looked forward to by the parents!
Provide appropriate chews:
Again, Labrador's are "piranha puppies" - We do NOT recommend giving them raw-hide chews as these are not easily digestible for all dogs.
We provide our dogs with Nylabones - a nearly indestructible item that gives them hours of pleasure; we use them to teach appropriate chewing. When our puppies pick up a shoe or a nibble on a book, it is exchanged with their nylabone; they quickly learn what is and what is not appropriate for them to chew. These are available at most feed and pet stores.
Labs are intelligent dogs; one of my favorite memories of raising Angus Demetrius is from the day he finally "got it" regarding what things were his and what were mine. His toys are kept in a basket, my yarn for crochet projects are kept in another....one day, there was a ball of yarn sitting on my desk.
Angus kept on eyeing it for play fun and I kept reminding him that no, that was mine and that his toys were in his basket. Suddenly, he reached up to grab that ball of yarn in his mouth and then carried it to HIS basket and dropped it in. He then sat down and looked at me as if to say "Now. It IS mine!".
Ideas for inexpensive temporary "toys" - Milk cartons and empty boxes are great toys to distract your puppy for a few minutes during the day under supervision. An ice cube or a running hose will also provide interest, stimulation and a means of getting rid of excess energy.
Kennels (outside dog pens aka exercise pens):
While not every home will have need of these, we find them indispensable at our place. A multi-dog household brings some dangers to the table when bringing home a puppy and a safe place outside is a requirement to ensure that play time between the older dog and more fragile puppy is restricted. They are also great for safely confining a puppy while you tend to outside chores.
Our dogs regularly camp with us and the kennels provide them a safe confinement so that we don't have to leash or tie them when outside the RV; a camp mat and an Easy Up provide comfort and shade.
When my parents were breeding Labs, we fed them Puppy Food until the age of 6 months. By the time we brought home Angus Demetrius in 2013, much had changed. Many Vets and Breeders were recommending "Large Breed Puppy" food until the age of 12 - 18 months. We followed the advice of the majority.
We made sure that there was the correct phosphorus and calcium ratio; we bought a 5 Star large breed puppy food and fed it according to the directions given. Angus still grew much too rapidly and was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia even though the Breeder had bred dogs with excellent and normal OFA ratings and never had a dog develop it in a decade of breeding.
When we brought home Kona of the Storm in 2014; I had spent months researching this subject in order to ensure her steady but slow growth (along with the important safe and REGULAR and LIMITED exercise). Having raised Labs for most of my life and with only one ever having hip issues, I decided to go back to what I knew....
Kona and Dreama were both fed Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Food until approximately 4 - 6 months of age at which time we started them on Purina Pro Plan Sport - an All Life Stages food - with the appropriate fat and protein levels for their very active lifestyle.
What YOU feed your puppy is up to you after you have done your own research; here are some links to get you started.