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Hi All

We are getting our first lab on 3rd October and are so unbelievably excited. My parents were KC registered breeders of cavalier king charles spaniels when we were children, so there was always a house full of dogs. As such we've always had spaniels in the family but I have always loved those big friendly labs.

My son is six and has had one hell of a time over the last 12months, being bereaved and then having multiple breaks due to bone cysts. He's been through the mill. So I decided it was time to bring a little, or rather a big, amount of sunshine into his life and get him a lab. He's sooooo excited to do training etc. We're getting a fox red pup, which is KC registered with health checks on both parents, and my son has decided to call him Fred as it is the perfect merge of Fox and Red :)

We're looking forward to our lab adventures and will no doubt be on this forum a lot for advice and fun once the mayhem begins

Lynne
 

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Welcome Lynne. Labradors are not the easiest babies, but they grow up into the most gorgeous creatures. While I type this I have Chloe laid in the back of my chair, with her head and front paws on my lap, snoring loudly.
 

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Hi and welcome.
You can't beat a Lab to brighten up your life. Love the name. My son's 12yr old Lab is Fred too, although he was named after Freddie Mercury from Queen.
Good luck with your pup.
 
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I have a Freddie Mercury too, a bit of a showman.
F8B13A36-6A19-4224-996A-BF8E39D108C3.jpeg
 
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Puppy should be arriving a month today, so here's a few things to think about. Something I wrote a while back.

There is a very old saying, which my boss regularly used to quote at work, when things got hectic. The cleaned up version went, “When you are up to your backside in Alligators, it’s difficult to remember that the object of the exercise was to drain the swamp!” I don’t think there can be many people, during the early days of puppy ownership who don’t at some time think that they have made the biggest mistake of their life. Owning a young puppy is HARD WORK! But it does get easier, then it gets to be a joy. Trouble is, puppies grow fast, and subconsciously we start to think they are older than they really are. After all, what would you expect from a 12 week old human baby? Add to that, Labrador puppies are not one of the easiest breeds. I often think when I see books, or articles in magazines talking about pups and saying how easy Labradors are, “You’ve obviously never owned one!”

Think puppies in the wild, everything they do is instinctive. Things equipping them for future life, and play fighting with litter mates is so important to them. It is training for catching food and just as important, defending themselves and their pack. But we take the pup out of the litter at around 8 weeks old, denying the pup litter mates to learn his/her trade with. But he still has this instinct, so he uses us as surrogate litter mates. Understand this and the reason for his behaviour starts fall into place. But he does not intend to hurt us, he simply does not know that he is! How could he? He cant feel his teeth entering out flesh! In the wild his litter mate would squeal and run away. “If you are going to hurt me I’m not playing!” and gradually pup would learn. It’s called “Learning bite inhibition.” I’m going to leave this for now, and come back to it later.

Commands. Think about them for a moment. Every command or instruction we give requires our dog to understand and know the required action. All this from a creature who does not understand human speech! We cant understand “Dog talk” but we expect our dog to understand “Human talk.” But we have full lives, housework, shopping, going to work, where by and large our dogs spend the days watching us and learning sounds we make. But we can make it easier for our dogs. If you have ever watched the Obedience from Crufts, it might surprise you to learn that in order for those dogs to do all they need to do to win, they only have to understand 7 commands. Most of us use simply hundreds of commands, many for a single action. Rationalise the commands, reduce them to a bare minimum. A command should be a single word, not a conversation. Think, “Oh no you little swine, leave it alone!” Think how much harder to pick the operative command out of that sentence, than it would be if you said “Leave.” Think about what you do when you give a command. Suppose you don’t speak English and I told you to sit down. You would not have a clue what I was talking about. But If I gently eased you into a chair as I said it then it would not take many times before you would grasp the meaning of the word. As our dogs get older, OK, we start to use sentences rather than single words. Do our dogs actually understand the sentence? Or does it pick out the actual command work, which it’s already learned, and act on that??

“No” is one of the first commands my dogs learn, and I don’t mean out of fear. No is simply, “Whatever you are doing don’t do it!” So coming back to biting, when puppy starts biting I give a sharp no, and remember that a litter mate would stop playing, I’d stand up and turn my back on him. The “If you’re going to do that then I’m not playing!” attitude.

Pinching things! One thing about owning a Labrador is that it makes us very tidy people. Dont leave anything laying around!! But of course we do. Mistakes will always happen. So learn from the working gundog people. Whatever our dog picks up we encourage him to bring to us. We never go to him, that makes it a game as far as he’s concerned. We get him to bring it to us. And whatever it is, however nasty, we give lots of praise and make out it’s the best present we have ever had! We want him to love bringing us presents.

One last thing about commands, and another old saying in working gundog circles. “Get something wrong once and it’s no problem. Get it wrong twice, beware. Get it wrong three times and it becomes a learned procedure!” Think before you give a command. If it is not obeyed are you in a position to enforce the command? If not then it may be better not to give it. Imagine this. You are busy in the kitchen, to time to spare, and you see your pup digging a hole in the garden. What do you do? If you tell him “No” and call him in, and he ignores you then the command has been devalued. It’s starting to become just a sound you make rather than a command. It might have been better to ignore the digging this once, leaving it until you are in a position to enforce the command. The ideal situation with commands is for the dog to never realise that he has a choice. I don’t mean that in a hard way. Just quietly and calmly guide him into obeying the commands
 
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