Raising a Labrador Retriever puppy can be daunting as much as it is exciting. Whilst there may be several challenges that lay ahead, owning a Labrador puppy can become a fulfilling and enjoyable task if done right.
We will provide you with valuable feeding and training tips to make raising Labrador Retriever puppy easier for you.
How much do you feed a Labrador Retriever puppy?
A Labrador Retriever puppy’s feeding measurement depends on his age and level of activity. As a general guide, here’s a Labrador puppy food chart:
|Age||Weight||Measurement per meal||Number of meals per day|
|2- 4 months||7-8 kg||50 - 55 g||4|
|4 - 6 months||11-12 kg||80 - 100 g||3|
|6 months +||23-27 kg||175 - 225 g||2|
|Age||2- 4 months||4 - 6 months||6 months +|
|Weight||7-8 kg||11-12 kg||23-27 kg|
|Measurement per meal||50 - 55 g||80 - 100 g||175 - 225 g|
|Number of meals per day||4||3||2|
What is the best puppy food for a Labrador Retriever?
When looking for the most suitable puppy food for your Labrador Retriever puppy, 3 factors need to be considered. First, it should be specifically designed for medium-to-large dog breed puppies.
Second, the Labrador Retriever puppy food should contain sufficient nutrients to aid your puppy’s growth and development. Ideally, it must be loaded with proteins and have low preservatives and additives content.
Third, think about your budget. Expensive brands of puppy food are often seen as the healthiest choices. However, note that some costly ingredients used in steeply-priced puppy food do not make your Labrador puppy’s diet more nutritious. It is often used to justify the high price of puppy food.
So, avoid dwelling on whether you should get a pricey premium brand of puppy food or not. Instead, focus on the essential ingredients and make sure the protein in your Labrador puppy’s food is high.
Keeping these factors in mind, you can start finding the best puppy food for your Labrador Retriever puppy. Working with the vet is a good idea to narrow down your choices efficiently.
How to Feed Labrador Retriever puppies
Feeding your Labrador Retriever puppy may seem like an easy task. However, there are many crucial things that you have to keep in mind to ensure that your pup has a healthy and balanced diet. To make ‘paw-renting’ more effortless for you, here are 8 best practices in feeding Lab puppies.
Follow a fixed feeding portion in every meal.
A growing Labrador pup needs supplements and adequate nutrition. This is why young ones should be provided with more meals per day than a regular mature dog.
Feed a small Labrador Retriever puppy at least 4 meals a day before reaching 4 months of age.
He should be 6 months or older before he can take two meals a day. Having a strict feeding schedule is believed to increase appetite and promote digestion in dogs. Apart from that, it encourages them to develop good eating habits.
2. Avoid free-feeding your Labrador Retriever puppy.
Free-feeding your Labrador pup is arguably the easiest feeding method. However, making food available at all times puts him at a higher risk of obesity. Research shows that when Lab pups gain too much weight, they are more likely to experience bone and joint problems.
Allowing your Lab puppy to gorge on food any time of the day also makes him very vulnerable to dog bloat. It is a fatal condition that commonly affects large dog breeds such as the Labrador Retriever.
Bloat in the Labrador breed causes the stomach to twist and accumulate food, liquid, or gas, making it distended. It can kill a dog within an hour if left untreated. Keep your Labrador puppy safe from these health problems by sticking to a fixed feeding schedule.
3. Provide Lab puppies with cooked meat rather than raw during puppyhood.
A Labrador Retriever puppy can eat meat products as long as they are cooked properly. Experts warn dog owners that raw meat, especially those that are not fresh, is likely to contain dangerous bacteria. These include E. coli, salmonella, and listeria.
An adult Labrador Retriever’s body has lower chances of contamination, but a puppy may easily get infected. Since his immune system has not completely developed yet, it cannot protect him from these bacteria. For this reason, feeding raw meat to Lab pups is extremely discouraged.
A Labrador Retriever can be fed raw meat during adulthood. However, remember to introduce the new food gradually to avoid stomach problems.
4. Serve your Lab’s food at the best temperature.
A Labrador puppy’s meals should not be given when they are cold or too hot. When the food is too cold, it may lead to tummy problems, whilst when it’s too hot, it may affect his appetite. However, during summer, pups are encouraged to eat frozen treats. For the rest of the time, the best dog food is served warm.
5. Fresh water should be accessible at all times.
Always provide your Labrador puppy with fresh water. The water bowl should not be too full that it could be easily knocked over. Don’t forget to change the water and clean the area from time to time.
Giving tap water to your Labrador is not advisable, according to several experts. A good rule of thumb is that if you do not feel safe drinking the tap water yourself, do not give it to your little dog.
Chose a heavy-based water bowl to avoid having it knocked over by your clumsy pup.
6. Lab puppies from 2–6 months should get enough calcium supplements.
The Labrador Retriever is a medium-to-large dog when fully grown. His growth rate tends to be faster, which then results in a higher requirement for calcium. That being said, Lab owners have to pay attention to calcium intake, especially at the ages of 2–6 months.
7. Nutrition helps pups develop healthy skin and coat.
Ensure that your Labrador is getting enough nutrients to support his growing body. Experts suggest feeding him fresh vegetables such as carrots every week. This helps him keep his hair soft and glossy. In addition to that, vitamin B is also a good nutrient that supports the dog’s metabolism and good for the skin cells.
8. Prioritise making vet appointments for vaccinations and deworming.
Puppies of any breed, including the Labrador, should be vaccinated and dewormed at the right age, which is about one week after weaning. These procedures will help build physical resistance against parasites.
9. And most importantly, don’t give in to those teasing ‘puppy eyes.’
Encouraging your Labrador puppy to overeat is not a good habit. It is important to establish discipline in the early stages.
Obesity in dogs is one of the common diseases amongst domestic dogs. Remember to stick with the regular feeding schedule, and you’ll have a happy and healthy furry sidekick.
What if my Labrador Retriever puppy won’t eat?
Lab puppies eat more when they eat together with their siblings, according to research. If your new Labrador Retriever puppy has a low appetite, this might be because it is his first time feeding without his brother and sisters.
That said, call the vet for advice if your Labrador puppy refuses to eat for more than 4 hours. You may need to contact them sooner if he shows symptoms of illness such as vomiting, restlessness, lethargy, or diarrhoea.
How to Train a Labrador Retriever Puppy
The Labrador Retriever is a very energetic working dog with high intelligence. He possesses the willingness to please his owners as well. These are excellent traits that make the breed easy to train.
Below are a few useful pointers to make training easier and stress-free for you and your Labrador Retriever puppy.
1. Train a calm Labrador Retriever puppy.
The beautiful Labrador Retriever is generally active and upbeat. A Lab puppy is no different. He is brimming with energy, which can hinder him from focusing during training. Make sure to let your Labrador Retriever puppy expend his pent-up energy before you’re ready to leave and start with the training.
Allow your Labrador puppy to run around your backyard or play with him for at least 5 minutes. However, avoid overexercising him. Or else, he will be too tired and would rather sleep than participate in training.
3. Find a quiet place to train your Labrador Retriever puppy.
A Lab puppy has a short attention span. He gets easily distracted by noises, smells, and moving objects. When training him for the first time, it is best to do so in a quiet room. This way, his focus is solely fixed on you.
As your Labrador Retriever puppy learns how to focus more during training, you can change to a room with a little more noise. Once he can successfully obey your vocal and visual training commands, you start training him outside.
It can be in your back garden or a quiet park. Teach him the ‘watch me’ command so that he maintains his focus on you despite the numerous distractions outside.
4. Keep training sessions short.
As mentioned, the Labrador Retriever puppy has a low attention span. It is not a good idea to train him for long periods. This will only cause stress for both you and your pup. Train him for about 2–3 minutes.
Some Labrador owners recommend training a puppy during commercial breaks. That’s because these usually last for around 2–3 minutes.
5. Implementing harsh punishments are a big no-no.
Training a Labrador Retriever puppy also involves discipline. However, it is not an excuse to use forceful or painful punishments. Understand that a Lab puppy is normally full of curiosity and is bound to get easily distracted.
Never hit your Labrador puppy as it can cause him to be fearful of you and weaken your bond with him. Shouting and yelling is not recommended too, because a Lab puppy has sensitive hearing.
Discipline your Labrador Retriever puppy by saying ‘no’ in a firm yet gentle tone. Then proceed to correct his behaviour.
6. Use positive reinforcement and rewards-based training.
The Labrador Retriever is a very food-motivated dog, just like the Golden Retriever. He loves receiving love and attention from his owners as well. You can use these traits to your advantage by incorporating positive reinforcement dog training.
If your Labrador Retriever puppy successfully carries out a command, reward him with a delicious treat. Giving him praises and cuddles work too. Soon enough, your pup will be even more motivated to take part in the training.
Train your Labrador Retriever puppy before mealtime. This will encourage him to work hard to earn more tasty treats. However, keep in mind that the treats should be given in small quantities as a Lab puppy easily becomes overweight.
Reduce the amount of food during mealtimes after giving treats. It is also advised to increase your Labrador Retriever puppy’s exercise.
7. Set proper expectations.
A Labrador Retriever puppy takes time to learn a command. So, avoid giving him hard tasks as it will only make it difficult and time-consuming for him to carry out.
This also takes the fun out of training and may discourage you and your Labrador pup from trying harder. So, give your Lab puppy easy commands instead and train him consistently.
Training a Labrador is a slow process but a fulfilling one if executed properly. There will be times when your Labrador Retriever puppy is disinterested, no matter how you motivate him.
Don’t force him and take a break. Then you can try training him again after a few hours. Who knows, after successful basic training, your pup can also be trained for field trials.