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Thread: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

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    Default Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    I guess technically we're getting a corona puppy. We've been considering our first dog for our family for awhile but the past year plus was definitely the tipping point. I narrowed it down to a German shorthaired pointer (had one growing up) or a labrador. I talked on the phone to a wonderful GSP breeder in Romania but a couple days ago I did a 180 and circled back to labs. If I were getting a dog just for me I would have already gotten a GSP. My wife wanted a dog growing up but her parents never let her get one so this will be her first dog. I've always been lab curious and I think a lab is more of a family dog; our kids are almost 9 and 11. I've had a German shorthair and a pointer is more of a lifestyle dog because they rev so high. A GSP will adapt but I think they thrive in the country. So bring on the shedding and weight gain in their later years, we're going to get a lab from a breeder in the Basque Country. I really feel good about her. Our first choice is a chocolate from the two dogs below. Both were born in the Finnish Laplands to a breeder who they say is one of the most important lab breeders of this century.

    esme.jpg

    tabasco.jpg

    The same two dogs were bred last summer but the frozen semen kit arrived late due to the pandemic and only two females were born. So the breeder is doing a second litter this summer and plans to keep a female for her kennel. She sent me the pics of both females from last summer and this chubby girl below is amazing.

    chocolate_1.jpg

    chocolate_2.jpg

    I had rescue dogs growing up, a GSP from a breeder, an Old English Sheepdog, and there's something about supporting breeders who are passionate about what they do. It's a love of labor and it shows.

    I'm writing because I've never trained a dog. I want to possibly take an obedience course early on with this pup and really work for a well-trained lab. I fly fish but I won't rule out going out once or twice to shoot a bird for dinner. I don't know anything about hunting but where I fish there are hunting lodges all around so I know they would help put me on quail or some game birds. I would do this mostly for the dog and possibly to have my son and/or daughter there for the experience of working for our dinner. I also wouldn't rule out field trials on a recreational level nothing too serious so holler if anyone has done this for I don't know anything, but I would be interested possibly for something to work towards.

    Since I've been out of the game (dogs) for so long I'd like to lean on Salonistas to share their wisdom for me. What have you learned, what do you suggest I keep in mind, anything, everything for this little fellow is going to change our world when he or she arrives. Our first choice is a chocolate from the parents above but we also said we would consider a male with a sturdy blocky head which would be black. The black litters are this summer and the chocolate litter isn't until fall. We're not in a huge rush but I'm already looking at collars and crates.

    Can I ask lab owners one thing: will a heavy dog like these labs run alongside me at a moderate pace on the bike? I've never owned a lab and don't see them running like a German shorthair. Does anyone have a lab with a similar build who can comment as to how much they will or won't run? I know you're not supposed to exercise them properly until a year and a half but just curious. I posted a thread about a bike trailer. I would like to take the dog to the beach to fetch a dummy in the water and also on a gravel road overlooking the city to run through the woods.

    We're really excited about whatever nature brings us. What do you wish you knew or wish you had done differently? As I said this will be my wife and kids' first dog. I think I'm putting them in a great place. I've been reading up on Ducks Unlimited a little bit for I want to train the dog to retrieve even though we won't be hunters. I may take the dog fly fishing occasionally but have no idea how that would work as fishing is hard enough on my own. Thanks for any lab wisdom.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    The chocolate lab we had when i was 6-16 never got any training and never got snipped.

    It was an absolute pain in the ass.

    The only labs I have met that werenít absolute freaking monsters were trained and socialized with people non-stop.

    Remember, those little buggers are STRONG, FAST and HUNGRY. Seems to be a more than full time job keeping a lab from destroying your house.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    One excellent thing we have done for all our dogs is installing an invisible fence to give them full run of the whole yard.

    That and train them with trail manners for mountain biking.

    A good friend had a great dog, a chocolate lab named Moose. Retriever extraordinaire. My friend could take a rock and throw it in two feet of water. It sometimes took Moose 20 minutes, but he would come back with that same damn rock.
    Trod Harland, Physical Educator

    Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. ó James Baldwin

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    As far as running with you on a trail:
    The chocolate breed is so inbred that yours will likely suffer from hip displaysia. Take it swimming. Mine would pull me around in the surf when i was little and was really only calm if we took it out on a motor boat so it could air out its jowls.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Socialization first. To everything, of all shapes and sizes. Especially as a puppy. Fire engines. Men with moustaches. Baby strollers. Babies. Bikes. Sidewalks. Busy downtowns. Other dogs.
    Then training. Which, with a lab, will be relatively easy.

    People get the order of this reversed all the time, and it makes for some reasonably well-trained dogs that are absolutely neurotic and can't tolerate anything they're not used to.

    Suspect is right: chocolates especially are renowned for bad hips - do you have hip scores for the dog and bitch (not sure if this is a thing outside the US)? I'd be cautious about lots of trail running with any lab.

    You're going to get a lot of opinions here so take mine with a grain of salt. My wife's a vet and has a lot of thoughts on how terrible American labs have become, but admittedly I know nothing about the vigor of European ones.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by suspectdevice View Post
    The only labs I have met that werenít absolute freaking monsters were trained and socialized with people non-stop.
    Iíll second the recommendations for training and socialization, but add that this applies to all dogs. If you plan to hunt with the dog, consult appropriate subject matter experts on how to acclimate the dog to gun shot noise. My uncle had a beautiful German Shorthaired Pointer that cowered at the sound of a shotgun blast - so much for hunting...

    Iíll also suggest getting your children involved in the training process. Itís a great experience for both the dog and the kids. My daughter was ten when we got our current dog. She came to all his training sessions with me and learned the nuances of dog handling. After we finished the basic obedience course, my daughter trained him for canine agility. It was terrific for both of them. Max learned off-leash commands/skills and Allie learned about hard work and responsibility. As a bonus, agility training classes tired both of them out! They both collapsed and slept well on training days.

    Greg

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by gregl View Post
    Iíll also suggest getting your children involved in the training process.... After we finished the basic obedience course, my daughter trained him for canine agility. It was terrific for both of them....
    I can think of no better means of socialization AND training than an agility course. Listen to this wise man.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by holliscx View Post
    I'm writing because I've never trained a dog.

    ...

    Can I ask lab owners one thing: will a heavy dog like these labs run alongside me at a moderate pace on the bike?
    Congrats! Dogs are awesome, and I bet this one will be a dog.

    Here's a book I've found useful: book. I think a well-bred lab isn't too tough to train. When he's a year old and getting a big head, just remember to communicate with him as a dog rather than default to getting anthropomorphic.

    Even a stumpy lab should easily be able to run with you for a few miles. When my golden just needed a ton of exercise I ran him on a local hobo-ish mountain bike trail early in the morning when it was cool (anything above about 50F is hot to a retriever) for 8-10 miles. It helps to have some water for them to jump in since they're half fish.

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by monadnocky View Post
    Suspect is right: chocolates especially are renowned for bad hips - do you have hip scores for the dog and bitch (not sure if this is a thing outside the US)? I'd be cautious about lots of trail running with any lab.
    @holliscx The above is true, and it's not just hips. I don't understand exactly how the genetics work, but to get chocolate dogs you basically have to select on color for generations, which is a bad selection criteria that has a bunch of trickledown effects. Chocolates are basically old school designer dogs.

    I don't know if you've already settled on the chocolate, but if not you may at least want to consider a black litter. Most labs with selective breeding for performance and temperament will be black, with a few yellows. While that chocolate pup is cute AF and I have no idea about any of the pedigrees involved, I'd tend toward a black lab over a chocolate pretty much every time.

    To back up one more step, if you're not 100% sold on this breeder, you may save yourself a bunch of heartache and money by starting with parents who have hip, elbow, and eye certifications.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by caleb View Post
    @holliscx The above is true, and it's not just hips. I don't understand exactly how the genetics work, but to get chocolate dogs you basically have to select on color for generations, which is a bad selection criteria that has a bunch of trickledown effects. Chocolates are basically old school designer dogs...
    This matches with my understanding as well - my wife notices that chocolates have a LOT more allergies than the yellow and black varieties - this is anecdotal, but apparently a well-known among vets.
    Puppies sure are cute though.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    This site has good resources https://www.insightfulanimals.com/trusted-resources Everyone should at least watch the body language videos.

    Positive reinforcement training is the way to go. Most people have problems learning how to do it at first and misuse the clicker. My brother's dog is a box of rocks but he is a really well trained box of rocks.

    Keep in mind that all dogs aren't meant for all things. You won't know until you have the dog. Some dogs are great trail dogs, some might have the energy but can't help chasing anything that moves. Those dogs need to stay home. Always ask yourself if you are doing something for the dog or for you. If either of you is frustrated all the time while doing something then it isn't worth it. Find something else.

    Socialization has been covered. It is really important.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Can I also point out how amazing it is that in the "Similar Threads" section below, the #1 thread is "Incoming Dogma F8."

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by rec head View Post
    This site has good resources https://www.insightfulanimals.com/trusted-resources Everyone should at least watch the body language videos.

    Positive reinforcement training is the way to go. Most people have problems learning how to do it at first and misuse the clicker. My brother's dog is a box of rocks but he is a really well trained box of rocks.

    Keep in mind that all dogs aren't meant for all things. You won't know until you have the dog. Some dogs are great trail dogs, some might have the energy but can't help chasing anything that moves. Those dogs need to stay home. Always ask yourself if you are doing something for the dog or for you. If either of you is frustrated all the time while doing something then it isn't worth it. Find something else.

    Socialization has been covered. It is really important.
    So much goodness in this post. Positive reinforcement is the only way to go. Itís especially important for smart, independent dogs. They will quickly learn that good behavior equals reward. Our Wheaten Terrier is the smartest dog Iíve ever worked with. That intelligence and independence also made him the most exasperating puppy Iíve ever trained. Once he learned ďwhatís in it for himĒ (treats) he became the rock star of his obedience classes. He became an absolutely wonderful adult dog who we can take anywhere with complete confidence in his behavior. All I have to do is give him the attention command and he immediately looks me in the eye, ready for direction.

    Greg

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Re: health issues these dogs have come from a kennel in Finland where they've screened for hereditary issues going back 5-6 generations or more. So I don't think that's a big concern and re: chocolates I'm not a breeder but both the kennel in Finland and the kennel in Spain have all three colors and I'm not going to overthink it. If there was any reason a chocolate wouldn't be as healthy they wouldn't breed them period. If anyone's interested look up Mallorn's kennel in the Laplands of Finland. This woman has been on the national breeding board for more than a decade. She knows her stuff and is a highly respected breeder. She endorsed the breeder in the Basque Country who has three or so of her dogs; this woman took her accolades seriously. I think we're in great hands and are going to get a healthy lab. We're leaning chocolate but haven't ruled out a black male with a bearlike head. Something about a big masculine head on a lab absolutely melts me, and we already have a name for a black male which is Tar. Not to disclose my basketball allegiance of course.

    Thanks for all the comments. I'll be rereading and following all of them. I have looked into both field trials and agility and both are options here. My kids watched the Spanish agility championships on YouTube and said they'd be down for it as long as a hundred people aren't watching them. I'm sure the local trials are real mom and pop.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    I grew up with chocolate labs. Ours were smart and easy to train. They chewed the heck out of stuff up until they were a year and a half old but then they settled down. Their appetite never goes away though. A lab will eat basically until they explode. We had to stretch out our dogs' food with green beans and carrots. I'd also recommend swimming over running. Even if your dog doesn't have the hip issues common among the breed, labs are big boys, running is going to accelerate wear and tear on joints.

    Positive reinforcement training works wonders. I got a rescue mutt back in November. A 6-7 month old cattle dog mix. He might be part Lab but for sure he's very food focused like a lab. That actually makes training easy. One of the things that we do is training before meal time. I'll have his bowl of food in my hand and I'll be handfeeding him kibbles when he successfully completes commands, after about a dozen or so he gets the bowl. He went from being a rescue dog that never had a human before to knowing, sit, shake, stay, his name, come here, crawl, and leave it in about two weeks. Now that I'm vaccinated we'll sign him up for some formal obedience classes but that's more to keep him well behaved when he's outside of the house than anything else.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Make sure you sign up for puppy class.
    I've known too many people that skipped it because they thought their dog would be easy to train and then regretted it.
    It's hard to go back and unlearn bad behavior and habits.
    Particularly yours! (Puppy class is mainly about training you, not the pup).

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Leerburg.com
    Start with your puppy eight weeks to eight months. This will build you the solid foundation that you need for success. You are the pack leader. A dog is not a child.
    Tim Campen

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Whatever dog you get, get two. They will take care of each other. Labs aren't a coursing breed, built to run after game, which is what you are asking them to do if you ride with them.
    Jay Dwight

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    I really don't want to get into it with anyone on the forum and I'm not going any further but the whole "pack leader" and "alpha" is old fashioned. A good place to start a search for a more modern trainer: https://karenpryoracademy.com/find-a...!directory/map

    We had 2 dogs for 10 years and they were roommates at best. They didn't fight but never really cared about the other one. Getting that second one wasn't a great idea.

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    Default Re: Incoming lab. Please share your dog wisdom.

    Good luck!
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