Lorken Farms, Labrador Retrievers, Fremont, WI 

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INDEX: Taking your pup Home (what to expect from a 7 week old)

  1. What to expect from a 7 week old
  2. Driving home with your puppy
  3. Shipping a puppy by airplane
  4. Teething
  5. Indoor/Outdoor
  6. Housebreaking
  7. Training

Lorken strives to make a good match between a pup and his/her new owner.  There are some thing's we feel you should be aware of when you are buying a pup which will help in making a good match.  Some people will prefer a started pup over a 7 week old.  Puppies are extremely cute and can be lots of fun.   They also will take time to teach.  You need to decide many factors about the pup your want, so we have provided information and answers to questions we are frequently asked.

Taking your pup home

We recommend the book The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete
Here is a section from the book about taking your puppy home.
Art of Raising a Puppy by Monks of New Skete.pdf  if you do not have an adobe reader you can find sites for a free download - or http://get.adobe.com/reader/

WHAT TO EXPECT from a 7-8 week old

Pups at this age are very cute.  They are generally active and playful and like to explore once settled in to their new home.  Expose them to lots of situations after he is used to your home.  If you plan on driving a lot, put him in your car with you for trips (remember not to leave him shut in a car when it is warm out).  Encourage them to haul their toys around or even walk through puddles, shallow ponds if it is warm enough out.  If your dog will be a gun or field dog allow him to hear shots (not too close at first) especially when they are in comfortable surroundings so they know this is a good thing.  They will be entertaining and you can watch them learn about the world.  The pups will grow up all too quickly so be sure to enjoy this stage.

Many people go to the breeder to pick up their puppy.  If you live across the country often shipping is the answer since the drive is too far.  Either way, keep in mind that a 7 week old puppy is still a baby.   They have only recently learned how to pick up objects and carry them around, they do not have the physical capability of complete bladder control and they have never had a collar on them.  They are used to having a litter as their family  and were nursing not so long ago.  They often will be scared and insecure when they leave.   Their whole life is changing.  We do as much socialization as we can, but nothing will ever be so difficult for your pup as the transition from it's birth place to its new home.  Often we will have the pups doing small, 5-6 foot retrieves with a rope bone, bird wing or other small object they can get their mouths around.  Do not expect a fully developed retrieving dog at 7 week old no matter what the pedigree.   And the first few days is really an adjustment period for the pup.  Get yourself a started dog if you want it housebroke, retrieving and accustomed to separation from it's litter.  You will generally pay for the training of a started dog though, but if this is what you want right away it may be worth it for you.  Be sure you give your young pup TIME TO ADJUST to his new surroundings.

What you can expect with any 7 week old pup for the first few days is some crying and whining. Each pup is different in its response to the major life change.  We have seen some who seem depressed and clingy for the first few days and we had one pup that was fine for the 1st day and night.  It was the second night she realized she was not going to go "back home".  They may lose their appetite or get a bit of the runs from the transition. Best thing is to try to make him or her feel at home and secure.  Also be aware that if you live at a different altitude than us, there may be additional physical adjustments he will have to make (usually higher altitudes will cause one to be more lethargic for a few days in addition to the other changes).  Give the pup lots of love, toys, comfort, attention and a place for him/her to be alone if he wants it. Routine and security help them to settle in.

Some people have told me they let the pup sleep in bed with them, another put the crate next to the bed and took it out when it cried or consoled it.  Crying can mean the have to go to the bathroom, so take him outside.  For the first night or two, more often a pup will be beyond the point of being comforted and continue to cry for extended periods of time , some have put them in a crate with lots of toys to keep him occupied, a radio to listen to and placed it away from the bedroom so they can sleep.  The good news is that your pup should settle in after a few days and will be comforted by the routine of your household as well as the companionship of his new family. 

During the day I have gotten down on the floor and played with them.  I let them chew on the rawhide next to me so that they know I am a safe place to bring their favorite objects and won't "steal it away" like his litter mates.  (This can help for teaching the dog to retrieve later.  Never take the bumper away from the dog too quickly). Pet them and praise them and keep the retrieves minimal.  Always leaving them wanting to retrieve more than you let them.

It is best to stop the pup from chewing on your or your clothes.  They are used to chewing on their littermates and are teething.  Just like most human babies, everything goes in the mouth.  Begin to teach the pup what are its toys to chew on and redirect them from you to the toy.  The jumping up may also be cute right now, but you don't want to encourage this.  A full grown dog will be too powerful when it jumps on a person.  Settle them down and give lots of praise to teach him what you want from him.

Be aware that a 7 week old puppy does not physically have the capability of keeping itself warm for extended periods of time in cold climates.  If you live in Wisconsin like we do, plan to have a 7 week old puppy live in the house or a well heated kennel if it is cold outside.  It is a good idea to housebreak your dog even if he does spend sometime in an outdoor kennel.   This will allow you the flexibility of bringing him in anytime. 

You may have lots of barking in which case ear plugs or a crate in the back of an enclosed truck/van may be helpful.  Other pups become shy and will want to be held on someone's lap.  Others many be anxious but curious and playful too.  We had a 7 hour trip once from Minnesota with a pup that would only stop barking when we took her for a walk or she fell asleep.  I stopped and bought ear plugs.   In hind sight, shipping probably would have been better. Have some paper towels in case of accidents and have a crate of some sort unless someone can hold the pup for the entire trip.  Advantages to this is being able to directly pick out your pup (unless of course there is only one left) and being able to comfort your pet and start bonding with him right away in the car.

When we ship a puppy out we ask that the purchaser to have it shipped with a counter to counter service such as Delta Dash/Pets First or Northwest's "VIP" service.  This means the pup will be hand carried on board the plane just before departure to a temperature controlled, pressurized compartment.  If there is a transfer of planes, the pup will be hand carried indoors and again loaded just before take off on the connecting plane.  You would pick your puppy up at the ticket counter of the final destination.  Temperature is an issue with shipping pups.  The airlines will generally not ship a pup if there will be a temperature above 80 degrees at any of the airports that it will stop at.  It is the airline that will regulate this.   Winter requires that the pups have some acclimation to temperatures below 45 degrees and that when the Veterinarian signs the health certificate, he also writes a letter of acclimation for the pup.  Labradors are generally quite good about handling short periods of time in the transfer to the plane, but many other breeds of dogs have difficulty with this.  "Generally" shipping a pup has been running about $230 including the cost of the crate and certificates.  We use Delta sometimes Northwest airlines depending on the destination.   Again, the transition form the litter to the new home can be difficult, but sometimes the airplane can be quicker than driving and the pup can start adjusting to the new home faster than with a long drawn out drive.  The pup doesn't know the difference between a car and airplane, it's all a bit scary for him, his first time away from home.

We ship pups all the time and have had no great problems.  If a flight is delayed the attendants will take the pup out and play with it.  When we check them in at the airport it seems the workers love to look at them and have even fought over who gets to carry the pup to the plane.  Food is attached to the crate so that if there are long delays the workers will feed the pup to keep him comfortable.  You can get information from Delta.

When we have a pup being shipped we will ask the new owner to give us some idea what they are looking for in a pup so that we can try to match the right pup and owner.  We still allow your pick to be taken in its order and will do the best we can.  Obvious things we can look for is current size, shade of color (black is black but yellow and chocolate can have different shades), birdiness, who is more aggressive in the litter at least at the time we pick it out for you.  We cannot pick the Field Champion out, no one can.   Interestingly enough some of the National Field Champions (Best retrieving dog of the year) have been the last picked from a very well bred litter.  Lottie and Rascal (NFC-AFC Storm's Riptide Star) were the last picked.  That is why we stress finding the right breeding or litter even more than being able to pick out the specific pup.

Be gentle with your pup but set limits for him too.  They are teething and will need lots of chew toys because he will need to chew on something.  When you find him chewing on something he should not, say no,  remove it, but give him an appropriate toy.  You may need to walk away after giving the toy to make the point.  At 7 weeks they won't be able to chew large chunks of anything off and swallow it, so things like rope bones, rawhide chew, rubber toys are good.  Once your dog is old enough to chew off chunks be careful of theses toys, he could get a piece of rope, plastic or rawhide caught in his throat and choke to death.  Remember, it is a good idea to puppy proof your house much like one does when preparing for a new baby.  It will save you a lot of frustration.    A dog does not get his adult teeth until about 6 months of age.  Our adults get Nyla-bones which last longer than most chew toys.

There is a misconception that the only good gun dog is an outdoor dog.  The best thing you can do is make your dog an indoor dog.  A dog will become a member of your family (pack behavior is instinctual).  Living in the house provides them the opportunity for constant socialization and learns to respond to your commands.  An outdoor dog will be so excited to be left out of his kennel that often he will appear wild.  This is they type of dog that is more likely to range too far ahead of you or disappear because he is used to being alone and his own boss (alpha male).  You will have a much more rewarding relationship if you keep the dog inside at least some of the time.  Many Field Trial dogs are kenneled with a trainer, but often when the dog comes home it is brought it the house with the owner.  Also the trainer is working with the dog daily exercising him and teaching him what is expected, whereas a kennel dog who does little but sit outside will be all wound up when he gets out.  In many ways this is a personal preference since you will have to housebreak an indoor dog, but we highly recommend it.  Your dog will become more of a family member that way and companion.  Whether the dog is an indoor or outdoor dog we recommend you bring the dog to a beginner obedience class for at least basic training.  Not only will it help the dog, but often puppy classes help the new owner to know how to communicate with the pup and handle unwanted behaviors appropriately.

Crates help for house breaking since a pup will naturally try not to eliminate where it sleeps.  A large crate may be too big for training, so you may want to insert a barrier such as a false wall (wire in some hardware cloth or insert a box or object to take up the space).  See how your pup does.  Some can identify the whole crate as it's sleeping quarters while others will sleep on one side but eliminate on the other.   Remember, a  crate is never used as punishment.  Always have plenty of toys and things inside for him to entertain himself. He will have to keep busy and the toys will occupy him so he isn't so unhappy or barking.   It will become his "den" or save place away from the kids, other distractions and his sleeping place.    This won't generally be his first response to the crate though since he will have been used to sleeping on a soft pile of littermates.  Whenever you take the pup out of his crate, immediately bring him outside and praise him for elimination like he is the only pup in the world who has ever done such a smart thing.   Ignore the accidents and learn how to read his signals that he has to go.  If you catch him going,  tell him "no, no, no" grab him up and carry him outside and say "go potty" or what ever words you use.  Leave a bit of the droppings in the area you want him to use.   The smell of an area like that will encourage him to go.  Do not punish even if he did just go on a favorite carpet.   He has to go, yelling at him confuses him because elimination is a necessity.   He does not understand yet that the problem is WHERE he is going potty, he just has to go.  Schedules help a lot.  Always take him out when he is removed from the crate about a 1/2 hour after eating he will have to go generally.  He will try as best he can at 7 weeks old, but pups do not have full bladder control.  It comes with maturation and patient training on your part.  Pups can vary with the maturation process just like 2 children from the same family may have different rates of potty training.  Confine the pup to a play area that is easy to clean such as a linoleum floor, this will make accidents much less of a hassle for you.  After he has been outside, exercised and you have seen him do his elimination, then take him in the other areas of the house for short periods of time.  This will maximize your chances of introduction to other areas without accidents.  I would refer you to the book House Breaking your dog in 7 Days by Shirley Kalstone (it's usually more than 7 days though).  Probably the best thing she does is to provide some schedules to use to teach your dog what you want.

Basic sorts of things like coming when called, sitting, small playful retrieves can start as soon as the pup is settled in.  You may want to carry around a few small pieces of food and get down on the floor, call him and reward him with the food when he comes.   Another thing is to teach him to sit with a small treat by saying sit then letting him smell the food as you move your hand over his head - so that he has to stick his nose in the air to follow the food and get it.  There is a natural tendency to sit when a dog pulls his head up and back.  Lots of praise and a few repetition.  Not too long and they connect the word sit with the thing they need to do before they get the food.  When you start play or fun retrieves start with   short 5-6 foot retrieves.  Make sure your pup is excited and really, really wants the object you have before you toss it. (Generally best done in the house away from distractions and hiding places).  Once he runs to it and picks it up coax him back to you (often by sitting in front of the place he takes all his favored objects to - a rug, his crate etc).   Don't take the object immediately, rather praise him and pet him.  Don't do a lot of repetitions in each sitting - 3 to 4 are enough.  You want to leave him wanting more and not bored with the whole thing - you definitely don't want him feeling stressed or pressured.  You don't want to ruin the spirit of a puppy or you will never have the dog you want. 

Pups will learn quickly to come for a treat or snack.  If you carry a few chewable treats in your pocket you can call your pup and reward him for coming.  This way it learns that every time you call him it is not just to put him away, but often for fun things.  Holding a treat slightly backwards past his nose, toward his eyes will encourage him to lift his head and sit.  Give him the command sit and release the treat only once he is sitting, again with lots of praise.  Soon you will find your puppy sitting for just the praise.  Puppy obedience classes are highly recommended not only for pup socialization and family fun, but for beginning the basic training that any house dog needs let alone a field dog.

Puppy classes are available at many obedience dog clubs and pet supply shops and are quite helpful.  Generally training that is more demanding doesn't begin until 6 months old.  But a lot can be taught before that with a pup, especially if he is in the house with you.  Pups do need limits but remember he is trying to learn.  Labs are generally very happy dogs and I have not known them to be purposely vindictive.  If you find yourself angry, put the pup away and take a time out for yourself.  Never take it personally.  Corrections are necessary, but don't do it out of frustration or anger.  I have found that usually when something isn't going right I have to take a look at how "I" am trying to communicate to him and obviously something "I" am doing isn't working.   What can "I" do to help the learning process.  It's a great feeling to know that you have developed that communication and trust with your dog in the process of training him.  To me it is another level of bonding and they sometimes will actually seem proud of themselves when they do accomplish the job.

For Gun dog, Hunt Test or Field Trial Training we recommend Mike Lardy's program.  Ken and I have both gone to Training seminars put on by Mike.  He is an excellent trainer and draws upon numerous theories for the best training program around.  He has trained several of the National Field Champions.  
He has both videos and articles.  His book entitled Training with Mike Lardy is the main resource we use with our dog training.   For more information call 1-800-848-5963 Younglove Broadcast Services.

On the Humorous side: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>


  * Pour cold apple juice on the carpet in several places and walk around barefoot in the dark.

  * Wear a sock to work that has had the toes shredded by a blender.

  * Immediately upon waking, stand outside in the rain and dark saying,
   "Be a good puppy, go potty now - hurry up - come on, lets go!"

  * Cover all your best suits with dog hair. Dark suits must use white hair, and light suits must use dark hair. Also float some hair in your  first cup of coffee in the morning.

  * Play "catch" with a wet tennis ball.

  * Run out in the snow in your bare feet to close the gate.

  * Tip over a basket of clean laundry, scatter clothing all over the floor.

  * Leave your underwear on the living room floor, because that's where the dog will drag it anyway. (Especially when you have company.)

  * Jump out of your chair shortly before the end of your favorite TV  program and run to the door shouting, "No no! Do that OUTSIDE!" Miss the  end of the program.

  * Put chocolate pudding on the carpet in the morning, and don't try to clean it up until you return from work that evening.

  * Gouge the leg of the dinning room table several times with a screwdriver -it's going to get chewed on anyway.

 * Take a warm and cuddly blanket out of the dryer and immediately wrap it around yourself. This is the feeling you will get when your puppy falls asleep on your lap.

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Lori Dollevoet 1999