Frequently Asked Questions: (in progress)
These are some of the most frequently asked questions by our buyers and potential buyers. Hope it helps ease your minds about bringing home an O'Dell Lab puppy, and lets you know that we are here for you throughout the life of your new companion. We are the ones who held your new baby first, ours were the first human voices they heard, the ones who saw their first steps, heard their first bark, and in some cases breathed the first air into their lungs. We take this seriously. We love these babies, and when you bring home an O'Dell Lab you are a part of our extended family.
1. What shots has my puppy had?
Your puppy has had age appropriate puppy shots, covering 5 different puppy illnesses: parvo-virus, distemper, parainfluenza, adenovirus 1 & 2 at ages 5 and 8 weeks. Your puppy will need another one at age 11 weeks, and most vets recommend a 4th dose at 14 weeks. After that, an annual dose for these is recommended. Depending on where you live and how much time outside your puppy has, your vet may also recommend other vaccines. If you are planning to attend a training class or have your puppy boarded, you will need to add the kennel cough (Bordatella) vaccine. Rabies vaccine needs to be done at age 12 weeks or later.
2. Why microchip and how does it work?
A microchip is a small permanent identification chip, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted under the skin between the shoulder blades. The unique number helps identify your puppy for life, and is read by a universal chip reader when scanned. The chip will be sent into the AKC Reunite program in your name after you take your puppy home. If your puppy ever becomes lost, the chip can help get your puppy home safely. I have been contacted before as the original owner of the chip and helped get dogs reunited with their owners after being turned in to a vet's office. If you move or get a new contact number, you'll need to let the AKC Reunite program know! The chip can migrate down from the original spot, but is usually easy to find, even in our older dogs, it hasn't moved much.
3. Will my puppy be registered?
Yes! All our dogs are registered with the American Kennel Club, the oldest and most reputable dog registry in the U.S. Your puppy's AKC registration will be sent in for you, with your name on the registration certificate and the name for the puppy that you choose. This will be a limited registration, meaning that you have access to all AKC events and benefits, except confirmation shows and breeding rights. If this is something you decide you want to participate in, full registration will be available for an additional $1000 to approved homes.
4. When should I have my puppy spayed or neutered?
This is not a simple answer. The latest medical research suggests several reasons to wait until males are at least one year old to neuter. Here is a link for the medical research: http://www.instituteofcaninebiology.org/spay--neuter-effects.html
To summarize, males can have a dramatically increased chance of orthopedic issues if they are neutered between 6-12 months, but not if you wait until after they turn a year old. Of course, I defer to the veterinarians here, but my vet has repeatedly suggested waiting until after age 1 to neuter.
Females, too, will benefit physically from waiting until after their first heat cycle. But this is a big commitment, and if you are not prepared for the mess of a heat cycle and to be absolutely vigilant in making sure NO INTACT MALE can get to her, it's best to wait until after a year also. Some females don't go into heat until after a year, but it can happen as early as 8 months.
5. What kinds of toys and treats should I purchase? Should I feed any supplements or vitamins?
The short answer is toys that are hard to tear up, and lots of different kinds! Toys that we suggest are rope toys, Kong-brand toys, toys that squeak, toys that promote thinking and learning. Realize that stuffed animal-type toys will likely get "gutted" at some point, as well as soft beds if you put one in the puppy's crate. A towel or blanket is plenty for the crate for sleeping, and can easily be washed. A soft bed is nice for the room that you will spend the most time with your puppy, and can be supervised. We do not recommend rawhide. We also do not recommend toys in the crate unsupervised. This can be a choking or obstruction hazard. For treats, a variety is also recommended, and for training purposes. Soft treats that can be broken up into small pieces are good for training. You will have to figure out which treats your puppy prefers and responds to the best. I use bits of string cheese and dehydrated liver pieces when we are involved in a training class. Puppies are started on pieces of kibble, small soft treats of a variety of types, pieces of meat and cheese. Training is best done when your puppy is hungry, and for small amounts of time. For the most part, though, keep treats to a minimum and never from the table or your (or your child's) plate! This will cause obesity and behavior problems!
AKC has published a list of safe human foods for dogs and foods that are definitely unsafe. Here's the link: http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/human-foods-dogs-can-and-cant-eat/ But again, beware of weight problems and behavior issues associated with feeding people food to puppies. If you have children, it's just easier to make the rule, People food for people; puppy food for puppies. Another thing on the list from AKC that they say is okay, but I prefer not to feed is corn. I do not like it as an additive in dog food, and this is one reason we feed the brand of food we do.
Another human food that can be added for digestive issues is plain cooked pumpkin, but only 1-2 teaspoons per feeding for puppies.
We do strongly recommend Nuvet Plus for all our puppies, and in fact, require it to keep our health guarantee in place. They leave us on this vitamin, and we believe it boosts their immunity, and helps with optimal growth and joint health.
NUVET PLUS has Natural Human Grade Ingredients, is Manufactured in the U.S. in an FDA (Human Grade) Pharmaceutical Lab, and is Safe to use at all life stages; Puppies to Seniors, And of course Pregnant and Nursing Females. It has a 60-Day Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee
USE OUR Breeder’s code # 38546 when ordering at nuvet.com
6. What kind of food do you use and recommend, and how much do I feed my puppy?
We feed Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula. It is very important to keep your puppy on this food when you get your puppy home. There are other great puppy foods out there, but please get at least one bag of this to start with. Then if you want to change to another high quality large breed puppy food, you can introduce the new food slowly (over a period of at least 2 weeks), gradually adding it in and decreasing the original food a little at a time. Going to a new home is stressful to your puppy's digestive and immune system. Changing food is just one way to increase stress, and the likelihood of digestive issues. Check online at www.diamondpet.com/where-to-buy for a store near you that carries it, or you may even find a better price by ordering online. Large breed formula is important to the health of your growing puppy's bones, muscles, and joints.
We feed twice a day, about 12 hours apart. Start out with 1 cup of puppy food per feeding. I expect them to clean it up in about 10 minutes. If he or she doesn't clean it up in this amount of time, pick up the bowl and make the puppy wait until the next meal time. That way he or she learns to eat when it's time. When he or she cleans in up in a few seconds and looks for more, it may be time to add 1/4 cup more food. But remember, underweight is better than overweight! It is so easy to overfeed a puppy, and then you are asking for joint issues. Hip dysplasia and other joint and tendon issues are just as much environmental, if not more, than genetic factors. Overweight conditions and over-exercise are common, and serious, health concerns with Labradors.
7. When should I switch to adult dog food?
This depends on your puppy's physical conditioning and exercise level, but I usually switch to Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult formula at around age 6 months. If you have kept your puppy trim, they can stay on puppy formula for 12-18 months, but most of the time it's fine to switch at 6 months. We chose this food partly because it is corn, soy, and wheat-free. These are not grains that need to be overused, and or as additives to make a food cheaper to produce.
8. How big will my puppy get?
According to the breed standard: "The height at the withers for a dog is 22 1⁄2 to 24 1⁄2 inches; for a bitch is 21 1⁄2 to 23 1⁄2 inches. Any variance greater than 1⁄2 inch above or below these heights is a disqualification in the show ring. Approximate weight of [males] and [females] in working condition: [males] 65 to 80 pounds; [females] 55 to 70 pounds. The minimum height ranges set forth in the paragraph above shall not apply to [males] or [females] under twelve months of age." Source: http://images.akc.org/pdf/breeds/standards/LabradorRetriever.pdf?_ga=1.205624723.1055576728.1450351361
We do not strive to produce dogs bigger than the standard set by the AKC (or LRC-Labrador Retriever Club, the parent club of the Labrador), even though this is a popular practice, and sometimes we have produced individuals that are above, or below, the breed standard.
9. What does the price of my puppy include?
The price of your puppy includes the puppy itself, AKC limited registration sent in to the AKC by us, the microchip inserted and registration of the chip sent in, a detailed shot record--including the labels from the vaccines given, several dewormings, dew claw removal, conditional hip guarantee, lifetime guarantee against all the genetic diseases we test for (listed on the current puppy page and under each adult dog description), and sales tax for MO sales. We are not the cheapest in the area, but strive to keep our cost competitive and professional. After more than 20 years of breeding top quality Labs, we are still learning but feel confident in our knowledge of how to ensure a long and happy life for your puppy. Copies of the health-testing done on parents are also available, and pedigrees of all parents are available at www.huntinglabpedigree.com.
Another note about price: you certainly can find registered Labrador Retrievers for much, much less than an O'Dell Lab puppy, but how much will you know about the parents' background? What is their guarantee? What health testing has been done on the parents? Feel free to shop around, or even adopt from a shelter. It's your choice: just as it is our choice to raise genetically sound, as well as beautiful puppies who are athletic, loyal, and smart and provide lifetime support to our new puppy families.
10. Could I pay less and get the puppy without papers?
The health and quality of your puppy does not change whether the puppy is registered with AKC or not. Our policy is to register every puppy with AKC, to maintain our integrity with AKC and keep accurate records. So, all our puppies are the same price regardless of whether the new owner is interested in having a registered dog or not.
11. What training has been done before my puppy goes home?
We have started using Puppy Culture techniques on our puppies starting at birth. They start with Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS), and then go to Operant Conditioning by using a clicker and treats to encourage manding (asking for attention by sitting down in front of people). We do a lot of socialization and different experiences inside and outside with different noises, people, objects, and surfaces. We are seeing puppies with more confidence and increased ease of training in all areas. https://puppyculture.com/index.html
We are seeing such a huge difference in the trainability of our puppies after they go home, now that we have been using the Puppy Culture Protocol for a year now. Many outstanding breeders are using this or a system similar, but compared to most breeders around us, we feel it sets us apart from other Lab breeders.
12. What should I expect from my puppy's behavior when I get them home?
For the first week or so, your puppy will be getting used to his or her surroundings, learning the household routine, learning to potty outside, and playing hard for a little while then sleep hard. By the time your puppy is 10-12 weeks old, and has settled in to your home, he or she may turn into a "baby shark" and even begin to sound very aggressive. This is the time to start consistent training, and keep your puppy's mind occupied, as well as help your puppy realize the "pack" leadership. You should be the leader of the pack, and not allow your puppy to try to be dominant over you. There are many good trainers on YouTube and of course, books; but as soon as your puppy's puppy shot series is complete, we highly recommend a puppy obedience class. It's usually the owner who needs the training; the puppy will pick up new skills quite quickly. Communication is key to successful training, and a professional trainer will help you establish that line of communication between you and your puppy. If you have raised puppies before, you may not need this. If you haven't raised a puppy before, or it's been a long time, we consider training to be essential.
13. Why probiotics? Should I continue them after the samples provided are gone?
We have started all our puppies on probiotics as they transition from mama's milk to solid food. Puppies' digestive systems are sensitive to change. Many vets, when they hear your new puppy has loose stools or diarrhea, assume that the puppy has worms, coccidia, or giardia. Or, and this really upsets me, suggest that there is something going wrong with the puppy food we have started them on, and suggest changing food. Please, while I am not a vet or nutritionist, DO NOT change the food. We now ask our vet to do a fecal exam on every puppy when we take them in for a check up the week before they leave us. We have them perform at least one specific giardia test also. While coccidia and giardia are common, and will come up suddenly due to stress, they are not the first assumption that should be made. And food change is not the first or second assumption that should be made. Probiotics are given here, and then provided for the first 3-5 days after they leave us, to help with the transition of new environment and water. Puppies need routine, and as few changes as possible. Give them time to adjust. Get more probiotics if you are still seeing very loose stools after what we've given you runs out, or even plain canned pumpkin (1-2 teaspoons) added into their food. But please, do not change food, and don't assume the worst. Your puppy will settle in, and adjust, but some need a few more days. Let us know if you have any questions!