Training and socialization are very important to have a good relationship with your labrador be it hunting, agility, or pet.
Here socialization starts at birth. Puppies are born and raised in the house. We believe this gives the puppies a wonderful start for many reasons. By weaning, they are used to many noises and think of people as wonderful beings.
We are present during the labor and delivery. We assist the mother with tearing open the sack, drying off the puppy, cutting the cord, and disposal of the placenta. Blankets are changed frequently to keep the box as dry as possible.
CEDAR SWAMP RETRIEVERS
The Importance of Socialization
Puppies are weighed regularly to ensure they are receiving enough nutrition from the mother and suppliment as necessary. Puppies are also handled and talked to several times a day. Even thougth they are unable to hear or see at birth until about 2 weeks, they can feel the vibration of your voice, smell your scents and learn to associate human touch as a natural occurance. Early Neurological Stimulation done. Blankets are changed no less than twice a day. Puppies are checked over for any problems. They are also bathed with baby shampoo as necessary as they grow.
As they grow, puppies learn that humans are wonderful! A mash of puppy food, milk and yogurt is offered as soon as they are able to hold their heads steady--usually by 3 weeks old. The yogurt helps with a healthy microbe community in the intestines that aids in digestion. By 4 weeks old, the puppies are responding to our voices and will leave mother in the whelping box to come to us, whining for attention. The puppies also have a "litter box" area to aid in keeping the whelping box (sleeping area) clean. At this point, they are beginning to go outside after eating and learning to eliminate outside. Our puppies are never free fed. This helps us tell if a puppy is not feeling well. It also establishes humans as leader and provider. Puppies can and do overeat if given the chance. Being overweight harmful to the puppies joints and overall growth--growing too fast causes the bones to be thinner/more fragile. A premium food is also a necessity. We feed and recommend Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy.
Soon the puppies are going outside to learn about grass, wind, nature noises and going to the bathroom outside. Weather permitting, they stay outside for a while in a corral or a pen with a crate for sleeping (they are never outside while we cannot supervise them). This as well as keeping the whelping box clean makes it easier to housebreak the puppies when they are in the new homes.
Puppies that are here after 8 weeks old continue to recieve multiple periods of attention daily. They are encouraged to retrieve, started on crate training. They will have short periods of being separated in different crates. Leashes are introduced and field play continues as well as basic obedience.
Your relationship with your puppy is helped by all of the time that we spend with each litter. You do not start with a puppy that is scared of everything new or different. It will be very confident and ready to continue working. Even if you decide your puppy is not going to be a house dog, you will have a wonderful companion if you continue to spend the time to work with your new addition. I recommend a pen that has a concrete floor. This is easy to clean and the puppy/dog cannot dig out. It also helps with worms, fleas, flies, etc. If you let your puppy out several times a day to use the bathroom, it will go out of it's pen making it easier to keep clean and more enjoyable for you to spend time with him. Being in a pen also keeps the puppy out of trouble. He will not dig up your flowers, chew the wiring to your air conditioning system (which can result in death), get under the house and tear up duct work, dig holes, etc. It also makes the dog seeing you and wanting to please you that much more.
The worst thing you can do is put the puppy in the pen or back yard and only start working with it when it's almost time for hunting season. This results in a hyper, unresponsive, destructive dog.
We strongly encourage you to visit hunt tests, agility tests, obedience tests, and other offerings of the AKC. Your puppy is eligible to compete in these events and both of you will find it to be fun. We will be happy to help you locate a club near you in whatever avenue you choose.
If you want to persue hunt tests, we will help you any way we can. We can help you locate a good trainer in your area. Expect training fees to run from $500-$700 and higher per month in NC/SC. Price does not reflect quality. You should visit hunt tests and watch them with the dogs. I know some that I wouldn't hesitate to send one of my own to and I know some that I wouldn't send one of my own to. Retriever training takes time. If you have worked with your puppy consistantly, you may be able to run a Junior Hunter without professional training. Your work also makes it easier for the trainer if you decide to go that route as it has already learned how to figure out what people want and has the desire to please the humans.
When they are big enough to run and play with a good bit of coordination, they are introduced to duck wings as well as a variety of toys. Weather permitting, they are taken to swim and introduced to live pigeons. Usually by this time, they are spending less time during the day with their mother to make weaning a gradual process instead of all at once. They are also socialized with adult dogs other than their mother. They are given short car rides. Ideally, puppies should not leave their mother and littermates before 7 weeks old. During the 6-8 week period, the puppies play with each other learning things that make it easier on their new human parents. It is during this time that they learn that if they bite or are bitten, it hurts. They also learn that mama isn't around to clean up after them and that it is better to go outside. They will go on the dog trailer to go out on "training days" with the adult dogs. The puppies get to play and retrieve pigeons and duck wings during this time.