How to Adopt and Train
Labrador Puppys

It’s there anything cuter than Labrador puppys? To me and my family, the answer is no, because our “Abbie” Labrador gave birth to five puppies a year ago.

We call Abbie “A-is-for-Apple-Abbie,” because she just loves Apples!

We made the decision to let Abbie breed because of her enthusiasm and general all-around silliness we loved in her, plus my sisters wanted a Labrador pup!

Because we had never bred Abbie or any of our dogs for that matter before, we had a few things to learn once her pups were born!

Remove the Bad Stuff

In order to best care for Abbie’s newborns we had to make sure our home and garden where they would play were safe. Small items they could choke on were picked up and electrical cords where hidden.

We changed were we kept things like cleaning supplies, pesticides, insecticides and we totally removed all anti-freeze from the garage. Anti-freeze tastes sweet to puppies and is almost always fatal.

We looked at fences in both our front and back yards to any holes the puppies might get stuck in and one important thing so many new puppy owners forget about—we checked underneath our sofa and chairs to make sure no springs were sticking out that could hurt inquisitive Labrador puppys.

Adopting Labrador Puppys

Every Labrador has a unique personality. The key to a successful adoption is matching the personality of your dog to your family. If a Labrador Puppy is going to be part of a family, you'll want a pup with a clam temperament.

When looking for the perfect Lab Puppy to adopt you select a Labrador Retriever puppy from a breeder or adopt a dog from a shelter or Lab Rescue.  Even a pet store could be a good source if they work with a reputable breeder.

Labs that are bred from show dogs tend to have more laid back temperaments than Labs bred to be working dogs. This doesn't mean a Lab will be passive and not want to play.  It just means that a Lab may be more suitable for the typical family's lifestyle.

Always have your new Lab puppy checked by a Veterinarian as soon as possible after bringing your dog home.

Picking Breeders for Labrador Puppys

There is no license required to a Labrador Breeder. The key is to find a reputable breeder with a known reputation. We suggest starting with members of the National Labrador Retriever Club or other dog clubs such as this online breeder directory.. A breeder should be able to discuss how they perform health screenings for common Labrador health conditions.

Other advantages of working with a Labrador breeder include the ability to research the health history of the parents. A breeder can also get you off on the right foot by providing training and care advice. Be wary of any breeder that doesn't interview you to make sure that the Labrador puppys are going to a good home.

We suggest avoiding operations where someone is breeding dogs out of their home in order to make a profit. Unless you can check the reputation, we suggest going with a reputable Lab breeder.

A Lab breeder will charge between $400 to $800 for Labrador puppys. Remember they have watched your pup for several weeks and will know how each puppy behaves. Look over any puppy for signs of poor health such as:

  • eye discharge
  • lethargic behavior or low energy
  • ear discharge
  • coats that aren't shiny
  • bad smell
  • Pale, not pink gums (sign of parasites)

When you go and pick up your Lab, bring with you a crate, collar, dog tags and leach. Also provide a puppy chew toy. Ask the breeder for a towel or shirt that has the scent of the mother to make the crate feel more familiar.

Ask if the breeder has started to train the puppy with any commands. Also make note of diet and sleeping schedules. A breeder should supply the following:

  • Medical records (vaccinations)
  • AKC papers
  • Health Certificates for Parents
  • Receipt for the sale

If the pup is being shipped to you, ship during the morning for cool temperatures on a direct flight. Labrador puppys do not require tranquilizers before being shipped.

Labrador Rescues

Labrador Retriever rescues are located around the world. Most maintain strict standards for adopting a dog. Rescue dogs receive all the required veterinary care needed including being spayed and being checked for parasites.

A Lab rescue can also be a good source of information on the breed and help during the more challenging adolescent years. Do know that it is less common for Labrador puppys to be available at a rescue.

The one downside of a rescue is that there may be no records of the parents or health history. Some problems common to Labs such as hip dsyplasia can cause problems later on. If you go this route, consider getting a Pet Health Insurance policy. 

Rescues can be found via any search engine or our listing.  Some Lab Rescue groups will charge $150 to $300 per adoption.

Puppy Pet Stores

Many pets stores sell puppies. Like other sources for dogs, you'll want to know the parents and how the pup was raised. Many pet stores work with breeders, so don't dismiss this source out of hand. Ask questions such as where the dog's come from, the health history of the parents and if the pups have been checked by a veterinarian.

Female or Male Labrador Puppys

When it comes to Labs, don't dismiss males out of hand. They tend to stick to the mom of the house and will quickly become "momma's boy." It is widely believed that male Labs are "sweeter" than females.

Females are a bit easier to housebreak. Males may urinate in the home for a bit until properly trained. Once a male is neutered, this behavior is easier to control. Females should be spayed to avoid mammary cancer and the need to look for a male during heat.

Children and Labs

Labrador puppys are active dogs. We suggest that children should be 6 years of age before getting a Lab. Younger children might not be up to the constant play.

Shelter Lab Adoptions

No kill or municipal shelters can also be a source for Labrador puppys. Since labs are the most popular breed, it may take several trips until you find the perfect dog to adopt. Some, such as Northshore Animal League, the largest no kill animal shelter in the United States. Another good source for Lab puppy is

Note that even shelters will screen everyone that would like to adopt a Lab to make sure that each dog will get a good home.

Caring for Labrador Puppys

Abbie’s puppies had a great place in our yard just for them to play since we have three other grown dogs.

We also crated them at night. People who feel this is harmful to the pups are wrong. It is the best way to housebreak a puppy.

The theory is that puppies won’t pee or poop where they sleep and it really does work and actually, even when we leave the crate open, we often found some of them cuddling and sleeping there.

New puppy owners that still think this is cruel should ask a breeder or their vet about the crating method and how it actually can make a puppy feel safe.

We also made sure we had ample toys to keep them occupied, especially chewing toys.

We avoid rubber toys where pieces can fall off and the puppy may choke and stuck with plush squeaky toys, tennis balls, and nylon bones. Never give a puppy a rawhide!

Puppy Training Starts Right Away

When arriving home with a Lab puppy, walk the dog outside the home first and encourage him to go to the bathroom. Provide praise the moment this happens.  Training starts the moment you get home!

Upon entering the home, bring the Lab in on a leash. Pups can get into trouble in a new home, so they should be on a leash and supervised. Baby gates can help to set up a safe area. After about 1/2 hour of play, take the Lab back outside for going to the bathroom. Then place your Lab in his or her crate for a nap. When the Lab wakes up, go back outdoors for a bathroom break.

The crate training method is recommended for Labs. Make the crate a pleasurable place for your Lab puppy, where he will eat and feel comfortable. Use the command "crate" or "bed" when placing the Lab in the crate. Provide a snack so the Lab associates the Crate with something positive. Since a Lab will not go to the bathroom where he eats, this is the principal behind the method.

No lab should be in a crate for more than 4 hours. The goal is to allow the Lab out enough so their are no "accidents" in the crate. If you must be out of the home for more than 4 hours, then keep the crate open, gate a safe area around it and be prepared if their is an "accident" in the room.

LAB TRAINING TIP: Never ever use the crate as a punishment

Try and establish a routine. Take your Lab puppy outside to go to the bathroom frequently based on the dogs age. For example, a 3 month old should go outside very 3 hours, a 2 month old every 2 hours. Each dog will be differently, but this is a helpful rule of thumb.

Always praise the puppy when he goes outside where you want him or her to. Use a praise phrase that is only associated with housebreaking such as "good potty."

LAB TRAINING TIP: Always take your Lab outside on a Leash. This way you'll know when he goes to the bathroom.

If the Lab does not go to the bathroom after 15 minutes, simply return the dog to the Crate. Repeat in about 30 minutes.  Always go to the same location outside.

Look for how your dog behaves before urinating or going to the bathroom. These signs could be clues for you for when to bring the puppy outside.

LAB TRAINING TIP: Have the Lab puppy go to the bathroom on different outdoor surfaces so that he gets used to going in a range of place. The general location should be the same, but vary between, grass, dirt, concrete etc.

A Trip to the Vet

At around three weeks, we took Abbie and her pups to our vet to have them checked for any problems including cataracts, hernias, heart murmurs, parasites and Parvo.

Parvo is a dangerous and contagious disease and is almost always fatal in puppies. Avoid Parvo by keeping your pregnant dog isolated from other dogs for three weeks before and after the birth of her newborns.

Silly Puppy Faces

At six weeks, it was time to begin the Labrador puppys vaccinations. It was cute to watch their silly and cute faces when they got wormed and wondered what that awful liquid must taste like!

A good vaccination schedule should begin at seeks weeks and continue every three to four weeks all the way until they are ready for their rabies shot at four months.

We left Abbie’s Labrador puppys play in their own yard until their vaccinations, including rabies were done.

It is important to keep them away from other animals where they could get parasites or other things during the vaccination process.

We also learned that almost 97% of all puppies, including Labrador puppys are born with intestinal parasites so worming was a must—even if they didn’t like the taste!

Worming should be done two times, two weeks apart or as your vet recommends.

At six months, because we only wanted to have one round of puppies, we scheduled them to get spayed and neutered.

This is the best way to ensure your pups won’t cause any neighborhood accidents with the females or males around later or vice versa.

Feeding is another important thing we learned about Abbie’s pups.

We made sure they ate high-quality, vet recommended puppy food and that each puppy would eat as much as four times a day for the first few months and should decrease to twice a day by six or eight months—puppies are hungry little critters.

Abbie’s pups were allowed to eat as much as they could handle for up to fifteen minutes at a time and then we took up the food until their next feeding session to keep them on a regular schedule. Too much food can cause your new Labrador puppys to get sick.

Sleep and Play

All Labrador puppys love to sleep and play. If you are a responsible puppy owner, you need to take the time to play with your pups and give them plenty of exercise and interaction—especially when you want to keep them.

They need to feel they are a part of the brood of dogs, if you have more than one, and just looking at them is not good enough.

Take the time to slowly introduce your pups to your other dogs a little at a time and with luck, your vet will be like ours and give you a “brood discount” each year at vaccination time!

Related Articles

Choosing A Puppy

Caring For Labrador Puppys

Chocolate Lab Puppies

Dog Pregnancy

Recommended Reading

The book, "The Everything Labrador Retriever Book: A Complete Guide to Raising, Training and Caring for your Lab" by Kim Campbell Thornton is the one book every Lab owner should have in their library. You will not be disappointed!

From Labrador Puppy Training and Adoption to
Labrador Retriever Guide Home