Life With A Lab - 8 weeks old

This is the 1st blog in the Life With a Lab series, featuring Ember. The intention of this series is to be used as a reference point as to what one can expect or do with their puppy at each stage of development. All puppies are individuals, so this should be used as a guideline and not a rulebook. To see all posts in this series, click here. For more posts on puppies, check out our Resources sections.

Welcome home, Ember!

I have never been a fan of labs until I met working line labs. The difference in the average pet lab and a well-bred working lab is astonishing and has really challenged my view of them. When I met Grayon's Althea, I couldn't help but fall head over heels for her. Althea is an invaluable resource in our daily lives: she's great with all dogs, helps teach puppies to swim, encourages hesitant bird dogs to want to retrieve, she recovers endless lost game, she not only flushes birds but can be so valuable when teaching pointing dogs, and she is the best shotgun rider. I have such a huge appreciation for her versatility and her ability to do anything you ask of her, or be just as happy doing nothing at all. That's not a quality I have looked for in my pointing dogs (over my dead body would Blitz be happy doing nothing at all), but is a quality I admire in a "do-it-all" kind of dog. That's what led me to want not only a lab, but an Althea type lab of my own!

Ember is a British Lab (like Althea) that was bred locally by a friend of Grayson's, Logan Sheets of Gray Light Kennels. Ember's litter was a repeat breeding of the first Rudy x Ella litter, which produced our friend Jimmy's puppy, Denly. Grayson and I agreed that this breeding had the potential to produce a very "Althea" type dog, which is how we chose the litter. After months of waiting, Ember was born on January 10th and came home on March 5th.

The First Week Ember is 8 weeks old and is doing super, super well. If you haven't checked out my Puppy 101 post, I will be referencing that quite a bit throughout this series. That blog outlines what I focus on with new puppies and why. Here's what the practical application of those topics looks like:

Crate Training

I say it over and over and over again, but crate training is the single most important thing you can do with your puppy. Ember has been spending a lot of time in a variety of crates in a variety of situations. She's always crated in the car and overnight, but is also crated at various times throughout the day. Anytime I can't give her 100% of my focus, she's crated. This allows me to prevent naughty behavior (chewing on things she shouldn't and having accidents inside), and also sets the tone for her being calm and relaxed throughout her life. She does not need to be entertained 24/7 and she can work through the frustration of not always getting what she wants. These are important life skills for developing an off-switch, especially in high energy breeds!

Ember is currently using a 26" crate, but a 24" would be plenty big if I had one. I don't keep a towel or bed in it so that she doesn't chew on it and risk ingesting something she shouldn't. The first few nights she howled and screamed for a good 10-15 minutes before quieting down. I let her out every 3 hours the first two nights, then moved to every 4 hours after that. At almost night weeks old, she is now going into her crate without protesting at all, sleeping for 5 hours and is quiet throughout the night until I get her up. Being so quiet in her crate is a combinati