10 Things You Should Know About Lab Puppies

It’s been about two months now since we brought our new lab mix puppy home. Chewbacca (Chewie) has since then etched herself into our hearts and our home, but there has definitely been an interesting adjustment period. She’s now four months old and definitely still learning, but we’re also still learning as well. Prior to Chewie, I had never owned a large-breed dog. We had a Miniature Schnauzer growing up, and then obviously, we still have the Pug … and there is a WORLD of difference between a lazy, small-breed dog, and a lab puppy.

As I said before, we’re obviously still learning a lot about Chewie and how to both take care of her and also live harmoniously with her, but I thought I would share some of the more important things we’ve learned in the past couple of months. You can read about how/when we adopted her here, but just as a reminder she’s not full Labrador, and she was ‘free to a good home’ from a coworkers family.

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1. They grow SO FAST. We brought her home at just past 8 weeks, and I feel like she doubled in size overnight. At 4 months, she now weighs 35 lbs, and the vet thinks she’ll easily make it to 70lbs by the time she’s full-grown. We were DUMB and purchased all this cute puppy stuff when we brought her home (dog bowl, collar, bed, etc.) and she outgrew it all within a week. If you’re thinking about adopting a lab puppy (or really, any large-breed dog), buy stuff that will grow with them.

2. The one thing we did purchase correctly was a crate that adjusts size. Our vet recommended we go with a 42″ crate, and this one is great because as we crate train her, the middle ‘wall’ can move back as she grows to give her more room, while still confining her to a certain area to help with ‘potty training’.

3. Speaking of crate training, it’s going great. I can not get over how much EASIER it was to train a lab versus training a pug. Seriously. And it could just be because when we brought the Pug home, we were 23 years old and didn’t have potty training two kids under our belts … but damn. Chewie was housebroken within a week. She knows the command to ‘go to your home (crate).’ Learning ‘sit’ took literally one afternoon. She is a SMART dog.

4. That whole ‘labs are so smart’ thing works both for and against you. For example, she taught herself this:

Yep. I walked outside one morning before work to bring her in before I left, and couldn’t find her. Then I realized she was staring DOWN AT ME from the top of the swing set. Yep.

5. I’m 80% sure she’s part water buffalo. Again, we’re coming from the perspective of owning a small dog that on a scale of 1 – 10 is a -2 on the ‘high maintenance’ scale … but ohmaigawd this pup drinks like it’s going out of style. And then she dribbles the water all over the house.

6. I’ve pretty much given up on my floors every being clean-looking again. Amen.

7. The coin-in-a-can-thing totally works. One of the Husband’s friends suggested some coins in a tin can to shake at her to correct jumping/biting/chewing/etc and it’s been a lifesaver because she HATES that thing. All we have to do now is pick the can up, and she immediately stops whatever she’s doing.

8. The energy level of this animal is through the roof. We knew going in to this that it would be crazy, but it’s WAY more than I anticipated. We’re lucky that the Husband has his weird retail schedule, because it means that even if me and the boys are gone at school/work, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s cooped up in the crate — she’s usually only at home by herself all day for one, maybe two days a week. That said, walks are necessary. Or, if for whatever reason we can’t get a walk in, throwing the tennis ball 5,839 times in our backyard works too.

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9. She’s super-duper-amazingly sweet. I’ve always said that the Pug is really 80% cat – he loves us, but he’s really quite content to snuggle himself into a pillow and stay there for 3/4 of the day. Chewie wants (NEEDS) to be by our feet 110% of the time. She wants you to rub her belly, scratch her ears, and let her lick you until tomorrow afternoon. She gets this look where her tongue lolls out of her mouth, her eyes open wide, and she seems to plead, ‘LOVE ME. I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH. NEVER STOP LOVING ME!’ It’s adorable.

10. Any puppy is a huge commitment. We didn’t walk into this endeavor easily. In fact, I spent a good 2 months trying to convince my husband that a puppy was the WRONG choice for our family at this time. She needs a lot of time, and while there was no adoption fee involved in bring her home, she is/was by no means ‘free’. Food, shots, spaying, toys, beds, crates — all of that adds up.

Our next objectives in the ‘world of puppy rearing’ is her spaying, and also leash training. Because if we don’t get her walking nicely on a leash soon, I might lose an arm — and nobody wants that.

Have any puppy/labrador tips? Lay ‘em on me. We need all the help we can get! And make sure you’re following me on Instagram so that you never miss a #chewiethelab pic!


  1. Samantha says

    Try a gentle leader or easy-walk harness for walks, they’re amazing! They allow me to walk our 2 labs (60lbs & 80lbs) with one hand and maintain control when they meet a new best friend (which is every person who stops and asks to pet them).

  2. Carolinadaisy says

    Have you tried using a prong collar for leash training? If used correctly, this usually works for even the most stubborn leash pullers. We always had a lab growing up and we needed to use a prong collar for leash training for most of them.

    Labs are a great dog for kids, but they definitely can be a handful in the puppy stage! Walks and tennis ball fetch are most definitely required! If you don’t already have a “chuck it” to aid in throwing the tennis ball….get one. Your arm/shoulder will thank you and you can teach the boys to use it as well.

    I don’t remember how we taught our dogs not to lick us….or at least not often. But it is trainable…if you desire. Labs are smart!

  3. Rachael K says

    We have a rott who absolutely loves EVERYONE. She’s a tank, so leash training was a must for her. Our trainer had us use a technique where you can take small ‘walks’ in your yard using the command ‘stay close’. As long as she keeps some slack, you can give a treat every so often. But as soon as she pulls the leash tight quickly give her a firm tug back while changing the direction you’re walking, and say “No, stay close.” That will redirect her from whatever is getting her attention and bring it back to you. Not quite as strict as a ‘heal’ command but good for walks!

  4. Melissa says

    Haha, you know we’re only about a year ahead of you – maybe slightly less – as Duke turned 1 in February. No joke on all of these things, remember what I said about chew toys? I swear only hard-grade-mega-rubber and full on bones are pretty much all we can give him or he devours it.

    I will say, we waited until 8 months to neuter based on some recent research by our vet regarding hormones/early fixing and hip joint issues down the line – but I did it the second he was 8 months and within 2 months I saw a decrees in the crazy. He’s still sorta crazy sometimes, but well behaved crazy and he doesn’t hump stuff anymore. So there’s that.

    We didn’t want to keep our crate in the house forever because it was SO DANG BIG, so we actually have little looped (screw in) anchors in two places – the living room wall (on a baseboard at a stud) and in Sisi’s room where he sleeps. He doesn’t really need the bedroom one anymore now that he’s done stealing her stuffed animals and dismembering them and eating everything else. But sometimes if we’re only going out for an hour or two we put him on a tie-down in the living room (2ft plastic covered wire tie down) so he doesn’t have to be outside in the run or in the crate. It was a trick my MIL taught us – she’s raised labs/guide dogs for the blind for 28 years… it’s nice when people come over, too, so he has time to chill the eff out before being freed lol.

    Love the can idea, I forgot that trick!!

    One year from now you’ll see a pretty marked difference. Duke is still mega puppy-ish compared to most breeds, and probably will be for another year or two, but it’s not like it was when he was 6 or even 10 months old. He can chill out a little more and is *slightly* more spatially aware (you know what I mean right? LOL).

    I agree about the floors. I hate vacuuming every day. I WILL get a roomba one of these days… maybe after busy season. I did learn that with our micro-fiber couch that attracts his awesome blonde lab hair like a friggin’ magnet sticker, it’s much easier to just dampen a large sponge and then just wipe the fur off. It’s way faster and a little less labor intensive. And the kids can do it. Its SO FUN right? ;)

  5. says

    Gentle leader saved my life with Olive too! I found that Olive was the hardest to deal with at about 1 year old when she didn’t sleep as much during the day and started to really understand and push her boundaries. It was a pretty frustrating 2-3 months but she’s past it now. She’s almost 2 and still occasionally does something out of character that has us wondering what the hell is going on in her little head. Also, I learned that dogs can build up stamina to the amount of exercise they get. If you continuously walk them farther and farther then they will build up endurance and need more and more exercise. We cap Olive at 3 miles a day or one off leash visit to the beach or park. Otherwise she’ll be bouncing off the walls all night.

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