More Lab, less shed.  When only the BEST will do!

Top Notch Labradoodles

​​Pure Designer Breed Low to Non Shedding, Standard & Mini English & American Labradoodle Puppies for Sale in Pennsylvania + Pure Breed AKC Toy, Mini, & Standard Poodle Puppies for Sale in Pennsylvania, Full & Limited AKC Registration Available.  Home to The World's 1st Low Shedding Labrador Retriever.  Our Labradoodles have More Lab, Less Shed. We are the BEST & Most Reputable Mini & Standard Labradoodle Breeder & AKC Toy, Mini, & Standard Poodle Breeder in the USA. Apricot, Red, Yellow, White, Chocolate, Black, English & American Mini & Standard Labradoodle Puppies & Pure Breed AKC Toy, Mini, & Standard Poodle Puppies for Sale in Illinois, Missouri Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, & Arizona. 

Care & Hygiene for your Mini & Standard Labradoodle Puppy or your Pure Breed AKC Toy, Mini, & Standard Poodle Puppy in Illinois, Missouri Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, & Arizona.

Having a well thought out plan to train and care for your pet is essential for a healthy, life long relationship. 
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**Please note, we are not veterinarians.  All the information from our website is a best effort and we do not take responsibility for any outcome.  Any actions you take for the care of your dog/pup are at your own risk.

Vet & Boarding Recommendations

Check out  It's free to use.  Nextdoor connects you to your 3 closest neighborhoods.  You can make a post for vet &/or boarding recommendations.  You will get plenty of recommendations and most importantly the reason why they are so great!!

Not all Vets are Created Equal
I'll briefly describe 5 incidences we have come across as a fair warning to you of what to look for and be aware of as you find a good vet.  We have come across a lot of bad vets in our day (and some really great ones too - all of which no longer take new clients - they are full).  There are far most incidences, but these are the ones that come to mind at the time of this writing.
1) Our 1st Vet took our pup (who slept with me at the time) to the back room and inserted fresh fleas onto his fur in an attempt to sell us a prescription.  We were there for a wellness visit, there were no signs of fleas before the visit and I had looked him over head to toe so I knew better.  Because I was confident that the now very large and visible fleas were freshly inserted onto him, I took him home and washed them right off never to see any fleas again (this is wehn we lived in Scottsdale, AZ.  Fleas are not common in Arizona).  Lesson learned:  Never let a Vet take your pup to a back room without your presence.  Always observe what goes on.  
2)  One of my client's Vet told her that her pup has "scarring" on her belly from a severe rash (referring to the pup's dark belly pigment that is a normal occurrence for Labs with eeBB allele (this pup never had a rash and I had weekly photos to prove it - check out Percy's underbelly on his profile, dark underbelly is normal for yellow labs, but not all yellows will have this either).  A "True" Yellow lab (no hidden chocolate gene) with the eeBB color/nose coat allele are actually Black Labs with the addition of 2 recessive genes that remove the black pigment (instead of EE, Yellows carry ee, causing of varying shades and lightness), but black pigment remains in the skin, lips, and paw pads.  Tummies can have black pigment, producing mottled or grainy appearance.  
3)  In another case we had a Vet tell a client that their pup had Clostridium (a very serious bacterial infection).  After the client spent about $1,000 and several rounds of antibiotics with no relief (the pup had continuous diarrhea), they sought out my opinion (I don't know why they waited to get me in on the loop!).  I asked them to change to a grain free food and that solved the problem.  
4)  Probably the most frequent sign of what we consider to be a bad Vet is one that will tell you your pup has Coccidia when they have no bowel issues.  Virtually all dogs carry the single cell protozoa responsible for Coccidiosis in their intestines.  Coccidia is found everywhere on the natural earth - it is the simplest form of life.  Most healthy pups will become immune to Coccida before they go home.  There is no way to kill Coccidia, antibiotics only stops Coccidia from reproducing long enough for your pup to gain immunity to it.  Stress causes the protozoa to multiply rapidly and can overwhelm their intestines, causing diarrhea.  If your pup has normal bowels and your Vet tries to prescribe you antibiotics, this is a red flag.  These antibiotics prescribed are also really hard on your pup's immune system, so unless your pup has liquid diarrhea or blood in their stool, we recommend that you let them overcome it on their own and try to reduce their stress if possible.  
5)  There are some Vets that will tell you that early Spay/Neuter is bad for your pup.  There is no legitimate medical evidence or studies to back any such claim.  In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association and many more widely recognized and respected organizations support early spay/neuter.  Their opinion is a reflection of their practice.  As you can read on our Spay/Neuter page with links of reference, the Major Veterinary organizations that have taken a position either 1)  Support Early Spay /Neuter, or 2) Don't take a position at all citing "not enough scientific evidence" or 3) Acknowledge that there is no scientific evidence indicating an advantage to waiting till after puberty to spay/neuter. 

Dental Care
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease by age 3.  As your pup starts life, his/her teeth are naturally clean, free from decay, because the teeth are just starting to come in.  As your pup grows into an adult, decay and bacteria can cause bad breath, tooth decay, health problems, and reduce the amount of socialization and love they receive.  Brushing your pet's teeth is a must for the long term health and happiness of you and your pet.  By the time your pup is ready to go home they will have baby teeth.   Even though all these baby teeth will fall out, getting acclimated to this the routine while they are young and easy to train, is the key to long term success.  In taking care of your pet's teeth, your house guests, neighbors, and family members will treasure your pet's company.  In addition, your pet will feel more accepted, loved, and will be a much healthier dog in the long run.  You will feel proud to take your pet out in public and feel confident when someone comes close to their face.​ 

An easy way to get started is to wet your finger and rub it gently on their teeth during the first month or so.  We recommend you do this once a day and it only takes 30 seconds.  Depending if you are a morning or night person, it can be the first thing in the morning - right before you let them out of their kennel, or our preference is to do it right before they are kenneled at night.  The key to success is to make it part of your daily routine.

At 4-5 months your pup's teeth are coming in full force and are much larger.  You will notice your pup will want to chew, chew, chew.  At this time, it's recommended to switch over to a dog tooth brush and an enzymatic dog tooth paste.   The enzymes "eat" the food right off their teeth.  Feel free to rub the dog tooth paste on their teeth, leave it for a few minutes, then brush.  One idea for your daily routine is to rub the enzyme tooth paste on, take them out for their potty right before bed, then brush them before you kennel. 

Their outside teeth are most prone to decay/bacteria, so you'll want to focus there the most.  Use a ping pong ball when they are little and transition to a larger tennis ball as they get older, to hold open their mouth to access their back teeth.  While you really don't need the ping pong ball when they are little, the point of it is to get them used to having a ball in their mouth during brushing because you will need to use a ball when they are older.  

If you don't plan to brush regularly, once a year, take your dog to the Vet for a dental cleaning.  It will cost around $180 - $250 (depending on how good or bad your dog's teeth are).  They will put your dog to sleep during this process, but their teeth will come back immaculate.  Their health and good breath is totally worth the cost!

​​Toys/Chew Toys

Chew Toys are essential.  Have several available from the time you adopt your puppy placed in different parts of your house so that one is ready to be used at any time.  Be ready to replace them as they wear out.  Pups especially love to chew toys that can be attached to a crate that will allow them to tug at it.  At around 4 months, pups teeth start to come in dramatically and you will notice your pup will chew everything they can get their teeth on.  At this time you will want to ensure your pet has plenty of chew toys, especially harder chew toys to help their baby teeth fall out.  Some chew toys are not recommended such as tennis balls: the materials can wear teeth down quickly and increases the risk for tooth decay.  Chicken jerky, bully sticks, dental chew toys, rawhides, and dog bones are all good ideas to prevent issues associated with teething.  The Humane Society recommends rope chew toys.  Rawhide rolls are not recommended for pups under 4 months, it sometimes gives them diarrhea.

Be sure to crate/kennel your pup at any time when you are not available to supervise especially during peak teething from 4 months to 1 year old.  Pups that are not crate / kenneled during this time have been known to chew:  shoes, toys, curtains, remote controls, electric cords, sprinkler systems, landscape lights, and even furniture.   We recommend craating your pup when you leave the house until they are at least 2 years old.  For 95% of dogs, by 2 years in age, most of your puppy follies of putting everything in their mouths have now passed.

PRO TIP:  We love the 12" Cadet Bull Sticks at Costco $32 as of 4/6/21, especially for puppies as they won't upset their stomachs and they last quite a while.  The best deal we can find on Rawhide rolls is through Costco.  Costco sells them on and off. As of 12/15/15, I’m thrilled to say that Costco offers a 6lb bag which is approximately 20 large rolls, for only $21. If Costco stops selling them, the next best deal we found is through Blain's Farm & Fleet. As of 1/8/16, if you order 2 bags at once, the shipping is only increased by ~$1, so we always buy 2 at a time.  These are awesome for teething and 1 will last all day during teething.  As adults, they are also great for keeping their teeth clean, but will only last a few hours.  Be sure to rotate chew toys to keep them feeling "new" and "exciting" to your pup.  Give them 1 or 2, then the next day, take them away and rotate in 2 new ones..rotating the old ones back in every 5 or 6 days.  

Please note, for smaller breeds such as mini poodles and mini Labradoodles, Rawhide rolls are not recommended as they are too big.

Always check your chew toys for signs of wear and tear.  If there are plastic parts that look like they are ready to fall off or fall apart, throw the chew toy away.  If a pup ingests hard plastic it can get lodged in their intestinal tract causing serious health issues and a big expense at the Vet.  Also, as your pup grows, you may want to get rid of chew toys that become too small to prevent a choking hazard.  It may not fit down their throats as pups, but by the time they are 7 months old, they might be able to swallow it.

Attach rope chew toys to the crate with a clip.  This allows your pup to tug at the chew toy, they will really enjoy it!

At around 4-5 months, pups teeth start to come in dramatically and you will notice your pup will chew everything they can get their teeth on. At this time you will want to ensure your pet has plenty of chew toys, especially harder chew toys to help their baby teeth fall out. Without something hard to chew on, it’s possible for your pup to retain a baby tooth in front of her adult tooth which can lead to an infection, so be sure to get them something harder to chew on. Some chew toys are not recommended such as tennis balls because the materials can wear their teeth down quickly, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Dental chew toys, raw hides, and dog bones are all good ideas to prevent issues associated with teething. The Humane Society recommends rope chew toys.

Be sure to crate / kennel your pup at any time when you are not available to supervise especially during peak teething from 4 months to 1 year old (most labs are done by 8 months). Pups that are not crated / kenneled during this time have been known to chew shoes, toys, curtains, remote controls, electric cords, sprinkler systems, landscape lights, and even furniture.

Heartworm Medications
If your dog will be outside quite a bit, you may consider putting them on a monthly heart worm preventative.  Infected mosquitos inject larvae into the dog, which travels to the heart.  If your dog develops heartworm, it is often deadly.  Those who upgrade to the Complete Package will receive 3 months supply.  You will have to reorder thru your Vet as a prescription is needed.

​A well-exercised dog is a happy, well-behaved dog.​

You should NEVER take your pup for organized jogs or runs until at least 18 months of age.  It's simply too hard on their joints as this type of organized exercise is way too strenuous on their bodies and will likely result in hip, elbow, or joint problems later in life.  

Labradoodles are made for retrieving right?  WRONG!  Well, sort of.  While they are great at retrieving, playing fetch, or throw the stick on a regular basis for more than a few throws at a time before 24 months in age increases your pup's environmental risk for hip dysplasia dramatically.  It's ok to play fetch, but limit this to a low-key 3-4 throws at a time and only 1-2 times a week until they are over 24 months in age.  Your training will also be rewarded.  Pups that play fetch/throw the stick on a regular basis become object-oriented and don't do as well on training and tend to be more hyperactive.

A recent study in Norway based on 500 dogs, which included Labrador Retrievers, showed that puppies given the opportunity to exercise in a large open area before the age of 3 months were LESS LIKELY to develop hip dysplasia.  Puppies that had to climb stairs on a regular basis during the same time period were at INCREASED RISK.  The stresses and strains placed on the vulnerable growing joints by "organized" exercise are believed to be a contributory environmental factor in the development of inadequate hip joints.

The evidence seems to suggest that a puppy will come to no harm from the opportunity to exercise or play on a flat surface.  Therefore, taking a puppy for a long walk or asking him to go up very steep or uneven surfaces when he is little, is probably a bad idea.

The rule of thumb is a puppy should have no more than 5 minutes of "organized" exercise per day for every month of his/her age.  So a 3 month old puppy could handle 15 minutes of exercise per day (3 x 5 = 15), while a 6 month old could handle 30 minutes and so on (6 x 5 = 30).  "Organized" exercise means exercise that you are controlling such as "walks" or "training sessions".  Puppies under 3 months old probably don't need any kind of "walks" at all, just access to a "play area" outdoors where they can run about for a few minutes several times a day.

There is no need to prevent puppies from playing about the house as long as the puppy is free to stop and rest whenever they want.  Beware of letting a pup play for too long with an older dog that does not want to stop.  Keep an eye on children who may accidentally exhaust a pup by encouraging the pup to play when he needs to sleep.

It's important to keep balance with your pup.  Build up exercise gradually and do not go for organized jogs or runs until they are 18 months old as this exercise is way too hard on their growing joints.  Playing frisbee, fetch, or catch, is ok, just no continuous high-impact exercise like running or jogging.  

The recommended amount of exercise for an adult Labrador Retriever is 30 minutes a day, 2 X a day.  All pups adopted through Top-Notch Labradoodles come from AKC conformation size parents.  Typically there will be 1 or 2 pups from a litter that will be larger or smaller than conformation size.  Generally, your labradoodle should grow no larger than 70 lbs if you are feeding them an appropriate diet and getting them the right amount of exercise.  If your labradoodle starts to get heavier than this, consider slowly decreasing their food intake and slowly increasing their exercise routine.  Also, it may be a good idea to talk to a vet.

Tip for walking your dog: You should walk your dog, your dog shouldn't walk you.  If you find yourself the owner of the pup that likes to pull while being walked, stay away from the harnesses that go around their chests or bodies. These type of harnesses are effective for restraining but not for leash training and you will likely find yourself exhausted after going for a walk. However, if you need a good arm workout, look no further..haha!  :) To overcome this problem, be sure to watch and implement the training mentioned above under the training section.

If your dog is already grown and leash training escaped you, the gentle lead head collar works really well to reduce unwanted pulling.   The moment when the dog stops pulling, immediately say YES so that by the time you've said the S in YES, you are putting the treat in their mouth.  Be sure to reduce their food intake for any kibble or treat given as a reward.  Treats should be small, high quality, easy to administer (oftentimes just using their own dog food works if they are hungry and you are not over feeding them).  After several walks on the gentle lead coupled with positive reinforcement when not pulling, your dog will be leash trained in no time.  A properly leash-trained dog will walk by your side at your pace, never in front of you. 

​Exercise & Games and Activities that Build Good Social Skills
****Please note, not all of these activities are appropriate for puppies being placed into assistance training, this exercise is for PETS only.****

These toys and games that will give her healthy exercise and teach her problem solving skills, trust and appropriate behavior.

Toy Hide and Seek

Show the puppy her toy, and then hide it under a pillow, behind your back, etc. Let her use her nose and ingenuity to figure out where it went. Increase the difficulty to match the puppy’s abilities. This game is great mental exercise and fun for all.

Take it” and “Give”
When the puppy takes a toy from you, say “take it,” and when she gives it back to you say “give.” Practice frequently, and “trade up”—give her something of higher value when she releases the item in her mouth. She will be much more willing to give up inappropriate or high value items if she is familiar with this game. Always encourage her to come to you to give up an item, rather than you chasing her, and always reward her when she gives up something, no matter how valuable or inappropriate the item is.

Fetch and Bring Back
In the puppy stage, keep it low-key by rolling or sliding a toy. As soon as she gets the toy in his mouth, start heading away from her so she will come toward you. Be silly to encourage her to keep coming. When she gets to you, play with her. Have her “give” the toy to you briefly, give her a treat and then return the toy to her. She will learn that bringing things to you is great fun. This is very handy when she has your shoe instead of a toy.

• Never chase the puppy or she will quickly learn to run away from you. Your goal is to make coming to you a lot of fun. If you find you are playing keep away, stop the game. Ignore her, but engage yourself in something she finds interesting. When she moves toward you, be ready to praise and treat.
• Use a variety of toys and avoid using only one type, such as a ball or Frisbee, which the puppy may fixate on. Some dogs become so focused on retrieving that it can interfere with other training.
• Use opportunities that do not involve throwing a toy. For instance, the puppy may find a stick in your fenced yard and you can turn it into a “bring back” game.

Hide and Seek
Hide and seek games can be played indoors or outdoors in a fenced area and help teach the puppy to “tune in” to where you are. They work best in new surroundings. Wait for a moment when the puppy seems to forget about you and duck out of sight, but keep an eye on her. When she notices that you aren’t there, make a little noise to get her headed toward you but don’t give yourself away. Let her spend some time trying to find you, giving hints if needed. When she finds you, make it lots of fun by rewarding her with treats.

Swimming and wading are loads of fun for the puppy, especially when the weather is hot. A child’s wading pool in your fenced yard can provide hours of fun. If you take the puppy to a lake, use a long rope so you can safely keep her with you. Always remember that the puppy should never be off-leash unless in a fully enclosed area! 

How to walk your dog on a treadmill
Click here for a video
What you'll need:  Collar, Harness, 3 leashes, a treadmill

If you don't have the time or desire, or it's just too hot to do daily walks, use a treadmill.  Most "hyper" behavior can be prevented just by getting them enough exercise on a daily basis.  Whether you start when they are young or old, it's never too late to get them into a daily exercise routine.  It's easier if you start when they are little (but not before they are 3 months!).  Depending on the structure of your treadmill, you'll want to ensure that the pup/dog is kept in place and not able to jump off the treadmill belt.   The first step is to get a dog harness and collar on your pup or dog.  Tie one end of the leash to the top of the treadmill, tight enough so that he can't move forward or backward too much, but loose enough so that it's not choking him.  Next, attach 1 leash to the left, and to the right side of the treadmills, tight enough to affix to his harness so that he can't exit the treadmill from the left or right.  Next, start the speed slowly, increasing it until you feel your pup/dog is doing a brisk walk.  Remember this speed the next time, then set the microwave timer accordingly.  Remember, the rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month in age up to 45 minutes 2x daily.   Don't have a treadmill?  You can get used ones off Craigslist often for a great deal.

Is my dog overweight?  Healthy Weight
Don't look at your dog's weight, look at their waste.  You should be able to see at least one rib in your dog's rib cage.  I"m not saying you should see it clearly, but when they move, you should be able to see with your eyes, where their last rib is.  Since labs can vary in size, there is no such thing as a general healthy weight.  Here is a super helpful chart to help you understand what an ideal weight looks like.

Tough Paws
Dogs that play outdoors regularly, take walks on rough terrain, rocks, dirt, roads, pavement, develop tough paws.  Tough paws are like wearing a pair of shoes.  Dogs that remain mostly indoors and have little exposure to the outdoors typically have soft pads.  If you want your dog to develop tough paws, take them on regular walks outdoors, on rough terrain.

Coat Care - 
Reduce shedding dramatically!!
Labradoodles will lose their entire puppy coat and start to get their adult coat in, usually done by 8-18 months in age.  As a result, it can feel like a lot of shedding.  I highly recommend the Furminator.  It works really really well, 10 minutes 1-2 times a month will really keep their shedding at bay.  You can get rid of ~95% of it in about 10 minutes using the Furminator for long hair.  It works so amazingly well.  Just keep going over the fur, brushing both ways, not just in one direction, after a while, there won't be any loose hair to brush.  If you do this 1-2 times a month, wow, very little shedding, it's amazing.  

Fleas can sometimes be found in washes where the sand is moist and warm or in lawns with grass and sprinkler systems.  Unless your dog is outdoors a lot you probably won't need to worry about fleas.  If your dog itches, it doesn't mean they have fleas, your dog's skin might be dry.  Brushing them regularly will keep dry skin at bay.  Over-bathing your pet may result in dry skin, more shedding, and dander.  Using a poor shampoo will also result in dry skin.  (For a good shampoo, please see the shampoo/bathing section on this page)  

If your dog does have fleas, you can typically spot them behind your dog's ears and around their neck, and on top of the ridge of their back (where they can't reach to itch them off).  Fleas will lay eggs in clumps of poop that they paste to your dog's hair, it will look like small clumps of black.  If you suspect your dog has fleas, you could try buying a flea collar from Wal-Mart for $5 and see if that gets rid of the problem.  However, our experience is that these flea collars often cause skin irritation and are filled with nasty if you don't have to, don't do it.  Another great option to get rid of fleas is Bravecto - it lasts for 3 months and gets rid of ~90% of fleas in the first 4 hours.  You will need to order through your Vet as a prescription is required.

Fleas continued + Insect repellent for dogs
A great way to keep insects at bay (especially mosquitos) is to use cedar oil.  It smells wonderful and it repels all kinds of insects, including fleas and mosquitos, naturally.  It's nontoxic.  There are many cedar oil sprays you can buy, but usually, they only contain 10% cedar oil.  The product we use is 90% cedar oil.  We pour the contents into a spray bottle and cut it with equal parts of water.  Before using - shake it up well so it's easier to spray out.  Spray it directly on or spray into your palm, rub your palms together and apply around their neck and behind their ears.  If you already have a flea infestation, beware this will not solve your problem, this is a repellent only.  Another great idea is to spray your dogs inside of their collar with this cedar oil for a nice lasting scent.  Reapply when the scent is lost.

If your dog has fleas...where there is 1, there are many.  The 1st thing to do is bathe them.  Use a lot of shampoos and keep them in a lather for at least 5 minutes, if you can, leave it on for 10 minutes.  It will drown/suffocate any existing fleas (but may not kill all the eggs).  Rinse, and repeat one more time.  It's possible that the fleas may have laid eggs attached to your dog's fur, so you'll want to continue bathing them every day for at least a week, and make sure to either use a flea collar (chemicals may harm/cause skin irritation), the cedar oil, or better yet, get the Bravecto and be done.

Does my dog have worms?
If you find rice-like worms in your dog's poop, ask yourself if the poop left outside for a day or longer?  If so, your dog probably doesn't have worms.  Female flies lay their eggs in poop.  Those eggs turn into worms rather quickly and grow and grow, growing to almost a centimeter or more in size until they blossom into flies.  So before you rush out to get a dewormer, check your dog's fresh poop.  The chances are for most dogs that are mostly indoors, that your dog doesn't have worms, the poop was just set outside too long and the flies laid their eggs in it.  If your dog's fresh poop has worms, there are many good and effective OTC dewormers you can buy at places like Petco, PetSmart, and Wal Mart too.

Food & Feeding Schedule
Do not free water or free-feed your pup.  Unless your pup is outdoors, you should limit their water to their feeding schedule, otherwise, especially during the puppy stage, you'll have more accidents and soiled crates.

1st Night Home – Feeding is not recommended for the 1st night only.  Experts recommend this for a variety of reasons ranging from an easier first night of transition to the benefits of bonding.  By not feeding them, they will wake up very hungry.  After feeding them they will immediately realize how important you are to their own life which will immediately increase their desire to please you.

 1st 3 days:
¾ cup 2x/day ~6/7 am & 4/5 pm, add 1 cup water with food & for girls only - 1 tsp apple cider vinegar at each meal.

After 3 days
1 cup 2x/day ~6/7 am & 4/5 pm, add 1.5 cups water with food & for girls only - 1 tsp apple cider vinegar at each meal - stop apple cider after 10 days. 

The quality of food is important.  Our pups eat Costco's Nature's Domain Puppy Formula (click the red hyperlink for a picture of what it looks like).  The puppy food is in a blue bag and it's about $18 with tax.   If you are not a Costco member, look for a super-premium puppy food with meat as the main ingredient.  The main ingredient is listed first on the back of the label.  However, we highly recommend you stick with the Costco brand puppy food that we start them on until they are 6 months old.  If you are not a Costco member, you can purchase as many bags as you need from us in advance for $22/bag.  Each bag is 15 lbs and lasts about a month per bag so you would need about 6 bags.  Otherwise, a Costco membership only costs around $45 and the samples alone are worth the fee.  Please be aware that we estimate that a small % pups that switch to new foods may show signs of being allergic.  If you switch foods and your pup starts to have digestive issues - they may need hypoallergenic food.  So far out of about 150 pups on the Labrador Retriever side, 1 pup has become allergic.  With that said, not all pups will do well on the Costco brand puppy food - it is rich.  It seems about 1 in 20 owners switch to a new food because the Costco brand just doesn't seem to sit well with their pup.  Either way, if you do not want to continue the Costco brand, it takes around a 1 week to transition if you use the following ratios:    

Transitioning to a New Food
First 3 Days at Home - do not transition them, keep them on the Costco Brand to reduce stress.
Day 4 & 5 - 75% Costco Brand 25% New Food
Day 6 & 7 - 50% Costco, 50% New
Day 8 & 9 - 25% Costco, 75% New
Day 10+ 100% New

For a list of 4 & 5-star foods, click here.  We recommend transitioning them to Costco's Adult Dog food starting at age 5/6 months.  Another great food recommendation if you don't shop at Costco is Pro Plan FOCUS Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula.

It's important to control your pup's portions and quality of food to prevent your pup from growing too quickly which can lead to hip dysplasia, joint, and skeletal issues. DO NOT FREE FEED YOUR PUP.   To understand why here is a video by Dr. Karen Becker.   Follow this hyperlink for what a healthy weight looks like for pups and dogs alike.  You want your pup & dog at a 4/5.

Your pup's feeding schedule will depend on your own schedule and what kind of lifestyle your pup will have. Generally, most pups should eat 2-3 X a day until they are around 5 months old. After that, you can feed 1-2 X a day. We will start feeding them 3x a day, then go down to 2x a day the week before they go home.  Generally, you should feed them 6-7 am and again at 4/5 pm.  Be sure to consider the poop/pee time into your routine.  If you take away water 3 hours before bed, house and crate training is much easier.  Never take away water if your pup/dog is kept outdoors, they should have 24/7 access to water and shade at all times of the day.  Remember, the sun moves and thus their shade spots move.  Be sure to check if there is shade at 9 am, noon, 3 pm, and 7 pm.  

By feeding on a set schedule, house training is easier and faster.  Make it a habit to give your pup some quiet time after the meal. Do not let children romp and play with him or her for the first 30 minutes after eating otherwise the pup's stomach might get upset.  

Do not feed puppies treats other than their own kibble (puppy food).  No Nubz, Greenies, etc until they are a bit older.  Right now they just need to stay on puppy food and water for a couple of months until they get a stronger immunity and digestive system.  :)  Generally, you want to keep the Greenies and Nubz for keeping their teeth clean and for teething.  All their little teeth will start to fall out at 4-5 months in age - so chew treats, Nubz, and Greenies are perfect for teething.  Until then, they really don't need these kinds of chews, etc, just their toys for now.  :)  If you give them it now, it may upset their stomachs, causing gas and loose stool.

Adult Dog Food

 Costco's Kirkland Signature Dog foods are a great choice.  Otherwise, we recommend Pro Plan SPORT All Life Stages.  If you want an organic choice, Castor & Pollux.  However, seeing that the main ingredients of most high-quality dog foods are meat and sweet potatoes, you could simply buy those main ingredients and cook them up for your dog and get rid of all preservatives, and truly go organic.  

The Best Diet for Dogs
Is the Raw Food Diet.  Raw meats, fruits, and vegetables.  You could also consider feeding them fresh, raw eggs.  Be sure to balance your dog's diet with fruits and vegetables, especially in puppies.  

Chocolate, Xylitol (a sweetener), Grapes, Raisins, Macadamia nuts, Avocados, Onions, Garlic, Salt, Tea Leaves, Coffee, Alcoholic beverages, Raw Yeast Dough, Spoiled Foods, Fatty Foods.

Cancer in Dogs
The leading cause of death in dogs over age 10 is cancer.  The biggest predictor of your dog getting cancer is it's breed.  

The Top 10 Cancer Prone Breeds
Bernese Mtn Dogs ~50% of deaths can be attributed to cancer, YIKES!
Cocker Spaniels
Doberman Pinchers
German Shepards
Giant Schnauzers
Golden Retrievers
Great Danes
Standard Poodles ~40% will die from cancer, YIKES!​

Aside from breed, the greatest cancer risks are believed to be environmentally related:  What you feed your dog, what you give them to drink, and the toxins in their environment.  Cancer can also be attributed to inbreeding and being sold prematurely/too young.  

Pups should be kept indoors until they are at least 3 months old.  Hawks and owls are able to prey on lab puppies up until they are around 3+ months old.  Be sure to keep your eye on your pup when they are outdoors.  

Eventually, you may transition your lab to be an outdoor dog.  If your lab will be active, primarily outdoors, or have other canine companions, you may consider giving them access to food and water on demand.  Also, if you are planning outdoors, make sure that your lab has plenty of shade available at all times during the day and access to a pool or splash pool filled with water.  As the sun moves from east to west and when seasons change, the shade spots change, so be sure to plan ahead.  Check shade spots each season at 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 7 pm.  Be sure to keep splash pools in the shade at all times.  The water magnifies the sun rays, heats up very quickly, will grow algae and other bacteria if not kept in the shade.  If you have a pool that is deep enough to require your lab to swim, make sure your lab can get out of the pool on its own.  Though labs are naturally good swimmers, labs will drown if they can't get out of the pool.

Do not free water your pup.  Unless your pup is outdoors, you should limit their water to their feeding schedule, otherwise, especially during the puppy stage, you'll have more accidents and soiled crates.  We recommend bottled water over tap water.  Tap water contains chlorine and is most often acidic.  Chlorine does a great job at killing microorganisms.  However, over time it has been shown to be in the top 5 causes of cancer.  Bottled water is typically more alkaline and alkalinity is a known natural cancer-fighting agent.  If you have to give them tap water, add a teaspoon of baking soda to their water every day to keep it alkaline and reduce their likeliness of getting cancer.

​​Bathing/Shampoo/Itchy Skin/Skin Problems:
Generally, dogs don't really need to be bathed except maybe once a month (use the smell test).  Brush them every day, this is the best way to keep them clean.  It's very common for dogs to develop skin allergies and itchy skin.  We recommend that if you bathe your pup/dog, follow with a small amount of conditioner or a 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner.  Some people think they have to go out and buy dog shampoo.  I disagree, we use V05 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner (from Wal-Mart for $1) and our labs have no skin issues.  However, some dogs will develop skin irritations.  If your dog is one of them, we recommend buying a medicated shampoo designed to treat itchy/irritated skin that helps keep your dog’s natural flora intact.  There are many available from Jeffer's Pet or any pet store.  Melaleuca Shampoo is a good product to use for dogs with a history of itchy/rashy skin.

Ear Care & Ear Problems:
It's a good idea to clean your dog's ears once a month or so.  You can either use a soapy wash rag and a towel or we use Zymox ear cleanser because it has enzymes that prevent bacteria from growing.  Just squirt some all over the inside of their ear (be careful, a dog's natural reaction is to shake their head - it really stings if it gets into your eyes, so maybe put protective eye wear on or just squint your eyes in case they try to shake it out).  After applying the solution, place a cotton ball inside, flap their ear over the cotton ball, and gently massage - it will collect most of the dirt, repeat until clean.

​The most common vet visit is for ear problems.  If your dog has "junk" coming out of his ear, he/she probably has an ear problem.  If you allow your dog to dig holes, the fungus could start to grow inside their ears causing an ear infection.  If your dog is in the water a lot, he/she might have extra water stuck inside their ear, causing ear irritation and possible infection.  First, try soaking a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, insert it into the ear canal, flap his ear over the cotton ball, and massage, causing the alcohol to drain into the ear, cleaning it at the same time.  Repeat for a few days.  If no improvement, Zymox enzymatic ear solution works really well for almost any time of ear problem.  If your dog gets continuous ear infections/problems, instead of using the Zymox Otic without Hydrocortisone Dog Ear Care, it works really well to keep any reoccurring problems at bay.  If after using this for a few weeks and no improvement or if the ear problem is accompanied by a fever, get to the Vet.  (Normal dog temp is 101.5 - 102).   

Taking Your Dog's Temperature 
Normal resting dog temp is 101.5 - 102.  Exercise might increase their temp so make sure you take it after they've been calm, never after exercise.

Rectal temp is easiest:  Put a little lube or petroleum jelly on the end of the thermometer.  Insert approximately an inch deep into the rectum while they are laying down on their side.

Another trick to determine a fever and potential infection are to push back their eyelid.  A healthy pup/dog will have white eyeballs.  

Bathing your dog:
Once your pup gets bigger, many times they don't like baths.  Especially if your pup tested as a 5 or tying as a 5 personality.  During the warm months, you can give your dog a shower outside using the hose, shampoo, and a scrub brush.  During the winter months you can do the same but using warm water.  We run a hose from our bathroom to the outside to give them a warm shower, but outdoors.  I step on their leash to keep them in place while I spray and scrub away, using my hands I squeegee the excess water off, then towel-dry them.  

Here is what you need to replicate:
0 Remove the aerator (the round part that screws into the faucet where the water comes out).
Faucet Adapter
Lightweight, expandable hose (way better than using the clunky traditional hoses) - be sure to get the right length for your needs.
​0 For frequent use/easy connect & disconnect (LOVE THIS!!) - get a quick disconnect set.
0 Spray Nozzle for Garden Hose
0 shampoo
0 collar & leash
0 towel

Keep your dog from digging holes:
First of all, it’s very normal for dogs to dig holes.  They are burrowing animals.  However, you can train your dog away from it.  Here are some tips and ideas that work for others.

1.         Training.  Your dog needs to see you as the pack leader – the one in charge who gives praise and dishes punishment when necessary.  Start by training them to sit, shake, lay down, and stay.  When they dig a hole, give a harsh, low voice “no”.  Put them in a crate for an hour and ignore them.  Increase the “time out” if it happens again.  Even if you don’t see her in the act, always follow through with corrections.  Example scenario:  You just got home from running errands and you notice a new hole, but you have no idea when it happened.  Take your dog to the hole and show them, put their face near the hole.  Give them a harsh “no” in a low deep voice, then crate them.  Dogs are very smart, they will recall what they did, even if it was days ago.  

2.         Exercise.  A tired dog won’t dig.  The rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month in age up to a max of 45 minutes twice a day.  Be careful not to do exercise that is too hard on their joints.  If you don’t have a lot of time, try taking your dog out for a bike ride with her on a leash.  This will give you less exertion while keeping the dog at a jog or run.  Most dogs will be tired out after 5-10 minutes of jogging.  Be aware that dogs need to build up to levels of exercise so don’t overdo it and always bring a bottle of water.

3.         Stop the boredom.  Dogs get bored.  Play with your dog and give them toys to play with.  Try throwing the ball to them to play fetch for at least 10 minutes a day.  Labs will almost always naturally fetch but don’t always bring it back.  When they finally do bring it back for the first time, give her several seconds of petting and praise as a reward and you will see that she will start to retrieve it more often.  Change out their toys every day, rotating the old ones out and new ones in so that every day they have 3-4 “new” items to play with.  Try to keep the rotation to no less than 5 days that pass between playing with old toys.

4.         Put an orange or lemon peel to their nose, if they back away, they probably don’t like it.  Bury the orange or lemon peels in the holes they’ve dug.  If this doesn’t work, bury their own poop in the areas they’ve dug.  (Not my favorite choice, but if you have a constant digger, this tends to work).

5.         Remote control shock collar.  When you see your dog digging, shock them.  Or, if you come home to a newly dug spot, even if it’s days old.  Bring them to the hole, put their face near it, say “no!” and shock them.  Start with low shocks for the first time, then increase the shock duration and level with 2nd, 3rd offenses.  Eventually, you will get to a point where it’s no longer worth it to the dog to dig.  This might sound harsh but it works and it becomes the dog's choice to repeat offend.  

Discharge and/or Vaginal issues in Female Puppies
​It is fairly common for female puppies to have a bit of discharge from their vulva (sometimes appearing as wet yellowish/greenish mucus, other times as crust).  This occurs when the pup is chubby as their belly fat may overlap or cause the vulva to be pushed in and collects bacteria.  Most female puppies will not experience this, but once in a while, it happens.  As long as your pup isn't running a fever, this is usually a non-event and can be remedied with the following steps:
1.  Gently wipe the vulva area with a wet wipe.
2.  Using your index finger and thumb, spacing them apart about an inch, gently push around the vulva causing the vulva to push out and become fully exposed.  Wet wipe it again.
3.  Clean the area daily or as needed until your pup matures and loses its puppy fat.
4.  Be sure to balance your pup's food intake and give them the appropriate amount of exercise to keep them at a healthy weight.
5.  Anytime your pup gets dirty, be sure to clean her vulva.
6.  If you have a pool, let her swim.  The chlorine and water do a great job at naturally keeping her clean.
7.  If the problem persists, add a 1/2 single-size container of yogurt to her food on a daily basis.  The enzymes do a great job at building their immune systems to keep bacterial infections at bay.  
8.  Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to her water.  The cider does a great job at keeping bacteria from spreading to her urinary tract.
9.  If the problem persists, give her a dog probiotic.  

Generally, these steps have proven to be successful in remedying the problem.  However, if your pup gets a fever (normal is 101.5 - 102 F - see "How to take your dog's temperature" on this page), be sure to take her to the Vet as there could be more serious problems that are related or unrelated.

Digestive issues / Gas / Bloating / Bad breath / Skinny dog eating eating a lot of food / Diarrhea
If your pup/dog has diarrhea with blood, get them to the Vet right away.

If your pup gets diarrhea (poops liquid), first ask yourself if you gave them anything different like a treat or new food.  If they ate a new food or treat, or got into something they shouldn't have and their poop was normal the day before, it is probably just an upset stomach.  If this is the case, don't feed or water them for 24 hours.  Give them 1/2 of an Immodium tablet (whole tablet for pup over 5 months).  If they poop diarrhea a 2nd time, give them another 1/2 Immodium tablet (whole for a pup over 5 months).  For each additional diarrhea, poop give them 1/2 Immodium tablet not to exceed 4 doses in 24 hours.  After 24 hours, proceed with normal food & water routine.  If the diarrhea is still there, give them another 1/2 tablet.  Typically it takes a couple of days for a pup to get back to fully normal after an upset stomach.  

Generally, if your dog has any of the issues mentioned in the title and you haven't fed them anything new, the next thing you should consider is getting a fecal exam to check for worms and parasites.  Your vet will be able to prescribe an antibiotic or dewormer to take care of any issues.

If your dog doesn't have any parasites/worms, consider giving them a dog probiotic.  Many times a dog with these types of issues (after parasites/worms have been ruled out), is usually having problems digesting its food. Probiotics usually solve the problem.  However, if the problem persists, you should consider switching dog foods. Always choose high-quality dog food with protein (turkey meal, chicken meal, beef meal, etc, as the 1st ingredient). If the problem persists, consult your veterinarian.

​NOT ENOUGH FIBER?  Sometimes dogs will get loose stool (like soft-serve ice cream) because they aren't getting enough fiber.  Buy a can of pumpkin (not the kind for making pies, just plain cooked pumpkin) or sweet potatoes and dish out about 2 tablespoons per meal, this will make a big difference if it's not parasites.

Soft Poop, any kind of sickness that isn't an emergency

Always try raw egg and apple cider vinegar first.  I can't tell you how many vet visits this trick has saved me and my clients over the years.  Raw eggs contain enzymes that boost the immune system significantly.  Same with apple cider vinegar.  If your pup/dog is having softer than normal poop, is wheezing from allergies, or just isn't feeling really well, crack a raw egg and add in a teaspoon (puppies under 4 months) or a tablespoon (pups over 4 months) over their food for a few days in a row and see if that solves the problem first.

Puppy with Pee Accidents

Pee accidents after they are pooping outside and pretty well house trained, may be a UTI or a behavioral issue.  If you suspect it's a UTI, see below.  If you think it's more behavioral and you have a male, try using a belly wrap.  Essentially when they go pee, they go in their belly wrap and they don't like it because then the pee sits against their fur around their pee-pee and belly, if it's behavioral, it will usually nick that in the bud within days.   If it's a female and she is pooping outside but having frequent accidents inside, it's likely a UTI.  If you need other ideas, email me!

Urinary Tract Infections
If your pup starts having pee accidents it may be a sign of a UTI.  Although it's most common in females, they do occur in males too.  Other symptoms include Inability to urinate or only passing a small amount of urine, bloody or cloudy urine, fever, loss of bladder control, dribbling urine, increased amount and/or frequency of urination, straining and/or crying out in pain when trying to pass urine, soiling in inappropriate places, constant licking of urinary opening, and a strong odor to the urine.  If your pup has a fever, it's probably best to take them to the vet.  If they don't have a fever, then you can try a few home remedies that really work well.  1st, keep the area clean.  Use a wet wipe, or give her a warm bath.  Next, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog's dry food.  Not only will the apple cider vinegar make your dog's urinary tract an inhospitable place for bacteria, it can also alleviate allergies, balance out their pH, and even helps with arthritis. It's a routine you can keep forever if you like, it will only help them.

Bumps on chin/muzzle are likely Puppy Acne 
For a picture, click on the red words above.  Puppy acne will appear as bumps usually on or around their chin.   Puppy acne will usually go away on its own unless the pup starts pawing at it, causing it to get red, rip open, and potentially getting bacteria in it.  If it becomes bloody, red, and your puppy/dog develops a fever, go to your Vet.  The Vet will likely prescribe some antibiotics.  If they aren't running a fever, chances are you can treat it at home. Generally, if you see puppy acne, wash it, keep the area clean, but leave it alone.  If it starts to become irritated, put an antibacterial ointment on it to ward off a bacterial infection.  When in doubt, consult a vet! ;)

Dark / yellowing on the hair around mouth/chin/muzzle

Is usually just from dirty water or stain from dog food.  Try to keep this hair short and keep it clean by wiping it down once a day.  Another great solution is corn starch and 1% hydrogen peroxide.  Take a bit of both, form into a paste, ru it on, let it dry for 2 hours, then brush out.  If the yellowing/staining persists, it might be excessive yeast and can be effectively treated with anti-yeast shampoo.  

Pee on carpet
For the best results, act immediately.  Pour an excessive amount of baking soda over the pee area, heaping it up high. Leave it there for a day.  Vacuum it up the next day.  The baking soda does an amazing job at soaking up the pee, drawing it out of the carpet, and deodorizing the area at the same time.    

Dried on stains/tough stains out of carpet or clothes
Always test on your carpet 1st, we've never had any issues, but you never know.  Try at your own risk.

IMO, there is nothing better than using food-grade hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and hot water.   The first step wet the area with a mix of vinegar, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, and steaming hot water.  (When the water mixes with the Food grade hydrogen peroxide, it turns into oxygen, it will bubble and loosen any particles - sort of like oxi-clean on steroids but without the detergent residue that later will attract dirt).  You don't need that much food grade hydrogen.  For an area of 1 foot wide by 1 foot wide, I would estimate you need maybe 1/8 cup of food-grade hydrogen peroxide, a 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1 cup of steaming hot water.  Mix it together, pour it on, let it soak for 2 hours.  Next, sprinkle baking soda over it and scrub any areas - everything should come right off.  Next, use a wet-dry vac to suck up the excess water.  In the last step, pour 2 cups of clean hot water over the area and immediately wet dry vac it back up.  Place a fan on the area to help it dry.

For an individual shirt, put a rubber band around the part that is soiled to isolate the area.  Dip it or apply enough food grade hydrogen peroxide to get it soaked.  Next, place the isolated section into a cup or bowl of water and let it set for an hour.  Most times the stain will be gone.  If it's not all the way gone, ring out the excess water and repeat.  For a load of laundry, add in a 1/4 cup of food grade hydrogen peroxide in the same place you put the detergent.  For really stinky/disgusting laundry, add in a 1/2 cup vinegar.​​

Get rid of a terrible smell:

Vinegar!  Put it in your stinky tennis shoes and throw them in the wash, stinky blankets, soiled sheets,  you name it! Vinegar works!

Puppy Mouthing/Biting 
Puppies use their mouths like we use our hands.  Mouthing/biting during the puppy stage is very common.  How to address it/deter it.  In summary, a very loud yelp should help him realize that he hurt you.  I have had several clients do this successfully and the pup learns not to mouth or to mouth in an inhibited manner.  A 2nd method is to grab your pup's mouth and squeeze it shut so it hurts him a bit and says "no" in a deep voice.  Usually, after a few times, they associate mouthing with the unpleasant mouth squeeze.  A third option is when they mouth you, stop, open his mouth and shove several fingers down his throat to gag him.  After a few times, he will associate mouthing with gagging.  Another effective option is vinegar!  Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and every time your pup mouths, spray his mouth with vinegar.  He will associate mouthing with that bad taste and stop it - it might take a few times, but this should nick it in the bud.  

Small Children - Special Considerations
​If you have small children - supervise!  Although it rarely happens, the few times clients have had "problems" with mouthing, usually involve small children.  If you have small children NEVER leave your pup unsupervised - the pup's teeth are razor sharp and can easily draw blood.  The difficulty with small children is they don't know what to do and if the rough mouthing goes uncorrected, the pup can easily develop a dominant position with your small children if you aren't there to immediately respond.  Although it rarely happens, when it does, it is very upsetting for parents.   I highly recommend buying a muzzle and placing it on your puppy if your pup is to be around your small children when you cannot directly supervise.  For a 7-16 weeks mini/medium or standard pup, we recommend the medium size, for a toy/mini we recommend the small - you can buy from us on selection day through AmeriPaws Puppy supply, or you can order it through amazonDIY Muzzle in a pinch!  (also good to stop a dog from barking in a pinch).

Older Clients - Special Considerations
If you are older, retirement age, or beyond, this is also an area where we experience mouthing issues.  It seems that older people don't have the fortitude to correct a pup with increasing firmness of corrections when it comes to a mouthy pup.  If you are using a muzzle and physically correcting the pup as described in the paragraph above (small children), we recommend using a shock collar.  It is very humane but very very effective.  The shock collar enables you to correct the pup with increasing firmness of corrections without having to physically do it yourself, with just a touch of a button.  Place the shock collar on the pup, when he bites/mouths, shock the pup.  On future offenses, you must increase the level of shock.  Eventually, you will see that the pup will get the clear message and you will have reached his level of thresh hold necessary for him to get the message.  We recommend this shock collar for a mini/medium or standard pup or this shock collar for a toy/mini.  You will not have to use this shock collar forever, just until they get the message.  DIY Muzzle in a pinch! (also good to stop a dog from barking in a pinch!)

Mouthy Puppy!
If you have a mouthy pup, have a heart, your pup should naturally outgrow this stage.  However, it is imperative that you begin training right away.  Start with basic commands so that they understand that you are the master.  You must be the leader for your puppy.  If you have a persistently mouthy pup, aside from the gagging/yelping tips aforementioned, I recommend sticking something in their mouth that they can chew on.  If you have small children, get a muzzle for when you can't supervise - it's amazing how much a muzzle can change behavior.

In conclusion, expect that your pup will mouth/bite, the severity of it will completely vary and depend on your pup, your leadership, and your ability to implement the tips to deter it.  Based on our experience, we estimate that 98% of pups will have easily corrected mouthing while the other 2% might take more effort.  If you need tips, reach out to us immediately.  If you have small children you must always supervise until the pup is at least 4-5 months in age - this is when they are usually past this stage.  

​All of our Mini & Standard Labradoodle Puppies + our Pure Breed AKC Toy, Mini, & Standard Poodle Puppies are for sale in Illinois, Missouri Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, & Arizona.