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.
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.
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!