Living with an ALD
What should I expect living with an Australian Labradoodle ?
I see a large number of people buying puppies on a whim and then astonished when the puppy acts like a dog and not a stuffed animal.
This is why I refuse to use terminology such as fur-baby and teddy bear. Labradoodles are very intelligent and active dogs, and definitely not a plodding fashion accessory!
What are Australian Labradoodles like as puppies?
This is a huge question.
From 7-10 weeks old, the puppies are wonderful inquisitive and a delight. They are also exceptionally easy to train. I expect my owners to have mastered 'sit' and be working on heel work and recall from the day after they pick puppy up and believe me it is so easy to train them.
From 10-16 weeks the 'mouthing stage' starts. I cannot recall how many times I tell owners that they will bleed, that legs, ankles and hands will be nipped and that clothes will gain tiny needle holes. This is a phase every single puppy will go through and it is up to you the owner to use positive training to work through it quickly and safely. I also offer my owners lots of practical advice.
When do we start training?
Immediately. If you collected puppy on the Saturday, training starts on the Sunday. They really are that bright and that is why some homes may not be suitable to owning a Labradoodle because of their intelligence and need for an active and interesting lifestyle.
From 11weeks old, I expect all my owners to have puppy out and off lead. It is so important to teach that recall command and to socialise with other dogs. I will not accept owners onto my waiting lists if they panic and are neurotic about letting a dog off the lead. Recall and good socialisation are the most important things you can teach a dog and that starts at the earliest age possible.
From 12 weeks old, I expect all owners to attend training classes. This isn't about training puppy, but to train you the owner to facilitate the puppies learning and development. Training theory is very much centred around positive reinforcement and the stages of learning and embedding the instructions taught. You really need to attend classes, and the puppies love it too.
What is the teenage stage ?
I hate this stage with a passion and all my owners know it. Your wonderfully trained 6month old puppy suddenly becomes naughty, less reliable at recall, more bouncy, pulls on the lead and just pushes those boundaries a bit... This lasts until about 14-18months old depending on the dog and the training you invest.
So what do you do?
Go back to puppy basics. Keep up with reward training, praise and positive reinforcement. Do not stop attending training classes, this is the time when they are needed more than ever!! Perhaps try agility, or scenting classes, maybe gundog training. The key is for your teenage pup to use their brains and to engage with you. As my wonderful dog trainer says 'you have to be more interesting than a blade of grass.'
Imagine combining the teenage stage with an unneutered, rampaging hormonal dog. I absolutely recommend neutering as early as possible. An unneutered teenage bouncy dog at this age can annoy other dogs, they can cause conflict and run off to follow bitch scents. I always recommend neutering before 10months old. For a girl, there is absolutely no need for them to have a season (unless they have an inverted vulva). To have one season is old school mentality, so again I state neutering before 10months old. Most people do neuter between 6-8months old, and this is ideal.
The poodle is a breed with excellent balance and used to be seen in circuses because of their ability to perform. This means that a lot of Labradoodles have inherited that wonderful balance and bounce.
Most Australian Labradoodles and early generation Labradoodles go through a jumping up phase (usually combined with the teenage stage), this is when every person, especially those in white trousers are seen as an opportunity to show off that wonderful ability to walk on two legs, bounce and jump up.
How do you stop this...training, training, training, more training, patience, time and maturity.
Click here to read a fantastically comical blog piece on Jessie (Anika's daughter), the most intelligent and naughtiest dog in the world.
Puppies lose their adult teeth around 4-5 months old. At this point they can mouth more than usual and also seek to chew more. Make sure you supply your puppy with avenues and objects to help them through this uncomfortable phase.
Counter surfing ?
These dogs as mentioned before have great balance, combine that with intelligence and a sprinkle of naughtiness and you have the perfect mix for a dog that counter surfs. So what is counter surfing? This is when your dog stands on their hind legs, places their front paws on your kitchen work surface and reaches across to your newly cooked bacon butty, or Christmas turkey and takes a good mouthful, if not all of it.
How do you stop this? Keep things out of reach and remove the interesting foods and at the same time training, patience and maturity.
Remember if your dog can reach chocolate, raisins, grapes etc... then it will be an expensive trip to the vets and a poisoned very ill dog.
Which breeds are in the Australian Labradoodle?
Labrador, Poodle, Cocker Spaniel (English/American), Curly Coated Retriever and the Irish Water Spaniel.
These are all active, hunting, water loving, intelligent, loyal breeds, and primarily gundogs.
Research the parent breeds as well as the Australian Labradoodles. Understand the dog that is joining your home. A teddy bear it certainly isn't !
So after all of the above. Once you have attended training, worked through the mouthing, teething, jumping up and counter surfing stage, then you will have an amazing sociable and well behaved (to a degree) dog to share your life with.
Doodles are wonderfully comical dogs. They have fantastic eye contact and are so keen to please and be with people. They are great around cats, horses and other dogs of all ages (early socialisation required).
With children they have a natural affinity, and taking a doodle into your home is definitely fun and they very much become a part of the family.
They are not ploddy dogs and are not suited to someone who walks up and down the same street every day for 15years. How mind-numbingly boring.
Labradoodles want to explore, they want to swim in water, play on the beach, chase seagulls, go camping, walk mountains and meet lots of doggy friends. They are not introverted dogs, but wonderfully exuberant and friendly.