We have been round and round with the issue of keeping our breeding females in peak condition. I think we have finally worked it out. We are feeding Ms. Blue Purina Focus Puppy Food while she nurses 11 Big Sky Lab puppies. 3 times per day, 4 cups per feeding. That’s right—12 cups a day. That’s not all—here are the two tricks we use because our females won't usually eat this much. 4 cups mixed with 1/3 can Alpo Gravy Lovers, mixed with a scoop of puppy milk replacer—called Esbilac, mixed with warm water. Blue gobbles it up. The key seems to be replacing her lost calories and calcium from nursing. Nursing is what wipes out these dogs, not gestation. Last litter with Nyx she got thin and blew her coat. She looked terrible. She’s doing fine now, but we had to find a way to get the calories in these lactating females. Dr. Trevor Ferguson at Blue Mountain Animal Clinic in Missoula, MT to the rescue. He told us about a wirehair breeder and what he was doing—adding the milk replacer to the female's food. It seems to be working. Ms. Blue is a beautiful, glossy, silky, black coated Lab. Coming into the heaviest nursing time she looks great. Puppies are just starting to eat solid food to which we also add milk replacer at Dr. Ferguson’s instruction. This will continue to pull some pressure off Ms. Blue feeding so many pups. Wanted to let you all know how hard we work at Big Sky Labs to care for our mommy’s and your puppies. Look forward to seeing all the The Whiskey Lullaby puppy owners on December 23rd.
Been getting a lot of questions regarding feeding a new Lab puppy.
1. Choose a quality feed. We have been round and round with this. Currently using Purina Pro Plan Sport. 30% protein and 20% fat. Use it for all dogs all ages. We have used successfully Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy Chicken and Rice 26% protein and 16% fat. I like the PP Focus for pups. Not as hot a food. The PP Sport is hot hot. Use less higher calorie count. Less expensive in the long run.
Problem--the high fat can cause really hard poops. Hard poops can equal straining.
We feed a lot of dogs so cost is a factor.
We have tried the cheap foods too. To keep weight on the dogs it took 3 times the food. Huge soft messy poops. Not worth it.
2. So how much food. Follow the instructions on the bag, but let the dog's condition dictate. You should not be able to see ribs or back bones. If you can see them outlined clearly--pup is too thin. On the other side if pup has no waste and when you feel his side you push through heavy layer to feel ribs, pup too heavy.
I continually adjust rations in accordance with dog condition. You should too.
3. How often to feed? 8-16 weeks three times per day. Divide up the ration total off the food bag. Two times per day to one year. Then you can shift to once a day. Some folks like to feed more often. This too is fine. Just watch pups condition. Look at him. Handle him.
Great dog owners keep their dogs in top shape. Not too fat. Not too skinny. Just right.
4. Lastly since we are talking about Labs let's talk about eating like they have not been fed in a year. Never free fed a Lab. They will not self regulate and will over eat, get fat, or bloat.
Bloating. Gulping air as they inhale food. Not good. You simply must stop this. How? Feed smaller meals more often. 4 times a day if necessary. Wet dry food. Volume of total food does not change. Buy a maze dish with bumps in it. Pup has to slow down and work for it. Buy these at www.gundogsupply.com. If your pup is throwing up after eating most probably he is gulping air with food. Correct this behavior as outlined above quick. Bloat will kill a Lab pup or adult quick. If a Lab goes off his food it's a sign....get to your vet.
Buy food at www.chewy.com. Delivered to your door no charge. Best prices. Fresh food.
Stay in touch folks. Send pics. I have two beautiful Big Sky Lab male pups available. Nyx/Ace litter. 1-weeks. What a pair! Lincoln and Dillon. Will give a discount if someone keeps the brothers together. We also offer $50 gift certificate to PetSmart or Petco if you refer a puppy buyer to us. Thanks for passing the word. See this dynamic duo at our web site under the "Pups" tab.
Well, it is. Big Sky Labrador Retrievers are the finest hunting dogs available, but it is important to remember, that the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in America and it is so for a reason. If you own or have owned in the past a Lab then you will get what I am saying. Labs are great family dogs. They love being around kids and old guys like me. They greet you at the door and dent your leg with that otter tail. Our foundation female who spends more time in the house than she should jumps up on my chair, putting both front feet nearly in my face with a tennis ball in her mouth. Slimy, nasty thing. And will not leave till I throw it--love that. These dogs make great police and drug dogs. These dogs serve as helper dogs for the handicapped. These dogs are guide dogs for the blind. Bomb detection dogs. Police dogs. Duck dogs. Upland bird dogs. Companion Dogs. Wounded Warrior dogs. They do it all. While I am mostly a field and family Lab guy, many of our others friends and clients are more than that. We sell these great dogs to all facets of life. I get fairly regular calls where people ask me if we sell our Labs to non-hunting homes. Are you kidding? Yes we do. I tell them this, "I have never met a lab who was upset about taking a walk with his people. Never met a Lab who was distraught about not having birds shot over him, as long as he is loved, taken care of, and given an opportunity to be a best friend. Never. So...yes, we sell great Labrador Retrievers bird dogs, but we sell them to a lot of nice people in a lot of different walks of life---hunter and non. Gotta Luv A Lab!
Hey everyone. The response to training tips has been great. Wanted to be clear where these tips come from. Mostly they are from my 40 plus years of having bird dogs, but lots of them are from the books I have read on the subject. This is not a research paper and I am not going to look up and cite where these tips came from. For the most part I don't even remember where they came from. Well some... Delmar Smith, Best Way To Train Your Gun Dog, Dave Walker, The Bird Dog Training Manual, and Tom Dokken, Retriever Training. These guys are great trainers. Get their books. Read them cover to cover. My copy of Smith's book looks like it got run over by my truck and Walker's is on the way. Dokken is fairly new to me, but is definitely a great one. So all that to say, great dog trainers are like great bird dogs. Great dogs, beget great dogs. Great dog trainers, beget great dog trainers. Let's just say this so nobody gets confused. None of these tips are original to me. Credit goes to "whoever deserves it". Thanks for allowing me to take from the best and get it into your hands. It's what we do with Labs. It's what we do with dog training. We ride on the shoulders of the best and thank them for all they have done. I hope these tips are helpful to you.
Four Big Sky Labrador Retriever pups on a stake-out set-up. For about an hour staking out a pup teaches them to give to the lead. (Not in the sun) They don't like it much because their freedom is limited for the first time. After about 15 minutes they settle in to the fact that the lead is going to win and they submit to it. Now take them out on a leash. New puppy. No jerking, no harshness. Now you can begin to teach them to heel. Pup is a good citizen and can be taken everywhere with you. Discipline is essential to all of us in life. Pup too!