Woodhaven Helpful Hints

This is the feeding program I provide for my puppy buyers. Things may change as time progresses and we learn more, but for now this is a program that I have used for some time with success. I am not recommending this is the only way to feed/raise your dogs. It is simply my way and therefore what I recommend to my puppy buyers.

1. DO NOT let a vet tell you that your puppy is going to suffer whatever because you keep a few extra pounds on it. I DO NOT WANT LEAN, SKINNY PUPPIES. They need the extra as they grow to reach their full potential. One of my puppies should weight approx. twice it's age in weeks. So a 9 week old puppy should be about 18 pounds, a 15 week old puppy about 30 pounds, etc.

In a discussion with other Labrador breeders we were commenting on how veterinarians will often tell the owners that their puppies are too fat and convince them to restrict their diet. We don't need to feed to make them fat but they do need the building blocks to reach their genetic potential. Keeping the food quantity reduced to "save the joints" of a growing puppy is like putting a six year old child on a strict diet.

A veterinarian that also breeds Labs wrote this:

"Unfortunately, they don't teach much nutrition in vet school and it's usually geared toward feeding cattle and tends to be a "least favorite" subject. I believe it was Purina who did a study on litters of Labradors and their life expectancies based on body condition throughout their lives. It did a huge disservice in many aspects since vets now think they're adding years to a dog's life for their family by recommending a lean dog as a puppy.

I myself have seen several pick or nearly-pick puppies who have gone on hunger strikes and without those calories during a very important period in growth and development, have lost their "bloom" and not turned out. A skinny dog simply doesn't need to develop the bone/frame to hold it's weight. That means as they get older (seniors), it likely won't hold up to any weight gain either, which they tend to do as they get sedentary due to age, any arthritis, hypothyroidism etc.

2. No forced exercise, jumping, jogging, field training or road-work, until the dogs are 2 year old and the bones are set. Puppies are just that until at least 18 months of age, when dealing with the large breeds. They are fragile and need supervised exercise in a fenced in area or daily walks with you. The key is moderation and common sense in raising your puppy. For strong bones they need normal moderate exercise in order to develop the proper muscle to support the bone. A good rule of thumb on exercise is: 5 minutes of walking per month of life. If for instance your puppy is 3 months old, it could go for a 15 minute walk.

3. Your puppy should not be crated more than 4-6 hours at time during the course of a daytime, and less is better. This is their den, and never punish and then put them in a crate; it should be their safe place. Their crate should be in a place where there is family activity so they don't feel they are being punished. If your puppy is crated during bedtime, and in the day time, 12 hours of his day is spent in a crate. If you are working and out of the house more than the desired time please try enclosing an open crate in an exercise pen. This will give your pup a safe place to sleep, plus a place to use as a potty area.

4. NO FREE CHOICE FEEDING. (leaving food down all the time) Some dogs over-consume, some pick all day long and don't ever get hungry enough to consume the proper amount of nutrition necessary.

5. NO CALCIUM (MINERALS) OR VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS If you are feeding a "name brand/premium" dog food which is labeled AAFCO tested for all life-stages of the dog, you do not need to add supplements.  In fact, to do so might throw off the balance of the food and you can do more harm than good.

DO NOT GIVE ESTER C to a growing puppy since that contains calcium.

DO NOT GIVE YOGURT to a growing puppy as that contains calcium.

6. Watch the amount of "treats" you give your puppy, the calories add up. Break the Milkbone into several pieces. Use carrots, a slice of apple as treats. This will not disrupt the balance of the diet nor add too many calories to the diet.

Check the labels. NEVER FEED ANY TREAT THAT HAS NOT BEEN MADE IN THE USA. If you can't find that information on the package, then DO NOT buy it.

If you need treats for puppy training, use Cheerios. They're cheap and they don't add a lot of calories when given. When I am training and need to give my dogs a treat for a correct behavior, I give them a piece of their kibble.

7. Feeding Time: Allow your puppy a safe, non stressful environment to eat in. Try feeding in a crate. Allow 10 minutes, if they do not eat in that time remove the food, and refrigerate until next time. They will not starve, do not try to beg them to eat. You are developing a bad habit if you entice them into eating. Do not let them linger or be distracted. My dogs eat in less than 5 minutes. If they don't I know something is wrong. Monitoring their food this way is an excellent way of telling when they are not feeling well.

8. Always keep lots of fresh water available so the animal knows there is water around, and is less apt to over-consume. Some breeders withhold water to house break a dog. This is cruel and totally ignorant. It sets up bad drinking habits (gorging) and bladder infections, potential dehydration which can cause muscle cramping and potential bloating.

9. Amount to feed: This was discussed in your Puppy Helpful Hints Guide. I want to see a thin layer of fat on the puppy during growth but NOT a roly-poly one. We want to use a moderate protein/fat/calorie food (discussed below). A high protein/fat/calorie food does not mean a bigger animal. It may mean your puppy will develop nutritionally caused bone diseases (CHD, OCD or Pano).

It is important these dogs grow slow and even, so the bone develops at the same rate as the muscle. If not they may have growth deformities and early arthritis. This is why we sent your puppy home on Purina ProPlan chicken and rice puppy food or Royal Canin Maxi Puppy and require its use. By the same token NO LOW PROTEIN/FAT FOODS, they are not high enough in calories.


Articles regarding protein and fat amounts and your growing puppy.

Article #1
Article #2

10. Toys/Bedding: You have to think like a dog, which things are you more apt to get into trouble with here! I use fleece beds or towels for my crates. Never use carpet, as the pups are attracted to the glue and a continuous loop carpet can cause their bowels to strangle if they eat it. No cedar, pine bedding it causes allergies. No detergent, Carpet Fresh, Lysol, Murphy's oil soap, fabric softener or anything that is a pine derivative. You are asking for allergies. Wash bedding in a mild solution of bleach, it will dissipate when dry, leaving no residue. Same with cleaning crates, make sure you are well vented!! Use only dog shampoo, nothing else for a bath. No pig ears, rawhide, string toys, Greenies, booda bones, booda velvet bones or cooked bones. Keep safe toys around so they are not eating furniture and your best shoes.

My reasons for no rawhide chewies are many. First, the majority are processed with lye and arsenic, something your dog does not need in his/her stomach. Also, they are not digestible and can lay in the stomach or intestines and not pass through, causing an obstruction or causing pathogenic bacteria to grow. Something we do not need with animals that are prone to bloat and gastric torsion is encouraging pathogenic (bad) bacteria to develop in the gut. They are also a very serious choking hazard. So to be on the safe side, for nutritional and safety reasons, I suggest something other than rawhide chewies. Plus, many are made in China and have dangerous ingredients included which can make your dog severely ill or kill it.

As for pig ears/snouts/cow snouts and cow hooves. There are two reasons for not using these, Salmonella (bad bacteria) and the fact that the ears/snouts will splinter and can puncture an intestine and the same is for the cow hooves. Frequently, vets are removing them because they cause an obstruction.

What is safe? Nylabones! Do not use imitations or cheaper brands! Do not use the Nylabone edibles after the age of 3 months. You do not need your animals gut cut up from pieces of plastic which is not safe to eat.

The only Nylabones I buy my dogs are the 9 inch Monster bones in the original flavor. I order mine HERE

Also you can buy Kong toys. Their website is located at http://www.kongcompany.com. They have Kong stuffing recipes located at http://www.kongcompany.com/how2use.html. BE SURE TO BUY THE APPROPRIATE SIZE FOR YOUR PUPPY. These are easy to find at most pet stores or online pet supply businesses.

A word about Vaccines: We're hearing of more and more young animals suffering from a Vaccine reaction, also known as Vaccinosis or Vaccine Mediated Response.

We follow the Colorado State University vaccination protocol. We recommend our puppy buyers follow this protocol as well.

Please make sure your rabies shot is NOT given at the same time as the other shots and NEVER before 5 months of age. This may be in direct conflict with some state laws, but you and your vet must weigh the potential risks on the delicate immune system of your pet. Many vets are administering rabies at 10-12 weeks causing serious health problems; convulsions, swollen joints, high fever, and loss appetite and sometimes loss of life. Its not worth monkeying around with your puppy's immune system.

You have to make the decision but it is my suggestion, if purchasing a puppy from me, that you do not give Rabies along with the other shots and not before 5 months of age. The ultimate decision is yours.

I ALSO DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU GET THE LYME VACCINE SHOT as it does not work and has been causing problems in most dogs

(Links supporting this)

Every dog needs to be on Heartworm Preventative. Heartworm is a very serious ailment and totally preventable. We give our dogs Heartguard every 45 days all-year round, even in the winter. Do NOT give Sentinal, as this has extra poison in it to kill fleas. If your dog does not have fleas you are adding this poison for nothing. If your dog does have fleas we'd rather you used Frontline for the fleas.

The most important qualities in a good owner is compassion and common sense and the ability to think like a dog. When you are in doubt or have a question, PLEASE contact me. That is my responsibility as your breeder.

Woodhaven Feeding Program - Puppy Guidelines Basic Program

Dry Food: A high quality, multiple protein based food of moderate protein and fat content and naturally preserved. The short list of quality foods is below and it is based on my own use and feeding trials. The food listed below have ever been recalled.

Foods We Recommend

(NOT the shreds)

Dog Foods - Help in making the choice easier

Raw/Cooked: Fruits/Veggies - These include fruits and veggies, in small amounts. Berries, melons, apples, banana, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, squash, sweet potato, green beans, zucchini for example of foods you can use. NO raw onions, grapes, garlic or raisins.

Water On Food: Commercial foods need to be fed with moisture so dogs don't over consume water after a meal. If the dog doesn't get enough water with its meal the kibble will pull moisture from the dogs system in order to break down properly. Use tepid temperature water never hot or warm and never soak your food as it breaks down and destroys nutrients. Mix up and feed immediately. I use enough water to thoroughly cover the food (approx. 1/2 cup ) per each meal.

Drinking Water: It is very important to never withhold water from your dog. This can lead to over consumption and bladder infections. Use common sense, do not let them drink excessively after exercise or dinner. Like a horse, let them cool down and then drink. I have found if I have water available, they never overdo it since they know it is available to them when they need it. That way they drink less amounts of water, but more frequently.


As a general rule of thumb is based on the assumption that a dog may be crated or less active during the day, while the owner is at work. Remember, we'd rather have a thin layer of fat on the puppy at this time but not a roly-poly one!

How much should your puppy weigh? This little formula and the Food/Weight chart below should give you a pretty good idea.

My standard for my pups, which are over 10 wks. of age, is:
2 lbs. of weight for each week of age. One pound each way allowing for bone substance.

For instance: If a puppy is 14 weeks old it should weigh around 28 lbs. If the puppy is a female it could be 27 lbs. and 29 lbs. for a male puppy. Anything above 2 pounds per week of age, and you might want to consider the puppy is too heavy.

This formula is fairly accurate until the dog reaches the age of 10 months.

The following amounts need to be split into two daily feedings.

As to the amount, the guideline I use is 1 cup of food per month of life. For example, if a puppy is 2 months old it gets 2 cups of food divided into 3 feedings per day. If the puppy is 2½ months of age, the pup is eatin 2½ cups of food per day divided into 3 feedings. 3 months of age equates to 3 cups of food, etc. This is usually true until the puppy reached the age of 4½ - 5 months of age, when their growth slows down a bit. I then back off on their food.

I usually switch to 2 feedings per day at about 3 months of age and continue to feed twice a day for life.

Feed the breeder's recommended puppy food.  Buy 2 20# bags, then you may switch to an adult (maintenance) formulated food after these are gone, for the rest of the dog's life.

My adult females get between 2 - 2 1/2 cups of dry dog food per day divided between the 2 meals. Adult males receive approx. 1 cup more per day.

Puppies and older dogs should NEVER be placed on a lite diet. Cut back the amount you feed rather than switching to a lower protein and lower fat. They need the nutrients for their organs and brain cells and their coats will suffer drastically.

If the dog gets a bit heavy and you need to cut back, ease up on the amount of food and add a small can of sodium-free green beans to each meal. (If you can't find sodium-free, you can drain and rinse the beans before letting the dog eat them) The dog thinks its getting its full amount of food, but is actually receiving less but the green beans help fill up the dog. Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn or rice cakes also make a good addition to a dieting dog's food.


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