published 30 October 2020
This month’s breed - The Labradoodle
The Labradoodle is perhaps the first “designer dog,” making it a more recent (and extremely popular) addition to the canine kingdom. A cross between the family-friendly Labrador and the good-natured Poodle, the breed is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. The Australian Labradoodle Association of America (ALAA), however, describes them as compact, medium-sized dogs, with an athletic build, high intelligence, a non-shedding coat, and a reliably stable temperament.
Labradoodles are friendly and love people. They also possess a unique ability to gauge the needs of those around them, which the ALAA maintains makes them excellent guide dogs and great for humans with special needs.
The Labradoodle has some variability to its physical characteristics that reflects its Poodle and Labrador origins. The breed does tend to share certain traits: while there are three size ranges of Labradoodle, they are usually medium-sized and share an athletic gait and non-shedding coat (which can be either fleece or wool). The ALAA specifies a broad, moderately wide skull, large, fleshy muzzle, and flat ears.
The Labradoodle appears to have few genetic faults (the kind that often result from ‘line breeding’ or inbreeding). While breed creator Willy Conron told ABC News that “I find that the biggest majority (of Labradoodles) are either crazy or have a hereditary problem,” John de Jong, a veterinarian in the Boston area and a recent president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says mixing breeds actually reduces the risk of genetic problems. The ALAA says the breed is “generally considered healthy,” but can have problems with hip and elbow dysplasia.
Labradoodles come in myriad colors and patterns, including:
The Labradoodle has been bred since 1989, when Wally Conron, an employee at the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia, responded to a special request for a non-shedding guide dog from a blind lady living in Hawaii whose husband suffered from allergies. After trial and error, Conron crossed a Labrador – a breed with a proud pedigree and reliably stable temperament – with a Poodle, whose non-shed coat and stable genetics resulted in a perfect match that has steadily risen in popularity, especially in the United States
Conron, however, has expressed regret about creating the Labradoodle. While he felt that he bred an adorable animal, Conron is concerned about the health of the dogs and the greed of some breeders, who he maintains have not always focused on fostering the good qualities of the breed. While poor breeding practices are not a Labradoodle-specific problem, there are many reputable, ethical Labradoodle breeders who focus on breeding for soundness, health, and temperament.
Labradoodle owners know how lively, energetic, and intelligent they can be. These excellent family dogs aim to please but can become a bit erratic if household members (especially children) are particularly lively. Labradoodles require both regular exercise for their energy levels and an outlet for their intelligence – if not available, they can be over-exuberant and engage in destructive behavior, like chewing. Good management and early, consistent training are vital to avoiding issues before they become entrenched.
Labradoodles do not shed their coats, which makes them desirable indoor family pets, especially among allergy sufferers. The ALAA, however, does recommend regular grooming to prevent tangling or matting. The official breed standard suggests their coats should not exceed four inches in length over the entire body.
Labradoodles are now one of America’s most popular breeds. Ideal specimens embody the best traits of their parent breeds, Labradors and Poodles: if you get one from a reputable breeder, your Labradoodle most likely will.
Bark Busters trainers work with hundreds (if not thousands) of Labradoodles around the country, and one of the most common issues tends to be hyperactivity and/or overexcitement. This is especially true with families with young children. Like most Labs, Labradoodles can be slow to mature, and being around young children seems to bring out their puppy side even more.
Henry was one of those dogs. His family of five brought him home when he was ten weeks old. He immediately bonded with the kids, aged seven, nine and eleven. He (sort of) listened to Mom or Dad when the kids were out or at school, but once they got home, Henry stopped listening and would get very excited.
Unfortunately, this excitement could be destructive. Henry would jump on the kids, as well as mouth and nip them. What Henry saw as playing was becoming more and more dangerous, to the point that the younger children were becoming a little afraid of Henry. That’s when the family contacted and made an appointment with Sharon, their local Bark Busters trainer. At the time, Henry was just over six months old.
When Sharon arrived for the first meeting, Henry met her at the front door with an exuberant jump. Once she was able to get inside and join everyone around the kitchen table, she listened as the family told her about life with Henry. She asked questions about their daily routine and rules and learned about his behavior. Sharon explained that Henry was only doing what came naturally to him: he was interpreting the family’s behavior as though they were all dogs – his only frame of reference!
Sharon stressed the importance of structure and a proactive education for Henry – just as the children went to school for an education, Henry needed the same. Once Sharon explained how Henry viewed the situations that lead to his overexcitement, she gave the family a plan to teach Henry to relax and to react to instructions when Mom or Dad had enough.
Things got off to a good start – Henry responded nicely to his exercises. Sharon wrote out some homework and scheduled a follow-up appointment a couple of weeks later. She emphasized being proactive, not reactive, with Henry and recommended the family call her with any questions that may arise.
When Sharon returned, she was pleased to hear another positive report: Henry’s behavior had improved in multiple areas, and he was having encouraging interactions with all family members. Henry would occasionally “lose it” and get overexcited, but the instances were less and less frequent. The family felt they had an effective plan in place to teach Henry to be a great family member.
At the second session, Sharon had the family demonstrate the exercises she had taught them at the first session. She gave them lots of positive feedback and made some suggestions for future improvement, as well as introduced a couple of new exercises. The family was pleased with the results and couldn’t wait to continue working with Henry.
If you are struggling with your Labradoodle’s overexcitement, jumping, hyperactivity, or other behavioral problems, contact your local Bark Busters® trainer. Our trainers are available both in person and via virtual sessions to help establish a pattern of consistency, resolve any and all issues, and help you nurture a relationship with your Labradoodle built on mutual understanding, trust, respect, and love.
We are standing by to help you develop a consistent, compassionate approach to good behavior for your Labradoodle. Learn more about our services and schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with one of our trainers today!
If you have ever lost your dog, you know that heart-pounding adrenaline of panic. The WaggTagg™ pet identification tag is unique in that it works from a QR code. Free to all Bark Busters® clients. The pet parent enters important dog information plus a picture. Whoever finds the dog can simply scan the tag using a cell phone and the owner gets a text message to say someone has found your dog. This service is available 24/7. No waiting to get to the vet office to scan a microchip and no renewal fees or any extra charges!
Microchips are important and you should always have your dog microchipped as that is a great tool to identify legal owners etc.
The WaggTagg™ is an extra piece of security for your dog and provides peace of mind, that if your dog goes missing, you can get reunited quickly.
WaggTagg ™ is a free service for all dog owners when you become a Bark Busters® client.
As previously mentioned, early education is important. Making sure your Labradoodle walks properly on a leash is an important exercise. If your dog pulls on the leash, it can be damaging its skeletal frame. You should always start this training in the home and start with short walks and make them fun and educational. No need to go for long walks while educating.
Introducing the Leash
Many folks struggle to control their dogs when out on a walk regardless of their size.
We recommend starting when your dog is still a puppy and educating your puppy where you want it to walk. That should not be straining at the leash.
Bark Busters® are often asked why dogs pull on the leash and concerned ‘pet parents’ worry that their dog will be injured with all this pulling. Not to mention the toll the pulling takes on the human, the answer is simple, it’s all down to using the right technique, coupled with the right leash and equipment.
Dogs Naturally Pull Against a Tight Leash
Pressure on your dog’s neck is not good for the trachea or his skeletal frame. It also places unnecessary pressure on your arms and joints. It benefits neither you nor your dog and cannot be fun. Yet we all see this type of walking daily and it has to be because people don’t know there is a better way.
In the wild if an animal is trapped, it will naturally try to get away. It knows it is vulnerable if it is captured or tethered. Although the canine has been domesticated for thousands of years, your dog still has this instinct in its mind. The only way to avoid this natural pulling, is to learn to get your dog to walk on a loose leash.
Dogs are natural pullers. It’s in a dog’s DNA to pull against any restraint.
This is why it is possible to get a dog to pull a sled. When a dog feels a restraint it naturally pulls against the restraint. This is normal dog behavior, but we can alter the dog’s perception if we always keep the dog on a loose leash, where it feels NO restraint.
The Waggwalker is a walking harness designed by dog trainers to communicate and educate dogs how to walk sedately on the leash.
The WAGGWALKER® makes it easier to walk your dog because it provides a way of communicating, through sound and with no pain, letting your dog know when it is out of position and exactly where you want your dog to walk, so ‘take the lead and get tails wagging’.
The Labradoodle is an energetic athlete who needs a lot of exercise and free play. Taking your dog for long walks & hikes is great for their wellbeing.
A great interactive toy is The GameChanger® by Bark Busters®. Not only is this toy safe (made of FlexaPure - durable non-toxic PBA-free polyurethane material), but it stimulates a dog’s natural desire to chew. You fill the toy with some small treats, and your Labradoodle must decide how to get the treats out through the small holes. Entertainment for hours!