We strongly believe you should crate train your new puppy. The crate becomes their safe zone and security blanket. It will also come in handy later if you travel to hotels, family members' homes, or need to kennel or overnight at the vets. Start right away with this to make it part of their normal life. You can use treats (toss a few into the crate) to encourage them to enter the crate without drama until they want to just go in without encouragement.
We have been very happy with Midwest double door crates. 36 or 40 inch will last the lifetime of your Doodle - larger than 40 will provide sleeping and eating/play area, but consider the crate with attached playpen as a better alternative. A cloth crate cover will make it feel even more comforting to them. We line these with a matching size crate liner.
We have also used the cloth Elite crates, which are good, but you do run the risk of a puppy chewing through and destroying it.
There are also great crates that look like furniture that are an alternative if they are in your budget.
Etsy.com has gorgeous cloth crate covers and high end, hand built furniture dog crates worthy of being a family heirloom!
Any time your puppy is chewing something it is not supposed to, say no, take that item away, and give them a chew toy. They teeth just like human babies. The chewing will eventually go away, but even adult dogs enjoy chewing on things from time to time.
Admittedly, Megan is WAY better at doggie dental care than I am. I give them dental chew toys and dental bones. Meg does the water additive and doggie tooth paste regularly too. Look for an additional post on chew toys and rawhides.
Coming from their poodle genetics, labradoodles do grow hair in their ear canal. This can lead to yeast infections if you don't keep the ears free of hair as much as possible. If your doodle is scratching their ears or shaking their head a lot, they might have an infection. If you can smell yeast or a smell from their ears, it is a definite. You can prevent this by using ear plucking supplies and ear wash. If your dog gets an infection, treat it immediately with . Your vet will charge for a visit and antibiotics, which is not necessary unless this fails (which we have never seen happen).
Ear care & prevention
Yeast infection treatment
We do very minimal grooming on our labradoodles. When you go to the groomer, there are basically three levels you can request (and all sorts of custom spa treatments). There is Face, Feet & Fanny touch up work - ears, eyes, nails, and touchy area. There is the glam groom, that many people choose to do on a regular basis so that there doodle always looks great. Finally, there is the all over, full groom - standard is a complete clipper trim. They will typically leave what they can on the face, feet, and tail. You can also ask for - to the skin - which is what we choose. They look like skinny, small Labradors with this cut, but they are the cleanest this way (they don't pick up vegetation) and you can go the longest between groomings - typically 5 months. Remember, your doodle doesn't shed, so they MUST have their hair cut. If you start to notice any shedding balls or matting, it is time to go to the groomers. Below are some tools to use between groomings or to do your own grooming - which isn't really too bad, particularly if you do it outside. If you are patient, you can even completely maintain your doodles coat with just a brush and old fashioned scissors. That said, most people these days are very happy to get back a beautiful, clean pup from the groomers.
We use nail grinders, nail clippers, slicker brush, and de-matter tools for very small amounts of upkeep between grooming. Watch ears closely for too much hair, which can cause yeast infection. Groomers and vet can pluck ear hair and it isn't too hard to learn to do it yourself. The nail trimmers are the only thing you will need quickly when you bring your new puppy home.
POINTER: Every day, while you are playing with your puppy, mess with their nails, their eyes, their tails - so that they are not alarmed at grooming time. I literally pretend to do the nails as often as possible when they are little so that they are comfortable with their nails being handled and looked at. Also, a bit gross, but your doodle will have a lot of eye buggers in their lifetime because of the facial hair. Most of my dogs are happy to eat them when I take them out (in fact, my little nursemaid dog EWOK cleans up everyone in the morning for me). One of my girls doesn't and it is a little bit of a hassle, so if it doesn't gross you out, go ahead and give them to your puppy.
You can leave everything to the professionals except cleaning out eyes in the morning, watching the ears, trimming bangs and hair from eyes, and occasional, between grooming nail trims.
I love the IWEEL cordless, rechargeable clippers. The dogs get used to them quickly and with a little practice, I have been reducing my trip to the groomers. During COVID, I have been able to do all my own clipping, although it is not as pretty as the job the groomers do.
We recommend that you start with a puppy playpen outside the door to your dog crate. This is a good idea while house training and also later while teething. Eventually, as your dog becomes an adult, you will likely give them free range of the entire house, but smaller spaces are good to start with. Use washable pads, crate liner, crate cover and toys to make this a great space for your new puppy!
The thin, washable pads are good for potty (although the thicker wahable pads elsewhere on this page are better for that area. These are great for your playpen area, under your food and water bowls, to line your crate, and to cover your car seats and floors. PLEASE LOOK BELOW FOR WASHABLE POTTY PADS - we try to train them to use those for potty area and these are floor/protective covers - although they will get dirty too.
You can certainly overdo dog treats, but they love them and they are very useful for training and to reward good behavior. They are great for getting them to come in from the back yard - put them in a storage container, shake and say TREATS. They are great for training them to load into the car, for getting them to hop in their crate at night, and a variety of other incentives as well as for formal training, like sit, fetch, heal, etc. Below are our dogs favorites.
We stick with Taste of the Wild, but we also rotate in some variety with some of these other brands & options.