Thank you for your interest in a Gochee Lab puppy! We are a small breeder in rural Sherrard, IL that strives to produce the versatile Labrador Retriever. Our puppies thrive as working and family dogs - many of our puppies are service dogs, therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and hunting companions (both professionally and family-oriented hunting). Our puppy program follows Puppy Culture and implements other proven techniques to ensure every puppy leaves our home emotionally stable and ready for their new adventures! 

We apply Jane Killion's Puppy Culture techniques to our breeding program.  They involve detailed puppy rearing from birth to 12 weeks and older.

💭 Prior to bringing a puppy home, we strongly encourage you to get familiar with Puppy Culture for a smooth transition from our home to yours.  You will learn about general training, potty training, socialization, biting, resource guarding, body handling, benefits of positive reinforcement, and how to set up an unsupervised puppy playpen. 

📀🐷👀 We recommend the Puppy Culture Essentials Bundle

The Proof Is In The Puppies! 

What is Puppy Culture?

Learn more here.

Puppy Culture & The First 8 weeks

Day 0 - The Prenatal Period: Our puppies are born and raised in our home and are never left unattended. 

Day 1 & 2 - The Beginning of the Neonatal Period

“Newborn puppies look like sleeping loaves of fur. But there’s furious activity going on under their little hoods – They double in body weight by 10 days and their brains undergo amazing changes. Dr. Carmen Battaglia shows us how to take advantage of this period by neurologically “jump starting” puppies when they’re between 3 – 13 days old.”

Day 3-16 - Neonatal Period

In this amazing week, we see the puppies transform from deaf , blind, helpless loaves of fur, to real little puppies who can hear, toddle, and play. You’ll get to take a peek at the funny and touching moments when they realize there’s a whole world outside of themselves.  

Weeks 2 - Transitional Period 

“Did you know that the critical socialization period in dogs begins at just three weeks old, and is over when the puppies are 12 weeks old?  What does it take to socialize a puppy? Socialization is more than just exposure – it’s a rich blend of skills, experiences, and enrichment.”  Did you know that prevention of common behavior problems begins when the puppies are just three weeks old?"

Activities: Soft toys are added to the whelping box for stimulation and the puppies can be away from their mom long enough to snuggle with people! Loud noises are made daily to activate our startle response. 

Week 3 - Critical Socialization Period 

As we enter into the critical socialization period, we accept and solicit invitations to play, we will be introduced to new experiences, toys and sounds. We will still receive daily startle response exercises. This will help us be less fearful and have more confidence as adults. We can regulate our body temperature more effectively and will start cutting our first teeth in preparation for weaning. The front teeth, canines and incisors come in first which means we may have our first tiny taste of puppy gruel, although we still only need mother’s milk.

As they start tasting food, we give the puppies a variety of tastes! They try goat milk and venison for their first meal, a variety of Life's Abundance canned puppy food, and softened Life's Abundance or PawTree Dog Food.

Activities: 

  • The Enrichment Effect: Puppies receive a carefully enriched environment, the benefits of which will last a lifetime. This continues weekly until puppies leave.

  • Puppies begin receiving visitors (both people and safe dogs)

  • Startle Recovery exercises prime puppies for the challenges of a busy life.

  • Foundation exercises for the prevention of separation anxiety.

  • A designated potty area is introduced

  • We (attempt) to eat our first meal

  • We visit a local nursing home, when permitted.

Week 4 - Little dreadnoughts

At 4 weeks the puppies move to a larger, ground-level room. Not only does this give them plenty of room to play, learn and explore, but they can also start outdoor potty training (with a bell) without the risk of stairs that could damage their hips long-term.

Weather permitting, the puppies will start exploring our fully operating farm! On their farm adventures, they will hear many loud noises, including construction & heavy equipment, smell new places, including a mechanic shop, livestock, our horse, chickens, and much, much more! While they are small, their adventures will be from the puppy stroller, but as they get bigger, they will explore feet first! 

For treats, we now eat cream cheese off a spoon! 

Activities: 

  • Puppies are moved into a larger weaning pen with age-appropriate enrichment.

  • Soundproofing is continued

  • The Adventure Box is introduced

  • The "Box Game" is started

  • Emotional Resiliency Exercises are done, giving the puppies the gift of “bounce back” from life challenges.

  • Problem-solving games are introduced, these help puppies learn to handle life’s frustrations early. (Barrier Challenge, etc)

  • Crate training starts!

    • Crates are introduced to the weaning pen (doors removed)

    • Comfy beds are placed inside to encourage puppies to nap in crates.

Week 5 - Fear and fun

This week we will experience a mild fear period. Because of this we will be cautious of new exposures. We will mainly be introduced to passive enrichment activities, so we don’t unintentionally pick up a long-term fear imprint. Shhh...separation anxiety crate training also begins this week.

At this point, the puppies are eating Life's Abundance Dog Food, pig ears, porky puffs, bully sticks and a verity of raw bones! They are also enjoying treats such as Life's Abundance Tasty Rewards Treats, pieces of cheese, cooked meat such as chicken, steak, etc. 

​Activities: 

  • Puppies learn to communicate with us in socially acceptable ways, learning the Communication Trinity, how to solve problems, and finding their voice.

  • Clicker training starts and puppies start learning their core skills: Attention, Manding (asking politely), Come.

  • Fear starts: At five weeks puppies are for the first time, capable of experiencing true fear. We avoid any experience that might cause lifelong fear problems, while building more emotional resilience as we go along.

  • Crate Training:

    • Puppies are fed in crates

    • Puppies are encouraged to run into their crates.

Week 6 - Big changes 

DON'T SEND US HOME YET!! It's tempting for the breeder since we've grown so much, we're eating A LOT and we make BIG messes, but we need our mommy and littermates for a few more weeks. We can develop lifelong emotional and behavioral issues if we leave too soon. Mommy is going to start teaching us to submit to her authority and more thorough grooming. Plenty of littermate social play will teach us to inhibit biting, alleviate aggression and fear, and develop our confidence so we aren't anxious all the time. We also need more human interaction, but not too much or we will think we're humans and not act like the proper well-mannered dogs you expect to bring home.

 

Activities: 

  • In Week 6 Puppy Parties are started. These important socialization and training events are designed to expose puppies to just the right experiences at the right time.

  • Novel people of all shapes, ages, and sizes are introduced, and we work to ensure the puppies have positive responses during these important “first” meetings because a scary meeting at this age can cause lifelong fear.

  • Puppies get to practice their training in real-life settings, they get to Mand (ask politely) for petting (instead of jumping).

  • Puppies show off their enrichment-seeking abilities and build confidence on novel object challenges.

  • Puppies learn to love strange and unusual footing, heights, and noises.

  • Sessions are kept short, puppies have naps and learn to relax when visitors come over, all skills they will need in their new homes.

  • Crate Training:

    • Puppies nap in a crate with the door open.

Week 7 - Our final week with momma and littermates!

All that remains this week is for plenty of great socialization experiences and final checks on health, vaccinations and microchips before we leave for our new homes. Our people are going to focus more on bell potty training, using our name when calling for food, and sleeping in our crate through the night, only getting up for a 2am potty break. As the week draws to a close, we will be entering the next fear period which means we will startle or jump at strange sounds and sights. Socialization MUST begin immediately. We’ve been introduced to the concept of sit, wait, heel (loose leash walking), crate training, potty training, manding, and resource guarding. The final concept of these tasks hasn’t been realized yet. Puppy Culture can help new families finish the training we’ve started

Activities:

  • Crate Training:

    • Enter crate when asked.

    • Eat in crate with door closed.

    • Chew bone in crate with door closed.

    • Nap in crate with door closed.

  • Car Training:

    • Puppies chew bones in the car with the engine running.

  • Training begins on: ​

    • To sit on cue.

    • To come when called.

    • To give up a toy.

  • Mock Vet exams, clipping nails, grooming, etc. ​

  • Visit local pet-friendly stores.

  • Wellness visit to vet

  • Receive first round of vaccinations and AKC CAR microchip

Week 8 - Critical Socialization Period With Our New Families

Now that your precious puppy is home, the training must continue! They have been introduced to concepts, but need daily training in order to be a well behaved pet. So, what should going on this week? 

  • Fear periods are a normal part of puppy development, knowing how to deal with them, what to do, and most importantly what not to do, have lifelong implications for the adult dog and it’s family. With the Puppy Culture training, we are able to both recognize when a puppy is experiencing a fear period, to help them through the period, without allowing any trauma that might affect their temperament forever. Watching Puppy Culture and listening to our advice is the best way to get through this fear period without leaving long-term fear. 

  • Training continues as does practice.

  • Sit, Come, Crate on cue, hand targeting, are all continuing. Puppies continue to practice Manding (asking politely).

  • Crate training:

    • Enter Crate when asked.

    • Eat in crate with door closed.

    • Chew bone in crate with door closed.

    • Sleep overnight in crate.

  • Car Training:

    • Puppies have short car ride.

    • More work learning to love giving up: food, toys, bowls, and other resource guarding prevention is done.

  • Passive enrichment is perfect this week! Remember your puppy is not fully vaccinated as you are taking her/him to new places. 

ADDRESS:

Sherrard, IL 61281

Dilutes are known for skin and organ issues.  Because we care about the long-term health of the puppies we produce, we only support the ethical breeding of Labradors in the traditional colors of black, yellows (ranging from white to fox-red), and chocolates (from light to dark).  Dilutes, dilute carriers are not acceptable for our breeding program.  
ALL of our dogs are Dilute Free.