Why Labradors Make Great Pets
Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog breed in the United States for the past quarter of a century. They come in black, yellow and chocolate, and make wonderful pets, particularly for active families who love to be outdoors. Labs are friendly, enthusiastic, loyal, good-looking, trainable and intelligent. They get very excited around people and love to play. If you like positive energy and a lovable demeanor, and do not mind regular exercise, moderate shedding and the occasional sock-chewing, a Lab just might make for a perfect addition to your family.
Why a Labrador Retriever?
Labs are great at making people smile. They are charming, silly and always romping around. They will play fetch for hours and, if given the chance, will often wear out even the fittest of owners. Experts recommend, therefore, that Labs get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, though they will be up for much more than that if you have the time and inclination. Imagine how much fun it would be to have the most positive companion possible along with you on your next jog or hike!
Labs are biddable and tend to do well with obedience training. Not only do they love to please their owners, they respond with gusto to treats and attention, which makes them willing to modify their behavior in order to receive rewards. If it sounds like I am encouraging you to bribe your dog that is because I am. Believe me, there is nothing quite as adorable as a Lab, with tongue and tail wagging, waiting in ecstasy for a bone after following instructions. No one is more overjoyed than a Lab when their owner tells them they have done a good job, and who would not want to be a part of that?
For parents worried about safety, Labs are usually tolerant of poking, prodding and ear-pulling, which makes them trustworthy companions for young children. They are very sweet and love all sorts of attention, even if it is sometimes of a kind that other more temperamental pets may not like. Labs make great outdoor pals for older children. Because Labs are so intelligent and love to help, they will often be on the lookout for the safety and best interest of your loved ones. With toddlers and the elderly, however, a degree of supervision is usually necessary as Labs are large and exuberant, and do not generally understand their own strength. An excited Lab can very easily knock a vulnerable and unsuspecting person off their feet.
Rules and Expectations
What limits should be set for your dog’s behavior? This is a question worth thinking over. Labs are not born with an understanding of what human society expects from their behavior. They can become an overwhelming presence in your home when not taught expectations and boundaries. Though you may enjoy a playful hug and a great big slobbery kiss from a 60-pound love machine, a visitor might not be as keen on the welcome. And while it’s great to have a furry vacuum to clean up food messes on the floor, it’s not as great when that same furry vacuum sucks a perfectly cooked filet mignon from off your plate, and then turns around a begs for more. The good news is that a patient, consistent and loving owner will make for a patient, obedient and loving Lab. It is all up to the owner to set the rules.
Sprint, Sniff, Dig and Play
Labs LOVE to be outside. Once they get a sniff of that fresh air, they will be grinning from ear-to-ear and ready to explore and play. For homeowners, it is best to have some sort of enclosure around your property, otherwise Labs will chase after anything that catches their fancy, including cars. Labs also love to dig. If that is a concern for you and your yard, there are steps available to avoid this issue.
If you live in an apartment and don’t have direct access to controlled space, it is recommended that you either keep your Lab on a leash or you take them some place where they can chase and play without getting into too much trouble. Labs are highly social creatures and customarily get along well with other dogs. Even if you do not have your own outdoor space, a Lab will love going to the park, meeting new friends and chasing a tennis ball all day long. Sit back and smile while your Lab sprints around like a maniac.
Lab puppies have a strong drive to protect their food and toys. They may growl or show their teeth if someone tries to take these things away from them. In a loving and attentive home, it is not necessary for a Lab to protect its resources as it would need to in the wild. Consistent training helps to break Labs of this habit and reminds them that they will be cared for always. Though it is rare for this breed of dog to bite, it is likeliest to happen when a person does not heed their warnings and continues to antagonize them without understanding the nature of the dog.
Labs, because of their breeding history, are born with the instinct to use their mouths to hunt and retrieve game. They always like to be chewing on something. It is important, as an owner, to have a toy or bone available for your Lab to gnaw on at all times, or you could find yourself rescuing articles of clothing and prized personal possessions from your new best friend’s jaws. Young puppies in particular use their mouths to play. They do not mean harm they just need to have an object handy to satisfy their natural inclinations.
If you have ever talked to a Lab owner, you know that Labs shed. Some shed a small amount for the majority of the year and let loose the big stuff at seasonally appointed times, while others shed consistently all year round. This is a part of owning a Lab and there is really no way to get around it. Most owners get used to it and accept it as part of the territory. If you consider yourself a neat-freak, you should know that Labs do not tend to share your obsession with cleanliness.
Memories and Stories
I have mentioned some of the possible difficulties involved with owning a Lab. This may seem like a strange thing to do in an article about why Labs make great pets, but I did it to awaken hopefully within the reader the understanding that owning a Lab is a commitment not without challenges. These challenges to be overcome, along with the effort put in to building a loving and trusting relationship with your new family member are a part of the whole wonderful process of owning a Lab. The journey is truly remarkable.
Labs live on average 10-12 years. Because they are so loving and social, they will likely imprint themselves on you and your family for a lifetime. And when you gather at holidays and on special occasions and look back at your lives together, there will always be hundreds of stories and cherished memories available to share about your furry friend. What more could be expected from a great pet!