Firstly, thank-you. The very fact that you’re searching for this information means that you most likely are the right type of person to own a Labrador! Choosing a new dog (not just a Lab) is a big deal though and a commitment that not just you, but your whole family needs to sign-up for.
However, with so many different breeds available it can be confusing to know which one suits you best.
Is a Labrador right for me? A Labrador is right for you if you are prepared to make sacrifices over at least the next decade. If you are patient, enjoy exercise, fun-loving, firm (when required) and willing to make changes in your life, then yes – the Lab is most likely right for you.
What does a Labrador need from you?
To be able to provide the Lab the life it needs and deserves, there are some basic things that will underpin your time with them. These things are the foundation of the relationship between you and your dog and without them, your dog will not be as happy as they could be. Let’s explore these basic requirements in a little more detail.
The Labrador Wants and Needs Your Time
Your Lab doesn’t actually need or want for much in its life. Number one on its list though is you and your time. The Labrador is a very social breed of dog and wants to spend as much time as possible around you and your family (if you have one).
This is actually the simplest, cheapest and most important thing you can do for your Lab. You will need to spend as much time as possible with your new family member as you can. It’s important that you consider the future at this time also as we’re not just talking about those first few months when they’re a cute little puppy!
So, what are the things we need to think about here? Well, if you are living on your own and have a full-time job then this most likely means you’re going to be out of your house for long periods of time, each day.
This is not something that’s good for the Lab as it does not enjoy spending time by itself. In fact, it can start suffering from separation anxiety in a small amount of time which can quickly lead to other, more serious health-related problems.
The Labrador is a dog that needs a guarantee that you’re not going to leave it by itself for long periods of time.
The Labrador Needs A Good Diet
Next on the list of mandatory requirements for your Lab is to provide it with a good, healthy diet. This can be a controversial subject as different people (including professionals) have a different opinion on what exactly this is, so you’ll need to apply some common sense.
Whether you choose a raw diet or regular dog food, feeding sessions should be provided as regular as possible. The exact schedule will change over time as a puppy’s requirements will be different from an adult dog but regular feeding times will contribute to a stress-free life for your Lab and help keep anxiety-levels down.
Whatever diet you choose though you will need to be prepared to monitor their health and be prepared to change this diet if they have an unusual reaction to anything you’ve provided.
Your Labrador will need exercise!
The third brick in the foundation, but no less important than the others is the requirement and commitment from you and your family to provide regular exercise for your Lab. This exercise does not mean a 5-minute trot around your back yard but at least two hour-long sessions a day.
The Labrador has a lot of energy and this needs to be used up. Keeping them shut-up inside can not only mean they will most likely put on weight and become unhealthy but a lack of exercise can lead to depression and an increase in anxiety levels.
It doesn’t only do your Lab good though! The health benefits for you are as equally beneficial as they are for your dog. Getting regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress in us humans as well as doggies 🙂
Formal training and socialization of your Labrador
They may not thank you at the time but one of the best things you can (and must) do for your Lab is to give them good training and socialization. Both should occur as soon as you get it and actually, training should continue for the course of their life.
Many people don’t like to train their dog as it requires giving them orders which can make the owner feel the whole thing is quite unfair. Dogs don’t think the same as us though.
A dog needs to know who is in charge and it makes them understand their place (you will be the pack-leader) and dramatically reduces the levels of anxiety they can feel. They should understand basic instructions (such as ‘sit’, ‘stop’, ‘no’, ‘down’, etc.) – this is even more important if you have children (who should also understand this training).
Socialization will help your Lab become used to other animals (especially cats) at a young age and will mean they are less likely to act negatively when they see them later in life.
What does a Labrador give us in return?
Your Labrador will change your life. If you suffer from being a bit low sometimes then having a Lab around the house will most likely dramatically improve your well-being. It’s practically impossible to be sad when you see those eyes and that tail wagging furiously!
You Lab will be your companion, your soul-mate and maybe even your best friend for the next decade (and probably more). You will share memories that you will never forget and will bond in a way you didn’t previously think possible.
The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog in the US and for good reason. They make an ideal first-time dog, especially for a family environment.
They will give your children (if you have them) a great start in life and will help them understand how to interact, bond and take-care-of other animals. It will give them confidence and will help you get them out of the house to get some exercise.
It’s hard to put into words quite what a Labrador gives you. It’s more of a feeling. You look forward to seeing them each day and when they’re not well it’s almost like one of your kids is unwell. The relationship is a very special thing.
Are you the right person to own a Labrador?
The type of person you are will dictate whether you are a good match for a Labrador. As I said earlier, the very fact that you’re reading this suggests that you are!
To be compatible with a Labrador you have to be prepared to make sacrifices and potentially make some pretty drastic changes in your life. The days of going away for a two-week vacation in the Sun are potentially over as you’ll now need to find somewhere that takes your Lab also. The ideal owner wouldn’t consider a kennel – the dog goes where they go!
You ideally will have some strong components to your character as you’ll need to be firm, sometimes when you really don’t want to be, for the good of the dog. You’ll need to be patient, forgiving and up for getting out of the house for at least a couple of hours, each day.
You’ll also have to have a bit of money. Keeping a Labrador healthy, fed well and with the right equipment (not forgetting the many, many toys you’ll end up getting) is going to cost you quite a bit of money. Make sure you can afford the costs (including insurance) for the next 15 years.
What are you doing for the next 10-15 years?
It’s a big commitment. Your life will change and you need to be prepared for it. For the course of your Lab’s life, there will be many changes that you will have to make, compared to your previous existence. You will wonder what you did with yourself before they came along. You will wonder why you didn’t do this 10 years earlier!
Having a dog is in some ways a lot like having a child. You will need to take care of them when they’re ill, play with them when they’re bored. You will need to make sure they stay healthy by getting them enough exercise and you will need to discipline them when they’ve done something they shouldn’t have.
The day you start your Lab ownership will be the start of a different type of life for you and for your family. You will have less time to do the things you used to do, you will have less money to buy the things you used to, but you will be happier.
Are you prepared to make changes to keep your Labrador happy?
Hopefully, by reading the above you will have an idea as to what sacrifices you will need to make if you are to owner one of these very special breeds of dog. You and your family will need to spend as much time as you can with this little bundle of joy for many, many years.
Talking of your family, if you’re worried as to whether the Lab might bite – then it might be worth checking out this article that clarifies everything for you!
Although there will be changes, are they bad ones? If you’re thinking that no, the positives far outweigh any negatives – then you are probably well suited for each other. Let the journey begin!