It's hard to resist a lovable Lab. However, some people should resist them. Although the Labrador retriever has many sterling qualities, typical Lab behavior can be trying for novice dog owners. You also need the right living conditions -- this is not a breed for a small apartment.
If you've ever watched young children run around and wonder where they get that much energy, multiple that exuberance by several factors for a young Lab. These dogs don't really start to chill until the age of four or so. Remember, they were developed as sporting dogs, accompanying their masters out in the hunt field or helping fishermen with their work. If you love the breed but can't handle puppy and adolescent energy, consider adopting an older, mellowed Lab from a shelter or rescue group.
There's a reason Labs frequently serve as guide dogs for the blind and disabled. Smart and eager to please, Labs are relatively easy dogs to train. That means it's important to train them correctly, because the Lab can pick up bad habits as easily as good ones. If you purchase or adopt a young Lab, consider taking him to obedience classes to point him in the right direction and give you a way to bond as you both practice these skills. Your Lab wants to be a good dog -- give him the opportunity.
Labrador retriever registrations generally top the annual American Kennel Club rankings. It's not hard to figure out why - - Labs make great companions. They love their people, and are loyal and devoted. Labs usually get along with all members of the family, even fellow furry ones. Most of them are outgoing, although you may find the occasional Lab exhibiting shy, submissive behavior. Some Labs may become anxious. Spend lots of time with your dog, giving him confidence. Consult a trainer or vet if the behavior worsens.
Not A Watchdog
Don't get a Lab if you're looking for a watchdog. He's the type of dog who would welcome burglars into the house and show them where the jewelry is, just to be a pal. Labs don't bark much, which can be a good thing but also means you'll know someone's at the door before he does. Or he knows someone's at the door but won't bother to let you know. You may find exceptions to this Lab behavior, but many other breeds do a better job of guarding the premises.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.