Are you planning on bringing home a Labrador? Tell you what – it’s going to be an exciting and joyous experience. These lovable large breed dogs are known for their friendly nature, intelligence, and boundless energy.
Voted American Kennel Club’s second most popular dog breed of 2022, labradors are very fun to have around in general. However, being a responsible labrador owner requires more than just affection. You might even say that it can take a lot of work to keep this breed of pooch happy, affectionate, and loyal.
According to Lemonade, owning a labrador can cost you around $22,000 over the dog’s lifetime. Of course, many lab owners go on to spend between $70,000 and $180,000 on their dogs over their lifetimes. USA Today, on the other hand, reports that the average yearly cost of owning a dog is around $4,512.
Thus, right from the start, it’s evident that having a labrador is a huge investment. This investment, however, isn’t just limited to finances. You also have to invest a great deal of time and effort if you’re looking to have a lab around the house.
In this article, we will delve into a few key insights that every new labrador owner must know.
Understanding the Labrador Temperament
Labradors are known for their friendly and outgoing nature. Many experts go on to call labs the best family dogs. After all, labradors are social animals that thrive on human companionship.
These dogs are known for their gentle disposition, making them suitable for households with children. However, it’s important to note that labradors can sometimes be quite exuberant, especially in their younger years. Proper training and socialization are essential to harness their enthusiasm and ensure a well-mannered companion.
Labradors are also known to be intelligent dogs. This makes them capable of taking on roles like guide dogs, guard dogs, etc.
However, some studies do question the intelligence of some labrador variants. For instance, research published in Scientific Reports suggests that labrador retrievers are ranked among the lowest of all breeds in terms of intelligence. Therefore, you need to see how smart your lab is before assigning them key roles like guarding the house or being a therapy dog.
Exercise is Crucial for a Happy Labrador
Labradors are an energetic breed and they require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. A rather mundane or inactive lifestyle can lead to them developing obesity and behavioral issues.
Take your pooch out on walks or simply play fetch with them. You can also engage your lab in activities like swimming.
Most labradors have a natural affinity for water, thanks to their water-resistant coat and webbed feet. Incorporating water-based activities into their routine can be both enjoyable and beneficial for their health.
Choosing the Right Diet
Proper nutrition is a cornerstone of a labrador’s overall health. As their pet parent, you must provide your lab with a balanced and nutritious diet. The diet must be properly tailored to your dog’s age, size, and activity level. Also, as labradors tend to gain weight rather quickly, consider monitoring their food intake and avoiding overfeeding.
Since we’re talking about a large breed here, you’ll also want to feed them something rich in naturally occurring microorganisms and different beneficial bacteria. If it’s an older lab, you also need to select adult dog formulas with guaranteed probiotics in them for building the dog’s immune system. According to PetCareRx, Diamond Pet Foods is the ideal brand you should be going for.
The Diamond Naturals dog food contains ingredients like whole grain brown rice and dried chicory root. It’s also rich in soluble and insoluble fibers. This type of food can help large dog breeds develop their bone structures and reduce the chances of developing bone issues. The fibers present in this type of food will also help your lab with their digestion.
Such nutritious and high-quality dog food, along with occasional treats in moderation, will contribute to a healthy and happy pet.
Grooming and Care Routine
Labradors have a short coat that sheds throughout the year, with increased shedding during seasonal changes. Regular grooming is necessary to keep their coat in good condition and minimize shedding.
Brushing your labrador at least two to three times a week helps remove loose hair, prevents matting, and promotes a healthy coat. Aside from brushing, routine care includes checking ears for signs of infection, trimming nails, and dental care.
Also, you should know that labradors are prone to ear infections, so inspecting and cleaning their ears regularly is crucial. Maintaining good dental hygiene, such as brushing their teeth and providing dental treats, can help prevent dental issues in the long run.
Training for Obedience and Mental Stimulation
Labradors are trainable, but you need to train them early and consistently to ensure good behavior. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work well with labradors since they are always eager to please their owners.
Mental stimulation is also vital for labradors. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and varied activities can prevent boredom and keep their minds active. Engaging in regular training sessions and providing mental challenges will not only strengthen your bond but also contribute to a well-adjusted and content labrador.
Socialization and Positive Experiences
Labradors are social animals that thrive on positive interactions with humans and other dogs. Early socialization is crucial to help them develop into well-adjusted adults. Exposing your pooch to various environments, people, and other animals early on will help prevent aggression.
Encourage positive experiences with different people, places, and situations. Enroll your lab in puppy socialization classes if needed, helping them expose themselves to a variety of stimuli to build confidence and reduce anxiety.
In conclusion, bringing a labrador into your home is an amazing experience. However, know that taking care of this special companion of yours comes with responsibilities that extend beyond providing food and shelter. By committing to these tips, you can ensure the well-being of your furry canine companion and foster a strong and lasting bond. Labradors, with their affectionate nature and unwavering loyalty, can become cherished members of the family when provided with the care and attention they deserve.