So, you have a new Labrador Retriever, or you are considering getting one? Well, congratulations! You will not be disappointed by adding a lab to your family and/or household. They make wonderful pets and are some of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet. There is a reason that so many families with small children love their Labs. But, no matter how wonderful your new pet is, you undoubtedly have questions and concerns about bringing home this new furry family member. So, we have compiled a list of 10 things to expect when you are expecting a Labrador:
Here are the basics:
1. House training: All dogs require training about where to do “their business” but Labradors are smart and eager to please their owners, so they tend to be very easy to train. Stock up on puppy pads, carpet cleaner, pet deodorizers and newspaper before your new buddy comes home. You may also need a kennel in the beginning, even if you do not plan on using one long term. Kenneling is a great way to teach dogs to “hold it” because they will not want to use the bathroom in their cage and be stuck sitting in it all day. They will soon learn to wait until you let them out.
2. Feeding: Feeding a lab is not much different than feeding any other domesticated dog. They are not particularly picky eaters and do not have sensitive stomachs. They do, however, require a human who will look out for their dietary needs. Scraps from the table and Milkbones do not make up a balanced dog diet. So, buy some decent quality food (check the ingredients to make sure it’s got meat toward the top of the ingredient list) and plan to feed them according to the bag’s instructions. If your dog is a puppy, you may want to choose a puppy food that is specifically suited to the little ones. If your dog is an older dog, perhaps a rescue, then they make senior foods, as well.
3. Sleep: Just as with a child, it is important to start good sleep habits early. The dog will become accustomed to whatever sleep arrangements you offer. If you let them into your bed the first night or two, be prepared for that to be his or her expectation moving forward. Purchase a kennel, dog pillow or bed, or just lay a nice soft blanket out for sleeping. Make sure that they know right where they belong at night.
4. Fur: The best advice that you can get when it comes to getting a new dog is to buy as many lint rollers as you can and invest in a really great vacuum. Dogs shed and Labs are no exception. They are not known as being one of the breeds that sheds the most, but they do shed. In this regard, good habits early are again going to be key. If you want to keep your dog off of the couch, then do so from the very beginning. If you prefer for your dog to sleep on his bed rather than on yours, set that expectation from jump-street. Your life will be much easier later.
5. Personality: Labradors are easy to train and, generally, very sweet and laid-back. But, they are still capable of becoming wild or out of control if not cared for properly. Dogs are animals and if their owners do not show them love and affection, it is not unreasonable to expect that they will revert to their basic instincts and become aggressive or wary of people. If you want a dog who is sociable and friendly, you need to socialize them. You also need to build a bond of trust early so that they feel safe with you and with people, in general.
Questions to Consider:
6. Puppy or Older Dog? Are you getting a puppy or have you decided to adopt an older dog? Well, their needs will be quite different. You would not treat a newborn in the same way that you would a teenager. So, you should use the same logic when dealing with your fur baby. An older dog may have had experiences that make he or she skiddish toward people. You will have to regain their trust. A puppy, on the other hand, may have no idea at all how to deal with people and will need to be trained from scratch. An older dog will likely have less energy than a puppy, as well.
7. Who is the Leader of the Pack? There can only be one dominant personality between you and your dog. And, it has to be you. If you let your dog become a an “alpha” in your home, you will be in a world of trouble. Again, Labs are not the types of dogs who tend to put up a fight. Your canine friend will likely be easy enough to “get into line.” But, start training early with simple orders like “sit” and “stay” and always reward good, obedient behavior. A dog who feels like you have things under control will feel safe and will often gladly hand over the “top dog” title to you.
At the end of the day, the more time you spend bonding with your dog the happier that you both will be. The most important things is to establish a bond of trust and love so that everything else falls into place more easily. Potty training, eating, sleeping and routines will all be easier once you have established the relationship.
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