Archive for the ‘Buying A Dog’ Category

Why A Lab May Not Be The Right Dog For You

Kate | June 26th, 2008
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Labrador Retrievers are extraordinarily people-oriented. This means that they have to be in tune with their owners in order to follow specific instructions. The key to understanding this is to look deeper at what Labs were bred to do, and that is to hunt and retrieve.

Look at it this way, these dogs must be in perfect harmony with their hunter/owner in order to follow specific directions to track and fine birds that have fallen to the ground and out of sight. This need for the dog to have hand-held direction carries over to all aspects of a Labrador’s life, especially at home.

This is great for people who enjoy and need constant canine companionship. However, it is bad for dog owners who have a Labrador Retriever but expect the animal to entertain itself with little interaction from the owner.

There are some hunting dogs that were bred to be independent hunters with little interaction and instruction from humans. Examples of these types of dogs are Terriers and Hounds, which lead the way by use of their senses (by smell and sight) with the human hunter striving to keep up with the dog’s pace.

This is not how the Labrador is built. Labs are designed to retrieve, and in doing so they must have a connected attention link directly to the hunter. If a retriever ignores the hunter’s commands then they may hit the water and swim far past where the bird has fallen, and possibly keep swimming out and away.

Well trained retrievers do not make these types of mistakes because they have the innate ability to attend to and follow detailed directions from the hunter. This skill is absolutely critical to being a trustworthy retriever and is one of the reasons that these dogs make excellent service animals and obedience trainees.

This Is Also The Reason Why Many Labs Do Not Do Well With Some Families

You can probably understand by now just how connected and dependent a Labrador Retriever becomes to its owners. It constantly looks to people for leadership and must have human interaction.

Every dog breed is sociable to some extent, some more than others, but Labs require much more attention than most dogs. They do not cope very well when left alone for long periods of time, whether indoors or outdoors. Many families who are away all day and come home to find out that their Lab has destroyed a side door or window trying to escape does not understand why this is happening.

These people are understandably upset and then punish their Labs. A properly educated Lab owner will not react in this way because they know the truth. And the truth is that what causes a Lab to try to escape like this is simply wanting to search out and find its owners. They consider their pack missing and make an attempt to find them outside.

The biggest lesson to take away from this information, especially if you have not yet decided on what type of dog to own and are considering a Labrador Retriever, is to make sure that you have plenty of time to devote to your Lab, day and night. If not, then consider a more independent dog breed. Otherwise, your lovable Lab may soon become increasingly unhappy and will end up a very destructive house pet, or worse, a runaway.

3 Things You Can Count On When Raising A Labrador Retriever

Kate | June 8th, 2008
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To completely understand the true nature of the Labrador Retriever, dog owners must have a firm grasp on the 3 most important aspects that make up this animal’s temperament and personality.

1. Labs Are Natural Born Hunters: Unlike most other hunting dog breeds, Labs do not just wait for its human hunting companion to command them to retrieve fallen birds. These dogs have to be so attentive that they can mark the fallen foul themselves.

It is believed that Labrador Retrievers are more aware of their surroundings than other hunting dogs because of their heritage. When hunting, Labs await for the right signal from their hunter in order to seek out and find the prey. Similarly, at home, they constantly wait by their owner’s side for the next task or command, regardless of what it is. It could be to walk, eat, anything really. This is what makes Labrador Retriever dogs a bit too needy for some dog owners.

2. Labs Must Have Proper Training: As hunters, Labs must be able to follow specific directions in order to find birds. And even if they do not have a direction to move in, they will keep hunting without giving up. In other words, a good Lab literally takes matters into its own hands to get the job done.

These characteristics are great for people to enjoy having a service dog that can take on its own in certain situations. On the other hand, it’s bad for dog owners who are incapable of providing absolutely no direction whatsoever. This is where most problems lie with new Labrador owners.

Many people see perfectly trained Labs at the park or walking with their owners and think to themselves I want one of those dogs. They are so well trained! Little do they realize that these animals are never born trained. It takes continuous progressive dedication to specific training protocols, all based on a Labrador’s genetic make up. This can prove too much work for some people to handle and end up with nothing but problems and frustration with their dog.

3. Labs Are Like A Box Of Chocolates: The last and most important thing to understand with Labrador Retrievers is that they are individualistic and not every Lab is the same. As Forest Gump says, Labrador dogs are like a box of chocolates, they come in all varieties and you never know just what you will get as they grow up.

Most Labs demonstrate the same interests, hunting, running, retrieving, and swimming, but oftentimes you may get a Labrador puppy that may absolutely hate water. And if you are fortunate enough, your Lab may not have an oral fixation, which causes many of these dogs to eat anything they can get a hold of.

The one thing you can definitely count on is that every Labrador Retriever is special and through proper training, attention, and love, you will have a wonderful dog that will display the utmost in loyalty and affection until its last day on earth with you.

The Labrador Retriever: Much More Than A Family Pet

Kate | June 4th, 2008
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Labrador Retrievers have become one of the most popular breeds used today as both assistance dogs and dog guides for the blind. The skills necessary for these two working jobs are extremely varied and are physically and mentally demanding, nevertheless, the Lab has once again proven that its popularity is based on much more than its good looks!

Dog Guides For The Blind

Nobody will forget the amazing story of the brave and courageous yellow Lab named Roselle, who on the disaster of 9/11, guided her vision-impaired owner, Michael Hingson, down 78 stories in the World Trade Center’s Tower One.

The pair exited from the choking smoke, dust and fumes just moments before the entire building collapsed on that horrible day. Roselle was bred, raised and trained by the Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. As amazing at it sounds, she was just doing her jog that day.

A position originally dominated by German Shepherd Dogs in the early 1900s, dog guides for the blind now include a large percentage of Labrador Retrievers, as well as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Lab-Golden Mixes.

The Lab has risen to popularity in this service mostly because of their highly-qualified work ethic needed for such services: a stable temperament, a willingness to work, a moderate size and weight, and a low-maintenance coat.

Assistance Dogs

The type of work an assistance dog can perform is perhaps only limited by a trainer’s imagination. Labs are trained to assist those with limited mobility by picking up dropped items such as pencils, credit cards and keys.

Some dogs are trained to alert hearing-impaired handlers to a knock at the door, a baby crying, or in the case of a child, the sound of the school bell signaling a class change. Other Labs are trained to help disabled individuals to lean on and hold onto.

Some Labs even alert handlers to oncoming seizures before they happen and provide assistance during a seizure. Labrador Retrievers have been taught to pull wheelchairs, turn lights on and off, and even remove the handler’s socks before he or she goes to bed.

The benefits of an assistance dog can be seen at many levels. One of the greatest benefits is that people with assistance dogs regain a sense of independence, as well as an increase in self-esteem and self-worth because they can rely on the dog to help them, rather than have to rely on other people.

Assistance dogs can also serve as ice breakers. Disabled individuals frequently feel shunned because the general public feels uncomfortable in their presence. The company of an assistance dog, particularly a friendly Lab executing amazing skills for the disabled individual, is often the attraction that can facilitate conversation, social interaction and the formation of friendships.