We’ve all seen the adorable 6 week old puppies on the Andrex advertisements and to many, this may seem the ultimate answer to their desire for a dog, but before deciding, there are many things that have to be considered.
Writing as a confirmed Labrador lover, never happier than when I am surrounded by my canine family, the things that I find are just part of being a Labrador owner, may NOT be acceptable to you.
For a start, the tiny puppy that you bring home in your arms, is within a very short space of time going to wet (or worse) on your carpet, get you up at night (at least, initially) and chew up all manner of objects. Some chew wood, such as the legs of your dining chairs and table, or the doors of your kitchen units. Others go for plastic, children’s toys, tea towels, books, house plants, you name it, and they’ve eaten it. Obviously, things improve as the puppy grows, but as it grows, it can also reach higher!
Assuming you feel you can cope with the above, there are other points you need to consider, the main one being, whether you have sufficient time to give a growing puppy the attention and training that it needs, to enable it to grow up to be a happy, well trained and socialised dog that is a pleasure to live with. Labradors generally have a strong desire to please their owners and are naturally biddable, but still need to be shown what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.
Then there is exercise. Are you prepared to take your dog out for a walk every single day? Do you have access to somewhere safe where your dog can have a good free run, off the lead, with no danger from traffic? An adult Labrador will need this. It is not enough just to let them in the garden, or for a quick 10 minutes walk “round the block”. Your Labrador will not care in the least, if it’s pouring with rain, blowing a gale or whether you have the ‘flu, he still needs his walk. Without it, boredom soon sets in, and he will find some method of relieving his boredom and it will undoubtedly be something of which you would not approve.
Labradors have a reputation for being very good with young children. Children and Labradors can be excellent friends and Labradors are usually very tolerant, but you need to ask yourself are your children the right companions for a dog. Will they tease a puppy, wake it when it needs to be resting, or poke fingers where they shouldn’t? Would they be nervous of a dog? If they are young toddlers, they could easily be knocked over by a boisterous, excited dog with a strong waggy tail. If so, it would probably be better to wait until the children are a little older, and they can then participate in training and looking after the puppy.
A Labrador is a natural family dog and revels in being “one of the family”. They are never happier than when they are with their people (their pack), whether out for a walk, doing some gardening, going for a ride in the car, or just sleeping by the fireside. They are not happy if left alone for long periods, and if you are out all day or for a substantial part of the day, then you should seriously consider whether a Labrador (or any dog for that matter) is right for you.
There are many breed specific books that have been written about the Labrador Retriever, and I would recommend a visit to your local lending library, where I am sure you will be able to find a book that will give you a deeper understanding of the responsibilities and pleasures of owning a Labrador, and also some idea of what you need to be looking for when you buy a puppy.