Labrador Retriever – Temperament and Personality
There’s a reason that the Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular, sought after breeds available in the world today. Labs are, generally speaking, classified as “Best all around” when it comes to breeds. With Labs, there are very few hang ups, and most people decide that the good far outweighs the bad.
Man’s Best Friend
When you picture a dog greeting his owner enthusiastically at the door at the end of a long work day, you’re likely picturing a Lab. The Lab is incredibly loyal to his owner, and he is genuinely most excited and happiest in his presence. In addition, if there’s any dog who’s “never met a stranger”, the Lab would be it. He’s simply a lovable, over-sized cuddle-bug who wants nothing more than to befriend every person in his path.
Great Family Dog
This happy-go-lucky, laid-back breed is perfect for families. Labs are patient with kids, they are incredibly gentle, and they love to be loved by all members of the family. Depending on the age of the dog, the Lab is typically one hundred percent content participating in most any family activity, whether that be hiking a trail, playing fetch in the yard, or cuddled up at his owners feet while he watches television after an afternoon of exercise.
Great for Lots of Exercise and Activity
Though the Lab won’t hesitate to sleep right by his owner’s feet if granted the opportunity, he’s not known for being a couch potato by any means. Quite the contrary – Labs need excessive amounts of exercise and will often let you know by their behaviour if they’re not getting enough.
Remember that Labs were bred to hunt; they are, by nature, retrievers, so they love any and every opportunity to exercise their natural ability to retrieve. Hunting, swimming, fetching, running, and chasing a scent are all favoured activities for the Lab, and great ways to wear him out mentally and physically in a way that he truly enjoys.
Though a fenced in backyard is ideal for the Lab, don’t assume he’ll be fine out there without you. Labs are incredibly smart and will become easily bored without owner interaction or mental stimulation.
Training Is Easy
With the Lab being as smart as he is, it would be a shame not to train him. In fact, you’ll find that your Lab is incredibly easy to train, as he craves this attention and mental stimulation. He’s eager to please, ready to learn, willing to work, and all it takes is an owner who’s willing to put in the time to make it happen.
Owners must remember to leave the bad attitude behind in their training endeavours, as the Lab respond best to positive reinforcement (treats and enthusiastic praise). Like many other breeds, Labs might get a little bit bored with the same training routine over and over again, so you might need to change the routine from time to time and make it as much like a game as possible. Labs want nothing more than to play with their owners, so making training time one big game will produce excellent results.
As far as the timing of training, the earlier you start, the better. Lab puppies grow quickly, and they become quite large dogs. Commands like, “Sit”, “Stay”, “Down” and “Heel” are vital commands for a puppy to learn before he becomes difficult to control due to his size. Once basic obedience training has been completed and mastered by your Lab, he will enjoy a more advanced type of training – perhaps some activities that allow him to exercise his agility. He won’t be quite as agile as some other breeds, but make no mistake, he will enjoy the quality time and mental stimulation equally as much, if not more.
Finally, owners must keep in mind that Labs are, by nature, enthusiastic, energetic, overly-friendly and clumsy; an extreme amount of patience is required, as well as an understanding that trying to train your Lab to be something he’s not (a guard dog, for example) will be frustrating and fruitless.
Puppy Labs Can Be Tough
Usually, if someone passes up the opportunity to bring home a Lab, it’s because that person is keenly aware of the reputation of the Lab as a Puppy. All puppies can be difficult; after all, their little minds are still forming as they piece together right from wrong and learn their place in the world. Lab puppies do tend to take this difficulty to new heights. Why? Usually it’s a combination in the amount of energy and enthusiasm they possess along with boredom and a lack of proper exercise.
A bored Lab puppy who isn’t properly exercised will be a big problem for his owners – constant chewing, disobedience, jumping and excessive energy will be incredibly frustrating to deal with, but are all things that are fixable with proper training and a commitment to exercise.
Finally, owners must keep in mind that the “puppy phase” for Labs tends to last much longer than the same phase for other breeds. Labs are clumsy and rambunctious well into adulthood, simply because it’s their nature. An owner who isn’t patient, doesn’t want to take the time to train or exercise, and who doesn’t really enjoy the “puppy phase” likely won’t enjoy having a Lab for the first few years of his life – until age slows him down and relaxes him a bit.
But Adult Labs Make It All Worth It
Once your puppy adheres to training under your leadership and recognizes you as boss, your life will be much easier. Even still, you might find the big puppy in your Lab rears his head well into his adult years. Hopefully you find this endearing, but if, by chance, your patience has suffered, take heart: adult Labs who’ve settled into older age (typically at least 4 or 5) are the best dogs you can possibly have. The seasoned adult Lab has relaxed quite a bit, and though he still has plenty of energy, some of it has dropped off. He still wants nothing more than to be around you, and lives to greet you by the door, to be active with the family, to cuddle up by your feet, and to love you!