About Labrador Retrievers
While not being the ideal indoor pet, Labrador retrievers are one of the best breeds for any kind of assistance, as well as if they are supposed to be around children. Their mild temperament, high train ability and incredible loyalty to the whole family is something to be desired regardless if you are looking to find a pet, a service dog, or an emotional support animal.
Labradors are on the upper scale when it comes to intelligence, and while not being on the same level as Bearded Collies or Poodles, they are significantly easier to train and are more willing to listen to your commands rather than to go off on their own. Additionally, unlike some breeds, they don’t hold a grudge which is why they are such a common choice for service animals. The only downside of this high intelligence is that, as with people, you will be able to see which dog is smarter and which one is not.
Additionally, Labradors are somewhat easy to maintain if you stick to regular grooming. While they can shed a lot, this will not be a large issue even indoors if you regularly brush them and give them a nice bath now and then. Generally, Labrador retrievers are not picky eaters like some other dog breeds which is important as they can be overfed, but they will require a well-balanced diet if you want them to stay healthy and active up to their old age.
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of a breed such as a Labrador as they can suffer a lot from under eating, overeating, or eating substances that are very harmful to them. Like most breeds, they will eat anything (and we mean anything) that their owners are eating, and unlike humans who have developed omnivore resistances for several hundreds of thousands of years, Labradors as a breed are less than five hundred years old, and they were predominantly carnivores for the entirety of that period.
Most spicy food like peppers or garlic, as well as eggplant, avocado, and onions, are very harmful to them and should be avoided at all costs. As with all pets, any alcohol, chocolate, tobacco, or caffeine should be avoided at all costs as even a small amount of these substances in the dog’s diet can leave lasting negative effects to the dog’s health. A Labrador needs between 1500 and 1900 calories each day, depending on their size, sex, and general activity. Pregnant Labradors need up to 2500 calories per day as well as slightly more oligo-elements then during regular nutrition.
The base for Labrador nutrition should be meat, fat, and bone, with carbohydrates added only as a filler or supplement. While dry foods are the easiest to store and distribute, you should treat a dog to raw, unprocessed food as it will have enzymes and nutrients that are much more acceptable to the dog’s digestive tract.
If you have opted to buy dog food rather than to cook it yourself, you will need to pay close attention to the nutritional values stated on the container and to supplement any minerals or vitamins that are not included.
Grooming Labs is relatively easy as they are not as feisty when exposed to water as some other breeds. Dogs of this breed that are well trained and that feel comfortable will appreciate brushing and even washing as they will be spending more time with the owner.
Daily brushing is not necessary, but it will have no bad effects on the dog and will prevent them from leaving their hairs everywhere they go. Washing should be done only when the dog is dirty and starts to excrete a particular smell, which should be around once a month, depending on the environment where the dog lives. If it is mostly an indoor dog in a well-kept household, this may even spread to once in two or three months.
All other grooming practices should be situational as well, as they depend on the daily routine of the dog. If you are taking the dog to the park often and it gets a lot of exercise on the soft grass and ground, clipping nails will be an infrequent occurrence. But, if you are keeping your dog inside the house and usually walking only on solid pavement, monthly pedicure should be in order.
Similarly, dogs that are not exposed that much to tall grass and outdoor foliage have a very small chance for ticks and flees, which should be checked for as the same time you are visiting the vet, probably every six months. A dog that spends a lot of time outside, or around other dogs, should be checked for ticks, flees, and other pests regularly. The best way to go around this is to keep your eyes open while you cuddle with the dog and to regularly check their belly, as well as under their legs and behind their ears.
Labradors are generally very active dogs, and if they are given proper nutrition, they will want to run, play, and jump around quite a bit, up until their old age. This is a blessing and a curse depending on the routine of the owner, as there are multiple negative effects on both the dog’s health and their psychology if they do not spend all of that energy regularly.
Compared to most average humans, Labradors can run for much longer and have much more energy. This means that unless you are an active jogger, you will not be able to drain the dog without some creativity. The best way to go about this is by playing catch. There is a reason why this dog is called a retriever because it retrieves things. Throw the ball as far as you can and let the dog get it back. An hour of this a day should be enough for the dog to be relaxed and for you not to feel like a veteran of MLB.
Labradors are one of the easiest dogs to train, and if you are calm and patient, you may have your dog obey all kinds of commands and even be able to assist you in different tasks. This breed is commonly used as service dogs and is possible to be trained as Seeing Eye dogs and even rescue dogs. If you wish for your Labrador retriever puppy to be taught this way you will need help from a professional dog trainer that is skilled in this specific type of training.
Training of Labrador puppies to be emotional support animals is somewhat easier than training them to be service dogs as they have a natural tendency to be calm and relaxed around people. Still, some training from a licensed professional might benefit the pups greatly, as there are a few tricks a dog should learn as to be the best emotional support dog possible.
If you wish to do basic training, positive reinforcement is the way to go. You can start recall training from the day you bring the puppy home, as they will learn to recognize their name and to come back whenever you call them. Finally, you will need to teach them how to fetch, as this will assist you greatly in exercising the dog once it is bigger and starts to have more energy than you.
While some genetic issues are more commonly found in Labradors than in other breeds, like retinal atrophy and deafness, these are relatively rare and can be worked around to give a dog a good life regardless, and even make it useful as an emotional support dog.
In the 21st century, Labradors and humans have a same biggest problem, and that is obesity. Most issues that come are a factor in overeating as these dogs will eat until there is food, and if you put more in their bowl than they need they will gain weight rapidly. Elbow and hip dysplasia are very frequent for overweight Labradors as well as those that do not get regular exercise.
If you want to keep your Labrador healthy, you will need to balance their diet and to exercise them regularly. Checkups with the veterinarian once or twice a year should also be beneficial.
Finally, being one of the breeds that are easiest to train while still being a loyal and loving dog, a Labrador is a good choice for the majority of people. They are intelligent, kind, and patient, and will be of great help to its owner.