Before you buy a puppy

Before you buy a Labrador… by Stacey Green
     You may be interested in purchasing a Labrador for a variety of reasons. Regardless of whether you are looking for a pet, a hunting dog, an obedience competitor, a therapy dog or a show dog, deciding to own a Lab means making a serious long term commitment.
     Taking responsibility for another living creature demands time and expense. The Labrador Retriever has many fine qualities which have contributed to making it one of the most popular breeds. They make wonderful family companions and working dogs with equal skill and enthusiasm. Labs are adaptable, willing to please, gentle, courageous and dependable. But it isn’t all a fairytale story and serious consideration should be taken before making the commitment of making a Lab part of your family. We’d like to share some of those fine qualities with you, along with some of the less commendable ones. If you get a Lab, you should be prepared to accept the bad with the good.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Here are some things you may want to consider before bringing home that adorable Lab puppy:

1.Time.
Labs are very people-oriented and will not be happy or thrive locked in a kennel or backyard without human contact. They are also energetic and will require lots of exercise (play). They love to run, retrieve, swim and just take walks in the park – any will do but it is daily so make sure you have the time and energy. Also, they need some training. The good news is that they are smart and easily trained but again, it takes time. The Labrador is smart. This is why Labs are so often used for therapy, detection and guide dog work. However, inexperienced owners sometimes neglect to train their new puppies. The result — an intelligent 65-85 pound, strong, energetic, unruly animal accustomed to getting his own way. Most breeders strongly suggest you and your puppy enroll in an obedience class.

2.Upkeep.
While we’re on that topic, did we mention that they shed…. and that hair will stick to everything (places you have not yet imagined)? An un-spayed female usually blows coat (sheds a lot of her coat) about twice a year, usually with her heat cycle. All other Labradors will shed moderately throughout the year and more heavily when the seasons change. So, if you hate dog hair or have allergies to dog hair, then this breed is the wrong breed for you. The good news is that the Labrador requires very little upkeep. They need a bath occasionally and brushed as needed, more often during shedding season. Nails need to be clipped regularly. Ears should be checked often and kept clean and healthy. Also, they should be fed a well-balanced, high-quality food.

3.Patience.
It will take love and patience to endure the chewing your puppy will do, the messes he will make and the holes he will dig… and did we mention the shedding? Labs can take two to three years to grow up and may act like a puppy for a long time. It is likely you could have a 70 lb. dog that still acts like a big puppy. The good news is that the Labrador has a wonderful temperament. However, like people, Labs can exhibit a wide range of dispositions. The Lab can be easy-going and quiet or energetic and bouncy. This is a very important point to discuss with the breeder. Ask questions, and be clear as to what sort of pet are looking for.
     Labrador Retrievers make wonderful family companions and working dogs with equal skill and enthusiasm. Labs are adaptable, willing to please, gentle, courageous and dependable.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1.Is there a place in you life for a dog?

2.Does everyone in the household agree with acquiring a puppy?

3.Will someone be available during the day to feed and let the puppy out?

4.Do you anticipate any life changes that would prevent you from having a dog?

5.Are you prepared to exercise our puppy?

6.Do you have adequate space for a Lab to live and exercise?

7.Do you have time to train a puppy?

8.Are you prepared for damage to your house and possessions that your puppy may do?

9.Can you afford the medical care, feed and supply costs associated with dog ownership?

Serious consideration should be taken before making the commitment of making a Lab part of your family. This commitment is time consuming and long term and this decision should be well thought out and planned. Never purchase a Labrador as an impulse buy. Don’t even look at the cute puppies, whether they are in Wal-Mart parking lot, the pet store, or here at Byers Peak, because those precious faces can melt your heart and they are hard to refuse. Think of the Labrador as a grown dog that will be living as part of your family for around fifteen years.