My Dog Space
Understanding Labrador Retrievers: Does Your Lab Have An Oral Fixation?
Labrador Retriever dogs were bred to be excellent hunting dogs with the power, stamina, and motivation to chase down fallen game and swim as far needed to bring back the prey to its hunter.
Even today, these dogs have an innate inner drive to retrieve. With utmost focus and determination, Labs take their retrieving jobs seriously. And even though most of these dogs are house pets today and do not hunt, they are just as driven when chasing a tennis ball or fetching a stick.
Labradors were created and developed to use the power of their jaws just like a strong hand. During practically every waking moment they feel the need to put something in their mouths, and without the presence of a bird or other small animal, they will grab onto anything they can. This is fantastic for people who love playing fetch with their dog but it’s not so good for those dog owners that hate when their pets are constantly putting items in its mouth.
Labs Have An Oral Fixation
Many families run out and buy a puppy without doing an ounce of research as to what type of dog they are getting involved in and how the animal will behave based on its genetic make-up. Labrador Retrievers, for example, literally have an oral fixation due to hundreds of years of breeding specifically for grabbing fallen birds into their mouths when hunting. This behavior most definitely carries over into their daily lives.
An educated Lab owner understands that any object within their dog’s reach is considered fair game and they would never dream of scolding the dog for such behavior (except for biting of course). Bad Lab owners consider this behavior destructive and will scold or even hit the animal in an attempt to get the dog to stop grabbing stuff in its mouth.
Of course there is a fine line between letting your Lab express its inner retrieving needs, and letting the animal absolutely destroy anything in the house it can eat. This is where specific training and obedience lessons come in. These dogs are natural chewers and you must take provisions for their tendency to chew by using a crate and dog proofing your house.
Constant supervision and creating daily playtime sessions with your Lab is a requirement for both you and your dog to be healthy. If you choose not to participate in the proper upbringing and training that a Lab requires, more than likely you are going to be frustrated and unhappy while your dog becomes increasingly bored and destructive.