My Dog Space
Understanding Labrador Retrievers: Why A Lab May Not Be The Right Dog For You
Labrador Retrievers are extraordinarily people-oriented. This means that they have to be in tune with their owners in order to follow specific instructions. The key to understanding this is to look deeper at what Labs were bred to do, and that is to hunt and retrieve.
Look at it this way, these dogs must be in perfect harmony with their hunter/owner in order to follow specific directions to track and fine birds that have fallen to the ground and out of sight. This need for the dog to have hand-held direction carries over to all aspects of a Labrador’s life, especially at home.
This is great for people who enjoy and need constant canine companionship. However, it is bad for dog owners who have a Labrador Retriever but expect the animal to entertain itself with little interaction from the owner.
There are some hunting dogs that were bred to be independent hunters with little interaction and instruction from humans. Examples of these types of dogs are Terriers and Hounds, which lead the way by use of their senses (by smell and sight) with the human hunter striving to keep up with the dog’s pace.
This is not how the Labrador is built. Labs are designed to retrieve, and in doing so they must have a connected attention link directly to the hunter. If a retriever ignores the hunter’s commands then they may hit the water and swim far past where the bird has fallen, and possibly keep swimming out and away.
Well trained retrievers do not make these types of mistakes because they have the innate ability to attend to and follow detailed directions from the hunter. This skill is absolutely critical to being a trustworthy retriever and is one of the reasons that these dogs make excellent service animals and obedience trainees.
This Is Also The Reason Why Many Labs Do Not Do Well With Some Families
You can probably understand by now just how connected and dependent a Labrador Retriever becomes to its owners. It constantly looks to people for leadership and must have human interaction.
Every dog breed is sociable to some extent, some more than others, but Labs require much more attention than most dogs. They do not cope very well when left alone for long periods of time, whether indoors or outdoors. Many families who are away all day and come home to find out that their Lab has destroyed a side door or window trying to escape does not understand why this is happening.
These people are understandably upset and then punish their Labs. A properly educated Lab owner will not react in this way because they know the truth. And the truth is that what causes a Lab to try to escape like this is simply wanting to search out and find its owners. They consider their ‘pack’ missing and make an attempt to find them outside.
The biggest lesson to take away from this information, especially if you have not yet decided on what type of dog to own and are considering a Labrador Retriever, is to make sure that you have plenty of time to devote to your Lab, day and night. If not, then consider a more independent dog breed. Otherwise, your lovable Lab may soon become increasingly unhappy and will end up a very destructive house pet, or worse, a runaway.