The Labrador Retriever, also known as simply Labrador or Lab, is one of several kinds of retrievers, a type of gun dog. Labradors are athletic, playful, and the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in Denmark, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States (since 1991).
A favourite assistance dog breed in these and other countries, Labradors are frequently trained to aid people who are blind and people with autism, act as therapy dogs, and perform screening and detection work for law enforcement and other official agencies. They are prized as sporting and waterfowl hunting dogs. A few kennels breeding dogs were in England; at the same time a combination of sheep protection policy (Newfoundland) and rabies quarantine (England) led to their gradual demise in Canada, their country of origin.
Labradors have a reputation as a very even-tempered breed and an excellent family dog. This includes a good reputation with children of all ages and other animals. Some lines, particularly those that have continued to be bred specifically for their skills at working in the field (rather than for their appearance), are particularly fast and athletic. Their fun-loving boisterousness and lack of fear may require training and firm handling at times to ensure it does not get out of hand—an uncontrolled adult can be quite problematic. Females may be slightly more independent than males. Labradors mature at around three years of age; before this time they can have a significant degree of puppy-like energy, often mislabelled as being hyperactive. Because of their enthusiasm, leash-training early on is suggested to prevent pulling when full-grown. Labradors often enjoy retrieving a ball endlessly (often obsessively) and other forms of activity (such as agility, frisbee, or flyball).
Labradors are a breeze to train. They possess a strong desire to please and will do anything for some affection and a treat or two. Some owners find them to be a challenge because they are so rambunctious, but the key is to start them off as puppies and keep training interesting and fun. Labs love to play, and if they think training is a game, will participate with great earnest. Training should start early, as Labs grow quickly and if they don’t have basic commands mastered early on, can be too large to reign in. They also behave like puppies for many years, so patience is an absolute must with a Lab. No matter how obedient they are, they simply can’t help themselves but to jump and bounce, so “down” and “stay” should be understood early on.
Caring for a Pet
Taking care of a pet can help children develop social skills. However, certain guidelines apply:
- Since very young children (under the age of 3-4 years) do not have the maturity to control their aggressive and angry impulses, they should be monitored with pets at all times.
- Young children (under 10 years) are unable to care for a large animal, a cat or a dog, on their own.
- Parents must oversee the pet’s care even if they believe their child is old enough to care for a pet.
- If children become lax in caring for a pet, parents may have to take over the responsibility on their own.
- Children should be reminded in a gentle, not scolding way, that animals, like people, need food, water, and exercise.
- If a child continues to neglect a pet, a new home may have to be found for the animal.
- Parents serve as role models. Children learn responsible pet ownership by observing their parents’ behavior.