Labrador Retrievers are the number one dog breed in the United States. Because of their popularity, you can find them for sale in newspapers, on the internet, through breeders, and rescue programs. When adding a Labrador to your family, it’s hard to resist grabbing the first cute puppy that you see. But, if you make a hasty decision without some due diligence, it’s very possible that your cute puppy could turn into a dog with behavioral issues or serious health problems.
Visit a Breeder
I recommend visiting several breeders in your area to learn more about Labrador Retreivers before deciding what’s the right dog for your family. Breeders are a great source of information and can answer all your questions including exercise requirements, diet and dog food brands, socialization and training tips, as well as medical conditions that can arise. Meet the older dogs on the premises and find out when a litter of puppies will be available. Most breeders only have a couple litters per year so sometimes you need to get on a waiting list for the next litter. Plan out how you will transport your puppy home and learn what items you should have ready when the puppy arrives. Most breeders recommend crate training which makes potty training easier so you may need to invest in a proper sized crate as well.
Consider Adopting an Older Lab
If you aren’t looking forward to spending months potty training, then consider a young dog instead of a puppy. Some breeders will have young labs that are already trained and ready for a home. Also, there are Labrador adoption and rescue programs for dogs that were given up by their families and desperately need a home. In many cases the dog was just being a typical Labrador, but the family wasn’t prepared for the exercise needs or time commitment and the dog ended up chewing or having behavioral problems. Most of these problems will go away as soon as the dog’s needs are met. However, always learn as much as possible about the history of the dog that you are adopting. Adoption and rescue programs very much want to find a forever home for each Labrador so they will help you decide if this is a good choice for your home environment.
Find a Good Obedience Training Program
All dogs including Labrador Retrievers will benefit from a good foundation in obedience. While labs are in general easy-going dogs that learn quickly, they can still create problems in your home without training. Most people have heard stories of a lab that has chewed furniture, or dug holes, or jumps up on guests. Many bad habits are things that were acceptable when the lab was a puppy, but are a problem now that the dog is full-grown. That's why it's best to find a good program before getting your new dog, otherwise it’s easy to put if off until problems start to occur. Unfortunately, it’s usually harder to fix a bad habit than to start with good habits and training from the beginning.
Think Long Term
If you get a bad television from a store, you can return it and get your money back. However, once you have a new dog in your home for a short period, it’s nearly impossible to think of replacing it with another one even if you could return it. Plus if you have kids then accept that you have this puppy or dog for better or for worse. A Labrador retriever can live for 15 years, so it’s best to think long-term and plan ahead to create an environment where everyone will be happy.