Adopting a Labrador Retriever from an animal shelter – Part 3
How to keep your labrador happy
The old saying that a tired dog is a good dog never applied to any breed more than the adolescent Labrador Retriever. Labs need so much exercise! This is especially true when they are young adults.
They are not a couch potato breed, but they will calm down after a good 40 minutes or so of vigorous aerobic exercise. This is why dog parks were invented!
All young Labrador Retrievers have energy to spare, but Labs confined to shelters for long periods may be in dire need of some serious cardiovascular activity to burn off excessive energy. Most Labs at these shelters aren’t getting enough exercise at all.
Labs are bred to go through the woods and marshes and get that duck again and again and again – all day long. This is an extremely active, high-energy dog and if you bring it into a sedentary lifestyle, it’s not a good fit.
Putting a Labrador Retriever in a fenced yard or taking the dog for a walk around the block isn’t enough. This dog’s exercise has to be heavy cardiovascular and it has to wear them out to the point of fatigue.
Finding sufficient outlets for your shelter Lab’s energy can make a huge difference in behavior around the house. Dog-daycare programs and professional pet sitters can offer exercise opportunities during the work day, but even without paying a penny to a professional, you can exercise your Lab by organizing play dates.
Nothing tires out an adolescent dog like another adolescent dog. Meet up with other dog people – friends, neighbors or people you meet in obedience class – and get your dogs together to channel that energy.
Invite them over for pizza or a backyard grill and turn the dogs loose. A lot of people become very good friends who get together for such dog-related activities. It’s an economical and fun alternative to an organized dog-daycare program.
After about 12 to 14 months, when a Labrador Retriever has finished growing strong bones, it can also begin more organized athletic activities, such as agility (a competitive obstacle course), or other higher-impact activities, such as jogging for long distances.
But never wait too long for obedience classes. This is a common mistake all too many dog owners make, and this goes especially for your newly adopted shelter Lab. Start bonding with it right away under the guidance of a professional, who can help you with strategies for introducing family members, other pets and dog-proofing your home. You’ll set a precedent for good behavior, and you’ll immediately begin building a relationship with your Lab.