Archive for the “Choosing Labrador Retriever” Category

Choosing Your Labrador Retriever. Puppy, adult Labrador Retriever.

Choosing an Adult Labrador RetrieverA puppy is all potential. She is the result of her genetics and the care she’s received as a baby, but other than that, she’s just ready for the world. An adult, on the other hand, is already formed. What you see is what you’re going to get. If you want a big Lab or a smaller one, or if you want a bold dog or a quieter one, the adult dog is already what she is going to be.
The adult dog also has a history. Perhaps she was in a loving home and lost that home due to a divorce or a death in the family. She may have been in a home where she was neglected or even mistreated. The things that happened to her have shaped who she is—she may always be worried about large men with sticks in their hands, or she may always be attracted to older women.
Although some Labs can hold a grudge for a long time, they are, for the most part, very forgiving. Many Labrador Retrievers who have lost a home, good or bad, will grieve for that home when they lose it. Labs are very devoted and will love even the worst owner. When allowed to grieve, they will, but then they will accept and adapt to a new home.
Tests used on baby puppies do not work on adult dogs; so when adopting an adult dog, you need to rely on any information you can get from the people who have been caring for her.
It is important, though, to find out as much as you can about the dog and her first home so that you can help her adjust to your home. If the shelter peo¬ple say she appears afraid of brooms, for example, once she’s in your home, ask a trainer or behaviorist for help desensitizing her to brooms.

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Choosing Your Labrador RetrieverService dog trainers, many of whom use Labs in their programs, have developed puppy tests that help them evaluate puppies’ responses to specific stimuli, which helps them choose puppies for certain kinds of service dog work. The service dog trainers are then able to train only those dogs who have the tempera¬ment, character, and personality traits best suited for the specific work.
Puppy tests can help you, too, because you can use them to choose the best dog for you, your family, and your goals. The tests are best done when the puppy is 6 to 7 weeks old. Many breeders do puppy tests, and if your dog’s breeder does, ask if you can watch. If the breeder normally doesn’t test the puppies, ask if you can do it. They may be interested enough in the results to say yes.
To get started, list all the puppies on a sheet of paper. If several look alike, put different-colored ribbons or little collars on each of them.

Look at the Whole Litter

Without getting involved (no petting right now), just watch the entire litter. By 6 weeks of age, the puppies will be playing with each other, bouncing around, tripping over each other and their own big paws. Make some notes about their behavior. The boldest puppy, who is often also the biggest, is usually the first to do anything. She is the first to the food, the first to check out a new toy, and the first to investigate anything new. This is a good working puppy. She would not be a good choice for someone who lives alone and works long hours, nor would she be a good dog for someone with a less than dominant personality.

Puppy Temperament Test
Have your paper at hand and make notes as you go along, or better yet, have someone else make notes for you. Test each puppy individually. Don’t look at your notes until you’re done.
Walk away. Place the puppy on the ground at your feet. Stand up and walk away. Does the puppy:
a. Follow you.
b. Put herself underfoot, climbing on your feet.
c. Do a belly crawl to follow you.
d. Ignore you and go the other direction.
Call the puppy. Move away from the puppy, then bend over and call her, spreading your hands and arms wide to encourage her. Does the puppy:
a. Come to you, tail wagging.
b. Chase you so fast that you don’t have a chance to call her.
c. Come slowly or crawl on her belly to you.
d. Ignore you.

The fearful puppy will sit in the corner by herself, just watching what her brothers and sisters are doing. Her tail will be tight to her hindquarters, and she may duck her head. Unfortunately, fearful, neurotic Labs are not unknown. Although some fearful puppies can come out of their shell with a calm, caring, knowledgeable owner, these dogs usually retain some of their fear all their lives. These dogs are not good for noisy, active households or for first-time dog own¬ers. Even with a knowledgeable owner, these dogs can often be a problem.
Most puppies fall somewhere in between these two extremes. In one situa¬tion, the puppy may be bold and outgoing, and in another, she may fall back to watch. While you’re watching, look to see who is the crybaby, who is the trou¬blemaker, and who always gets the toy. Jot down notes.
Most puppies fall somewhere in between these two extremes. In one situa¬tion, a puppy may be bold and outgoing and in another, she may fall back to watch. While you’re watching, look to see who is the crybaby, who is the trou¬blemaker, and who always gets the toy. Jot down notes.
Now it’s time for the test. You’ll find it in the box above.

Gentle restraint. Pick up the puppy and gently roll her over so she’s on her back in your arms. Place a hand on her chest to gently restrain her for thirty seconds—no longer. Does she:
a. Struggle for a few seconds, then relax.
b. Struggle for the entire thirty seconds.
c. Cry, tuck her tail up, and perhaps urinate.
d. Struggle for fifteen seconds, stop, then look at you or look away.
Lifting. When the puppy is on the ground, place both hands under her ribcage and lift her paws off the ground for thirty seconds. Does the puppy:
a. Quietly accept it with just a little wiggling.
b. Struggle for at least fifteen seconds.
c. Accept it with a tucked tail.
d. Struggle for more than fifteen seconds.
Toss a ball. With the puppy close to you, show her a ball and then toss it just a few feet away. Does the puppy:
a. Dash after it, pick it up, and bring it back to you.
b. Bring it back but doesn’t want to give it back to you.
c. Go after it but does not pick it up, or gets distracted.
d. Pick it up but walks away.

Looking at the Results

There are no right or wrong answers. This is a guide to help you choose the right puppy for you—and even then, this is only a guide. Puppies can change as they grow up.
The puppy who scored mostly A’s is a middle-of-the-pack dog in terms of dominance. This is neither the most dominant puppy nor the most submissive. If she also scored an A in the ball test, this puppy will suit most families with children or active couples. This puppy should accept training well, and although she may have some challenges during adolescence, she will grow up to be a nice dog.
The puppy who scored mostly A’s and B’s will be a little more dominant, a little more pushy. If she scored a B or a D on the ball test, you may find training to be somewhat of a challenge.
The puppy who scored mostly B’s is a more dominant puppy. She could be a great working dog with the right owner. She needs an owner who has a more forceful personality; she is not the right dog for a passive person. She will need structured training from puppyhood on into adulthood.
The puppy who scored mostly C’s will need special handling, as this puppy is very worried about life. She could, if pushed too far, bite out of fear. She needs a calm environment and a calm, confident owner.
The puppy who scored C’s and D’s may have trouble bonding with people. However, if she finds the right owner, she will bond and will be very devoted. This puppy needs calm, careful, patient training.
The puppy who scored mostly D’s doesn’t think she needs people. She is very self-confident and will need to spend a lot of time with her owner so she can develop a relationship. If she spends too much time alone, she may not bond with a person at all.

Now What?

After looking at the puppies, testing them all, figuring out the results, and per¬haps narrowing the litter down to two or three puppies, what’s next? Which puppy appeals to you the most? Which puppy keeps returning to you? Which one makes your heart go thump-thump?
Although these tests can help narrow your choices, you still need to listen to your heart. So think logically and then let your heart work with your brain to choose the right puppy for you.

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Labrador Retriever - Breeder, Rescue, Shelter, or Free?You can find a Labrador Retriever in many different places: from a breeder, from a Lab rescue group, at your local shelter, or even in a cardboard box outside the local grocery store. Although the puppy outside the grocery store will be the least expensive and you may feel good about saving the life of a dog at the local shelter, is one of those dogs really the right dog for you? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each of these choices.

Reputable Breeders

A breeder is someone who breeds dogs of a specific breed, in this case Labrador Retrievers. A reputable breeder is someone who has been involved with the breed for a num¬ber of years and knows it well. They have studied the top  dogs in the breed. In Labs, hopefully they have studied working and field dogs as well as show dogs. They know quite a bit about breed genetics, and they choose  the sire  (father)  and dam (mother) of each litter carefully.
Reputable breeders show their dogs so that the judges (who are often also breeders) can evaluate the dogs. Some Lab breeders also compete in other sports, including agility, obedience, and field trials, or simply go out hunting with them.
These  breeders should also be knowledgeable of the health prob¬lems of the breed, especially because there are so many facing Labs today. As many health tests for inherited defects as are available should be performed before selecting the dogs to be used for breeding.
Reputable breeders will also screen the people who come to buy one of their dogs. The breeder will ask potential buyers to fill out an application and may ask for personal references. If you are not approved for one of their puppies, don’t take it personally; the breeder is concerned about the welfare of their puppies, and they know their dogs best.

Backyard Breeders

A backyard breeder usually refers to someone who has bred their dog (usually a family pet) but who does not have the knowledge a reputable breeder has. Many times the dog(s) being bred are simply treasured family pets, and the owner breeds the dog(s) in the hopes of creating another dog just like their pet. Genetics doesn’t work that way, though, and they end up with a litter of puppies for sale that may or may not be quality dogs.

Lab Rescue

Purebred rescue groups are organized by people who love their breed and are concerned about the dogs who need new homes—especially those who might otherwise be killed for want of a good home. Some groups are run by breed clubs, while others are private organizations.
You will be asked to fill out an application, and some groups even ask for a home visit. They want to know that your fence is high and strong enough to keep in a Lab and that you and your family understand the realities of owning this breed.

Labs in Local Shelters

A Labrador Retriever can end up in a local shelter for many reasons. Her owner may have passed away and no one in the family wanted her. Someone may have purchased a Lab puppy without researching the breed and after a few months realized the dog was too much for them. The dog may have escaped from the yard and was picked up as a stray and no one bailed her out. There are many rea¬sons, and many of them are not the dog’s fault at all.
A Lab in the shelter is basically an unknown. She may have been produced by a wonderful, reputable breeder, or she may have come from a commercial puppy farm. Although the dog’s physical appearance can give you some clues, some¬times it’s really hard to tell. The dog’s temperament is also an unknown because a Lab in a shelter is going to be stressed and very unhappy; she is not going to show her real personal¬ity until she’s in a home and settles down.

Labs for Free

Have you heard the adage “You get what you pay for”? That Lab puppy in the box outside the grocery store is probably the result of backyard breeding, maybe even an accidental breeding. The dog could be a mix; the father may even be unknown. And although mixed-breed dogs can be great pets, you’ll be disappointed if you were looking for a purebred Lab.
The puppy (and maybe even the mother dog) may or may not have had any veterinary care, which could mean no vaccinations, no worming, and no pre¬ventive health care. The person who owned the mother dog most likely never heard of socialization, so the puppy will not have had any planned socialization.


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Choosing Your Labrador RetrieverLabrador Retrievers were bred to work for and with people. Unlike some other breeds (many terriers and the sighthounds, for example), Labs were not made to work alone. They are happiest when they spend the day side by side with their work¬ing partner. For the same reason, your new Lab will be happiest when she’s by your side, able to share your activities and ready to do things for you. It’s impor¬tant, then, to make sure you choose your new companion wisely. Although any dog might be able to fit into your life, when you make an educated, well-researched choice your chances are much better of that dog being “the perfect one.”

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