The Labrador retriever is the most popular dog breed in many countries. They are, after all, typically friendly, well balanced, and athletic by nature. This makes them a great match for most families and owners. Still, owning a Labrador retriever requires some decision-making, effort, and maintenance on your part. Chocolate labs, the rarest of the bunch, are no exception to this.
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make regarding your Labrador is the role he/she will play in your home. The beginning of a positive relationship with your pet is to decide what kind of interactions he/she will have with the members of the household, neighbors, friends, and strangers. Making this decision early on allows you to more readily assess and solve any problems that arise.
You may need to train your Labrador out of a few standard bad behaviors. Labradors, for example, have the proclivity to chew things. If you find your lab doing this, you can look up procedures for home training or enlist a professional. Labradors mature around three years of age. Up to this point, they’re more likely to possess an extremely enthusiastic and energetic demeanor. You should be prepared to present a firm hand in case this energy gets out of hand. It’s also recommended that you teach your lab leash etiquette early on to prevent pulling when he/she is an adult (and much larger). Their fearless rowdiness can get out of hand if unchecked. Worry not though- training labs is usually easy since they’re eager to please.
Similarly, Labradors are a naturally curious breed. Their desire to chase after the unknown can easily lead to separation. To prevent loss or theft of your lab, microchipping is recommended; a tag and collar are essential.
Labradors are infamous as well for their massive appetites. They will often eat whatever is available. For this reason, you should carefully control and monitor the amount of food you give your dog. Keeping your pet healthy can help avert the occurrence of hip and joint problems when they’re older. It’s also been estimated that Labradors kept in shape live an average of two years longer than their obese counterparts. Apart from food control, you can maintain your pet’s weight by engaging him/her in activities traditionally favored by Labradors- swimming, running, and playing catch.
Another element key to the Chocolate Labrador’s health is grooming. Twice a year (typically when the weather changes), a lab will shed its coat. During these periods, a simple (yet thorough) brushing every other day is recommended. For the rest of the year, once a week should suffice. And while chocolate labs tend to shed less than yellow labs, you may, for your own vanity, still want to invest in a few lint rollers to minimize the amount of hair lingering on clothes and furniture. Nail trims are another part of the grooming process and should take place every week or two.
During these grooming sessions (or when you’re simply relaxing with the lab), check the ears to make sure they are a healthy light pink color. Ear infections are common in chocolate Labradors because of the floppy architecture of their ears. Regularly making sure that the inside isn’t darker, inflamed, or brown-spotted is an easy way to control this issue.
Once you’ve built a relationship with your chocolate Labrador retriever, and a routine for things like grooming, walking, and feeding, the responsibilities of owning a dog should become much easier, and more like a second nature. The important thing is to make sure the pet-owning experience is rewarding for both you and your lab.