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Tell me about labs

(22 Posts)
foolishlyfoolish Fri 10-Jul-20 08:39:38


Started to think about taking the plunge and would like opinions from you knowledgeable lot please.

DCs 7 & 3, I work term time only, 3 days - out of the house 8.30am - 4pm normally. PIL would be able to let the dog out at lunchtime on these days.

We had boxers when I lived at home so no direct experience of labs.

Pros/cons? What do we need to think about. We'd be looking at early next year rather than anytime soon.

OP’s posts: |
vanillandhoney Fri 10-Jul-20 08:55:23

When you say your in-laws will let the dog out at lunchtime, do you literally mean a five minute wee break, or are you talking about a proper walk and some company for the dog?

Because, in all honesty, that's a long time to leave a young dog alone - and labs can be very destructive when they're bored. If your in-laws can pop around at lunchtime and walk the dog (when it's older) or maybe sit with him for a few hours, it could be doable though. Or they could have the dog at their house? My in-laws watch my dog if I have to be out for long periods - but only now he's older mind you grin

As for labs in general - they're lovely dogs and generally very trainable - HOWEVER they are also big dogs and very boisterous when they're young. I walk two young labradors (9 months) and my God are they big, strong dogs. They're lovely but they're incredibly energetic and would easily send your 3yo flying if they jumped up in excitement.

How much exercise can you dedicate to the dog on your days off? Can you fit in decent walks with the 3yo at home, for example? Labs need at least an hour off-lead in all weathers in my experience (once fully grown, of course).

I also think you need to think about what you'll do on your working days - there'll be no more impromptu trips to the park after school because you'll need to come home for the dog. No trips to theme parks or the zoo (no dogs allowed) unless you can find someone to dog sit or take him for a walk. Lots of beaches and child-friendly activities are decidedly un-dog friendly too, especially in summer.

When we got our dog, we didn't realise how much of a tie he would be, and we don't have children to think about. We paid for daycare for the first year of his life! I now work with dogs so he can come to work with me - but if I was still in my old job, I'd still be forking out for daycare - which is about £20-25 a day.

I can't leave him for longer than an hour or two - there is absolutely no way on earth he would cope with the set-up you're proposing and he's 2.5 now. Of course some dogs can be left, but I do think you need to go "worst case scenario" - eg. can you afford to pay for daycare or a walker for the next 15 years?

vanillandhoney Fri 10-Jul-20 08:56:28

Sorry, that was long and quite rambly!

Asdf12345 Fri 10-Jul-20 09:04:42

We love them, is it going to be an inside or an outside dog, or a mixture of both? Pet only or working at all?

Assuming a kennel and decent sized run for whilst you are at work it should be fine, not sure I would leave one alone in the house over 3-4 hours though.

TimeWastingButFun Fri 10-Jul-20 09:13:40

My husband really wanted a Labrador but our kids were 3 & 5, I did some research and really decided that they were too young for a bouncy big dog. So we got a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. We'll probably get a lab next time, by which time they'll both be well into their teens. Can you leave them alone that long, that's the thing I'd be worried about - especially a working breed? We didn't get a dog until someone was at home 24/7 which I really do think they need.

GertrudeCB Fri 10-Jul-20 09:14:29

Mine needs at least 2.5 hours exercise per day , never leave him for more than 3 hours.
Labs are complete arseholes as puppies, but lovely as adults.
The shedding, oh my god, the shedding !
Need to keep a very close eye on diet and weight. They will eat themselves to death if allowed.
Most love water and swimming is a brilliant way of exercising them, but then you must be scrupulous about ear hygiene- ear infections can get nasty very quickly.
Fantastic family dogs if properly socialized.

BrokenBrit Fri 10-Jul-20 09:23:27

Hi OP glad you are researching this properly and not just doing it. My strong advice to you would be not to get a puppy. They need someone with them practically all the time while young. It’s not fair to leave a baby animal on its own for hours 3 days a week. Also they would destroy your house and eat something inappropriate making themselves sick or you would put them in a cage. Neither of which are good or fair options. Bouncy, mouthy Labrador pups and 3 year olds aren’t especially good mixes either.
Could PIL commit to full time sitting on the 3 days you work for the first year? Or what about an adult dog, perhaps that would work better for your family?

foolishlyfoolish Fri 10-Jul-20 09:23:38

Great advice @vanillandhoney I need to speak to my in-laws properly (when the DC aren't around as I don't want them to know in case we decide against). They currently have the DC so I need to ask if we can add a dog to the mix.

They lost their dog a few years ago and are still relatively young so I think would be keen.

I've checked out the local doggy daycare and like you say £25 a day which isn't out of the question.

We live rurally and I have no problem trudging through fields in the rain grin

OP’s posts: |
foolishlyfoolish Fri 10-Jul-20 09:30:14

@BrokenBrit I did look at rehoming an older dog but all the kennels I looked at won't rehome to families with young children for good reasons I assume.

@Asdf12345 as a pet, mixture of indoor/outdoor. Initial thoughts were outdoor kennel during the day and inside at night. Would that be confusing for the dog?

OP’s posts: |
vanillandhoney Fri 10-Jul-20 09:35:19


Great advice @vanillandhoney I need to speak to my in-laws properly (when the DC aren't around as I don't want them to know in case we decide against). They currently have the DC so I need to ask if we can add a dog to the mix.

They lost their dog a few years ago and are still relatively young so I think would be keen.

I've checked out the local doggy daycare and like you say £25 a day which isn't out of the question.

We live rurally and I have no problem trudging through fields in the rain grin

Sounds good to me grin

My beagle was once banned from my in-laws for eating FIL's shoe! However, my FIL now buries treats in the garden for the dog to find, buys him food, makes him frozen kongs that he keeps in the freezer (the dog has his own drawer!), takes him for walks and feeds him toast!

They have a great relationship and during lockdown, FIL admitted he missed the dog and actively asked to have him even though it wasn't necessary!

If you can work out a good scheme to keep the dog company then I don't see why it couldn't work out. Good luck!

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Fri 10-Jul-20 09:42:16

I know dogs who are kennelled when the owners are out and who are otherwise indoors. They are chilled, happy, balanced and well-behaved.

If you go for a lab, consider the split between show and working lines. The workers IME are more active and demanding as well as being more athletically built. Same affectionate personalities though.

As for rehoming, breed rescues often foster dogs with volunteers to get a good handle on their temperaments, good points and issues. Some of them will rehome appropriate dogs with families but I am not well up on lab rescues.

LilBlackLab Fri 10-Jul-20 09:46:46

Ours is 9 months old now and he’s so loved by us all!

Hard work as expected, we waited til our youngest was 11 but with hindsight we could have got a dog earlier. Ours isn’t destructive really, very easy to train and very playful

NotPennysBoat Fri 10-Jul-20 09:48:14

They are wonderful dogs, loyal and intelligent.

Get the largest crate you can and get them used to it from a young age. Crate them when you go out (not for hours on end!) and at night and you'll save on chewed shoes/furniture.

Ours was a bouncy pup but is now calm and loving (unless you so much as GLANCE at his lead!). He has two 30 min walks a day and is happy and a good weight. I do wfh though so he has company all day. That said, we do leave him for up to 5hrs at a time (not in a crate once he left the 'teething' stage) and he is fine (we have a doggy cam).

oralengineer Fri 10-Jul-20 09:58:09

Labs are great but expect carnage in the first four years. We are on our 3rd lab but each time you forget about all the downsides. Latest one was four this year and like the previous labs she is now settled and reliable and has stopped chewing my house.
To give you an idea, within 24 hrs of bringing her home at 8wks old she had chewed through a phone cable. As a small pup destruction was limited but the potential at 12 months is immense. Our first lab removed the cat flap from the door and squeezed through the gap left. When we moved and had the second lab we fitted a dog flap for communal use (including the DS!). It does teach the DC to be tidy, all toys, books and clothing are fair game to a young lab, they are hardwired to retrieve I actually trained my latest lab to retrieve socks (just rewarded her for bringing them to me) so I don’t have to crawl around under DS’s bed to find cast off socks.
She also communicates in shoes, if she wants to go out for a wee she brings me my garden shoes, if she wants to go for a walk she brings me my walking trainers. If she can’t find a shoe she gently pulls my sleeve or wrist.
They are incredibly fun dogs to have and are both protective and loyal. They do need massive amounts of your time to train but often learn by experience. Over lockdown, particularly in the early days of one hour exercise a day she quickly worked out when it was time to go out and would start talking to us and rounding us up.
Yes labs talk, they are bred to be quiet as working dogs, so tend to verbalise in moans and whines rather than barking, they also purr a bit like cats, it is a gentle growl, very different from a deep threatening growl. They don’t do a lot of barking so no good as alert dogs. But if they don’t like someone when you answer the door the bark is pretty awesome, great for getting rid of unwelcome callers.
They are very sociable and love company so sharing with in-laws may be perfect if they are up for it.

fedupandlookingforchange Fri 10-Jul-20 09:59:08

I've got working labs. Black dogs tend to be calmer, there's a great deal of variety within the breed. All the yellow shades either dogs or bitches are harder work. Not had a chocolate one yet.
Always been able to leave ours without any issues for a couple of days a week, they generally just sleep when we are out. Have had a mixture on indoor and outdoor dogs. They are fine with cats, sheep, chickens etc
Labs are good with small children and the tails are a hazard though. DS has been hit in the face hard by a tail and accidentally knocked over a few times. The biggest issue is food, they get fat easily and even the most laid back lab is prone to stealing food. No food is ever left on work surfaces when you leave the room and I usually shut the dogs out when feeding DS as one circles like a shark waiting for any falling food. Its the usually very well behaved one with the good recall.
You might be able to get a retired working dog if you live rurally.

LilBlackLab Fri 10-Jul-20 11:23:08

lab you think they need other dogs for company? is it better to have a pair. someone is usually home but our boy goes crazy if he sees another dog and just wants to go to it and not leave. or is human company enough?

Gingerninja4 Fri 10-Jul-20 12:52:08

My boy is golden and nearly 6 now

Was fortunate as a puppy he was not to bad of landshark but he did gnaw wall couple times when teething .We had 3/4 months around a year when normal teenage arse appeared but so on settled by 18 months was fantastic

Walk wise we do anything from 6 miles to 20 miles in a day but aware most don't. Just I am outdoors person so works for us

Asdf12345 Fri 10-Jul-20 14:12:53

Ours gets by playing with other dogs a couple of times a week.

They are quite varied though, for instance ours has no interest in food as does her half sister but desperately wants to be given work to do. Likewise our neighbours lab has to be fed separately from the spaniels or it gets nothing.

vanillandhoney Fri 10-Jul-20 14:29:59


lab you think they need other dogs for company? is it better to have a pair. someone is usually home but our boy goes crazy if he sees another dog and just wants to go to it and not leave. or is human company enough?

I do think this kind of thing is down to the personality of the dog as opposed to the breed, really.

My dog is a pack hound but lives as an "only" - however he comes to work with me and plays with other dogs probably 5 days a week on average, so he gets a lot of playtime and companionship that way.

I wouldn't take on a second just to provide the first with some company.

BraeburnMia Fri 10-Jul-20 14:46:17

Our lab is now 7. He was a nightmare to start with in the first few years. He would chew anything he could if he had the opportunity. We bought the largest crate we could get our hands on to protect him from his urge to eat the skirting if we left him in a room. We got him when our youngest child was just turned one. What was I thinking. I had two toddlers and a puppy. It was hard work and a few times I was ready to give in. I am so glad we didn't though because after that phase, when they all started getting older, he has been a completely different dog. He loves the children and is good as good when their friends visit. He loves his walks, easier now that I don't have to factor in little people's tiredness too. His food has always been measured and any treats are carrots.
He isnt really a Barker but will bark if he is unsure of something at the perimeter of our house. He enjoys chilling out in the living room on his bed. He knows he isnt allowed upstairs so waits at the bottom of the stairs for us to come back down.
He moults fur like anything though. I can clear the floor tiles of his fur, go back an hour later and it is back to how it was.
We haven't used his crate for about 3 years now. He has another bed under the staircase and is quite content sleeping there when we are out or overnight. We can leave him for up to 5 hours at a time during the day, which is very rarely because we work close by and we always pop back on our breaks so in reality its 2 hours at the most as we pop in and out at different times.
We have taught him the names of some things around the house and he fetches them when we ask him, things like the remote for the tv, his toy or the post. The best one is when our youngest forgets to put her slippers on and we tell him to give her her slipper. He picks it up and drops it at her feet. She loves it. Think she does it on purpose just so he gives it to her.
Labradors are a great addition to the family, although they are stronger on the lead than you think. They moult a lot but they are loving and just want to please you and be near their family. You will need to be strict with the food and may want to consider a crate initially.

LilBlackLab Fri 10-Jul-20 19:12:15

@vanillandhoney thank you! we left getting a family dog too late i think, luckily we got him just before lockdown.

sian1971 Tue 14-Jul-20 20:15:37

I have a five-month fox red lab and am a new dog owner. We absolutely love her: she's very lively/jumpy and a little nervous in some situations but has an absolutely lovely nature. We have a 12-year-old, who adores her.


1) She's has slept through the night in a crate in the living room from when we first got her at 8 weeks (from 12-7, and then 11-6.30, and now 11-7). My partner slept on the sofa in the same room as her for three nights, but she's been happily alone from the fourth night onwards with no problems at all
2) She's was toilet trained within about a week. She refused to use puppy pads, which meant we were much more focused on taking her out much more frequently.
3) She has a predictable routine of eating, napping, and toileting.
4) She loves playing with other dogs
5) She is fun to take out on walks. Really looking forward to being able to take her on long walks when she's older .

1) She was very bitey, but this has started to improve over the last 2-3 weeks
2) Although she's very friendly with other dogs, she's slightly nervous of other people (although this seems to be improving slightly)
3) Just recently her recall has started to go - particularly when she's playing with other dogs

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