If you are a 1990s kid, you probably remember the mobile phone network advertisement campaign that brought a pug into the home of almost every dog-loving household. A similar trend seems to be surfacing after the release of Kiranraj K.’s movie 777 Charlie.
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Charlie, a Labrador, is lovable. The movie tugs at the heartstrings. Everyone seems to desire the bond Rakshit Shetty, the human protagonist, has with the dog. Not surprisingly, news reports suggest a rise in demand for Labrador Retriever puppies. In case you are thinking of adopting one, though, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
To begin with, getting a dog requires a commitment of at least 13 years. Trends can fuel rash judgements, and when individuals are unable to follow through, the dogs are abandoned. While growing up with a dog is a fantastic experience for any child, youngsters do at some point move out, to study or in search of better opportunities, leaving their pets with parents. So, think about the plans before getting a dog.
If you do decide to get a Labrador, be sure the breeder is ethical and will give you their pedigree documents. Purchase a puppy that is at least 55 days old to prevent it contracting any illness.
Know that the first two months will involve systematic efforts at potty training and being woken up at odd hours. Expect some damage to furniture when the puppy is teething. You could, of course, adopt an older Labrador. There are numerous abandoned Labs looking for homes.
Understand The Breed
Understand the breed’s personality. It was developed to hunt and retrieve ducks in its place of origin, Newfoundland, Canada. It was introduced in England in the 1800s, acquiring the name Labrador Retriever, and quickly recruited for game hunting. This means a Labrador is a breed built to work.
If it’s not given opportunities to “work” or use its energy, it will become bored. And boredom frequently results in destruction. You will either discover it damaging things in the house or mauling its paws. Therefore, the Labrador parent must commit to at least 45 minutes of exercise twice a day. Let your Labrador do what it was bred to do—run around, swim, retrieve, go on hikes, etc.
Train Your Pup
The Labrador’s intelligence is astounding. It’s trainable and obedient, which is why the breed is preferred as guide and therapy dogs. It also makes an excellent guard or security dog. So, pay attention to training. Indulge in toys that keep it mentally engaged.
As far as illnesses are concerned, Labradors have a tendency to gain weight. To prevent obesity, and accompanying problems such as diabetes and arthritis, Labrador parents must be careful about how much they feed their dog. Avoid giving it leftover food, large portions of treats, and table scraps.
Labs also have a genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip joint is malformed. It impacts gait, is painful, and may require corrective surgery. Have your Lab tested when young so preventive steps can be taken. If your flooring is made of smooth tiles, you may need to think about replacing it to allow for the proper growth of their legs. Mats placed about the house are an alternative. Labradors are also among breeds that shed the most. A frequent coat brushing and grooming regime is needed.
You should be ready for the expenses that go into making sure your Labrador has a good and healthy life. Once you are prepared, the loving and perceptive Lab makes for an excellent family dog.
Dr Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai, who loves to play the piano in her free time and is ruled by her whimsical cat, Catbury, at home.