I don’t consider myself as a specialist in “canine science” and following are strictly my personal opinions based on my own life changing experiences. But, when I have been talking to other lucky Choc lab owners I can see lots of similar behaviors and problems they have come across.
First of all, if you choosing your first dog don’t ever be fooled with most sweetest, teddy bear like puppy! That, what happened to me anyway. I saw this adorable puppy one of our pub lunch’s next table from us and I knew straight away we’ll have one of those.
We were already in process to get a dog. It has been my biggest dream since I was 10 or even younger. I used to go all dog shows, which visited my home town and I even bought red leather lead and red wooden brush for my future dog. I was so desperate – but it took me nearly 30 years, before my dream came true. We weren’t sure what kind of dog we’ll get and we were considering to get rescue, but unfortunately in UK it has been almost impossible to adopt the dog, when you are working full time, even all conditions would’ve been ideal – lots of room for dog, big garden, woodlands just behind the garden giving lots of opportunities to run off lead, enough income to cover all costs and most importantly, very committed owner to be!
So puppy it was meant to be and when I saw advert with those chunky puppies I was sold. I do know the dangers of buying puppy from the advertiser on a website and I will probably wouldn’t go same route if I have to do it again, but I think Lonni’s mum was genuine family dog and local and I’m quite certain no one got harmed in the process.
Little did I know that getting a young puppy is like having a baby! The commitment and time you need to put into can be quite stressful. Of course there are lots of fun and laughter as well, but for your puppy happiness you need to be committed and put lots of work, time and patience into it. I learnt that chocolate Labradors aren’t just sweet looking teddy bears, they are mad (almost crazy). Unfortunately I learnt it after I got Lonni, that the chocolate colored ones are the maddest of them all. That’s why you don’t see many working chocolate labs! You couldn’t trust blind person led by chocolate lab – as soon she would notice something interesting she would be off with you tangling along middle of traffic or pump into the lamp-post. Don’t get me wrong they are easily trainable! Lonni was one of the best in her puppy class, but take her out into the field and she’s off to meet people and other dogs whatever you shout or do! So embarrassing!
They just think that everyone would be as happy to meet her as she is, when seeing any human being. Most dog owners know that there are plenty of people out there, who don’t find your beloved pup adorable – imagine that! 🙂 and there are lots of grumpy dogs who won’t be impressed by bouncy 25 kg puppy. Doesn’t help that Lonni is alpha female and not scared of anything or anyone! (maybe just bit wary of our black cat Tomi)
She’s also bit of a bully. She doesn’t mind big strong dogs who drag her around by collar and have a play fight and she doesn’t mind curios small brave dogs, who trying to play with her. She doesn’t like weak and nervous ones. She can sense that they are afraid of her and thinks it’s a good opportunity to go after them. I had many of those situations, which ended me in tears and apologizing endlessly to the shocked owners of the terrified dogs. Luckily this behavior has almost disappeared and 99.9% time she’s easy going and playful dog, who doesn’t mind sharing her toys or even food (that’s not really possible anyway. Nobody can eat as fast as Labrador, so when you even trying to take her food you have to be super fast, which I said is almost impossible). Lab on the following video could easily be Lonni 🙂
They are lovely family dogs, but you still need to get ground rules clear. When we first got her, she picked my son, who is youngest in the family and tried to get ahead on pack order. He tried to get my sons favorite place to sit and tried to get between me and him. She soon learned that she’s on the bottom of the pack, she realized that even the cats have more rights 🙂 She was also very bouncy, so when you have small children you have to be mindful that hey can easily knock them over not really thinking about it.
And they are strong – very strong! If she’s seeing something – she would be off if you not stopping her with you arms feet and teeth if needed 🙂 Probably that’s the one reason why I joined CrossFit to be strong enough to control my dog 🙂
All Labradors need plenty of exercise. Firstly because they have lots of energy so it helps them to keep calm(er). Lonni have 2 off lead 30-50 minutes walks a day and we do try to fit some longer walks in on the weekend. She also have access to our garden, when we are at home, but she’s not so interested to exercise herself. Also they need plenty of exercise to keep them slim as they are very greedy and do anything to get some food. It’s very easy to over feed them. I think it’s very common sight seeing Labradors tottering around with no waste line, especially chocolate Labradors.
Choccies are very excitable. It does get better, when they get older, but I remember how our visitors were met by this 28 kg bundle of bouncy happiness and it took for 5-10 minutes to calm her down. We found that the best thing to help her control emotions was giving something to her carry around in her mouth. She actually discovered it herself – she crabs nearest shoe or sock or anything she can find and carries it around, while showing her happiness with her waggy tale. This does mean that most days we all desperately trying to find pair of shoes, when we are in a hurry but the pair is never together.
Above is just a snippet of what it’s like to live with chocolate Labrador, if it didn’t put you off, maybe it’s the dog for you. We love our Lonni and wouldn’t have it any other way!