Author Topic: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US  (Read 21204 times)

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2005, 09:36:44 am »
There are people in this world, many of them, who simply do not know how to sort out and justify their opinion.  Sometimes this comes out of anger or grandiosity.  They do not realize the impact their statements have on the "feelings" of others, and sometimes they even absorb some sort of satisfaction out of putting something or someone down.  But, we can use this as an opportunity to reiterate the positive aspects of the Labrador Retriever as a versatile and stable breed.
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2005, 09:39:25 am »
Labrador Retriever
Breed Basics - Gundog

From Krista Mifflin,
Your Guide to Dogs.
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History
A close cousin the Newfoundland dog, the Labrador Retriever originated in Newfoundland Canada as a smaller, shorter-haired dog of many uses. Referred to as a "small Newfoundland", the Labrador frequently accompanied fisherman across the ocean to England where they became a popular sporting dog.


First recognized as a breed of it's own, the Labrador Retriever was established with the English Kennel Club in 1904. The American Kennel Club followed suit, ten years later in 1904. Since then the Labrador Retriever has moved beyond cart-pulling and hunting, to become one of the most versatile and useful breeds of today. From continued use as a gun dog, to guide dogs for the blind, the Labrador has definitely made it's mark in history.


About the Labrador Retriever :
A compact, medium-sized dog who stands approximately 21 to 24 inches tall, the Labrador Retriever is a powerful dog, built to retrieve game. The Labrador is one of a few breeds distinguished by webbed feet, to help it retrieve waterfowl more easily. An "otter" tail also facilitates this, acting much like an otter's tail in steering the dog in the water.

The Labrador's coat is a waterproof one, with short, straight hairs in the topcoat and soft, waterproof under-coating. The accepted colours for the Labrador Retriever are yellow, black, and chocolate (brown). Blacks should be all black, without brindle markings, yellows can range from light cream to dark gold, and chocolates can be from light brown to almost black.


The most appealing aspect of a Labrador Retriever is his temperament. An easy-going nature with a distinctive desire to please make this dog the versatile creature it is today. An ideal family pet, Labrador Retrievers are generally free of aggression and happy to play fetch for hours on end. Their intelligence make them first-choice for many jobs, including guide dogs and detection work.

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2005, 09:40:08 am »
I did not know they originated in Canada and then went to England.  That's new to me.  :)
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline RedyreRottweilers

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2005, 09:47:03 am »
Dogs are only as good as the people who train them.
Celeste

I have to agree, and would only add after train "and breed".

"Dogs are only as good as the people who train and BREED them"
Redyre Rottweilers
redyre@carolina.rr.com
No part of this message may be forwarded without my permission.

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2005, 09:51:10 am »
So, based on what everyone is saying it seems the issue here is that SOME of people  who choose labs are looking for an easy dog.  With the fact that labs are an excitable breed they can get out of control because their owners are incompetent and were searching for a dog that would be easier.  However, I do not believe there are any "easy" dogs.  All dogs need training and there is a lot of energy involved in assuring they are well rounded.
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline greek4

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2005, 09:52:49 am »
I love labs, I love most dogs, I have a small fear of small dogs if I don't know them.  I think labs are highly intelligent but like any breed that has a high demand there are going to those who breed only for the money.  Also, since generally people see more labs than other dogs, there will in proportion be more bad ones, therefore generalization s are made that labs are crazy.

I have seen, fostered and even owned some great labs.  The majority of the service dogs where I volunteer are labs.  Most seeing eye dogs are labs.  I would say those are some pluses for the breed. 

Like all dogs, labs have their quirks and owners need to be educated about them before getting a lab.  Labs are an easy to find, affordable pure bred dog.
Thanks,

Emily and 1 husband, 1 boy, 1 on the way, and 4 crazy dogs

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2005, 09:56:38 am »
"The Labrador Retriever is truly a jack of all trades and a master of many."   - Nancy Martin

Year after year the most registered breed in the AKC is the Labrador Retriever and surely their versatility is a big part of their popularity. Here are some of the best-known "career" choices for these talented dogs.

Companion

A labs' #1 job is most often that of companion. They "live" to be with us as much as they do to swim or eat or to retrieve. To quote Patricia Burlin Kennedy, the author of "Through Otis' Eyes": their "innate talent for living" shows us "how to love unconditionall y, to forgive without question, to live in the present moment, to give of one's time without hesitation or regret."

Guide Dogs

Labs are used more than any other breed in assisting the blind. Their low maintenance coat, intelligence, size and temperament make them an ideal guide dog. They need to be physically sound, calm, confident, adaptable and willing to work. The most successful guide dogs often come from lines bred specifically for these traits. The special harness and U-shaped handle enable communication between the blind partner, who provides directional commands, and the guide dog, whose job it is to keep them both safe while negotiating the complex obstacles of everyday life that those with sight take for granted. There are times when the dog must perform "intelligent disobedience" by deciding not to follow a command it determines to be unsafe…a truly amazing ability. "Puppyraisers" or "puppy walkers" volunteer to raise the pups until they're 9-18 months old (depending on the program), teaching them basic obedience and providing socialization. The young dogs are then given back to be trained professionally as a team with their blind handler. See our links for a partial list of guide dog associations.

Auditory Assistance Dogs

Sometimes called "signal dogs" these labs alert the hearing impaired to specific sounds related to the needs of their handler such as indicating that a baby is crying, the doorbell or telephone is ringing or that the smoke alarm is going off. See our links for a partial list of hearing assistance dog organizations.

Service Dogs

These dogs are trained to assist those with mobility limitations through a wide variety of tasks such as retrieving objects, turning lights on and off, pulling wheel chairs and opening or closing doors. They need to have the confidence and docile nature of a guide dog but also have a strong retrieving instinct. Relatively new are programs training "specialty" dogs to detect the onset of seizures in those suffering with epilepsy as well as assisting with other specific conditions or diseases like Parkinsons. See our links.

Social and Therapy Dogs

The benefits of human-animal interaction have been clearly proven and who better for the job than a Lab…consider it four-footed therapy! Several organizations promote the training of dogs just for visiting or "meeting and greeting" at schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospitals. A Therapy Dog (TD) must pass behavior/temperament tests and possess more advanced obedience skills. There are even "pet facilitated communication therapy teams" to help in the treatment of disorders like autism. Please see our links.

Detection and Police Dogs

Labs have worked as "sentry" dogs, messengers, Red Cross aides and as mine detectors or "M-dogs" during times of war…and a few even learned to parachute in the Air Force! This rich history of service has evolved into an amazing variety of sophisticated jobs for this breed. They are trained to detect: accelerants (arson), narcotics, oil or gas pipeline leaks, explosives/weapons/ammunition and toxic waste as well as illegal foods and plants that travelers try to smuggle internationall y. Labradors can also be trained to indicate the estrus cycle in cattle and for target species detection such as gypsy moth cases, box turtles or for evidence of poaching. As police dogs they may search for suspected criminals and specific types of evidence. As with other jobs, these dogs must be confident and well socialized to people, places and noises. They also need to exhibit above normal curiosity and perseverance, be agile and have high energy. A drug dog might spend 30 minutes thoroughly sniffing a dozen boxes whereas a bomb dog has to be able to search an entire warehouse in that same amount of time. A "hyper" dog obsessed with toys is often a perfect candidate! See links.

Search and Rescue

The Labrador Retrievers' natural retrieving instincts, endurance, scenting ability and "team" mentality make them prime candidates as search & rescue or "SAR" dogs. All humans, alive or dead, constantly shed skin particles bearing human scent. SAR dogs can detect and follow this scent to its source from long distances, depending on weather and terrain conditions, covering a larger area in less time than a human ground crew or a "tracking" dog who must follow the persons path of travel. "Air scent" dogs depend primarily, but not solely, on airborne scent in their search. The term "trailing" dog generally refers to the ability to "scent discriminate" or find a particular person. The dogs are taught the necessary skills as a "game" of increasing difficulty, in partnership with their handler. These primarily volunteer "dog teams" must make an enormous commitment of time and resources…financially, physically and mentally. There is extensive training, record keeping and written testing required of the handler as well as practical testing and yearly re-certifications for the team to remain "operational". Some teams specialize in one type of search such as avalanche, while most train for a variety of situations, some of which are article/evidence search, cadaver, disaster, water search and wilderness. SAR Labs must have a strong"play" drive, be agile and friendly and have a strong bond with their handler to perform this demanding public service. See links.

Field Work

The meat and potatoes (or the duck and wild rice if you prefer) of what this breed was developed for are as hunting companions. They are natural "retrieving specialists"! Differences in terrain, type of bird and hunting styles over the centuries and continents have led to a wide variety of training methods and testing. We will focus here on the US organizations and titles as an example of what's involved.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) includes 2 types of competitions in fieldwork: Field Trials - requiring very demanding training, a high degree of precision and most often involving professional trainers and handlers. Hunting Tests- evaluates hunting ability on a pass/ fail basis. In Field Trials, dogs acquire points towards a Field Championship (FC) or an Amateur Field Championship (AFC) by winning and placing in the top 4. The Derby and Qualifying are the two minor stakes that are stepping-stones to the 2 major stakes, Amateur and Open (Special All-Age or Limited). From the Open Stake emerge qualifiers for the ultimate AKC wins: the National Amateur Championship held in June each year and the National Retriever Championship held in November.  Hunting Tests have 3 levels: Junior (JH), Senior (SH) and Master (MH) with the Master National Hunting Test held every fall.

The North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA) formed independently to provide a structure for training and evaluation reflecting actual hunting scenarios with testing on a non-competitive pass/fail basis. NAHRA titles are Started Retriever (SR), Working Retriever (WR), Master Hunter Retriever (MHR) and Grand Master Hunter Retriever (GMHR).

A Working Certificate (WC) is not a title but is required by the US Labrador Retriever Club in order to become a bench (conformation) champion. The "WC" indicates a working ability in the field.

There can be "Dual" champions who have titles in both field and conformation.

Several regional Lab clubs have developed their own tests and awards in addition to the above and probably most labs used as hunting companions never compete but provide anonymous, faithful service to their masters. The loss of a treasured hunting dog is "sure to make a grown man cry". See links.

Show / Conformation

It takes a special Lab to excel in the show ring. In addition to being fine examples of the breed, well groomed and at their optimum health they need to move well and have showmanship…that quality that tells the judge "hey, look at me, I'm the best!" They must also be very well socialized so they don't mind being handled by strangers and dealing with crowded conditions. Females are referred to as "Bitches" and males are officially referred to as "Dogs", sometimes also called Sires or Stud Dogs. "Matches" are informal shows designed to provide a learning experience for young Labs. No points are awarded at matches whereas "point" shows involve premium lists and professional superintendent s where Labs accumulate points towards a "Championship". The "classes" are always divided by sex and often (but not always) divided by color. These classes include Puppy (which can be divided into 6-9 months and 9-12 mo.), 12-18 Month, Novice, Bred by Exhibiter, American Bred, Open, Winners Class (Winners Dog, Reserve Winners Dog, Winners Bitch and Reserve Winners Bitch), Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex. The Best of Breed goes on to compete in the variety group that Labrador Retrievers are assigned to, the Sporting Group. The winner of the Sporting Group goes on to the Best in Show. Other possible classes are Stud Dog, Brood Bitch, Brace Class, Sweepstakes, Futurity Stakes and Veterans Class. The number of points won for first place in a class depends on the number of dogs shown in that particular class and this point structure varies regionally. The more dogs in a class the more "major" the win is. The AKC requires 15 points for a "Championship" which must include a minimum of 2 major wins. "Specialties" are breed specific shows and "All Breed" Shows are just that! See links.

Agility

Handlers in this competition coach their labs through a timed obstacle course of tunnels, jumps and climbing structures using voice and hand signals. As you can guess, these dogs have to be especially "agile" and obedient. AKC Agility Trials award Novice Agility Dog (NAD), Open (OAD), Agility Dog Excellent (ADX) and Master Agility (MAX). Flyball is an off shoot of obedience where the dog must negotiate a series of hurdles, step on a spring loaded box, catch the launched ball and renegotiate the hurdles back to the starting line. Flyball Dog (FD) and Flyball Dog Excellent (FDX) are the 2 titles earned. Flygility is a newer sport combining elements of both flyball and agility. See links.

Obedience

Obedience training is not only essential for every dog but on a competitive basis it can be a fun career for your Lab. The finely tuned responses necessary for the upper levels of obedience require a Lab with an especially strong desire to please and a handler with an affinity for intense concentration and precision. AKC Obedience Trials award the following degrees: Companion Dog (CD), Companion Dog Excellent (CDX), Utility Dog (UD), Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) and Obedience Trial Champion (OTCh). The "Regular" classes are Novice, Open and Utility and are divided into A and B categories, assigned according to the titles previously won by dog and handler. See links.

Tracking AKC

Tracking Tests are designed to evaluate the Lab's ability to follow the trail or "track" of a specific scent, overcoming a series of problems along the way. Tracking Dog (TD) and Tracking Dog Excellent (TDX) are the awarded titles and can be combined with obedience titles, ex: UDT or UDTX. See links.

Scent Hurdle and Rally Obedience

Scent Hurdle Relay Racing is a spin-off from obedience where teams of 4 dogs compete against other teams to "relay" scent specific dumbbells. Rally-O competition involves a handler and dog team completing a course by reading a series of signs and performing the exercise specified on each sign without additional commands from the judge. See links.

Long Jump

Like the long jump for humans but this version has the dog jumping off of a dock into water! Sounds perfect for a Lab. Training should begin with gradual, safe and fun swimming lessons like all Labs should have then once they're at least a year old and more physically mature, the jumping training can begin. Some start with popcorn (which floats well) as the target/incentive and then progress to a Frisbee. This event is often a natural off-shoot of agility training and obviously requires a Lab in great shape with plenty of courage…the winning jumps are over 22 feet! ESPN's annual Great Outdoor Games feature the sporting dog "Big Air" event and Purina's Incredible Dog Challenge features "Dog Diving". See links.

Freestyle

Imagine you and your Lab performing a choreographed dance routine to music. Well okay, maybe you can't picture yourself dancing with your dog but freestyle is quite a unique opportunity to combine obedience moves and tricks that show off the athletic Labrador "ham". As opposed to most other competitions, Freestyle allows artistic freedom for the handler in creating the routine and provides the opportunity to showcase your Lab's special skills and personality. See links.

Dog Driving

If your Lab's always dragging you on the leash perhaps one of these activities is for him! Carting: the dog is harnessed to a mini wagon allowing him to cart small loads. Skijoring: a sport where the handler is pulled on snow skis by one or more dogs in harness…and we know how labs love that "fluffy white water"! Scootering: similar to the above but the handler is riding a scooter. Dog Sledding: yes, Labs can do this too!  See links.

Flying Disc

More commonly known as "Frisbee". This game has become a hot competition involving physical precision on the part of both handler and dog while taking keen advantage of a Labs' desire to retrieve. There are even traveling exhibition teams! See links.

Modeling / Acting

The Labrador Retriever's trainability, pleasing personality, beauty and popularity has made this breed a favorite for movies, TV and advertising. Their appearance has become associated with comfort, companionship, fun, instant "likeability" and "looking good"!  See links.

Other

Canine Good Citizen- a noncompetitive pass/fail test with 10 categories designed to demonstrate that your Lab can be a respected member of society. Community dog events and dog shows will often offer this test. The certificate awarded for passing may be handy to have as written evidence that your Lab is a good citizen! Schutzhund- a German word meaning "protection dog", this sport focuses on 3 disciplines: tracking, obedience and protection work (similar to the skills required of police dogs.) The evaluation test was developed specifically for the German Shepherd Dog but other breeds are also admitted to Schutzhund trials.  See links.



SOURCE: http://www.alllabs.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/versatile_lab.htm?E+scstore
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2005, 10:01:07 am »
And this piece addresses the issue at hand in this post even further:

"The Ubiquitous Labrador Retriever" including the sidebar interview with Connie Cleveland, "A Lab Through A Lover's Eyes,"  was nominated for a 2003 Maxwell Award, given by the Dog Writers Association of America. It was published in the July/Aug 2003 APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) Newsletter (since renamed "The Chronicle of the Dog).  

Other DWAA Nominations:  For the fourth continuous year, the APDT publication as a whole and its "Gimme Shelter" column written by Sue Sternberg  are also finalists in the 2003 Writing Competition sponsored by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA). Editor Terry Long has also been nominated for her regular feature column.

*****************************

The Ubiquitous Labrador Retriever—

Has Success Spoiled Our Number 1 Breed?

By Beverly Hebert

No doubt about it--Labrador retrievers still reign supreme as America’s most popular dog. Numbers don’t lie—according to American Kennel Club statistics, in 2002, there were 154,616 registered Labs.  In second and third place, 56,124 Golden Retrievers and 46,963 German Shepherds don’t even come close.  Therefore it may seem surprising that many APDT trainers who responded to an informal survey said they no longer include Labs among their top recommendation s as family pets.

Those trainers who still do place Labs high on their short list give the same reasons as the Lab loving public:  Driving the Labrador’s wide appeal are good looks and an easy care coat, high intelligence and responsiveness to training, an outgoing, affectionate nature, mellowness with other animals, plus rugged stamina and awesome retrieving instincts.  These same characteristic s contribute to the breed’s ability to function as a versatile working dog fulfilling a variety of important roles in society.  Today the breed’s reputation as the ideal family and hunting dog is superimposed with the angelic image of Labs working as service assistance dogs and guide dogs for the blind, and as highly trained members of search and rescueteams.  In addition, law enforcement agencies have discovered that Labs make ideal bomb and drug detection dogs.  No other breed is more often in the media spotlight, portrayed as the dog for all seasons.

However, many pet dog trainers and shelter staff workers are seeing another side to the Labrador’s personality that leads them to wonder if the match between this high energy dog and today’s busy urban family is not a match made in Heaven after all.

  The Angelic Labrador Retriever’s “Evil Twin”—Demolition Devil Dog

“People get Labs because they want great family dogs but they wind up with the ‘dog from h*ll’ that has to be managed constantly,”  said trainer Sue Conklin while working with a case in point, an adolescent male named Brody.  Although Brody’s owner took him for long daily walks, he was too destructive to be trusted in the house, barked for hours if left alone, continued to jump up in spite of attempts to train him to sit politely for petting, and worst of all, would sometimes go a little wild, nipping at his owner’s clothes and grabbing at her with his paws.  Brody sounded like he could be the prototype for the hard-to live with Lab, mismatched with two working owners.    

Yet even having a seemingly ideal family situation wasn’t enough to keep a Lab named Tess out of harm’s way.  After obtaining her from a breeder they found on the internet when she was six weeks old, her owners say they tried hard to properly train her, first working with a trainer at home, then eventually sending her to a board and train facility as a last resort.  John Contreras worked out of their home and Paige was a stay-at-home mom, so all along puppy Tess got plenty of company and supervision. However, they found Tess difficult to potty train and she peed whenever she got excited. She also had to have expensive knee surgery when she was about six months old, followed by a long period of constant crating.  Paige says jumping up and play biting were things Tess never really outgrew and soon it became impossible for the children to play with her.  By the time she was 85 lbs. she was also too big and strong for Paige to handle, even on a Gentle Leader. John became the only one who could walk her, and one day after Tess threw what he felt was a “temper tantrum”  on leash, John came home and announced he was done with her.  Paige, tired of cleaning up the dog’s pee, agreed with relief.  Exit Tess.

Meanwhile in a near-by area in Long Beach, Cal. a pair of Labs named with Maggie and Jake were wreaking another kind of havoc in the life of owner Karen Frakes.  Karen had found her pup, Maggie, difficult from the beginning.  “Every day when I came home from work, it was another disaster to clean up or fix or get repaired. There were times I thought, I’m going to have to give her away…before she was a year old I would just stress out over this everyday—then I thought, maybe part of her acting out is that she’s alone all day, so… I went to the pound, and there was this beautiful six  month old Lab, just about Maggie’s age. I brought him home and…they broke out the windows in my French door and ripped the redwood slats off the outside of my house.  When I had a computer installed, they ripped off the outside electrical wiring so I had to have an electrician come and put a steel box around it.  They dug a 4 ft. deep hole in my newly landscaped yard, ripped down small trees and bushes, would chew on everything—my antique furniture, my shoes, lots of clothes—they chewed a hole in my bathroom wall—it just went on forever and ever… One day when I was walking them, they saw another dog and were so excited-- they were going one way and I was going another and I tripped and broke my arm.  Then one night I opened the door and they rushed behind me and knocked me off the steps and I got a concussion and had to go to the hospital.”

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2005, 10:01:50 am »
Brody, Tess, Maggie and Jake’s behavior, not untypical of under-trained, under-exercised Labs, explains why so many with less committed and patient owners end up in shelters, usually during or shortly following adolescence.

“Most of the owners that I deal with are giving up their Labs because they don’t have time for them,” says Wyoming breed rescue volunteer Barb Walseth.  “We end up with a lot of Labs that have excess energy and the need to work, and owners want them to lie on the floor in front of the fireplace.  That doesn't come until much later with this breed.”

Trying to bridge the gap between owner expectations and the reality of rambunctious Labs has become a full time job for Joel Walton, author of “Labrador Retrievers for Dummies” and “Positive Puppy Training Works.”

“Labs or any breed bred to do certain kinds of work are generally going to be very active dogs…while most owners want a dog that doesn’t do anything at all, except wag his tail and look at them with love in his eyes and maybe walk with them, says Walton.  “When I’m talking to owners, I say, “When you got a puppy you didn’t want to learn to be a dog trainer, did you?  You already have a full time job and hobbies and a family--you probably even go places on vacation where you can’t take your dog with you, right?”

“The good news for dogs is, they’re pretty adaptable.  Labradors…have been bred to pay attention to human beings and follow their directions and that’s certainly a good start for a pet dog.  Also, there’s a vast (activity) range in Labradors and the most important thing people can do when they’re looking for a puppy is to get the right fit.  For those who want just a pet, that means a breeder whose goal is to produce good pets. If you go to a breeder who specializes in field trial champions, you’re going to get an Olympic athlete type of dog bred to have enough energy to do tremendously demanding work!”

Sally McCarthy Munson who breeds Shamrock Acres Labradors in Waunakee, Wisconsin, agrees that Labs from field lines tend to both act and look a bit different from Labs produced by conformation (bench/show dog) breeders. Munson says those from field backgrounds are a little more stream lined and lighter in weight, with longer legs and a bit narrower heads. “Most conformation dogs have some English bloodlines, and because of this, people call me and ask, “do you have American Labradors or English,” but that’s not the right question--what they should be saying is, ‘Do you have dogs with a field or with a show background’?”

Another thing to know, says Marianne Foote, owner of Winroc Labrador Retrievers and a director in the Labrador Retriever Club, “is the trend now is that everybody’s a specialist.  Basically we have three groups—the high performance field trial and obedience trial breeders and competitors who fall into the same category because they’re demanding a lot of energy, a lot of focus, and a lot of trainability; those are probably dogs that are labeled hyper by the average pet owner.  Then there are the straight conformation breeders… and third, there are the hunt test-dog show crosses.”  

It’s these field and show combination lines that McCarthy Munson says are most likely to produce the ideal Lab temperament—which she describes as a dog with enough brains, drive, and focus to succeed in sports like hunting or agility, but also a dog who can also turn that energy on and off and be very manageable around the house.   “These are my favorite litters!  We have pet people that get these dogs that may never hunt—but they enjoy hiking, water sports, or running with their dog.”  

However, it’s not safe to assume all show line Labs are couch potatoes either. Since low and high activity level and hyperactivity are all subjective terms, the best way someone can end up with the kind of puppy they want is to take a good long look at the parents.  It’s also wise to go to breeders that can give references from people who already have purchased dogs from them.  

Conversely, Juxi Burr of Albuquerque, New Mexico who has produced many champion Labradors, says the most likely way to end up with a problem puppy is to get one that’s been  randomly bred by a high volume breeder, the type who contributes to what Burr terms a disastrous overpopulation problem.

Marianne Foote concurs.  “Unfortunately, what’s happened is that everyone is blaming  (hyperactivity) on field trial dogs, but very few field breeders have constant litters, and most of their dogs go to those who are going to be competitive with them.  The phone calls that I get about behavior and soundness problems come from people who have bought dogs off the internet.  Of course, there may be some poor field line dogs too—but good field trial dogs can’t be out of control!  A good performance dog has to have a long attention span and ability to learn…but what I call the internet breeders, basically puppy mills breeding dogs for public consumption, are selecting dogs for color only.  It’s significant that phone requests I get about puppies are generally prefaced by color preference;  the public perception is that yellows are sweet and kind, and chocolate is rare, but neither stereotype is are true.  What I’m saying is not that dogs of these colors don’t carry these good qualities, but that Labs of any color can have an incorrect temperament if  they come from breedings based on color alone.”

An interesting corollary to the pet owner’s preference for yellow Labs is the fact that the majority of dogs with hunting or field trial titles are black.  According to Candlewood Kennels breeder Mary Howley, who has produced several field champions, this is because “those lines that carry the black coat color have traditionally been the most successful, so there is still the perception that the best competitive dogs are black.”  However, Howley says that in the past 25 years it has become possible to get equally good blood lines in dogs with yellow or chocolate coats.  

All this may be helpful information to pass along to clients planning to get a puppy, but what about those who are already in trouble with a Lab they may have bought from a puppy mill dealer?  Given that trainers are going to be meeting a lot of these folks, what help can they offer these pet owners and dogs like Brody, Tess, Maggie and Jake?

 Trainers to the Rescue--Keys to Successful Interventions

For starters, here is what three trainers who work with lots of Labradors think others should know about what makes them tick:  
1.   “What people need to remember is, this is an incredibly social breed!  They really want to be somebody’s dog.  When they’re not getting the attention they need, their response  is hyperactivity.  Other breeds may become shy or aloof, but Labradors get physically active, jumping up and knocking people down.  Also, they are so strong and physically tough that without early training, many owners lose the ability to control them at a very young age. Then if you combine big, strong and gregarious, you have a dog who is going to be dragging his owner around.”  --Connie Cleveland

2.   “Labs are very powerful and also easily stimulated—not so much prey driven, but just excited by other people and  dogs, so for almost every owner, I suggest the Gentle Leader head collar. For Labs, a lot of the solution lies with exercise.  That’s probably true of many breeds, but it’s phenomenally true of this breed.” -- Barbara Demarest:

3.   The thing I find with the Labs is, where other active dogs may tend to pester you, dropping balls at you, Labs are more likely to body slam you.  --Sue Conklin


All of this is not to say that the same training methods that work with out of control Labs won’t work with other dogs as well, which brings us back full circle.

“Dogs are dogs are dogs,” says Joel Walton.  “If everyone approaches it that way, we know a lot about training dogs and about building proper relationships. If anybody says ‘yes, but chows, or yes, but Jack Russell’s, or yes, but field bred Labs’—just remember, dogs have more things in common than differences, and if you manage them correctly, they can die of old age in their homes.”  

Elements of a good training program begin with good interviews and histories.  For difficult to control dogs, the next steps usually include:
A plan to meet the dog’s real needs, including companionship and mental stimulation.
A management plan, for example, teaching owners what to do when visitors come.
Use of proper equipment—Crates, tethers, Gentle Leaders, etc.
Basic obedience training—owners whose dogs will sit, stay and come when called have control over their dogs.
No Free Lunch-Say Please Program—This helps owners establish the right relationship and gain control over the dog without resorting to physical bullying.
Gentle mouth exercises to encourage bite inhibition.
Rewarding calm behavior.
An individually designed exercise program.

Possibilities for exercise programs include: Excursions to a dog park, doggy day care, or back yard play dates; stuffed Kongs for chewing; using treats to send the dog downstairs and recall him back upstairs; playing tug; retrieving and catch games.  Recalls in the back yard over a series of low cavaletti jumps (which can be purchased or hand made) will also provide a good work-out.  Teaching the dog some tricks and putting him through his paces can provide both mental and physical stimulation and relieve stress.  Short sessions comprised of fast sits, downs, and targeting (touching objects on cue) can also be helpful.

Fortunately, Brody’s trainer did begin by obtaining a detailed history, rather than proceeding on assumptions.  By carefully questioning the owner, and by observing and interacting with the dog, she discovered that his seemingly unprovoked episodes of wild grabbing and nipping was not aggressive attention seeking, but rather related to stress over having his neck or collar grabbed. “When he was a puppy, he was sometimes hooked up to a cable runner between posts-- and he would repeatedly get himself wrapped around the end post (tightening his collar) and panic and scream until somebody came out to get him.”  Desensitizing exercises helped Brody overcome his negative reaction to having his collar touched.  In addition, integrating Brody more into family life by placing him on a leash while his owners watched TV and allowing him to sleep in a crate in their bedroom, helped satisfy his needs for companionship.  At last report, Brody’s owner has been able to slowly allow him more freedom in the house and is happy with his progress.  

Maggie and Jake, who could have been voted most unlikely to have a happy outcome, are actually doing fine now.  They are still in their home and Karen, their owner,  was recently able to call her handy man to come and make repairs because they’re not destructive anymore.  Things started to turn around for this trio when Karen began working with a trainer.  “Every day, rain or shine, I had walked them religiously,” Karen recalled, “but Terry Long, my trainer, said that kind of walking just wasn’t enough for these dogs—they needed  to be able to run—so now they go to the dog park every day!  In addition to the chewing and digging problems, Jake also had some fearful behaviors that needed to be addressed.  “He seemed to be uncomfortable in his skin, poor little guy.  He was afraid of cars and of leads; when I’d take him for walks he would hyperventilate .”  Jake was put on medication, and the medication plus daily outings to the dog park have made all the difference.  

Tess also ended up safe and sound, but in a new home.  When it looked like she was headed for the shelter, in a fairy tale ending Tess was adopted by Erica Pintz,  her trainer from the boarding kennel.  Erica says she never had trouble handling Tess and ended up falling in love with her.  When Erica noticed that Tess was wetting herself in her sleep, she immediately took her to the vet, who found she had  a weak bladder and put her on a medication called Phenylpropanol amine. That solved the problem.  As for the temper tantrums on leash, Erica says, “What was happening was that on the way home from a walk, the dog would start to jump and bite at the owner  because she didn’t want to end the walk.  Her home was not a bad home, but because her owner couldn’t trust her enough, Tess was always stuck in the crate.  I never had that problem with her.  She had a history of knowing how to walk with me on a buckle collar and leash with treats—if she pulled, I would say “let’s go” and we’d change directions. She never had an opportunity to act inappropriatel y—if she did, it was handled the first time and that was the end of it.  Tess is about two now and she’s a great dog!  I have a blast taking her to the beach because she just dives in the waves and I love to see that!  She loves to retrieve too so I taught her to go fetch a toy when she wants to be petted; this was also to stop the biting and jumping up and it did!  It’s so funny--sometimes when I come home from work  before she even comes near me she goes and grabs her toy and then comes back to me for petting. She’s a really good dog!"  

Tess is also living proof that one person’s impossible owner surrender can metamorphose into another person’s best friend.

Joel Walton has evolved an amusing way of getting that important point over to potential puppy buyers right from the beginning.  “They come to visit and everyone is looking for the perfect family pet.  I tell them how much work they will have and I introduce them to a big black male who jumps up.  I watch to see if that freaks them out and I tell them, this is how your dog will be if you don’t have time to train him.  Then I put that dog up and I bring out another big black male  with good manners that sits politely for petting, and I tell them, this is what the dog can be like if he’s properly trained.  And after they chew on that awhile, I tell them that the first dog and this dog are the same fellow!”  

SOURCE: http://www.hollysden.com/the_u.htm
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline izzy_razzle

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2005, 10:31:50 am »
That was a great article.  My freind has two giant Labs who are out of control and they want to get rid of them.  I should show them this and maybe they will get help.  The dogs seem to be good dogs, but both of them work all the time.
Brianna

Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #25 on: July 16, 2005, 10:17:23 am »
I  hope your friends will research and find ways to cope until their pups grow up.  When they are young they need a lot of interaction and attention or else they become bored to death.
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Offline mastiffmommy

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #26 on: July 16, 2005, 01:14:42 pm »
I think labs and other retrievers are great dogs, as all other breeds they have their breed typical behaviour, they tend to mature later and be a little airheadded, BUT like pndlake said, they are being used as guidedogs and searchdogs and rescure dogs so dumb they can not be.

I have had a golden ret. and now have a golden mix, both were and are wonderful, kind and loving dogs. Yes they are gun dogs or hunting dogs as are all retrievers but that doesnt mean they have to be badly behaved, not at all. As already said here, as with all other breeds, it totally depends on how they are trained. I would say that goes for our human kids too, we dont judge ALL human kids and say ALL kids are horrible when we see a few that are badly behaved.

There are a lot of breeds that are originally bred for a certain purpose and now very rarely used for it, some breeds have a very high energy level and need some kind of work to do, if they dont get to do what they were meant for, BUT that again only leads us to, how it all boils down to who owns them and what they choose to do with their dog.

Marit
what the lion is to a cat, the mastiff is to a dog

Offline jabear

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2005, 04:35:57 pm »
Oh Moon, you are always such a wealth of information. Where do you find all that you know? I bet your mind is really a hidden encyclopedia inside your head.  ;D That, along with other things, makes you such a wonderful asset to BPO!

I have only had a few experiences with labs and did have one as a child who scarred me for life. He was a humper and humped EVERYTHING...N uff said. I do believe as many have said though that it is up the dog owner to make the dog all that he can be. Without rules and boundaries every living thing would have the potential to become a disaster waiting to happen. 
Hugs,
Jaime
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Offline moonlitcroatia

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Re: An article about why Labs are the most popular dog in the US
« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2005, 05:05:54 pm »
Jaime,

LOL!  My mind is lazy and that is why I find information so readily.  The truth is that in college I wanted to get my work done, plain and simple, and having that desire and the laziness of not wanting it to be a big deal, caused me to seek out information rather quickly.  (I really didn't tolerate pouring over boring books for hours on end).  I am able to skip to the point and have become pretty good at using boolean search techniques on the internet to find what I'm looking for.  So, it is out of pure laziness that information is so readily available to me.  I didn't want to spend hours reading my books.  I just wanted to find the facts, analyze them and produce a quality essay with as little effort as possible, and I found that saturating myself with facts caused me to find a topic quickly and have more than enough information to consider when constructing content.

Believe me, in the beginning it is overwhelming to be faced with long paragraphs replete with nonsensical words that do not point to the subject or answer.  Then, after years of practice the only thing a person sees is the point/answer within the body of the text.  The rest is a myriad of filler words and jibberish.  This is what makes research much quicker.  Scanning!
I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner