An Inside or Outside Dog?

In the best of all worlds, your Lab will spend part of his day in the house, socializing with his fellow family members, and part of his day playing outside — barking at squirrels, chasing birds, splashing in the baby pool you've filled up for him — all the things Labs love best. Make sure you provide him with the balance he needs. After all, there's not much point in having a fun and companionable dog like a Lab if you're not going to spend any time with him, or if you don't provide him with enough exercise and outdoor play.

Doghouses and Dog Runs

Your Lab should have a safe room in your home, and he should also have certain forms of shelter in the yard. A doghouse, a dog run, and a fenced yard will all help keep your Lab safe. Together, they protect him from the elements — sun, rain, snow — from getting into trouble, and from running away.

Doghouses come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. You can buy one made of wood or high-impact plastics at any pet or home supply store, or you can design and build one of your own creation. Besides being sturdy — so your Lab doesn't chew it up — a doghouse should be large enough for him to stand up and turn around inside.

If your Lab has a digging problem — and many do — consider buying or building a dog run so your Lab has a secure place to play where he can't damage your yard. A dog run should be at least 6 feet high and 12 feet long to allow for plenty of sniffing area. Make it as big as you can so your Lab has lots of room to play. A cover provides shelter from sun and rain. Place a doghouse in the run so your Lab has a nice place to nap.

Fenced Yards

Make sure your fence is high enough to confine your Lab. Some are jumpers, so you'll need a fence that's at least 6 feet high. Labs can chew through the bottom of chain link, so the best choice is a solid fence made of wood or stucco — anything the dog can't see through. Thorny shrubs or roses planted against the fence can serve as an additional barrier. Consider burying wire hardware cloth along the bottom edge of the fence to make it more difficult for the Lab to dig there.

What about underground electronic fences? This type of fence requires that you train your dog to stay behind its borders. The dog must wear a special collar, which delivers a shock if the dog crosses the line, so to speak.

To help discourage dog thieves, place a sign on your fence or dog run noting that your dog is tattooed and microchipped. Thieves are less likely to steal a dog that's easily identifiable.

Most trainers don't recommend the use of electronic fences, and many consider them cruel. Electronic fences have other disadvantages. Your Lab can still run across the boundary if he sees a squirrel or bird that he simply must chase, and he may then be unwilling to risk another shock by returning to the yard. Nor will an electronic fence keep other dogs or animals out of your yard. A solid fence is a better choice.

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