Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Labs and Backyards: An Extensive Overview

This guest post is written by Ian B for Design 55 Online.

Dog-proofing your house for a new Labrador Retriever can be quite daunting. Horror stories of torn up couches, dozens of destroyed pairs of shoes, and articles of clothing that have been demolished beyond recognition are common. The easiest, most practical way to protect your house from a new lab is to invest in a backyard designed for your lab. A well-exercised dog is a content dog. In addition to being a happier, healthier dog, a well-exercised dog invariably causes significantly less damage than their unexercised counterparts.

A backyard is the ideal place for a dog to exercise. Striking a perfect combination between a dog’s need and your own is essential to any backyard. Both your own needs and your lab’s needs must be accounted for if you want to achieve the perfect, lab-friendly backyard.

A lab is an extremely active dog. A backyard must be large enough to accompany the dog’s ferocious appetite for exercise. Many factors must be taken into consideration, but if a yard isn’t large enough, the lab is sure to find it unsatisfactory. The first step to design a backyard for your lab is to dog-proof your backyard.

A fence, in this case, is essential. Two different categories of fences are available for purchase: electric fences and traditional fences. An electrical fence requires significant amounts of preparation, from digging up and implanting the boundaries to training your dog the boundaries of the electrical fence.

A traditional fence is almost always a better option as it is more effective and also doubles as a security feature. The fence must be tall enough the dog can’t easily leap over it, and it must extend several feet into the ground to discourage a dog digging and crawling underneath the fence.

The actual landscaping the background is essential to building the perfect lab-friendly backyard. Small shrubs and flowers are almost always a safe bet, and grass is an essential part of creating a lab-friendly backyard. Several plants should be avoided at all costs, however, due to their toxic ingredients. Tulips, rhododendrons, and lilies are the most common toxic plants, but a complete list of toxic plants and plants harmful to canines can be found on the ASPCA website.

A doghouse or other shelter is an important part of a backyard. The shelter will provide protection from the elements on rainy or cold days, and also double as a shaded little den for the labs to escape from the sun. The doghouse also adds a sense of home for the dog, and ensures a happy and content dog. A shelter is absolutely essential if the dog plans on sleeping outside. A blend natural materials and hard, man-made materials provides a nice compromise of materials for a lab. The lab will often vouch for a brick laid path of a concrete patio that absorbs sunlight during chillier days. The soft grass, of course, is the more suitable material for dogs and a backyard should never consist of only man-made surfaces.

A built in water feature is a luxury, but its practicality far outshines its upkeep. A pond, in particular, is a picturesque addition to a backyard that ensures your lab will be well hydrated and healthy during even the hottest of days. While a pond is a luxury and not a necessity, it will ensure a constant supply of water and will prevent dehydration. The water in the pond or fountain must not be stagnate, however, or the water will not be fit for your lab to drink.

Following the basic procedures will result in a backyard suitable for any lab. A well maintained backyard, designed with a lab in mind, is an essential part of keeping your dog healthy, active, and away from destructive behavior.

Ian B writes for Design 55 Online which specializes in Umbra homeware.

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Anonymous,  January 11, 2012 4:56 PM  

It's been a few years since I owned my last lab and I had somewhat rose-tinted specs about how good he was. My new lab puppy sleeps in his cage when I am out regardelss of how Little time I am going to be out and has no bed in there are he has gone through 5 so far. His latest looks like a swiss cheese it has so many holes in it. This is despite being walked twice a day and having around 10 chew toys which I rotate to stop him getting bored. I can't wait until he grows out of the chewing phase...... at least I hope he grows out of his chewing phase!!

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