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Much like other people, I have a busy family and work life. I spend as much time as I can with my Labrador, but I donâ€™t always feel like itâ€™s enough. This made me wonder, as Iâ€™m sure other pet owners do, how much time do we really need to spend with our Labs?
Labradors need two hours minimum of social time with their owners every day. This can be broken down into chunks throughout the day for activities, such as exercising, which Labs need for proper stimulation. Whenever you can spend more than two hours with your Lab each day, thatâ€™s even better.
In this article, Iâ€™ll explain why you need to spend at least two hours every day with your Lab and what could happen if you donâ€™t. Iâ€™ll also discuss various ways to make the most out of your precious bonding time.
The Importance of Spending Time With Your Labrador
As Iâ€™ve mentioned before, Labs are social dogs. If you donâ€™t give them enough time, theyâ€™ll be more likely to exhibit the temperaments Iâ€™ve stated above.
Unbeknownst to many, spending time with your Lab is not just for his benefit. It comes with many health advantages for you, the owner, too.
According to an NIH article, being with your pet can help:Â
- Boost your mood and make you feel happier
- Increase your physical activity
- Lower your blood pressure
- Reduce your stress by decreasing the levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes it
- Manage pain in people with cancer and terminal illnesses
These are all excellent reasons to spend more time with your furry friend.
Consequences of Not Spending Enough Time With Your Lab
Should you fail to spend the necessary time with your Lab, they might end up doing the following:
Eat Everything Up
Dogs, being social creatures, yearn to bond with their owners. If they donâ€™t get enough of this, they might get bored and chew everything up.
Labs, after all, have insatiable appetites. Though they will not overeat themselves to death, they will chew everything down until they feel nauseated.
The chewing is not limited to food, though, as they can rummage through non-food items as well. Remember your beaten-down carpet slippers?
If you think youâ€™ve seen enough, then wait until you and your Lab come home from a long walk. You can expect them to chew down even more because they’re tired and eager to eat!
â€˜Veryâ€™ Excited To See You
Is your Lab more than enthusiastic to see you?
More than just missing you, this might mean that your dog wants to get more attention from you. If heâ€™s not getting the bonding time he needs, he may become overly enthusiastic and hard to calm. This can also have a negative impact on his training if heâ€™s still a puppy.
Act Weird Around People
When you donâ€™t interact as much as you should with your Lab, he wonâ€™t know how to interact with the other humans around him.
This could make your dog feel bored whenever other people pet him.
Worse, your Lab can become anxious, apprehensive, or avoidant towards the unfamiliar people around him.
How Much Attention Do Labradors Need?
Two hours of owner-pet social time is the bare minimum for Labrador Retrievers. Theyâ€™re incredibly active dogs, and theyâ€™re also very social. They usually do well with other animals in the house, but they prefer to get their attention from their owners, so if you can give them more time, please do!Â
How To Reduce Your Labradorâ€™s Time Spent Alone
You shouldnâ€™t leave your Lab alone for more than three to four hours. If you work a regular 9 to 5 job, this can be tough. If your work schedule wonâ€™t allow you to visit your dog during the day, you don’t have to worry if you have to be out for long. Here are some ways to minimize your dog’s alone time – while you’re busy working to fund his needs:
Get a Dog Walker
As the name suggests, dog walkers will get your Lab the walking exercise that he needs. Depending on how long you have to leave your pet, you might need the walkerâ€™s services once a day or more often. Your dog walker may also feed and water your dog before putting him back in his kennel.
Ask Family or Friends To Spend Some Time With Your Lab
If you have family or friends who are dog enthusiasts, then you could try to ask them to spend some time with your Lab. They donâ€™t have to necessarily walk them, as spending even a little time with them is good enough.
Enroll Your Lab in Doggy Day Care
You might feel uncomfortable leaving your Lab with anybody else – family and pals included. As an alternative, your best choice is to enroll them in doggy daycare.
Just like its human counterpart, this is a place where you can leave your pet without any worries. Here, they can:
- Play with other dogs, which can serve as their daily exercise
- Get mentally stimulated
- Learn a routine that eliminates boredom and separation anxiety
Buy Solo Play Toys
Thereâ€™s no need to panic if you don’t have the resources to enroll your Lab in daycare or walking services. You can keep them socially stimulated by giving them solo-play toys.
For one, you can buy a puzzle feeder that can keep your dog on its toes for hours. Another option is a ball that rolls around and provides treats after being chased.
My go-to chew toys that LAST:
Kong Classic chew toy for large dogs (Molly still has the same one we purchased on 10/16/2017!)
Kong Classic chew toy with Easy Treat peanut butter spray (so much easier than using a knife)
Kong tug of war toy (her absolute favorite)
Use a Dog Anxiety Wrap
If you have to leave for a shorter time, you can place your Lab in an anxiety wrap. It can make him feel calmer.
That said, you can use this wrap during other times as well. For instance, if your dog is scared of thunder, this wrap can make them feel calm amidst the raging thunderstorm.
Here’s an example of one on Amazon if you aren’t familiar with them.
How To Bond With Your Labrador
You may be wondering how to make the most out of your limited time. Well, here are some things you could do to bond well with your pet:
Exercise With Your Lab
Labs, being high-energy dogs, need to let this energy out constructively. If not, they will end up munching your carpet, shoes, etc.
Itâ€™s important that a Lab gets the proper amount of exercise he needs. Pups need 15 minutes to start, which should be increased slowly. In general, less energetic Labs require 30 to 45 minutes and high-energy dogs need about 1.5 to 2 hours.
The good news is you can squeeze in the daily exercise during this time. You can do so by taking your Lab with you as you hike, run, bike, or swim. Playing fetch with your pet should get your heart racing, too!
Take Your Dog to the Park
Labs love to play with humans and other dogs. By taking them to the park, they can ‘bond’ well with species such as:
- Golden Retrievers
Train Your Dog
Even if youâ€™re not a professional trainer, you can train your Lab to do nifty tricks. With lots of patience, you can teach your pet to:
- Stay until released
- Obey on a leash
- Stop biting
- Bark only when necessary
- Be a protective/barrier Lab
I highly recommend using an online training program to train your dog yourself, but with the guidance of a professional. This alternative to traditional training is both convenient as well as cost-effective.
Shower Your Lab With Affection
You don’t always have to be on your feet to bond with your Lab. Try to stay beside them as you watch TV or spend time with your family. Labradors are very cuddly animals, and itâ€™s very easy to snuggle up with them.
Labradors, being social dogs, will require you to spend at least two hours with them every day. If you aren’t able to give this time, your pet may end up eating everything up. Worse, they may act weird or aggressive around other people.
To prevent this from happening, you should bond with your Lab whenever you can. You can do this by cuddling or exercising with them. Consider taking them to the park – or training them during your free time, as well.