Your Lab could stay outside all the time—as long as he had adequate food, water and shelter—but he probably wouldn't be happy about it. Labs are people dogs—they want and need to be around their humans. Isolating your Lab away from his family pack can cause him to develop some very serious mental and physical problems.
Labs who don't get enough time with their human family often become lonely and bored. In an effort to relieve their boredom, some isolated Labs resort to destructive behaviors such as digging or chewing. Others bark incessantly or run back and forth along the fence for hours at a time. Some spend most of their time perfecting their escape tactics, eventually becoming so good at it that they can get out of almost any fence.
Isolation can have adverse physical effects as well. Dogs who are only temporarily confined to yards often fail to get adequate exercise, preferring instead to nap in the shade until their owners get home. If your Lab were to live outside, deprived of human contact most of the time, he might completely forgo exercise, either out of boredom or in order to engage in destructive, but tension-releasing, behavior. Over time, his decreased activity could lead to obesity and the health problems that accompany it.
What if my Lab just won't behave when he's indoors?
Labs who seem to go wild when they come inside and spend time with people are generally caught up in a vicious cycle. The dog spends most of his time outside by himself with little or no human companionship. When he finally gets to be around his family, he's wild and unmanageable—jumping up, climbing on the furniture, racing through the house. His family, unable to control him, sentences him to more solitary confinement.
You need to consider why you want your Lab to stay outside all the time. If he's outside during the day because everyone's at work or school, you should make every effort to include him in family activities in the evenings. When you get home, bring him into the house and let him stay with the family until the next morning. If he spends a lot of time outside because he's got bad manners when he's in the house, or because he's not reliably housetrained, you need to work with him in those areas. If the problem behaviors are long-standing or serious, you might want to enlist the help of an expert. You may not be able to spend every minute with your Lab, but you don't have to totally isolate him either.
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