As a mom to Labradors for more than 19 years I am often asked whether Labradors are better as indoor or outdoor dogs? So I decided to explore the question more thoroughly. I looked into the traits of Labradors to see if these traits would serve them better living indoors or outside.
Labradors are indoor dogs because they want to be where their humans are most of the time. Being social animals, they thrive indoors as part of the household pack. Labradors can bond with their humans outdoors during exercise and training sessions.
Many dog owners will try to fit a dog’s living habits into their own lifestyle. Often they will determine a dog’s suitability to live outdoors based on the weather.
In truth, dogs, just like humans, need the right type of environment to develop and thrive mentally and socially. The traits and temperament of Labs will tell you a lot about their optimal living conditions. Let’s find out what they are.
Labrador Traits And Temperament For The Outside
These are the reasons that prospective Lab owners may think that their dog can live and sleep outside.
They are active
Labradors are extremely active.
Some may enjoy living outdoors for the wide open space that it provides, allowing them to run.
They are social
If you are away from home a lot, your Labrador may enjoy the ability to socialize with passers-by, local children or other pets outside.
They can live in cool climates
A Labrador’s coat is not equipped for significant drops in temperatures. They do grow a winter coat to keep them warm in areas where the temperatures may get cooler at night. This is often the reason they will experience a major shed right before the spring as this coat is no longer needed.
Labrador Traits And Temperament For The Inside
Labradors are one of the most social breeds.
This means that they need regular social interaction to make them happy. One special consideration for Labs is a happy Lab is less likely to be destructive or develop bad behaviors such as excessive chewing.
A sign of their social need is when your Lab is constantly around you when you get home from work. And then they wait anxiously for you to sit down so they can lay down beside you. Labradors can have separation anxiety and will often want to keep you in sight to feel safe and relaxed.
if a Lab spends all their time outside, they will feel disconnected.
They will feel anxious not knowing where you are.
They are very intelligent
Labradors are extremely intelligent. They need interaction to help stimulate their minds and stave off boredom.
Boredom is the biggest enemy of the Labrador.
When your Lab gets bored, you will know it.
You may come home to find your favorite shoes destroyed or your favorite chair chewed up.
They love being part of a pack
Labs are pack animals. They feel most safe and secure when around others, whether it be with other animals or humans. Leaving them outside for long period by themselves will distress them.
The ideal outside environment
We need to be practical. You leave the house. You go to work. Not every dog owner can be home all the time.
If your Lab wants to sleep outdoors at night, you will need to make them feel comfortable. What steps can you take to make your Lab’s outside environment as comfortable as possible until you come home?
Step 1 Containment
There are various ways you can contain your Labrador outside.
Which option is best for you and your dog? Read our detailed article on how do you select the right enclosure for your dog when they are outside.
Your Lab will need to stay confined in a fenced-in area that is at least five feet tall so that they cannot get out.
Sink the fence into the ground at least a foot, so they can not get under it. They may be so desperate to socialize that they will dig under the fence to visit the dog, the cat or the humans next door.
Step 2 Shelter
You will need a kennel or a dog house that your dog can move around in and sprawl out.
They should not be slouching or be hunched over to fit in it.
We recommend the Petsfit Dog House, suitable for outdoors. See today’s price for the Petsfit Dog House for your lab on Amazon.
Step 3 Weather proofing
Another issue you will need to address is hot and cold temperatures.
If the weather is extreme, your dog should be brought in until the bad weather passes.
Otherwise, make sure that they have shaded areas where they can get out of the sun.
For colder days, your dog should have an insulated dog house covered by a roof that is waterproof.
Click on the link provided to view the best insulated dog house we recommend.
If your area gets colder at night, consider a heated outdoor bed, dog house heater, or an outdoor dog house with heater built-in. Heated outdoor beds are perfect under a covered area outside like a patio. If that’s not an option, consider the self contains all-in-one doghouse with a heater.
Even if your dog lives outside during the day, it is always best to bring them in a night.
If they get lonely, they will likely bark and can become disruptive for neighbors.
Also, be sure to discuss with your vet your Lab’s living conditions. They can recommend any additional vaccinations they need to protect them.
Step 4 Food and Water
You always need to make sure that your dog will be able to readily access their food and have a constant clean supply of fresh water available.
In terms of my recommendations, I’ve kept things really simple. My budget option bowls can be used for food and water. HINT: In summer to stop ants getting into your dog food in the AmazonBasics bowl, put water all around the rim where the rubber is to act as a barrier for the ants. Works wonders!
|Where to go
|AmazonBasics Dog Bowl
|Non-spill Stainless steel bowl for food and water
|Check the latest price
|Best Water Fountain
|PetSafe Drinkwell 360
|Filtered water in a BPA-free plastic container
|Read all the reviews
|Best in cold weather
|Farm Innovators Heated Bowl
|Non-spill thermostatically controlled to operate only when necessary
|Check it out
Step 4 Exercise
On average a Labrador will need 1 hour of exercise each day.
For an older dog, this can do down to 45 minutes.
For a more energetic or younger Lab, this can go up to 1.5 to 2 hours a day. If your lab is particularly
Exercising a Lab is a good way for them to release all that energy they have. They can easily go a whole day of hiking and exploring. Unfortunately, if not properly exercised, this pent-up energy will turn into destructive behaviors such as digging or chewing something you value (like your garden beds).
Poor exercise later in life can also lead to weight gain. Excess weight can cause their joints to become damaged more quickly and lead to other health complications.
Any type of exercise that gets your Lab moving will be good exercise. Add variety to these exercise periods including playing fetch (ball, stick, frisbee), walking, jogging, swimming, flyball or running an obstacle course. Try to vary their exercise routine to keep them engaged and be sure they have plenty of water with you.
Here are some ideas more ideas to get your dog stimulated through exercise.
- Don’t stick to the same route during your walks. Change it up a bit. The different smells will mentally stimulate your Lab.
- Being a social breed, be sure to take your Lab where you can find some other dogs and humans.
Organizeplaydates? If you have good friends with dogs, invite them around. You can sit in the yard talking to your friend while the dogs are running around.
Step 5 A companion
It is also advisable to get your dog a companion to satisfy their social needs. It’s
Labradors love to wrestle and chase but are very gentle and understand when another animal is smaller and weaker than them.
Another canine companion is no substitute for human interaction. You still will need to play and interact with them every day.
Step 6 Play and stimulation
Remember, boredom is the enemy.
You can play games with your Lab even though you’re not home all day. These games give them some mental stimulation. Here’s some game ideas:
- Hide and seek. Labradors have a great sense of smell. They also love food – especially treats! Put treats in a Kong (an interactive food dispensing toy) and hide them. During the day, your dog will sniff them out and eventually get the treat hidden inside the Kong.
- If your Lab is a strong chewer, be sure to have their outside living space peppered with all their favorite chew toys.
- Interactive dog puzzle toys are a great way to stimulate your Lab’s brain. The puzzle toys make finding and accessing treats challenging. Level 2 puzzle toys from Nina Ottosson will keep your Lab’s mind extra sharp.
- Given they get bored quickly, don’t leave out the same toys every day. You can place your dog toys in different colored boxes
labeledwith the day of the week on each box. After you greet your dog when you get home, teach your Lab “Pick up”. That is, fetch their toys and put them back in their box. It’s just another game, followed by a well-earned pre-dinner treat.
Check out certified Dog Trainer Glenn Massie video below where he shares quality food dispensing toys made in the USA.
If you would like to try and of the toys that Glenn spoke about in his video, use the links provided below to buy them on Amazon. Remember all the West Paw Zogoflex treat-dispensing toys that Glenn recommends are made in the U.S.A.
|For more information
|More durable. Freeze treats inside.
|Great fetch toy. Put treats inside, put inside a tall cup with water and freeze. 20 minutes of entertainment.
|Puzzle toy with slow-dispensing treats inside like Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food comes in lamb, beef, and venison. Lamb is the absolute fave with my dog.
|Put Tuckers chicken strips inside for 30 minutes of fun.
I love Glenn’s suggestion of freezing
Don’t buy cheap treats, food or dog toys made in China. You really don’t know whether the manufacturing standards are as high as in the US. You don’t want your dog consuming lead or some harmful dye.
What Do Labradors Love About Living Outside?
Labradors absolutely love, love, love to run.
They love to run so much that you will need to train them properly when they are young to avoid them bolting out the door and up the street at every opportunity.
They also enjoy chasing animals, whether it is a squirrel or bird, even if they know they won’t be able to catch it.
While they may not be fond of being in the cold for too long, they do like playing in fluffy white snow when it is thick on the ground.
And sticks. There is almost no better toy to get your Labrador than a good size stick they can play with outside. They not only love to fetch the stick but they also will spend hours whittling it away, and sometimes even looking for a place to hide it for later.
What Are the Cons of Keeping a Labrador Outside?
Even though your Labrador can live outdoors, there are many drawbacks to this.
It is important for you to be aware of these drawbacks so you can keep your dog safe.
An outside environment can be dangerous
There are poisonous plants, toxic chemicals, and dangerous animals that can be encountered. It is always best to make sure they have a secure living environment that can keep them protected from common dangers.
Labs can escape from your backyard
Labradors are quite smart and resourceful. This means that they can be master escape artists. To ensure their safety, you should make sure that there is nothing close enough to the fence for them to climb, and no weak spots that they could breakthrough.
Labs can dig up and destroy backyards
You also may have to show a little more patience when your dog is outside because they can also become destructive by digging up plants and chewing on things they find in the yard.
Exposure to fleas and ticks
Another con of having your lab live outdoors is their risk of becoming infected with ticks and fleas. Fleas and ticks can cause your lab to become ill if not treated. They are more likely to attach to your dog when they are outside. Even if your dog is outside, a flea infestation can still work its way in your home by catching a ride on your clothes after you interact with the dog. Always make sure your dog is properly treated with preventative medication. Address flea and tick issues as soon as they are discovered.
For the best all-round flea, tick, and mosquito prevention solution, we recommend Bayer K9 Advantix II for labs weighing over 55 pounds.
Back to weather extremes. When having your lab outside you will need to educate yourself in the symptoms of heatstroke and hypothermia. Use good judgment when extreme weather conditions occur.
Heatstroke can cause excessive drooling and deep red gums.
When your dog is too cold, they can shiver, become lethargic, and show signs of lessened coordination. A dog jacket for your Lab will help them stay warmer when it’s cold.
Living Inside Your Home
The ideal inside environment
Give them a space
Just like humans, your Labrador will need its own space to feel safe and comfortable.
This means creating a sleeping area where your pet can relax, rest, and even retreat from the hustle and bustle of the household if needed.
It is also good to have this space established if you wish to keep your Labrador off of the furniture in your home.
Equip this Lab space with a bed, blanket, or something comforting to lay on and keep one of two favorite toys in this area. If you plan on crate training your Lab, their bedding should be kept in the crate along with some favorite toys.
Access to food
You will also want them to be able to easily access their food and purchase a food dish on risers to keep their back aligned when eating.
Labradors can suffer from joint problems as they age, so this will allow them to enjoy their food more comfortably.
Fresh water at the ready
Make sure your dog always has a steady supply of fresh and clean water.
If you spend time away from home during the day. If your Lab has the roam of the house, make sure to keep toys in every room they may spend time in.
They love to chew
When Labs are young, they like to chew. This behavior can reoccur when they are bored or missing you as they get older.
Having readily available items for them to chew, can keep them busy and prevent them from turning furniture and shoes into new chew toys!
What Do Labs Love About Living Inside The House?
While warmth and comfort are driving factors that are the most common reasons that animals wish to live indoors, the truth is your Labrador will be happiest indoors because that is where they can be around you the most. They love hanging out with their peeps!
Labradors are extremely social and require interaction to keep happy and prevent them from acting out. This interaction can be as simple as a pat on the head, a thrown ball, or a simple snuggle.
Your dog may even find extreme joy simply following you around while you go about your daily routine. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like to get into the action.
Your Lab will also love to be indoors so that they can play with household members and other pets. If you have kids, who like to wrestle around don’t be surprised if your Lab wants to get in on the action.
What About The Great Outdoors?
Just because your Labrador is more suited to live inside your home, that does not mean that they will enjoy being cooped up inside all day.
Labradors are hunting and sporty dogs. Staying active and playing is one of the ways they challenge themselves mentally and physically.
Keeping your dog cooped up for too long can lead to bad habits as well, such as chewing and other destructive behaviors as an outlet for their boredom.
So always make sure to get your Labrador out at least once or twice a day to get them some exercise. Let them enjoy some fresh air. Give them the opportunity to explore their surroundings.
Do Labradors Love Being In The Great Outdoors?
Labradors are not only social creatures but also curious ones.
They are smart animals and rely on constant intellectual stimulation by exploring their surroundings. This makes the trips outside of their normal environment even more exciting. Labs enjoy interacting with nature and discovering areas through smell and sight. They also enjoy other outdoor activities such as swimming.
When you take your dog exploring be sure to be conscious of their surroundings and keep an eye on them.
Curiosity can sometimes get the better of them. You want to make sure that they don’t encounter any animals or poisonous plants that could cause them harm. Next time you want to enjoy a hike, nature walk, or trip to the beach or even camping, make sure to bring your Lab with you. It can make for great bonding time and give you company on your trip.
What Kind Of Outdoor Activities Do Labs Love?
As mentioned earlier, Labradors love being active.
What they love even more is being interactive with you. While you are out walking with them, they will most enjoy activities that involve one-on-one interaction with them.
Your Labrador loves playing fetch as much for the activity as they do for the act of pleasing you with their skill set. They also like you playing tug of war with their toys.
Your Labrador is quite sporty, and they love to show it off, so take them outside with a frisbee, take them out to a beach or lake to go for a swim, or even set up minor obstacle courses for them to test out their agility. Labradors want to show you how smart and capable they are and will enjoy your reaction when they perform amazing tasks.
Need some more inspiration about what outdoor activities you can enjoy with your Lab? We have 41 fun suggestions you can read about.
Can Labradors sleep outside?
The short answer is yes, your Lab can sleep outside. It could take them several days or even weeks to get used to being separated from you at night.
When having your Lab sleep outside, always be sure they have the appropriate environment for the temperature, have plenty of water, and have other items to make them feel safe such as toys and blankets.
Can Labradors live outside?
Labradors can live outdoors. Ideally, these dogs prefer indoors because they want to be around their humans. They are social animals and love bonding and being part of a pack. That’s why they make such a great family pet. Outdoors they can enjoy exercise and training and bond further with their humans too.
If they are outdoors, it is important to always have a suitable area for your dog to rest and get shade.
You will also need to make time to regularly exercise and spend quality time with your Lab. This interaction will discourage destructive behavior from boredom. Labradors will do better outside when they have a companion as well.
If your Lab insists on sleeping outside for some reason, read our guide to make them as comfortable as possible.
Are Labs indoor or outdoor dogs?
Indoors for sure. Though they can survive and develop outdoors, they are by nature an indoor dog that requires a significant amount of attention and
Even if you are considering keeping your lab outside due to their hyper behavior, be patient. As they get older and begin to feel more secure in the home and family, they will calm down and are quite gentle with all ages of family members. Remember their ultimate goal is to be a part of your family.
Want More Reading About Labradors?
Even though Labradors prefer living indoors, they are great companions for when you want to explore the great outdoors. There are loads of activities you can enjoy with your Labrador outside your home:
- Do Labradors love to swim?
- Walking long distances: is your Labrador up to the challenge?
- Let’s meet the Labrahuahua
- Are chocolate Labrador Retrievers hypoallergenic?
- Discover more about the white Labrador
- Golden Labrador Retrievers: is there such a dog?
- Introducing the Jackador. The what???
- Pomodor – the Lab Pomeranian mix
- How long do black Labradors live for?
- Trailing running with your Lab
- Annual cost of owning a lab
- Dock diving: will your Labrador like it?
- Cats and Labs: do they get on with each other?