Living in the suburbs with your Labrador Retriever
The suburbs may be the best of Labrador Retriever worlds, but its environment poses its own special set of problems. While suburban Labrador Retrievers are usually not as restricted, regulated, isolated, and controlled as those in the cities, the very lifting of these restrictions provides a set of pressures for the suburban dog owner.
When suburbs do have leash laws, residents do not always obey them. In general, enforcement of leash laws is lax in the suburbs. The law may include a stipulation that the dog must be leashed or "under the owner's direct control." Having a Labrador Retriever under one's "direct control" is, of course, an ambiguous phrase. What it means in practice is that the Labrador Retriever is allowed to run free but eventually returns home. This is enough "control" for some owners.
Free-roving dogs often form packs or bite, a growing problem in many suburbs and villages. This is forcing suburbs to adopt city-type leash laws and implement zoning restrictions that penalize all dog owners. At least in cities, most stray Labrador Retrievers are picked up promptly and impounded. As a result, city dog owners tend to keep their dogs supervised, since they stand a very real chance of losing them if they don't.
Regardless of the environment, the only complete solution to free-roving is somehow to contain the Labrador Retriever on one's own property when it is not on a leash. The best and most humane way is to bring the dog into the house where it belongs regardless of the owner's interpretations to the contrary. Assuming the dog is indoors at least fifty percent of the time and is obedience-trained to come when called, there will be little or no problem of its going off its own property. When there is a problem, secondary backup solutions are to fence in the yard or to chain the Labrador Retriever, an unhappy alternative.
Some suburbanites persist in believing the myth that their environment is "country" enough to allow their pet to go where it pleases. (Unfortunately, even a country environment does not allow that.) The suburbs are not the country, and even if they were, that is no excuse for letting a dog run wild.
Many a suburban dog owner experiencing house-soiling, chewing, digging, or free-roving has considered actually moving out to the country, in order to have their dogs “roam free”. However, that would not help. Labrador Retriever owners cannot do without having complete control over their dog. A dog will come when it is kept close by, oriented to the inside of the house, and formally practiced in coming when called. Most dogs who are running free in the open become less and less inclined to listen when called and become too relaxed when it comes to obedience. Instead, keep your Labrador Retriever inside, and either accompany it under supervision or leash it for defecation and exercise. If you want it to run free, take it to a park or large field and personally watch the dog.