There is no doubt that pets improve our lives.
Your Labrador is amazing. But the roles that Labradors as a breed play in our society are quite staggering.
There are so many ways in which Labradors make our lives better.
This sensitive and loving breed are not just pets, but devoted companions and workmates too.
We have been having a look at just a few of the many ways Labradors improve the quality of life of their human friends.
From day to day companionship, to supporting the vulnerable and keeping us all safe from harm.
There are so many ways that Labradors make our lives better.
1. Pets as Therapy
Pets as Therapy is a charity which brings dogs into hospitals and care homes, for patients to stroke and pat, or simply to keep them company for a while.
Going into hospital can be a very upsetting and isolating experience. Especially if they have left a beloved pet behind at home.
Even very withdrawn individuals have been seen to really open up when the PAT dogs (or cats!) come to visit them.
To allow them to have a happier and more speedy recovery.
Labradors can make wonderful PAT dogs, due to their kind and gentle natures.
If you are interested in supporting the Pets as Therapy charity, you can visit their website here.
2. Finding Drugs
Although you might normally associate Springer Spaniels with drug dogs, there is a key role for Labradors to play in this area too. With their social and friendly natures, they often play more open roles in drug detection, involving working around the general public.
You will most often find drug detection Labradors in areas such as airports or other transport hubs, sniffing out anything suspicious that may be being carried by the human passengers.
3. Helping Traumatised Soldiers
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a terrible afflication that most commonly affects soldiers who have been a
Fear, anxiety, depression and often substance abuse can become a daily battle for ex-military workers. But amazingly, a Labrador can help.
Studies have shown that getting a veteran to train a service dog for a period of a few weeks can help to draw them out of their emotional
Training a dog has been shown to improve their ability to communicate, as well as reduce the hypervigilance associated with PTSD. They are also able to sleep better as a result.
Paws for Purple Hearts is a charity which works with veterans, helping each other through the training of service dogs.
4. Finding Money
It’s not just illegal and dangerous substances that Labradors can be taught to find.
They have also played a major role in tracking down stolen money!
In the US there are a team of currency dogs, who assist Customs and Border Protection agents.
Trained to recognise the distinct smell of the ink and paper used printing money, they seize millions of pounds every year before it can leave the country!
5. Detecting Cancer
Malignant tissue has been shown to release different chemicals to regular tissue in our bodies.
Therefore it is possible for a Labrador to be trained to recognise and alert us to their pressence.
Some dogs have been seen to have noticed signs of changes in their owners, which pushed them to go to the doctor long before they would have realised.
Some studies have shown a Labrador able to identify breath and stool samples from a patient with colon cancer with a success rate of over 90%.
However, this is an area of ongoing research, and it remains to be seen in the future how much use this might be. But it’s still pretty amazing!
6. Retrieving Game
Labradors are born and bred gundogs, and most of them like nothing more than to retrieve.
Working Labrador Retrievers play a vital role in their owners’ livelihoods by picking up game that has been shot, and returning it carefully and undamaged to their handler.
This can then be eaten or sold later on.
Their intelligence and biddable natures make them the perfect working partner.
To find out more about retrieving with Labradors, why not visit the Totally Gundogs website.
7. Sniffing out bed bugs
Bed bugs are a highly unpleasant pest, and a serious problem if they get into your furniture. They spread rapidly, and are distressing and unsettling for homeowners, and financially disastrous for hotels and guest houses.
Bed bug detection dogs can come into a home and check each piece of furniture. A lot of their work will be in hotels or apartment buildings, ensuring that they are clear from pests before they are sold or a new tenant moves in.
Detection Labradors will work and live with their handler, and have a fun and active life.
8. Guiding the blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind fulfil a vital role in society.
Pairing a partially sighted or blind person with a well trained dog gives them back their independence, or in some cases provides them with independence that they have never truly had.
The majority of guide dogs are Labradors due to their trainable and friendly natures.
To train just one Labrador from puppyhood to around two years old when it will join someone’s life, costs a staggering £32,400. Given that someone new will go blind every minute in the UK alone, the charity needs all the support they can get.
Find out more here
9. Seizure Assistance
Epilepsy is a dangerous condition, and seizure dogs help to keep a person safe when they suffer from a seizure.
Seizure Labradors can be taught to stand by their owner when they begin to have a fit, to help break their fall and reduce risk of injury.
They are also taught to alert family members when children with epilepsy are having a seizure, or to make members of the public aware if one occurs in an adult when out and about.
You can find out more about the work of seizure dogs here.
10. Search & Rescue
Search and Rescue is another important area where Labradors play a key role.
Whether they are lost on the moors, or buried under a pile of rubble following a natural disaster, Labradors are trained to find any sign of human presence and lead their handlers there to help.
Search and rescue charities need their dogs and handlers to be able to come and help at the drop of a hat, as the required situations almost always come without warning.
They must also both be fit and able to cross sometimes dangerous terrain, in order to assist a person in distress.
11. Sniffing out bombs
Labradors’ noses are spectacular things. Most of us are familiar with drugs dogs, but did you know that they can be used to find bombs as well!
From routine searches on public transport and at airports, to specific searches of suspected dangerous locations or people’s houses, Labradors are on the front line of protecting us from very dangerous substances.
12. Calming Autistic Children
A very important role for some families, that Labradors do a great job of fulfilling, is in calming autistic children.
People with severe autism find it very difficult to keep their emotions in check, and will often suffer from very distressing trantrum like behaviour.
When a child is experiencing a difficult moment, the Labrador will be trained to react in a calm diffusing manner.
They have also been shown to assist them in improving social and relationship skills, as well as verbal and non-verbal communications.
13. Keeping us fit
A lot of people state lethargy as the reason behind not getting out and moving enough.
He’s not going to let you forget his daily romp around the park!
Not only is dog ownership motiviation enough to know you need to get off the sofa every day and go for a walk, but it can be a great way to get into more fitness activities.
Labradors love running, and going for a run with your friend can be a great way to bond as well as staying in shape.
There are so many fun activities to choose from, why not have a go at a new one today.
14. Reading with children
A lesser known role of Labradors in society, and one that has been recently investigated, is being read to by children.
Children who are nervous to read to an adult, can become far less stressed and self-conscious when their is a dog in the room with them.
It also gives them something entirely positive to focus on when anticipating that they will need to read later on.
This encourages children to improve their literacy skills, in a kind less pressured environment.
You can find out more about the PAT dog’s Read2Dogs scheme here.
15. Providing friendship
An important role of Labradors in our community that can never be underated, is their provision of friendship.
Not just to families and active owners, but to the elderly or those with psychological conditions that make it hard for them to go outside and mix with other people.
Having a presence in your home that gives you unconditional love, and listens without judging to anything you might say, is one you can’t put a price on.
16. Disability Assistance
The things you can teach a Labrador are seemingly endless. Using modern clicker training methods, dogs can be happily taught to carry out no end of household tasks.
These might seem like fun party tricks to most of us, but when you are in a wheelchair or have limited mobility they are the difference between living an independent life or having to rely on other people for help.
Disability assistance dogs let their owners live life on their terms.
You can find out more about helping this important charity here.
17. Detecting Low Blood Sugar
For several years people with type 1 diabetes have annecdotally spoken of their dogs paying them increased attention just before they suffer from low blood sugar.
Labrador are now amongst those being trained by charities to detect the changes associated with low blood glucose in their owner.
The success rate isn’t perfect, but anything that gives the owner a greater chance of reacting to their bodily changes before they become ill is a big bonus.
More help and information
If you enjoy The Labrador Site’s articles, you will love The Labrador Handbook by our editor Pippa Mattinson.
The handbook is a complete guide to our wonderful breed.
It was published on 1st October, and is already a bestseller in the UK.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website