Can Labradors sleep outside? If a Labrador has a warm, secure kennel where he is protected from poor weather, cold temperatures, and other animals, he can sleep outside. However, leaving a dog to sleep outside can leave them vulnerable to parasites like fleas and ticks. And leaving them alone outside for too long can cause issues like separation anxiety and stress. Most Labradors will be happier if they can sleep close to you inside your nice warm home.
Can Labradors Live Outside?
The Labrador is America’s favorite breed, and has been for well over 20 years. So, naturally, these dogs will live in a huge variety of environments across the world. This leads to many people asking if their Labradors can live outside.
Labs are big dogs and they shed a lot, so it can seem easier to leave them outside. But, Labs are not well suited to living outside 24/7. They have extensive social needs and are very people-oriented. So, they’ll get very stressed, depressed, and anxious if they’re isolated from the rest of the family that live in the house.
It’s one thing to let your Labrador sleep outside at night, but another thing completely to leave them to live outside permanently. Labs will be much happier to live in the house with you to interact with.
Can Labradors Sleep Outside?
Although Labs will usually prefer to sleep inside close to the rest of the family, they can sleep outside. But, this is only viable if they have a secure, warm, comfortable kennel. It’s not enough to just let your Lab out into the yard at night and then back into your house in the morning. Nor is it enough to just give them a little wooden dog house – like the sort you’d see on a Snoopy cartoon!
It may also take a while to train your Lab to be happy in a kennel outside, without you for company.
Can Labs Stay Outside in the Winter?
Labrador Retrievers have a double layered, water resistant coat. This trait helped them cope with lower temperatures in water when they were still working alongside fishermen. So, Labs can cope with slightly lower temperatures. But, they may still struggle in the extreme low temperatures in winter. Particularly if low temperatures are paired with rain, thunder, snow, and other bad weather.
Dogs that are sleeping outside need a warm, enclosed kennel that will protect them from outside elements. In fact, you may even want to invest in a kennel with internal heating for those chilly winter months, if your Labrador has to sleep outside.
Does the Lab Temperament Suit Living Outside?
Part of the reason that Labradors are America’s favorite breed is because of their wonderful temperament. Labs are friendly, social, easy-going, and love to spend plenty of time with their families. If they’re kept outside for long periods of time, a lot of these social needs will go unfulfilled. Labs need social interaction, and mental stimulation to stay happy. If they are kept alone outside, they can become withdrawn, anxious, depressed, and generally lonely.
Some Labs may even become destructive as they become more bored. Others may try to escape your yard to find some attention. If you leave your Lab alone too much, they can develop separation anxiety, which is a very serious problem for a lot of dogs.
Training and Socialization Needs
As we just mentioned, Labradors are intelligent dogs that need regular social interaction and mental stimulation. If they don’t get this from you, from toys, or from training, they may try to find it elsewhere.
Labradors are quite big dogs, so they also need plenty of training – including basic obedience training. This will help to ensure that they don’t accidentally hurt anyone. Owners shouldn’t leave their dogs outside as a substitute for training. It takes time to train a Labrador puppy to go to the toilet outside, to not jump up, and more. But, this training is important. If you’re looking to leave your dog outside as a way to avoid having to train them, it may be better to just adopt an older dog that already has basic obedience training.
Socialization of Labrador puppies is another key issue. We will look at this in more depth in the next section.
Can Labrador Puppies Live Outside?
Until your Lab puppy is fully vaccinated, they shouldn’t be put on the ground outside where other animals have access, including animals like foxes. Your puppy can pick up some nasty diseases if you do this. But, more importantly, puppies have a lot of social needs. Puppies must be socialized well from the time they come home, especially in those first few months with you.
Well-socialized dogs will be happier, friendlier, and more confident as adults. They will be less likely to react from fear, with aggression in new situations. Puppies also get very stressed out if they’re left alone for too long. If they’re left alone for too long at a young age, they can easily develop problems like separation anxiety.
What Can I Do With My Lab When I Go Out?
There are plenty of ways you can keep your Lab out of trouble when you leave the house. The most common solution is to crate train your Labrador. Of course, this doesn’t mean keep your Lab locked away for entire days whilst you go to work. Labs need regular toilet breaks, chances to stretch their legs, and opportunities to interact with someone and get some mental stimulation every single day. You should only use your crate as a short-term solution if you need to leave the house for an hour or so.
If you have to leave your Lab alone for longer than that, you’ll want to make different arrangements. Perhaps you will choose to leave them in a dog-safe, dog-proof room in your house. It will need washable floors, nothing easily destroyed, and nothing that could harm your Lab. You could, alternatively, arrange for someone to come and dog-sit your pup whilst you’re out. Or, find a doggy day care that you could send your Lab to.
Risks of Leaving Your Lab Outside
There are a few things to be cautious about if you leave your Labrador outside for long periods of time. Labs that don’t have enough social interaction or mental stimulation can become destructive. This can include digging holes, tearing up plants, and more.
Your Lab may also try to escape your yard. They may try to climb over lower fences, or even just dig underneath them. If your Lab does escape, they could easily get hurt by a car or an unfriendly animal.
Keeping a dog outside permanently can also leave them vulnerable to parasites like fleas and ticks. Your Lab may develop separation anxiety if they’re left alone in the yard for too long, or they could just become very depressed and lonely. These things aren’t as much of a risk if you’re just choosing to let your Labrador sleep outside in a secure, warm, spacious kennel.
Can a Labrador Sleep Outside? A Summary
It’s definitely possible to train a Labrador to sleep outside. But, they must have a warm, clean, and safe kennel to sleep in. Leaving your Lab outside for too long can cause a number of problems, particularly behavioral issues like separation anxiety. Plus, Labs can be quite the escape artists! Generally, a Labrador will be much happier if they can spend all their time with you in the house! Particularly in a nice warm, comfortable bed.
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References and Resources
- Flannigan, G. & Dodman, N. ‘Risk Factors and Behaviors Associated with Separation Anxiety in Dogs’, Journal of the American Medical Veterinary Association (2001)
- Howell, T. (et al), ‘Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2015)
- Dantas-Torres, F. ‘Biology and Ecology of the Brown Dog Tick, Rhipicephalus Sanguineus’, Parasites & Vectors (2010)
- American Kennel Club
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