I own a lab and she is such a joy to have!! Oh my gosh, she is my light and my life, lol. We got her at the age of 7 weeks and it was soooo challenging! First night we had her she yipped and yelped in her crate (which is essential – you absilulty need to crate a lab puppy!) but by the 2nd night she I had to wake up in the middle of the night to check on her to make sure she hadnt died, lol.
First off, Labs are suuuppper smart, and hughly engergetic. If you dont always try to play with them, challenge them with a game, or give them proper excericse, they will find and make thier own fun, which usually ends up being destructive. I did the Puppy Good start training with her to learn how to work with her – turns out that was the best thing I could have done. 1st, it gives them socialization (which is a HUGE must for puppies in the early months otherwise the can become agrressive and territorial). It also taught me how to communicate with my welp and gave me insights on how she thinks.
The biggest lesson that I MYSELF learned in Puppy Good Start is that Labs, and dogs in general, only want to behave in ways that gain them attention from their pack leaders, and that they will do anything they can to achieve this, even if it means destructive behavior as a means to get your attention. There is no inherently bad dog, so if your puppy is behaving negatively, it means you are not spending enough time burning energy and reinforcing good behaviors.
We don’t have a fence either, and now that she is almost 4 I will let her out to go potty without me by her side – but for only a couple minutes and I always keep an eye on her. Another reason to keep an eye on them is that Labs are notorius eaters and they will eat anything fowl they come across, then generally puke it up in your house later in the day. I could go on about the things she has eaten (even in the house that I thought was safely tucked away) only to have to cough up over $500 in the ER on more than one occasion.
Exercise is so essential, too. I try to work in at least 1 hour a day, out of the house either on the trails, hiking in the woods, or swimming/dock jumping with her. 1 hour seems good enough, now – but for the 1st 3 years of her life she was like the energizer bunny and would go all day, even after spending the day out and about. In the winter when its too cold for us both, I let her run on my treadmill – yes, I trained her to use the treadmill and she will even run on it with me, lol. She’s so funny!
I also agree with @urchin – for labs it is super important to find a good breeder as labs especially are prone to genetic ailements such as displaysia and skin conditions, etc. One thing to consider also, is do you want an American Labrador or and English Labrador? American Labs are your typical field labs, they tend to be taller in stature and have a lot more energy vs. the English labs who are blockier, more stout with plusher coats and a little bit less high energy levels. Both are good dogs, but they are different.
Anyway, lots and lots of information out there – good luck!