Monthly, curated boxes of goods delivered directly to your door are all the rage for humans. Whether it’s kitchen ingredients, clothes, or personal care products, having experts put together a killer package of the best in any product category is a proven business model in the new economy. The problem is, dogs have been feeling left out, and nobody even realized it. Except dog people (did we mention they’re a little different?). Every Bark Box includes toys, snacks, and chewables that will have dogs and their owners rolling with joy for weeks at a time.
In the field world, people will tell you “If you want a machine that mows over every blade of grass to find the bird, get a lab. If you want a dog to stop and think about the best route to find the bird, get a golden.” That’s really the difference–if you want a high energy dog that never stops and can take a lot of distress, labs are your dog. If you want a high energy dog that is strategic, and won’t make the same mistake twice, then you’re a golden person.
Labs are healthy dogs overall, and a responsible breeder screens breeding stock for conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, heart disorders, hereditary myopathy (muscle weakness), and eye conditions, including progressive retinal atrophy. A condition called exercise induced collapse (EIC) can occur in some young adult Labs; a DNA test allows breeders to identify carriers and plan breedings to avoid producing the disease. Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Labs can develop a life-threatening stomach condition called bloat. Owners should educate themselves about the symptoms that indicate this is occurring, and what to do if so.
The cost of a Labrador Retriever puppy varies depending on his place of origin, whether he is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and show or working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Labradors are an intelligent breed with a good work ethic and generally good temperaments. Common working roles for Labradors include: hunting, tracking and detection (they have a great sense of smell which helps when working in these areas), disabled-assistance, carting, and therapy work. Approximately 60–70% of all guide dogs in Canada are Labradors; other common breeds are Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. Labrador Retrievers have proven to have a high success rate at becoming guide dogs. A study was recently done on how well four different breeds (Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever Mix, and German Shepherds) trained to become guide dogs. In this experiment, German Shepherds had the highest chance of not completing it. Labrador Retrievers and Labrador Retriever/Golden Retriever Mix had the highest success rate. However, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers had a higher success rate after going through longer training than the training required for Labrador Retrievers.
The Lab has the reputation of being one of the most sweet-natured breeds, and it's well deserved. He's outgoing, eager to please, and friendly with both people and other animals. Aside from a winning personality, he has the intelligence and eagerness to please that make him easy to train. Training is definitely necessary because this breed has a lot of energy and exuberance. The working heritage of the Lab means he is active. This breed needs activity, both physical and mental, to keep him happy. There is some variation in the activity level of Labs: some are rowdy, others are more laid back. All thrive on activity.
If your dog is allowed to roam freely in your yard, but you are still nervous about him or her escaping, invest in the LINK Smart Dog Collar by the American Kennel Club. The smart collar has GPS tracking to locate your dog within the range of your home or yard via the base station, or if they are lost outside of your borders. Just place the base station in your home, which also charges the collar, and get updated on your dog’s temperature, location in the house, and how many minutes a day they are active. Plus, the sleek collar also comes with a light that you can control from the app. The collar comes in small, medium, large, and extra large. The app is available for iOS and Android. LINK AKC subscription plans are sold separately.
For those who aren’t athleisure people but still want loungewear personalized with their dog’s face on it, there’s always this luxe, customized pet caftan. As the caftan’s designer, and the grande dame of Bravo’s Southern Charm, Patricia Altschul told us last year: “They combine crystal and pearl embellishments in a custom caftan featuring your very own pet (dog, cat, horse, bird, even fish) — mine is the one with Chauncey, my pug. It’s handcrafted in India, and can be worn from the beach to a barbecue to a cocktail party or black-tie event.”
Orvis Travel Crate: A fold-flat soft sided (not metal cage) travel crate is a huge boon to pet owners who travel, and I’ve used them for more than a decade at hotels, friends’ houses and in all sorts of on the road scenarios. The problem is that most are flimsy and I went through a few broken zippers and other durability issues before the nation’s oldest mail order retailer, Vermont-based hunting, fishing and outdoor specialist Orvis, introduced this new better version, the Orvis Field Collection Folding Travel Crate. Instead of thin plastic fabric like most, it uses heavy-duty, tight polyester Oxford weave around a strong, tubular metal frame, folds flat, and sets up in seconds, featuring top, side, and front zipped entry doors with ventilated windows. It was designed to keep your dog comfortable and safe in the back of an SUV on the way to and from the field, but works equally well in luxury hotels or wherever your adventures take you and your best friend. It comes in Orvis’ classic rugged dark khaki colors and features leatherette trimmed and rounded corners that protect your floors and auto interior, plus a carry handle for easy transport. It also has removable and machine washable plush, padded Sherpa fleece mat with a water-resistant backing and extra comfort (109-$149).
Cool Collars (and Leashes): Inspired by hiking and climbing gear, Lupine collars and leashes are made in the mountains of New Hampshire from high tensile webbing with extra heavy-duty buckles, and carry an unconditional lifetime guarantee - even if chewed. They also come in a huge range of great looking patterns and designs, with matching collars and leashes (if that’s your thing), and they also have an eco-line made from recycled bottles. Lupine also does a lot for dog charities, which I love.
Dogs are the best creatures in the universe who put up with all of our Grinch-like qualities all year round. They’re excited by the sight of a leash, never tire of belly rubs, will always listen to our ramblings, and will party the night away with nothing more than a stick. Here are the top 10 gifts for your well-deserving….maybe also a little spoiled, pup.