You pad outside, slippers on, for the dog’s morning constitutional. Coffee in one hand, your phone in the other, your leash awkwardly wrapped around two fingers. The dog yanks a little too hard, and you fling your coffee all over yourself. Forget all that. Use a hands-free leash like this one. It wraps around your waist so you can run, bike, or just amble around the front yard with both hands still free.
Filson Dog Gear: “Might as well have the best” has long been a slogan of Filson, a legendary outdoor gear and clothing company that took off during the 1897 gold rush, supplying the highest quality items to the hardest working outdoorsmen. Your dog might as well have the best too, and mine wears the Filson Dog Chest Protector ($75) to keep burrs, ticks and mud off her chest and belly and avoid pointy sticks when running crazy through the woods. There are tons of coats and vests for dog, yet almost none of them protect the underside, and while a dog like mine doesn’t need warmth, I like the protection, and this is water and tear resistant but lined with soft cozy cotton, it’s blaze orange for visibility, has very adjustable straps and buckles, is made in the USA and comes in three sizes. For more traditional topside protection, Filson makes the Shelter Cloth Dog Coat ($95), using its proprietary Shelter Cloth, a heavyweight, oil finished waterproof canvas, lined with virgin wool which remains warm even when wet. The coat is reversible, so you can go solid dark green or red and black check. It is easy to put on and off, secure, adjustable and features a double layer sueded moleskin neck for comfort. Like Filson’s human jackets, it’s a real deal outdoor garment for tough environments. You can get cheaper pet coats but as Clinton Filson said in 1914, “The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.” Or the dog wearing them.
In a perfect world, everyone would be home snuggling with their puppers all the time. Until then, we have the Furbo Dog Camera. It’s a Wi-Fi connected machine that let you check in your pets, talk to them, and even toss them treats at the touch of an app. This is a perfect gift for a friend who travels a lot, who is ill, or who is just missing their furry friend this holiday. Read more about it here.
Lucky and Flo, twin Black Labrador counterfeit-detection dogs who became famous in 2007 for "sniffing out nearly 2 million counterfeit DVDs" on a six-month secondment to Malaysia in 2007. Following the multimillion-dollar, 6-arrest Malaysian detection, they became the first dogs to be awarded Malaysia's "outstanding service award" and software pirates were stated to have put a £30,000 contract out for their lives.
Labradors are powerful and indefatigable swimmers noted for their ability to tolerate the coldest of water for extended periods of time. Their ability to work quietly alongside hunters while watching for birds to fall from the sky, marking where they land, and then using their outstanding nose to find and retrieve dead or wounded birds has made them the king of waterfowl retrievers. They are also used for pointing and flushing and make excellent upland game hunting partners.
The Lab is America's number one dog, which means there are plenty of people breeding Labs who are more interested in filling the demand for Lab puppies than in breeding healthy dogs with good temperaments. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
The rest is basic maintenance. Trim the nails every week or two, as needed. They should never get long enough that you hear them clacking on the floor. Long nails can make it uncomfortable for the Lab to walk, and they can get caught on things and tear off. That’s really painful, and it will bleed a lot. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good dental health and fresh breath.
The Labrador Retriever is the traditional waterdog of Newfoundland, long employed as a duck retriever and fisherman’s mate. The breed began its steady climb to supreme popularity in the early 1800s, when Labs were spotted by English nobles visiting Canada. These sporting earls and lords returned to England with fine specimens of “Labrador dogs.” (Exactly how these dogs of Newfoundland became associated with Labrador is unclear, but the name stuck.) During the latter half of the 19th century, British breeders refined and standardized the breed.
Labrador Retrievers come in black, chocolate and yellow. They have a broad, clean-cut head with hanging ears and alert, friendly and intelligent eyes. They have thick noses and wide muzzles and strong necks. Labradors have a short, dense and water-resistant outer coat and a downy undercoat that keeps them warm. Their straight tail, also covered by the coat, is otter-like—beginning thick and tapering at the end and defecting water—and their webbed feet are great for swimming. Though not very tall, Labs are solid and well built. They are usually slim but can get a little heavy without enough exercise.
An automatic food feeder might sound like a modern luxury, but it’s actually a great solution for busy pup parents (or those who don’t like to get out of bed to feed their pet, ha). The PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder allows you to schedule up to 12 meals in advance which could reduce the burden on a dog sitter (or the need/cost altogether, if the pet has a doggy door to relieve itself). Another benefit is the slow release feature which helps dogs who tend to gobble down their food too fast (an unhealthy and potentially dangerous habit). This item comes in at a higher price but comes with a stainless steel bowl (and it’s dishwasher safe too!). And if you’re feeling extra generous, you can even throw in a dog food auto-ship service!
Start training early; be patient and be consistent and one day you will wake up to find that you live with a great dog. Even so, there are a couple of Lab behaviors that you should expect to live with throughout his life. They are part and parcel of being a Lab, and nothing you do will change them. Labs are active, Labs love to get wet, and Labs love to eat.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
If you’re looking for a gift for a dogless dog lover, try Jess Rona’s book. In addition to being a top-notch dog groomer, she’s also the director behind the puppy-filled music video for Tegan and Sara’s “100x,” and has a killer Instagram. This book is filled with before-and-after glamour shots of well-groomed dogs. It also comes with a flip-book, so you can watch dogs get their hair blown back by a dryer.
Labs typically have litters of six to eight puppies. Most breeders like to keep puppies until they are at least eight weeks old. This gives the puppies time to learn how to behave toward other dogs and gives the breeder time to evaluate the puppies’ personalities so she can place each one in just the right home. A bonus is that puppies of this age are more mature and more easily housetrained.
For dogs that enjoy dog toys even more than bully sticks, you can gift them the ZippyPaws birthday cake plush dog toy or the KONG Occasions birthday balloon dog toy. New dog toys are always great choice as dog gifts because they are gifts that keep on giving. Not only will your dog love to have something new to play with, but it will be even more special because she gets to use it while spending quality bonding time with you.
If you’re not totally sure exactly what type of toy or treat to give, Shirley Braha, who’s mom to Instagram-famous Marnie the Dog, recommends giving the gift of replenishing treats. “The first thing that comes to mind is a BarkBox subscription, because I feel like dogs are always running out of treats, and high-quality treats are weirdly expensive.”