Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
Kate Perry, dog trainer and author of Training for Both Ends of the Dog Leash, likes to give “practical items that help stimulate the dogs mind and help owners have a better relationship with their dogs.” One of her favorite interactive treat toys for pups is the Busy Buddy Twist and Treat, which keeps dogs working for their food. “Great as a gift for new dog owners, and great for training a dog to work for their food.”
Best Made in USA Dog Toys: Because of all the work I have done reporting on the food industry, I’m frankly scared to give my dog chew toys made in China - which means almost all chew toys on the market. That’s why I love West Paw, a Bozeman, Montana-based company that makes all of its great products to exacting standards right here in the USA. My dog has always loved their plush toys (she still sleeps with one) but now she has grown into a powerful chewer and avid retriever, and because it’s almost impossible to find domestically made tennis balls, we use the durable Jive Dog Ball, made from a latex-free, BPA-and-phthalate-free, solid rubbery material that she hasn’t been able to even dent. It bounces, floats, and comes in three sizes. It’s part of the bigger Zogoflex line, all made of the same safe, clean and ultra-durable material, in a wide array of chew toy shape and sizes. These are great for outdoor play.
“The best gift I’ve ever received as a dog lover was from my mom, for my oldest dog Buster who’s currently 14 years old,” says Fraser, a dog trainer. It’s “a cozy, personalized blanket embroidered with Buster’s name on it,” and it’s a great gift for both dog and owner. “He loves having comfy blankets around to snuggle, and I love knowing that it’s a keepsake I’ll have for years and years to come.” We at the Strategist are not immune to the charm of a personalized gift, and have recommended this L.L. Bean plush blanket in the past.
Don’t let your tiny dog turn into one of those hoity-toity fashion accessories Paris Hilton used to carry around. Toss it into this heavy-duty canvas tote instead, which is both better-looking than your mesh carrier and not nearly as eye roll-inducing as a purse. There’s even a cutout on the side, so Finn can stick his head out without getting caught in the zipper.
One of the most popular breeds in the USA, the Labrador Retriever is loyal, loving, affectionate and patient, making a great family dog. Highly intelligent, good-natured, very willing and eager to please, it is among the top choices for service dog work. Labs love to play, especially in water, never wanting to pass up the opportunity for a good swim. These lively dogs have an excellent, reliable temperament and are friendly, superb with children and equable with other dogs. They crave human leadership and need to feel as though they are part of the family. Labs are easily trained. Some may be reserved with strangers unless very well socialized, preferably while they are still puppies. Adult Labs are very strong; train them while they are puppies to heel on the leash, and not to bolt out doorways and gateways before the humans. These dogs are watchdogs, not guard dogs, although some have been known to guard. They can become destructive if the humans are not 100% pack leader and/or if they do not receive enough mental and physical exercise, and left too much to their own devices. Show lines are generally heavier and easier going than field lines. Field lines tend to be very energetic and will easily become high strung without enough exercise. Labs bred from English lines (English Labs) are more calm and laid back than Labradors bred from American lines. English Labs mature quicker than the American type.
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Food Labrador Retrievers are prone to overeating and are food motivated. The breed responds well to treats during training sessions. The recommended diet for most Labs is about two cups of high-quality dry food daily, based on the dog's average weight and activity level. This amount should be split between two meals, or can be offered in a food-dispensing puzzle toy.
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The first St. John's dog was said to be brought to England in or around 1820, but the breed's reputation had already spread to England; there is a story that the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury saw a St. John's dog on a fishing boat and immediately made arrangements with traders to have some of these dogs imported to England. These ancestors of the first labradors so impressed the Earl with their skill and ability for retrieving anything within the water and on shore that he devoted his entire kennel to developing and stabilising the breed.
During the 1880s, the 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, the 6th Duke of Buccleuch and the 12th Earl of Home collaborated to develop and establish the modern Labrador breed. The dogs Buccleuch Avon and Buccleuch Ned, given by Malmesbury to Buccleuch, were mated with female dogs carrying blood from those originally imported by the 5th Duke and the 10th Earl of Home. The offspring are considered to be the ancestors of modern Labradors.
Who wants a game of tug of war? You know your pup does! The Mammoth Flossy Chews Cotton Blend 3-Knot Rope Tug is just the toy to get this holiday season. It's made from 100% natural cotton rope fibers that actually clean your dog's teeth with a floss-like action as he chews and plays with the toy. This 3-knot rope tug is made for durability and safety. It's also included in our buying guide to the best dog toys.
The progenitors of the Labrador retriever were actually from Newfoundland and Labrador exceptionally, the breed known as the Newfoundland was created near the same time in Labrador. The two breeds' names and origins were mixed once moved into England and both North and South America. The dog from Labrador became the large, long-furred dog we see and know today, and the dog from Newfoundland became the Labrador.
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.”