The Labrador Handbook
We were fortunate to be given a copy of Pippa Mattinson’s new book: The Labrador Handbook to review.
Pippa is a zoologist and the founder of The Gun Dog Trust, the UK’s first gundog training and welfare charity. She manages a website of her own as well as The Labrador Site which has published several SlimDoggy articles.
I was pretty excited to get the book. Her previous book, The Happy Puppy Handbook, was an invaluable resource for my niece when they got a new puppy. They still refer to it even though their puppy is now three years old. While her new book is dedicated to Labradors, you don’t have to be a Lab owner to come away educated.
First and foremost, there are fabulous pictures of Labs scattered throughout the book – I’ll share a few of my favorites here. But the second thing I noticed and appreciate is the level of basic, practical advice that is applicable to every dog parent. Every dog owner will find guidance and words of wisdom from someone who has raised and trained dogs for years.
The first few chapters are particularly useful for folks in determining whether a Lab is the right dog for their family and lifestyle. Labs can be exuberant, so if you want a couch potato, a young Lab is not for you. Determining where to get your Lab is just as important – do you adopt the dog from the shelter or track down a responsible Labrador breeder? Pippa provides some excellent advice in making that decision.
One reason Labs are so popular is their natural tendency to be a team player while in the field as a working dog has carried over into their everyday interactions with their family. They are happy-go-lucky family members, eager to be a part of the team. With that joie de vivre or “exuberant enjoyment of life” comes some challenges and there is no shortage of training advice in The Labrador Handbook.
In addition to training insights, the book contains a wealth of daily dog care, grooming and health information. From an examination of key health issues to be aware of, to the basics of daily care for your grown dog is provided. A lab is susceptible to the same health issues every dog owner should be aware of, but some, like hip dysplasia are prevalent in Labs, so extra caution and monitoring should be used.
The chapters I really enjoyed were the ones on exercise, of course. As I mentioned above, Labs are team players and are happy and excited to be involved in a variety of outdoor and indoor activities. Running, hiking, swimming, retrieving, service, agility, rescue, you name it, you will find Labs doing it. Pippa provides an entire chapter on advanced training, activities and sports for your Lab. Everyone is sure to find something there to learn and enjoy with any dog. She even provides a chapter on fun games to play like Freeze. Anyone remember playing “statue” as a kid, well it’s kind of like that!
If you have a Lab, or even if you don’t have a Lab, this book contains an abundance of practical wisdom about choosing a dog, raising that dog, training them, feeding them and most of all enjoying them. She covers puppy-hood, adolescence, sexual maturity/breeding and finally old age with insights into the pitfalls and potential problems with each stage.
It’s a great resource to have on hand – and also makes a great gift for the holidays! You can buy it here or from Amazon.