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.
Also check out my 2018 Gift Guide for Foodies, Kitchen and Cooks, my 2018 Gift Guide for Skiing, Fitness & Outdoor Activities, plus last year’s 2017 Forbes Gift Guides, with many great picks that are still perfect, on a wide range of gifting topics including: Beer, Wine & Spirits (here); Food (here); Kitchen & Home (here); Whiskey Lovers' Gifts (here); Cycling (here); Skiing (here); and Golf & Fitness (here).
When you get a dog, everyone’s like, “You’re going to have hair everywhere!” You think, whatever, it’ll be fine, they’re just exaggerating. Then two weeks in, everything you own is covered in a thick coat just like the dog’s. You can avoid it all with this groomer. It snaps onto Dyson vacuums and goes straight to the source, sucking all the loose hair off the pup without yanking on anything that’s still attached.
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).
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Every dog needs a great collar to hold his name tag, connect to his leash, and make him look handsome. If you want to get a new high-quality collar, you can't go wrong with the Lupine Original Dog Collar. It has a heavy-duty design, big range of colors, multiple sizes, and a lifetime guarantee that even covers chewing. It's our top pick for dog collar overall.

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.

Sarah Fraser, co-founder of Instinct Dog Behavior and Training in New York City, likes to give younger or adolescent dogs what’s called a flirt pole, which is “like a giant cat toy. For many dogs, it quickly becomes their favorite — a fantastic substitute for chasing real squirrels. Plus, it’s a great form of exercise that doesn’t require the owner to do much.” There’s one for small-to-medium dogs from Outward Hound that she likes.
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