I have grown up with Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers in the family and close circle of friends – so naturally I’m the type of person who can’t even walk down my street exercising or through a pet store shopping without stopping to pet the bouncing, bubbly breed when I see one.
Lorie Huston, DVM, feels the same I believe. She has written a gem of a book about Labrador Retrievers, her preferred breed, and how easy it is for you, as a Lab owner, to become your Lab’s lifelong BFF. As a pet blogger, I was given a free copy of “Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” to review and I feel so lucky to have gotten that chance because I absolutely adored the book and the valuable information contained therein. I think Huston is a fantastic writer and she weaves in information and how-to’s in a format that’s easy to comprehend and put to good use. She isn’t too wordy, she doesn’t use words most people don’t understand, and she’s straight-forward and gets to the point without beating around the bush.
“Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” is a wonderful yet short read, almost a reference guide if you will, that anyone considering adopting the breed should read before they get one. It’s also great orientation for someone who already has any aged Labrador Retriever.
Huston’s book is a How-To, a Top Ten, an “I Should,” and a “I Need To” in terms of Labs. In other words, it’s a ‘how-to have a great lab and keep him healthy,’ a Top Ten on any dog book list, an “I should follow these guidelines and read this information to stay up-to-date on my dog’s health,” and an “I need to follow along with these guidelines to keep my dog happy and healthy and myself grounded and informed as an owner of a bounding, excitable, yet intelligent breed of dog.”
Chapter 1 is on the history of Labradors and it’s short yet interesting. Chapter 2 is on where to get a Labrador Retriever. It’s by far the best chapter because Huston is against buying from pet shops and gives some brilliant information on how to find a good dog breeder or rescue group. I personally am not against all breeders like some rescuers are and believe firmly in good ones, so I agree whole-heartedly on her points in this chapter.
The next few chapters cover how to prepare your house for a Labrador Retriever, what to get for him so he’s comfortable, how to complete basic training, the importance of socialization, pet care tips including feeding recs, and veterinary visits. A part I found particularly insightful was on feeding portions. Huston is bright and informed and it shines through in her writing. A well-written excerpt is below where she discusses recommendations for feeding portions as it’s easy to over-feed our precious pooches…
Lorie Huston, DVM
Huston endorses in this part, “Evaluate your dog’s body condition to determine whether it is eating the proper amount of food. Feed your dog to keep it lean. You should feel the ribs without fat between the rib cage and skin, see its waist when viewing your dog from above and find an abdominal tuck when viewing it from the side. Use the body-condition evaluation to adjust your dog’s daily food intake. If the ribs are getting difficult to feel and your dog is losing its waist, decrease its food by 15 to 20 percent of what you were previously feeding. Re-evaluate your dog’s body condition regularly, preferably weekly for a growing puppy. Don’t be surprised if your dog requires less food than the feeding guidelines indicate for optimal body condition. “
I never knew that. Wow, what a revelation.
Huston them details in a full chapter the lessons of basic training. She not only covers the basics, but also behavior issues. She doesn’t promote one certain training method as being better than another but does stress against the use of dominance training – and gives a damn well put-together argument against it. She also talks about things like being consistent and how to manage fears and phobias, which I thought was awesome as Labradors historically, get separation anxiety (hello, Marley and Me!)
Huston goes on to discuss the importance of grooming, veterinary visits, dental care, spaying and neutering (which I was absolutely THRILLED to read because many think they have the perfect lab and want to breed it right away), and tackling emergencies – , i.e., expecting the unexpected.
Overall, Huston has a well-written, informative and intriguing book on one of America’s most beloved breeds. I found so many novel and perceptive subjects in this book about Labs — particularly the importance of socialization and other forlorn topics you won’t hear much about like shedding, diseases to watch for in the breed, ear cleaning (how to and importance), raw food diets and pet insurance. These are crucial topics that every dog parent needs to know about.
Labs are great dogs from the get-go, from puppy-hood on through their senior years, no matter the time you take them home; they will be a fantastic addition. So applying a few of Huston’s lessons and ideas will bring out the sweet, caring side and help moderate the excessive energy these breeds have (especially the young ones).
Kudos and congrats to Lorie Huston, DVM, on her accomplishments with creating a great reference guide for new and “used!” dog owners! I think every Lab owner should grab a copy of this book ASAP!
You can get “Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” as an e-book on Amazon for just $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle for PC on Amazon for free and read it on your computer.
According to Amazon.com, Lorie Huston, DVM, currently blogs at Pet Health Care Gazette. She specializes in providing pet health care information to pet owners to assist them in making educated decisions about their pet’s health. Her work has been published in many venues both online and in print. Huston is a practicing veterinarian and works in a busy animal hospital in Rhode Island. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska.