The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson

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The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson

Category: Pets
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: One of the best 'guides to a breed' I've seen. Every breed should have its own version! Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Ebury Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785030918

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In 2014 about 16% of all pedigree puppies registered with the Kennel Club were Labradors - and that's with over 200 breeds to choose from. They're one of the most respected breeds and with good reason - great as gundogs, brilliant in the show ring and a wonderful part of the family to boot. Author Pippa Mattinson is a zoologist and founder of The Gundog Trust. She supports modern, science-based dog training methods - but her passion is about helping people to enjoy their dogs. If you're looking for advice about Labradors, she is going to be difficult to better.

The Labrador Handbook is thorough. Yes there are a lot of excellent colour pictures of the breed, but they're not padding: there is a lot of good sound information in here, from a short history of the breed and the two types of Labrador which have emerged - either for the show bench or the shoot. I liked the fact that she approaches ownership, not from the perspective of whether or not a Labrador is the right dog for you, but whether you are ready for a Labrador. They might be a popular dog, but that's not to say that they're easy, particularly if you're hoping to get the best from them.

She's also keen that you should consider adopting a dog rather than opting for a young puppy by default. I can appreciate the sense of this - I love dogs, but I've never been overly fond of the puppy stage and our most successful bitch came to us when she was just emerging from the puppy stage. If you are looking for a puppy, there's exhaustive detail about the checks you need to make and the questions you have to ask. I'd recommend taking the book with you when you look at a new pup - it could save you from making an expensive - or heart-breaking - mistake.

The advice on surviving the first few weeks (and it is surviving if you're doing it properly) is sensible - it can be extremely hard work, particularly with house training and socialising, all of which takes time. New owners will appreciate the suggestions about biting, barking, destructive behaviour, eating rubbish (putting it nicely) and possessiveness. It reassuring and realistic.

Some health problems do occur frequently in Labradors and there's excellent advice as to when you need veterinary assistance. Much of the health advice - as with the section on training - applies to many breeds of dog, particularly the larger breeds, but that doesn't make it any less worthwhile. Even vets are divided as to when - or if - a dog or a bitch should be neutered - and I liked the fact that Mattinson puts the problem in the context of the owner's lifestyle and family rather giving categorical statements as to what should be done.

The book closes with sections on what to do when things go wrong - and once again Mattison is totally realistic about the options - and how to help your friend at the end of his life. It's written with sensitivity and understanding, but then the whole book is very easy reading. It's the reviewer's lot to read the whole book right through (I expect owners will read what applies to them at a particular time) but it was no hardship to read everything in a couple of pleasant sessions. It's rather like having a chat with a knowledgeable, dog-owning friend. I've a minor quibble about conversions of metric to imperial measurement - but that's me being picky.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you've got a tween nagging for a Labrador, you might find Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan will point up the pitfalls. For a wise book about life with a Lab, have a look at Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family by Anna Quindlen.

Buy The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Labrador Handbook: The definitive guide to training and caring for your Labrador by Pippa Mattinson at Amazon.com.


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