I'm Not Sure That I Need to Give Up My Lab
We understand that you may be making a very difficult decision and that your lab is a much loved member of your family. The decision to give up your lab to Lab Rescue may be the most loving decision you make.
Most families giving up a lab do it for one of two reasons:
- your circumstances have changed
- your dog has a problem that's making it too difficult for you to care for them
The suggestions on this page do not constitute recommendations or advice. Each family's situation is unique and will require your own solution.
Your Circumstances Have Changed
Life offers constant change and sometimes that change can be disruptive to your lab's welfare. This section of the website is meant to offer options or alternatives that you may not have considered but, giving your dog to Lab Rescue may still be the most loving option for all of you.
You may have to move for any number of reasons. Whether you've recently gone through a divorce or breakup, moved for work or for financial reasons, it can be difficult to move with a dog.
Many landlords have rules about dogs and especially big dogs like labs. If you are on the fence about giving up your lab look for pet friendly rental options. They are out there.
Moving Means a Long Commute
Sometimes you need to move and suddenly you're faced with a longer commute that means your lab will be at home alone for a longer period of time than he or she is used to. Doggie daycare for 2 or 3 days a week can help your lab burn off energy and there are dog walkers who will come in mid day to give your lab a much needed break.
Moving Across Country or Out of Country
Some moves can be too long or difficult for your lab. But many dogs, especially labs who love riding in cars, can join you on a long trip. Be sure to investigate all your options. There are even pet airlines now that allow your dog to travel in the same relative comfort that you have.
New Baby or Divorce
Life changes like adding a new baby or going through a divorce can often shake things up around the house. Your lab may pay the price. You may find yourself not having enough time for the dog. New family members may not be as much of a lab lover as you are and your lab gets less time with you as a result.
Dogs, especially labs, are social beings.
If you can't find a way to incorporate your lab into your new situation giving him or her to Lab Rescue may be the most loving option. But, building your lab into your new situation may be easier than you think.
Consider whether you can walk your lab and baby together. Some labs are better on a leash than others so leash training may be needed to make everything better all around. If you're in a home with a fence you can spend a few minutes at a time playing ball to give your lab the exercise they need.
As you meet other new moms check to see if they have a dog. It could be that some much needed mom time could include a doggie play date as well.
If your lab reacts negatively and you are worried for your baby's safety it may be right to consider giving him or her up. Some transitions can be successful and others can not. Your baby's safety comes first.
One of the most common situations we hear about at Lab Rescue is that when a couple separates they can't decide who should take the dogs. Sometimes they decide to give their dogs up in order to avoid the stress of the fight to figure out who keeps them.
We clearly can't help you make those decisions but it may be easiest on the lab if you can work it out between you. But, like children, labs will need time to adjust to their new situation.
We encourage you to try to find a way to keep the lab with one member of the family if possible.
Often, when labs show behavior problems, it's the result of a lack of exercise or lack of training or possibly a combination of the two. You may want to look at how your family interacts with your lab and ask yourself if there's something you could do differently to make things better. Most of Lab Rescue's suggestions will include increasing the level of exercise your lab currently receives. That's because labs are high energy working dogs who can become naughty if they don't burn off their energy on activities that you direct.
The best first step to correcting a behavior problem with your lab is to understand the behavior and then work to address it over time.
Lab Rescue of the LRCP only promotes positive reinforcement methods of training and behavior modification. Shock collars, prong collars, hitting or other forms of punishment are unacceptable in helping your lab become the fabulous lab that they are meant to be.
Many dog owners believe that their dog is untrainable. It's really not the case but circumstances may make it seem that way. Before you give up on your lab who has some bad behaviors that you don't seem to be able to correct, consider the following:
- Does your lab get enough exercise? Labs are generally high energy dogs who need a lot of exercise. If you're trying to train them before they've burned some energy off you'll probably find that they enjoy the game of 'not getting trained' more than the training itself. So, take your lab outside and play ball or walk around the block and then focus on training
- Are you consistent in your training? Training takes time and repetition to be really effective. If one day you train your lab to 'sit' and the next day you switch to 'down' you'll probably find that they quickly forget 'sit'. The same is true if someone in your family doesn't reinforce your lessons, e.g. if you're discouraging your lab from jumping up on people when they come in the house and someone in your family encourages that behavior, your lab will be confused.
There are lots of trainers out there and hiring a trainer to get you on the right path is a lifetime investment in your relationship with your lab and may help you to keep your lab as a valued member of your family.
Almost all dogs bark to some degree or another. One of the best ways to address barking is to understand why dogs bark. Dogs bark to alert you to something that they consider a threat, they bark out of fear. Dogs also bark to seek attention and express playfulness.
Exercise can help your lab calm down and wear off some of the energy that might cause them to be too playful. Try offering them an extra walk. In addition, train your lab that the things that cause them to bark out of fear or alertness are good things. Look for the early warning signs that they're about to start barking and distract them before they get too excited.
You may also wish to work with a trainer or a behaviorist to make sure that you really understand the root cause of your lab's excessive barking.
Dogs sometimes chew inappropriate items like clothing or furniture. This is often the result of too much energy that needs to be burned off or of your lab just being bored.
The best advice for inappropriate chewing is to help your lab redirect his inappropriate chewing towards things that he or she can chew like bones or kongs stuffed with peanut butter. There are many puzzle toys for dogs that are made of durable rubber that you can put treats in. The dog has to figure out how to get the treats out of the puzzle. Several Lab Rescue volunteers have multiple kongs that they fill with wet dog food and freeze. They can be pulled out whenever needed and offer hours of entertainment to your lab.
If your lab only chews inappropriately when you're out of the house, consider crating them while you're gone. Some labs will try to work their way out of a crate when they're first introduced to it so you might need to reinforce the crate door with an extra clip. Make sure that the crate is a positive place for your lab; give them toys and treats in their crate.
Labs sometimes express their excitement to see you or meet people by jumping up to say hi. Most people don't want to encourage that behavior and understandably so.
Everyone in the family needs to be consistent in their approach to discouraging jumping. Ignoring your lab's jumping by turning away may help to discourage his or her behavior.
Aggression, Biting or Separation Anxiety
Aggression, biting and separation anxiety are behavioral problems that are best addressed by working with a pet behaviorist. They are complicated issues that Lab Rescue believes are best addressed by professionals.
To find a dog behaviorist in your area do an internet search for 'dog behaviorist' and your state.
Be sure to ask questions about how they approach working with your lab and please note that Lab Rescue of the LRCP will not take in a lab with any aggressive history.