We understand that you may be making a very difficult decision and that your Lab is a much-loved member of your family. While we always prefer to keep dogs with their families, giving up your Lab to Lab Rescue may be the most loving decision you make.
We encourage you to explore the two areas below as part of your thought process.
SURRENDERING A LAB
Making the Decision to Give Up a Lab
Most owners giving up a Lab do it for one of two reasons:
Their circumstances have changed
Their dog has a problem that's making it too difficult to care for them
If you fit into one of these two categories, we hope you will continuing reading for some tips that may be helping in making your decision.
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.
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/she is used to. Doggie daycare for 2-3 days each week can help your Lab burn off energy and/or dog walkers can come in midday 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, which 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 as you.
If you can’t find a way to incorporate your Lab into your new situation giving him/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 help ease the learning curve. 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 parents, check to see if they have a dog. It could be that some much-needed parent 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/her up. Some transitions can be successful and others cannot. Your baby’s safety comes first.
One of the most common situations we hear about at Lab Rescue is that, when a couple separates, the changing circumstances mean they can’t keep the dogs. 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 include increasing the level of exercise your Lab currently receives. Labs are high-energy working dogs that 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 LRCP only promotes positive reinforcement methods of training and behavior modification. Shock collars, prong collars, hitting, or other forms of punishment are unacceptable and have been proven ineffective.
Many dog owners believe that their dog is untrainable. Circumstances may make it seem that way, but it is rarely the case. Before you give up on your Lab, consider the following:
Does your Lab get enough exercise? Labs are generally high-energy dogs that 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. 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 you train your Lab to “sit” one day, and the next day you switch to “down,” you’ll probably find that they quickly forget the first lesson they learned. The same is true if someone in your family doesn’t reinforce your lessons. For example, 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.
Hiring a trainer to get you and your Lab on the right path is a lifetime investment in your relationship with your dog and may help you to keep him/her 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 or 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 it to bark out of fear or alertness are good things. Look for the early-warning signs that it’s about to start barking and distract him/her before getting 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, shoes, 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/she can chew, such as 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. You might try multiple Kongs filled with canned dog food and frozen.
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 hello. Most people understandably don’t want to encourage that behavior.
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/her behavior. Teaching the dog to sit on command can also help.
Aggression, Biting or Separation Anxiety
Aggression, biting, and separation anxiety are complicated challenges that Lab Rescue believes are best addressed by professionals. To find a dog behaviorist in your area, conduct an internet search for “dog behaviorist” in your state.
Be sure to ask questions about how they approach working with your Lab. Please note that Lab Rescue LRCP will not take in a Lab with any aggressive history.