Joining a new family is a BIG change for dogs, and your Lab will need some time and patience while he/she adjusts to the new family and forever home. To help your Lab during this time of transition, prepare to put in extra time and care helping your Lab explore his/her new environment and get to know new friends and new routines.
We also highly recommend purchasing a copy of Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog Into Your Home. Many of our adopters have read this short book, including those who were already dog-experienced, and have said that it offered invaluable advice in acclimating an adult dog into their new forever home.
WELCOMING HOME YOUR NEW LAB
Before Your New Lab Comes Home
It’s a good idea to tidy up. You won’t yet know all of the Lab’s habits—he or she may like to carry around dirty socks or views a loaf of bread on the counter as a great temptation. To help make the transition as easy as possible, remove anything that might spur any unwanted behavior.
You should also close the doors (when possible) to tempting rooms with small items like toys, such as children’s bedrooms, the laundry room, the kitchen. This will not only keep the dog out of the tempting rooms, but a smaller space is going to be easier for your new dog to investigate in the beginning.
Feeding Your New Lab
We recommend feeding twice a day. A typical amount of dry food is 1 to 2 cups twice a day. You can supplement the dry food with some canned food if you prefer. Sometimes changing to a new formula or ingredient can upset a Lab’s stomach, so it is best to ask your dog’s foster what he/she was previously eating and mix that with your preferred food. Here are some helpful instructions on how to introduce/phase out dog food.
Do not touch your new dog’s food bowl while he/she is eating. The first few days can be the scariest and your Lab will need to be able to count on its food. It is best if the dog is allowed to eat in a quiet place like its crate.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you may want to reduce the amount of kibble and add some fresh or frozen green beans to help your dog fill up. Of course, lots of exercise will help, too. Your veterinarian can give you additional guidance.
Preparing Other Dogs for a New Furry Friend
If you have another dog in the house, it’s a good idea to do a little extra preparation. If there’s going to be any territorial issues, they’ll likely appear in the first few minutes of your Lab’s arrival. Put away dog toys, remove chews, and avoid any other high-value items. Let everyone get acquainted and make sure they’re getting along before adding toys to their play.
Making Introductions: Slower is Better
Trust us when we say you will never regret going slowly with your new Lab, but you may find problems occur if you go too quickly.
Other Resident Dogs: Let them meet outside and in a neutral place that is not your home. Consider having them meet up on the street or in a nearby park, as if it were a new dog in the neighborhood and then walk back together to your home. New dogs may also appreciate the opportunity to run around your yard by themselves and get to know it in their own way. The same thing goes for the inside of your home—exploring it may be best done without the supervision of resident dogs. It is also a good idea to always feed your dogs separately.
Other Adult Humans: The best way for an adult to meet a new dog is to just let it come to you. Have the individual settle first, maybe sit on the sofa so that your new Lab will be on their level when he or she is ready to say hi. When your dog comes to the “new” person, have them put on their best “doggie voice” and offer lots of praise and love to your Lab. Still, be cautious—no hugs, just gentle petting until you know more about how your dog will react. Some dogs prefer some space as they settle in, so don’t crowd them.
Children: If you have very young children, Lab Rescue will have ensured that you’ve adopted a Lab that we know has a positive history being around children. If we don’t know a dog’s history with children, we always approve the Lab for children aged 10 and up. Some Labs love children, but their very size and loveable nature may mean that they knock your children over, and that’s not a good way for a new relationship to start! Do not leave your new dog alone—unsupervised—with your children until you have a good sense of the Lab’s personality. For some helpful guidance on introducing and facilitating interactions with children (your own and visitors), please review these resources:
Reinforcing Good Bathroom Habits
You can avoid house accidents by making sure your new Lab has plenty of opportunities to go outdoors, and by rewarding him/her with a special treat after eliminating outside. Keep the dog nearby so you can watch, and crate when you can’t supervise. If your dog has an accident in the house, clean it up quickly and thoroughly with an odor-control product such as Nature’s Miracle.
Keeping Your Lab Safe
Your new dog comes to you with a Lab Rescue tag on his collar. As soon as possible, you should get a new tag with your name, address, phone number, and the dog’s name on it. Ensuring that your Lab always wears a collar and tags is important and is one of the items you agree to in your adoption contract.
Take care that your dog isn’t able to slip out of its collar. A good type to use is a “martingale” collar. It tightens some when the dog pulls on it so that it can’t slip it off the Lab’s head. We do not permit the use of choke chains, prong collars, or electronic shock collars.
Your dog doesn’t know where its new home is yet, so you need to be careful that he/she doesn’t slip out of its collar or escape out the door. Some dogs have a tendency to “bolt” when a door is open.
Keeping Your Lab Healthy
When a Lab first comes to Lab Rescue, he or she visits one of our partner veterinarians for an initial checkup. Our vet clinics perform an overall wellness exam as well as key blood tests that tell us whether the Lab has any pre-existing conditions, such as Lyme Disease or Heartworm disease. We begin initial treatment if it is required. When you adopt your Lab, you may have medications to administer. It is important that you continue giving medications if they have been provided.
The Lab Rescue contract includes a clause that you must take your Lab to your own veterinarian within 1 week of adoption. We include this clause so that your vet can begin to know your Lab as soon as possible and can perform their own examination and confirm the wellness of the dog. Your relationship with your vet is key to a healthy dog.
Two important types of medication for your dog are heartworm preventive, such as Sentinel or Heartgard, and tick preventative, such as Advantix or Nexgard. You will need a veterinarian’s prescription for the heartworm preventative, but most tick preventatives can be purchased at any pet store or online. Please make sure to follow the directions carefully, as some formulations need to be administered monthly, while others are good for several months at a time. When you adopt from Lab Rescue, you agree to keep your Lab on heartworm prevention and flea-and-tick prevention for life.
Please note that some dogs who come to Lab Rescue test negative for heartworm disease during intake but, because we have no proof of their prior use of heartworm preventatives, it is important that the dog be tested again six months after the initial test. This is because the disease may have been in early stages of development and was not able to be detected during the test.
If your Lab Rescue dog does test positive and you are able to show proof of heartworm prevention usage since adoption, then Lab Rescue will cover the cost of the heartworm treatment at one of our partner veterinarians. For more information on whether your adopted dog requires this follow-up testing, please ask your Adoption Coordinator to confirm medical records.