Welcoming Your New Lab to Your Home
Is it as easy as throwing open the door and saying 'welcome'? Probably not.
Please Take Into Consideration
When you add a new lab to your family there are a few things to take into consideration. Your new lab has been through a lot of changes which can be stressful. Everything in your home is going to be new to him or her. Lab Rescue of the LRCP has put together these guidelines, many of them are based upon the years of fostering experience that our volunteers provide.
Your dog may have an accident or two because he is nervous and stressed. You can minimize this by making sure he has plenty of opportunities to go outdoors, and by rewarding him with a special treat when he eliminates outside.
If your dog does have an accident in the house, clean it up quickly and thoroughly with an odor control product such as Nature’s Miracle.
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. You might want to consider having your dog microchipped for even more foolproof identity (many Lab Rescue labs are already microchipped and you can register the chip to you). 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 off his collar. A good type to use is a “martingale” collar. It tightens some when the dog pulls on it so that he can’t slip it off his head. We do not permit the use of choke chains, prong collars or electronic shock collars.
Your dog doesn’t know where his new home is yet, so you need to be careful that he doesn’t slip his collar or get out the door. Some dogs have a tendency to “bolt” when the door is open.
Two important types of medication for your dog are heartworm preventive, such as Sentinel or Heartguard, and tick preventive, such as Frontline. You will need a veterinarian’s prescription for the heartworm preventive, but Frontline can be purchased at any pet store or on the Internet. Both need to be administered monthly. When you adopt from Lab Rescue of the LRCP you agree to keep your lab on heartworm prevention and flea and tick prevention for life.
If you are sent home with any medications already prescribed for your new lab you must complete them as prescribed.
When a lab first comes to Lab Rescue, we send them to one of our vets for an initial checkup. Our vet clinics perform an overall wellness exam and perform the key blood tests that tell us whether the lab has any pre-existing conditions like Lyme Disease or Heartworms. 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 one week of adopting him or her. We include that clause so that
your vet begins to know your lab as soon as possible and your vet can perform their own examination and confirm the wellness of the dog.
Your relationship with your vet is key.
At any time you may find that your lab starts to experience a health problem or injures itself. Many Lab Rescue volunteers and lab owners maintain a first aid kit for the small things that occur from time to time. We use this first aid kit as a temporary measure until you can take your lab to your vet.
Some helpful links can be found at
If a health issue arises or your lab is injured, call your vet or, if after hours, take your lab to the closest emergency clinic for acute problems.
Large dogs like Labrador Retrievers are usually fed twice a day. A typical amount of dry food would be 1 to 1 ½ cups twice a day. You can supplement the dry food with some canned food, if you like. If your dog needs to lose weight, you can reduce the dry food a little and add some canned green beans to help fill him up. There are many kinds of dog food on the market. Your adoption coordinator or foster can make some recommendations.
Before Your New Dog Comes Home
If you have another dog in the house it's a good idea to do a little preparation. A little tidying is a good idea. If there's going to be any territorial issues they'll appear in the first few minutes of your lab's arrival. So run around and pick up all the dog toys and put them in a closet. No treats or rawhides either please! Let everyone get acquainted and make sure they're getting along before adding toys to their play.
You should also close the doors to tempting rooms like kids bedrooms with toys, laundry rooms and the kitchen if possible. It 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.
Even if you're bringing home one dog into a single dog home it's a good idea to tidy up. You probably don't 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 cause too great a temptation for naughtiness.
Lost Dog Prevention
- Ensure that their collar is secure; Using a Buckle Collar OR Using a Martingale Collar
- Purchase an ID tag with your name and number ASAP! Each Lab Rescue dog comes with a blue Lab Rescue tag; keep the Lab Rescue tag on your dog until you have purchased one.
- Use a secure harness when walking your new lab. Make sure it is sized appropriately. Lab Rescue uses the Easy Walk Harness
- Never let your new dog outside without collar and ID tag
- Be very careful when opening doors to your home. A dog may dart out even if you have it open for only a second or two - especially to greet the UPS and or mail carrier. Consider crating your lab or placing them on a leash before you open the door for any reason.
- Make sure fence and gate is secure and locked, esp after lawn service or other visitors etc.
- Use care when entering and exiting your home
- Never leave a new dog unsupervised in your fenced yard, new dogs may jump your fence.
If you lose your dog, go to the lost dog page on our website.
How Do I Introduce My New Dog to My Family?
Believe us when we say that you will never regret going slowly with your new lab but you may find problems occur if you go too quickly.
Introduce the Dogs
If you have another dog in your home, let them meet outside and in a neutral place if possible. A neutral spot is not your home. Consider having them meet up the street as if it were a new dog in the neighborhood and then walking together to your home.
They can get their sniffing and meeting done in their own time. A new dog may appreciate the opportunity to run around your yard and get to know it in his or her own way. They may have some energy to burn when the first arrive as well which means that a romp with your dog may be a great way for them to get to know each other and become relaxed so that they'll both be on their best behavior when they come in the house.
Your new dog may appreciate some time to explore your home on their own; without the companionship of the other dog in the house.
Do not introduce toys right away. If one or the other of your dogs decides that a ball or toy is something that should be guarded then you may hear some barking, snarling or other unwanted behavior. The simplest way to avoid that is to give the dogs a few days to get to get comfortable without having to worry about who owns what.
A couple of food related things to consider:
- don't touch your new dog's food bowl until he or she is fully settled in; the first few days can be the scariest and they need to be able to count on their food
- highly supervise or better yet, completely separate your dogs feedings until they're confident with each other
Introduce the Adults
The best way for an adult to meet your new dog is to just let it come to you. Most new dogs are going to be interested in learning their new environment first and will sniff, sniff, sniff their way around your home. When they're ready they'll head to you.
Try to settle yourself first. Maybe take a seat on the steps so that your new lab will be on your level when he or she is ready to say hi. When they come to you, put on your best doggie voice and offer lots of praise and love. Still be cautious. No hugs...just petting and tummy rubs until you know more about your dog. Lots of dogs don't like too much face time and staring so be careful until you know the dog's likes and dislikes better.
Introduce the Children
If you have very young children Lab Rescue will have ensured that you've adopted a lab that we know is good with children. If we don't know a dog's history with children we always approve the lab for children aged 10 and up. Most 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. You need to have a good sense of the lab's personality before you leave them alone with your children.
Got Cats? We have another article about how to introduce your new lab to your cats.
Give Your New Dog Time
Most labs will start to settle in and show their normal labby personality within three days.
Your lab's personality will continue to blossom over time. As they become more secure in your home their true personality will begin to appear. Sometimes it can take a month or more for your lab to really settle in. They've been through a lot of change since they came to Lab Rescue be patient and wait them out.
Lab Rescue reminds you of the number one rule of our President:
"A Tired Lab is a Happy Lab"