Are you considering finding your Lab a new home? Whether it’s because you can’t control him/her, or weary of some of your Lab’s less than endearing behaviors, you aren’t alone. We hear stories with these elements all the time, often from people who would like to keep their dogs but don’t know what to do to make their situations better. Here’s some advice for those of you who aren’t sure that giving up your Lab is something you are ready to do just yet.
If your Lab does things that you find difficult to live with– for example, jumping on you, pulling on a leash when you walk him or her, begging at the table, not listening to you, not coming when you call, dashing out the door at every opportunity, unable or unwilling to do a sit, down, or stay, or is doing these things for one family member and not for another — you might want to consider enlisting the help of a qualified trainer. Check out our Resources page for helpful training tip and to find a trainer near you.
Frequently, people will remark that they thought their Lab would “grow out” of some of these undesirable behaviors and wouldn’t need training. This is a frequent misconception. It is not enough to discipline your Lab for doing something that he or she is not supposed to do. You, as the owner, must show your Lab the right thing to do instead of the undesirable behavior. All too often, behaviors that are cute in a 30 lb. puppy become obnoxious or even dangerous in a 100 lb. Lab. Undesirable behavior must be corrected — firmly, not harshly – using positive reinforcement.
The good news is that ANY dog can learn (or unlearn) most behaviors. All dogs can learn to walk on a leash without pulling and any dog can learn to come when called. It takes dedication and patience on the owner’s part. No dog is “fixed” or “cured” in a few hours or even a few weeks. Consistent training and ongoing reinforcement is necessary. The rewards can be worth it for both the owner and the dog.
Behavioral issues are different than training issues and require a different approach to deal with them. Behavioral issues can include separation anxiety, fear/phobia manifestation, excessive barking, habitual escaping, house-soiling (in a housetrained dog), chewing or other destructive behaviors. Stress is often a contributing cause of behavioral issues but it’s not the only cause.
Behavioral issues (as opposed to obedience issues) cannot be simply “trained” out of a dog’s repertoire of actions. The root cause of the behavior must first be identified and then modified using desensitization exercises, counter-conditioning, behavior prevention, behavior modification and sometimes short-term medication. The help of a certified animal behaviorist is very useful (if not required) when dealing with behavior issues. See our Resources page for help in locating a certified animal behaviorist in your area.
Be aware that many trainers call themselves behaviorists of one kind or another, regardless of their background or training. The Animal Behavior Society professionally certifies applied animal behaviorists who meet its criteria, and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists certifies veterinarians as specialists in behavior. Their hourly rates may be $100 or more; however, their expertise is often invaluable when dealing with serious behavioral issues.
Whether you’re dealing with obedience or behavioral issues, the following things will be required of you, the owner, in order for the training or behavior modification to be successful:
- Patience. Dogs learn by repetition and positive reinforcement. You will repeat the same commands possibly hundreds of times before your dog will begin to obey them with consistency.
- Clarity. Be consistent. Dogs do not have the talent for contextual interpretation that humans do. Use the same command word all the time to illicit the action you want. For example, don’t use DOWN and OFF interchangeably.
- Open-mindedness. Be willing to try new things. If, despite your best efforts, you haven’t had success in getting your dog to do something or not do something, be open to the advice of your trainer or behaviorist. You are paying them to help you. Let them.
- Kindness. Be kind to your dog. Your dog does what he does because he hasn’t been taught to do anything differently. Often we are on such familiar terms with our dogs that we forget that they don’t have ESP. You have to show your dog what you want him to do, not just tell him what you don’t want him to do.
Lastly, if you’ve read this far and still can’t see yourself making the investment of time and energy in your dog, for whatever reason, to make him or her the companion you desire, then consider making the decision to allow a rescue to help you re-home your dog in a new forever home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I contact Brookline for assistance in re-homing my lab?
First, you need to confirm that you are in our coverage area. You may do that that by emailing us at Info@BrooklineLabRescue.org or by calling us at 215-343-6087, to let us know you are interested in giving up your Lab for placement through our rescue. When you email or call us, please provide us with your full address, including zip code. Once we confirm coverage, a volunteer will contact you to obtain further information about your Lab and to discuss the reasons that you are considering giving up your Lab.
Our volunteer will then schedule a time to visit your home and evaluate your Lab. A non-refundable donation of $10 is due at the time of this evaluation. You also will be required to provide us with a copy of your Lab’s up-to-date rabies vaccination certificate and a copy of your Lab’s complete vet records, including proof that your Lab is up-to-date on other vaccinations, has tested negative for heartworm, and has been on a year-round heartworm preventive since the last negative heartworm test. If your Lab has not been on preventive continuously since the last negative heartworm test, a new heartworm test will need to be done prior to your Lab’s introduction to his or her adopting family.
What happens after my Lab has been evaluated by a Brookline volunteer?
The results of your Lab’s evaluation will be submitted to Brookline’s approval committee. If your Lab is approved for placement through Brookline, the volunteer who did your Lab’s evaluation will post a photo and description of your Lab on our website and will notify our volunteers of your Lab’s availability. For any adoptive families who express an interest, you will be given a report of their home visit to review and, with our guidance, help choose the best match for your Lab. After a match has been made, an introduction will be scheduled at a neutral location halfway between your home and the adopting family’s home. If the introduction goes well, you will sign a contract that transfers ownership of your Lab to Brookline and pay the non-refundable $35 donation. However, you also will agree to take your Lab back if the match doesn’t work out during the two week pre-adoptive period. If the match is a success, the adoption will be finalized with the new family following that two week period.
I need to give up my Lab IMMEDIATELY. Can Brookline help me?
Unfortunately, Brookline does not have a kennel or a facility to house Labs while they are waiting for a new home. We have a limited number of foster homes, which we usually reserve for Labs who are in shelters and in danger of being euthanized. Brookline generally can only help you if you are willing to keep your Lab while we try to find your Lab a new home. However, depending upon the circumstances, we will evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether we can accept a Lab being given up by his or her owner into our foster program. If your Lab is accepted into our foster program, there will be an additional donation requested in addition to the donations mentioned below.
Does Brookline help place Lab mixes as well as purebred Labrador Retrievers?
Yes, as long as they look like Labs.
My Lab is purebred. Do I need to have the AKC (registration) papers to surrender him or her?
No. However, if you obtained your dog from a breeder, you must check with the breeder first to be sure that the breeder does not want the Lab returned to him or her.
How long will it take Brookline to find my Lab or Lab mix a new home?
The length of time it takes to find your Lab a new home may depend on many factors, including the age, color and sex of your Lab and whether your Lab has any “special needs” or behavioral challenges. No one color, sex or age of Lab adopts more easily than another. Since Brookline prides itself on finding the perfect match, you will need to be patient as it may take time to find the ideal home for your Lab. We successfully place 100+ Labs each year, including many “special needs” Labs, Labs with less than perfect behavior, and senior Labs. However, depending upon the number of applicants we have who are waiting to adopt, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months.
What fees or costs are involved with re-homing my Lab through Brookline?
Please click here to view our re-homing fees. Prior to an introduction with an adoptive family, you will be required to provide us with your Lab’s current rabies vaccination certificate and a copy of your Lab’s complete vet records, including proof that your Lab is up-to-date on all vaccinations and has either tested negative for heartworm within the last 30 days or been on a year-round, monthly preventive since your Lab’s last negative heartworm test. If your Lab has not been on preventive continuously since the last negative heartworm test, you will be required to obtain a new heartworm test prior to your Lab’s introduction to his or her adopting family.
My Lab is very young. Is that a problem?
The number of families who are willing to adopt a very young Lab is usually greater than those willing to adopt a “senior” Lab. The greatest issue of concern in a very young Lab is whether he or she is housetrained, but even this may not be an issue for some adopters. Having your Lab neutered or spayed also will make your Lab more desirable to a potential adopter. Still, you should be prepared that it may take several weeks to match your Lab with an adopting family and complete the adoption process.
My Lab is older. Is that a problem?
The number of families who are willing to adopt a senior Lab (especially one who may have any health issues) is limited. In general, you should be prepared to wait, potentially months, for us to find the right home for your senior Lab.
My Lab is not very well behaved or has not had obedience training. Is that a problem?
Brookline is dedicated to helping all Labs in need of a good home. However, for liability reasons, we cannot accept a Lab that has a history of aggressive behavior or biting. Most obedience problems (or lack of obedience) can be worked through. Most adoptive families recognize that their new Lab may have some bad habits (counter-surfing, trash-picking, chewing, jumping, pulling on lead, etc.) that they will have to work to correct. Labs with behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety, inappropriate elimination, destructive behaviors, and the like can be harder to place. In general, you should be prepared to wait several weeks and, in some cases, months for us to find the ideal home for your Lab.
My Lab is on medication. Is that a problem?
As with senior Labs, the number of families who are willing to adopt a Lab with serious health concerns is limited. If your Lab is on medication that makes his or her health problem manageable (for example, allergies), the number of adopters who might be willing to work with your Lab’s condition may increase. In general, you should be prepared to wait, potentially months, for us to find the right home for your “special-needs” Lab.
Will I know if my Lab’s placement is working well?
We will keep you posted on how your Lab is adjusting to his or her new home and will let you know once the adoption becomes final. If for any reason during or at the end of the pre-adoptive period the family decides not to keep the Lab, the Lab will be returned to you until an introduction to another family can be arranged.
What if I know of a dog that isn’t mine who is in need of a new home?
As hard as it would be to give up your own dog, it can be even harder to know of a dog who needs a new home and not be able to give it one because the dog isn’t yours. If you know of a dog who is being abused, call the police or your local animal shelter. Animal abuse is illegal. Unfortunately, the definition of neglect isn’t as specific as it could be, and often neglect can be just as devastating as abuse for a dog.
People have dogs for many reasons, some good and some not so good. People sometimes keep dogs longer than they have the time or the energy to give them the love and attention they deserve. Often, they don’t know that there are alternatives to giving up their dog to a shelter.
If you know someone who has a dog for whom the responsibility has become too much, talk to them about breed rescue. You can find rescues in your area at www.petfinder.com. You’ll find Brookline there, but you also can find other breed rescues that are eager to help dogs in less than ideal situations
Find out about our surrender policies & fees.