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Labrador Rescue Guide: How to Find One and What It Will be Like

Getting a rescue dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences of owning a pet in all of a lifetime.  Not only do rescue dogs love and adore their new owners, but they also have traits that make anyone desire to get another one.

How can you find a rescue and what can you expect? Bringing home a rescue Labrador can be very rewarding and can give you the joy that you have wanted for years to come. Some Labradors come to new homes and often feel nervous or scared and they sometimes are homesick for their other home, just like bringing home a new puppy from the breeder. 

These dogs can be trained and can learn to cope and be happy.  Even though some Labradors can have behavioral problems, many of them will come into your home already knowing how he or she should act and what he or she should be doing in their new home.

Depending on what age rescue that you choose to get will depend on how your Labrador will most likely act when they come into your home. 

Older Labradors that have been in previous homes might have a harder time adjusting.  Just like people, Labradors get attached to their owners and if they have lived in a home with loving owners for a long period of time, chances are that they will miss their old owners and will take longer to adjust.

Older Labradors also are used to acting a certain way and they might be harder to train or to teach new things.  They may act homesick and they might cry or be sad for a while before they really adjust.

Bringing home, a rescue Labrador puppy might be different.  He or she is just starting their life and they might have a better time adjusting to what is going on in the world around them.  These puppies will most likely be easy to train and have an easy time adjusting to their new home.

Some adult and older Labradors could enter the home and feel like they are where they have always been and will show no type of behavioral problems such as chewing or destroying things.

Some older dogs already know the routine of going to the bathroom and the basic commands such as “sit” and “stay.”

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How Can I Make My Rescue Labrador Feel Happy in Their New Home?

Since you have no idea how your rescue dog is going to act when they come to your home, it is important that you make special plans to spend extra time with your new rescue.  By spending time with your rescue Labrador, you can see what kind of habits your new Lab will have and what kind of personality your Lab shows.

It is important to try to take a few days off from work or school to specifically spend extra time with your rescue so that he or she does not feel lonely, scared or homesick in their new home.

By being calm and sweet to your rescue, you can help him or her to be able to feel at home and help them to adjust to being home when you are at work or away from the home.

How Do I Get My Home Ready for My New Rescue?

Since, once again, you will not know what kind of personality or knowledge that your rescue dog has, it is important that you prepare your home for a Labrador that might have little to no training, including potty training.

Make sure that you have plenty of potty pads and other things that your Labrador will need to go to the bathroom so that you will be prepared just in case your Labrador does not know what to do in their new home.

Make sure that you do not get overly stressed if your new rescue pet has accidents when first coming to your home and that is why it is important to be prepared just in case.

Have potty pads and any cleaning supplies necessary to clean up any messes that your new rescue might make in their first few days home with you.

Another thing that will make having a new rescue easier will be if you have floors that are easy to wash.  Make sure that you clean up any area if your Labrador has accidents so that he or she will not return to the same place to use the bathroom later.

Putting your new rescue in the kitchen and setting up a gate or a boundary will help them to have a hard floor to stay in case they are not potty trained.  Once you know that he or she will not use the bathroom on the floor, start allowing your Lab to roam around more of the house.

It is important to make sure that your new rescue feels safe and secure.  Having a comfortable and set up a sleeping area can make your new Lab to feel welcome and secure.  Make sure that you have blankets and treats and a place that your Lab will be comfortable in.

If you have a certain bed that you want your Lab to sleep in, make sure that you open up this room to them and give them treats and toys to ease them to their new area.

Crating your new rescue might take some time but it is another option for allowing your Lab to feel safe. Make sure that your Lab feels safe and that you offer blankets and another comfort if you are going to use a crate.

One more thing to remember is to put away anything that you do not want your Labrador to mess up or tear up.  Remember, the personality of a Lab is to be hyper and to love to chew, so chances are, the Lab from the rescue will be the same and will want to chew and be part of new things.  Keeping your stuff put away can help you to have less aggravation if your new pet decides to act out.

What Do I Do if My Rescue Lab is Not Potty Trained?

If your Lab is not potty trained, it is important that you take time to do this before you move on to any other type of training or obedience practice. 

In order to get your Lab potty trained, you need to have patience and love regardless of how many accidents he or she might have.

If your Lab has lived in a shelter, he or she might not have ever been trained to go outside or to use potty pads.  This can create problems for potty training and it can cause your Labrador to want to use his or her crate to go to the bathroom in.

If you find it necessary, crate your new rescue for as long as you need until he or she learns to go outside or to use their potty pads, while you are away. 

Some families will only crate their new rescue while they are away and others will use their new crate while they are away and at night.

If your Labrador is not used to a crate, it is important to help them get used to the crate a little bit at a time.  Make sure that you do not cause added stress for your Labrador and that you are gentle with them when crate training.

How Do I Introduce My Labrador to My Family?

Introducing your Labrador to your family is very important, especially if it is a rescue.  You never are exactly quite sure what kind of history that your Labrador will have and you can never really plan on how your rescue will act when he or she meets new people.

Most shelters will only adopt out rescue dogs if you promise to not keep them locked up or if you promise to keep your new dog indoors.  Make sure that you want to share your life and your home with your new dog before you make the leap.

Make sure that you have boundaries in your home so that your new dog will feel safer.  If you keep your rescue in a smaller area, your new Labrador will more than likely work harder to keep the area clean and it will help them to adjust faster.

Should I Get a Senior Rescue Lab or a Young Rescue Lab?

There are positives in both senior and young rescue dogs.  Both dogs can be loving and kind and have amazing personalities. 

Older dogs might know more tricks and more commands and are more than likely potty trained, while younger Lab rescues might have never used a potty pad or have been housebroken. 

Another difference includes the health of your senior rescue Lab.  A rescue Lab that is older might have health problems that can lead to diseases.  Since Labradors are known to have many sicknesses and diseases, getting a rescue that is older can bring about a lot of medical issues that you did not expect.

A senior Labrador might need extra care, as well, such as softer beds, steps to get up and down and beds that are lower. 

When getting either a senior or a younger Lab, chances are that they will be so appreciative of their new home that they will bring you a lifetime of joy and happiness.

Do I Need to Prepare My Yard for a New Rescue?

If you are getting a new rescue and you live in a place that has a yard, it is important that you have a fence or area designed where your new rescue Lab can go without escaping or getting hurt. 

It is important that you look at your fence and make sure that there are no holes under the fence where your new Lab can escape and make sure that your fence is higher than six feet because Labradors can jump very high.

Remember, Labradors are known as working dogs and this means that they are very strong. Your Labrador could easily push through a fence that is not secured deeply into the ground or a door that is not latched.

Not only can having an open area or an escape area for your Lab be unsafe, but you also do not want your Lab to wander where they do not know their way or know or understand the traffic pattern.

How Often Should I Exercise My New Rescue Lab?

It is important that you understand the exercise needs of the Labrador breed prior to even looking at getting a rescue.

Labradors need a large amount of exercise and it is advised that they get at least an hour and a half of exercise each day.  Not giving your Labrador enough exercise can make for an unruly Labrador, rather a rescue or not.

Make sure that you are prepared to exercise your Labrador.  If you do not have a fence, taking your Labrador for walks on his or her leash is very important.  Make sure that you have all of the correct equipment before going on your walk and make sure that you have a leash and a collar or harness that is comfortable and safe for your Labrador.

If you have a fenced-in yard, your Labrador will love going into the yard to play fetch, Frisbee or even just to run around.  Remember, taking time to play with your new rescue can help you and your Labrador to bond with each other, making the transition much easier.

Even if you never plan for your Labrador to be outside without you, make sure that he or she has an identification tag on their collar in case they getaway. Some dogs just love to get into mischief and might try to go out on their own, even if they love the home.

Having an ID badge will help your Labrador to be found if they happen to get out without you.

What Kind of Collar Should I Buy My Rescue?

There are different kinds of collars that you can purchase for your new rescue Lab and one of them is a body harness collar. The body harness is great because it gives extra protection for your Lab to make sure that he or she cannot get out of their collar.

The body harness is not as rough on your Labrador and you can easily walk your Lab with a body harness on without doing too much tugging on their neck or back.

Neck Collar

Buying a neck collar for your Lab is another option when taking your Lab out for walks or just taking them outside to go places.  Make sure that you get a long line, or a ring for the harness so that you can easily hook up your leash if you need to in a hurry.

What if I Do Not Have a Yard?

If you do not have a yard to allow your dog to run free in, hook them up on their body harness or their neck collar and take them for a walk. 

Try to walk the same way for the first couple of months that you have your new rescue so that your Lab can learn his or her way just in case they would get lost.

Walking the same way each day can give your Labrador confidence that he or she might not have if you walk in new places each day. 

What Will I Need Before I Bring Home a Rescue Lab?

Bringing home a rescue Lab is no different than bringing home a new puppy.  Make sure that you have the following items on hand before you pick up your new friend:

  • Potty Pads
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Food
  • Bones
  • Treats
  • Feeding Bowls
  • Water Bowls
  • Leash
  • Collar or Body Harness
  • A Bed
  • Blankets
  • A Crate
  • A Couple Baby Gates

If you do not have all the items on the first day, just make sure that you have the essentials such as food, bedding, and a collar and leash.  You can pick up other items as you go.

How Will My Rescue Dog Respond to Me?

Being adopted and starting life with a new family can be a bit overwhelming for anyone.  Most of the time though, after your Labrador gets over the confusion of being in a new area, chances are that he or she will respond with nothing but love for their new owner. 

Since Labradors are friendly dogs, chances are that they will be friendly and excited to be in their new home.  Most Labrador Retrievers are known for being very sociable and patient and you will know right away if your dog is happy by their immediate actions.

If your Labrador is wagging his tail and sniffing around excitedly, he or she is most likely ready to settle into your home.  Even if your new Labrador is ready to settle, do not forget that he or she has come from a hard past and just remember to be kind and patient until your Labrador gets used to your home.

If you have a rescue that had a great past, if you can try to understand their routine, they will most likely adjust to your home much quicker and happier.

How Will My New Rescue Lab Make Me Feel?

Getting a new dog, in general, can be a little bit overwhelming and getting a dog that is from a rescue can be a bit of a challenge.

At first, it might be hard to adjust to the change that you are about to go through. Remember that you will have a dog in your house that you do not know and the dog may not take to you immediately.  If this happens, do not be offended and keep giving your Labrador attention until he or she warms up to you.

Even though you will eventually get used to having a new Labrador in your home, remember that having any new pet takes time and patience. You might feel that your Labrador is a bit of a handful at times and you might even wonder if you have made a mistake of getting a new pet, especially one that is already set in your ways, but remember that it takes a few days to get used to new things.

If you are patient and calm, chances are that your Labrador will be patient and calm and you will eventually learn to understand each other.  Try to talk to your Labrador and warm up to him or her, letting them know that they are welcome and loved.

If you end up feeling too overwhelmed, talk to someone that has a Labrador or talk to your local vet or the rescue that you got them from, just to get some advice.

How Can I Teach My Rescue That I am In Charge?

Sometimes Labradors can be very hyper and full of themselves.  This happens when Labradors are younger but it can also be something that you will experience with Labradors that are from shelters or rescue centers.

It is important that your dog knows and understands that you are the boss of the household and that you are truly in charge. 

Most of the time, dogs, in general, do not want to be in charge and just want to be able to be a part of what is going on in their home and family.  If you are firm with your rescue when he or she does something wrong, they will immediately know that you are not only their protector and their friend, but that you are also the one in charge. 

It is important that you set guidelines for your Lab and that you teach them and train them and help them to be responsible and to respond to different commands that you give them.  Training a rescue can be as easy as training a Labrador puppy, just stay patient and train with love.

Try to not feed your new rescue dog with too much dish food at first and try to get your new Labrador to eat out of your hand.  Getting your Labrador to eat out of your hand will give them peace and help them to know that you love them and that they can trust you.

What Can I Expect the Day I Bring My Rescue Lab Home?

It is very important that you bring your new Lab home with as little excitement as possible.  Try to not overwhelm your rescue by introducing them to children or people that are high strung or loud.  It is important that you bring the rescue Lab to your home in a calm and quiet manner.

Bring along another adult to help you to get the Labrador in the car and into your home.  Evoking too much excitement before your Lab even gets to your home can make for a hard ride home and can make it harder to settle your rescue in.

If you feel that it is necessary to create your new rescue dog, make sure that you have a crate that is big enough to fit them so that they are not uncomfortable for the ride home.  If your dog becomes scared or agitated, he or she might not take to you as well as he or she would if it was calmer.

When putting your dog in the back, if he or she seems scared or uneasy, have someone sit in the back with them to watch over them and to help to keep them calm.

How Can I Safely Bring My New Rescue Home?

Even though chances are that you have already met and spent time with your new rescue in their rescue center, it is important that you take time to introduce your new rescue slowly.  Even if you have spent a few days with your new dog, he or she will still see you as a stranger and it is smart to be cautious about this.

Remember that all dogs can bite and a dog that is very nervous might have the tendency to snap or to act out when you try to take them with you.

Always be prepared for the fact that dogs do bite and that scared dogs are even more apt to do so. 

Do not overexert yourself on your new rescue Lab and try to not do things like cuddling or poking your new dog.  Do not put your face close to their mouth or their face in case they get nervous and snap at you. 

Make sure that you do not pet your new rescue while they are eating or when you have given them a treat such as a bone.  Never allow children to touch your new rescue while they are eating because they might think that the child is trying to take their food.

If your new rescue begins to growl or act aggressive, go out of the room and give them time to calm down.  If this continues, talk to your vet and find out what you can do to stop these actions.

Most importantly, make sure that your rescue feels safe, secure and loved and all of the other things will eventually fall into place.


Bringing home, a new rescue Labrador can be both rewarding and special. Make sure that your home and you are prepared for your new Lab and prepare your home for a Lab that might have never been exposed to house training.

Make sure that you show your new rescue much love and patience and you and your new rescue can become the best of friends!