Make a Happy Home

The Top Questions for New Adopters

You’ve done it! You made the choice to save a dog’s life and found the right dog for your family. You may have a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common questions we hear from new adopters.

Yes! This is essential. Your LOLIN dog has been spayed/neutered and received basic medical care including vaccinations, worming, and treatment for any known issues. Your veterinarian will need to provide a prescription for monthly heartworm prevention. After you take your dog home, veterinary care becomes your responsibility. Your foster will give you the existing vet records to ensure you and your vet know everything that we know about your dog’s health.

The crate can be a calm, relaxing, and safe place for your dog to spend time. When done properly, crating can be an excellent training tool. This is especially important for puppies or young labs who might get themselves into trouble when left alone (chewing, counter surfing, emptying trash cans, and during the housebreaking process).

Here are some tips to use crate training effectively:

  • Make the crate a happy place for your dog and reward the dog for going in and being quiet. If the crate door is left open, some dogs will choose to go in on their own.
  • NEVER use the crate for discipline!
  • If your dog is crated all day, make extra effort to let them out and spend time with them when you are home. Even dogs who love their crate don’t want to be in it for more than 8-10 hours at a time. Make sure the dog has enough supervised time free of the crate to exercise and bond with the family.
  • Puppies under six months should not be crated for more than 3-4 hours at a time. A good rule of thumb is that a puppy can be crated the same number of hours as they are months old.
  • Some dogs may consistently whine while crated. If they have not been outside for awhile, they may be signaling that they need to go to the potty. However, constant whining needs to be addressed to change the behavior. It is best to let your dog out of the crate while it is being quiet, so the dog sees it as a reward for good behavior. Letting it out while whining reinforces bad behavior.
  • Begin by letting your dog out of the crate for brief unsupervised periods of time (10 to 15 minutes). Gradually increase unsupervised time out of the crate based on how well-behaved they are.
  • Teach kids to leave the dog alone when it retreats to the crate. It probably wants to be alone!
  • If your dog is stressed by travel, you may want to consider crating the dog in your car. Your dog will recognize it as a familiar, safe place, which may reduce some of the stress of travel.
  • Not every dog needs to be crated, but for those who do, proper crate training will create a safe haven for your dog while it learns the rules of its new home.

Maybe. Maybe not. Ask their foster! Your foster knows more about your dog than anyone. They will tell you if your dog is not fully housebroken. They want to set realistic expectations and help you succeed. Your dog may also regress for the first few days in new surroundings, even if they were housebroken at the foster home. Give them a chance to settle into your routine. Take them out frequently and reward them when they potty outside.

You will need to pay close attention to learn your dog’s signals for going outside. In the first few weeks, it is best to go outside with them to be sure they potty rather than playing or exploring.

Positive reinforcement is always the best way to teach housebreaking. Remember, hitting a dog on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper is NOT positive reinforcement and does not work. All it does is make your dog scared of rolled-up newspapers. Never rub a dog’s nose in their potty or hit them in any way.

There are several helpful resources online for housebreaking your dog including

Take it slow. Every dog is different. Each dog has a unique personality. Some dogs will easily get along with other dogs. Others may need time to adjust. Here are some tips for helping your dog make a new friend.

  • Have the meeting on neutral territory.
  • Have both dogs leashed.
  • Take the dogs for a walk with owners in the center and dogs on the outside, preferably ten feet apart.
  • Be patient. It may take several attempts over time.

Introducing two or more dogs that will be living in the same home should be done slowly and cautiously. Use the tips above but it may be necessary to keep them separated in the home at first. Gradually allow supervised interaction. Do not feed them together. Pick up all toys/bones until the dogs have become completely comfortable with each other. Introduce toys/bones slowly. Your original dog’s favorite toys/bones should be put up until the dogs are well acclimated and have truly become compatible.

LOLIN makes every effort to assess if a dog will be good with children. Some dogs will be okay with younger kids while others will do better with older children. While not all foster homes have children, your foster can let you know what they have and have not observed in your dog. Here are some important guidelines to follow when teaching children how to interact with a dog.


  • Bothering dogs when they are sleeping, or playing with a toy/bone.
  • Putting your hand in or near a dog’s bowl while they are eating.
  • Putting your face up to a dog’s face.
  • Grabbing tail or ears.
  • Climbing or trampling a dog.
  • Hitting a dog, even in play.
  • Hugging. Most dogs don’t like to be hugged.
  • Yelling or shouting. Use your inside voice.

New puppies can bring a lot of joy but training them can be challenging. It is extremely important that you register your puppy in a positive reinforcement training class as soon as possible. Here are some things that will help your puppy develop into a great companion.

  • Mouthing – Puppies can be very mouthy, which can seem like they are biting. Puppy teeth are sharp. This behavior can seem cute when they are eight weeks old but is not nearly so endearing when they are three or four months old. A great resource for help with mouthing, nipping and biting is
  • Jumping – When a dog jumps on you, they are looking for attention. It is important to not reward this behavior. When your dog begins his enthusiastic jumping, simply stand tall and stare straight over his head. Do not tell your dog to get down or physically move him off you. Instead, ignore him and turn your body slowly away. When his feet hit the floor, immediately provide the attention he craves. Repeat this process until your dog makes the connection between standing on all four paws and receiving your attention. Small puppies jumping on you may not seem like a big issue until they become adults.
  • Socialization – Many people assume socialization is simply about getting your dog around lots of people to be petted and plenty of dogs to play with. This can be a piece of the socialization package but remember that the goal of socialization is to get your pup accustomed to and comfortable with the world around him. This includes sounds, people of various age/gender, and clothing such as hats, uniforms, sunglasses, hoods, backpacks, etc. Even someone with facial hair can be startling to a puppy.
  • Basic Obedience – Working with your puppy on basic commands like sit, stay and come will help him learn impulse control while developing a bond with you.

Ask your foster! Find out what your foster has been feeding the dog and try to use the same food initially. If you decide to switch to a different type of food (high-quality food, of course), do so gradually, mixing the old with the new a bit at a time to avoid stomach problems. This can safely be done over a week.

Many dogs love going to the dog park or other pet-friendly public areas, but you may want to wait a few weeks. You and your new dog are going through a major change. Your dog is excited, nervous, and exhausted physically and emotionally after moving to yet another new home. Remember they were likely just in a shelter, then in a foster home, and now your home, which may be very busy and different from their past experiences. Both of you need time to adapt to a new routine and get to know each other before you start going out to public places. Also be aware that other dogs in public places may not react positively to your dog, causing fear or bad behavior. It can take several months for your new LOLIN dog to fully settle into your home.

As part of the LOLIN adoption contract you signed, you agreed to keep your dog in a safe enclosed area or leashed at all times. You also agreed not to keep the dog tied up or confined for extended periods of time. Remember that many LOLIN labs were strays and they can easily revert back to that behavior, so don’t trust them off a leash even if it seems safe to do so.

Rescue dogs go through an adjustment period when they move to a new home. Some dogs may initially be extremely active or nervous before settling down to more calm behavior. Others may be very quiet and calm at first and then in a few days or weeks, become more comfortable and act differently. This can happen after the dog has learned the house rules, the routine, and become familiar with their new family. Like children, they may test the boundaries and house rules, resulting in unexpected and possibly undesirable behaviors.

Here are some suggestions to help your dog settle in more easily:

  • Put the crate or dog bed close to your bed.
  • Give the dog safe chew toys.
  • Establish a regular routine and sleep schedule.
  • Exercise the dog regularly.
  • Praise the dog often and motivating with dog treats.
  • Be patient.

Your new dog isn’t the only one going through an adjustment period. So are YOU! You just added a new member to your family! The stress of caring for this new family member may give you some buyer’s remorse. Remind yourself of how much this dog needs you and that some of the early problems will get better with time, patience, training, and love. A few weeks of love and consistency will go a long way in helping your dog adjust to your home.

While we certainly hope that your dog is with you for life, we understand that sometimes life circumstances may change suddenly, making it impossible for you to care for your dog. In such situations, per the adoption contract, you must contact LOLIN to return the dog, so that we can find it another suitable home. Do not give your dog away.

Above are some of the most common questions we hear from new adopters, but we have plenty of other tips and tricks that will help you on your adoption journey.

Click plus signs below to read about some tips to give your new LOLIN dog a smooth transition into their happy new life!

Your Labrador has undergone many recent changes, some of them possibly traumatic. Keep your household quiet for a week or so. Here are some tips for creating a quiet environment for your new dog:

  • Crate him to create a safe, quiet space.
  • Reduce or eliminate visitors.
  • Don’t fuss over the dog.
  • Don’t go on vacation or do other things that disrupt your normal routine.
  • Let your new dog learn your routine as quickly and easily as possible.
  • Spend time with your dog but keep things quiet and peaceful.
  • Let your dog initiate play or indicate interest in specific activities.

Some dogs benefit from a bit of “down time,” while others are ready to leap into family life; let him tell you which way he wants to go. Each dog has a different reaction to being placed in a new home. Some dogs are “depressed” and do little until they absorb the tempo of their new home and start participating. Other dogs display an excess of nervous energy for the first week or so. Both of these reactions (and others in between) are normal.

Get into a routine as soon as possible (see tips in the Establish a Routine section.) Your new Labrador will begin to relax once he knows what to expect in your home.

As already mentioned, you want to set up a consistent schedule for your new dog. You also need to set up consistent house rules. For example, don’t let the dog on the bed for the first week and then kick the dog off the bed a week later. That will only cause confusion. Sit down with other members of your household and make sure everyone is in agreement on the basic rules. Some common ones are:
  • Whether or not to get on furniture
  • Rooms the dog is allowed
  • NOT chasing the cat
  • What is and is NOT a chew toy

Make sure everyone knows what these rules are, and then enforce them from day one. You don’t have to be mean or nasty in your corrections. Just a firm “No” at normal volume will do. Try to make it easy to be good initially; if the dog isn’t allowed in a specific room, just keep the door shut for awhile until it learns the rule. Don’t let your dog break a rule out of pity! That only creates chaos and confusion.

Most of the Labradors we adopt out are basically in good health. We do advise you of any health issues of which we are aware. LOLIN dogs have had a complete medical evaluation from a licensed veterinarian, deworming, a heartworm test, comprehensive fecal exam, necessary vaccinations including rabies and bordetella, and monthly flea/tick/heartworm prevention while in foster care. It is important to remember that the dog you are adopting has probably just been through some stressful times. Many dogs come down with kennel cough a week or two after being removed from the shelter. Many of them contract worms. We do treat either condition if we note it while the dog is in our care, but the incubation period can fool us, and dogs with worms are not always passing worms (there is a cycle between passing larvae and eggs). It goes without saying that we recommend you take your dog into the vet for a thorough checkup that can serve as a baseline for later. Most of our dogs do not have any prior medical history, especially when turned in as strays to shelters. We will give you copies of all medical records that we acquired on the dog that you adopt, if you do not obtain this at the time of adoption.

Kennel Cough

Probably the most common problem we see in our rescue dogs is kennel cough. This is passed from dog to dog, just like the common cold; thus, shelters are a prime place for a dog to pick up kennel cough. Some shelters vaccinate dogs against kennel cough but in many cases exposure has already occurred. Incubation period is 7-14 days before symptoms show up. Provided that it is treated promptly, and the dog is in reasonably good health, it is not serious. Since so few dog owners vaccinate their dogs against kennel cough, there is a large reservoir of dogs carrying this virus.

Kennel cough starts out with a cough. Like the human flu, it can be of varying severity. Also like the flu, the Bordatella vaccination does not completely protect against kennel cough because it is really a variety of closely related mutating viruses. However, like the flu shot, it can prevent SOME cases of kennel cough and make actual cases milder than otherwise.

Parasites and Worms

The most common worms found in dogs are tapeworms and roundworms. Tapeworms look like rice. The worm is segmented and often separates by the time you can see it in the feces. Roundworm looks more like spaghetti. If you see either of these, have your vet give you the appropriate medications promptly. When you go to your vet, be sure to bring a stool sample that is “fresh” from that day, so that the Vet can test it for these worms and others. All LOLIN dogs have had a fecal exam and have been treated for any worms found, but this preventive measure should be done at least yearly, as dogs can pick up worms from a variety of sources.


Your Labrador will have been tested for heartworm and, if positive, will have received treatment for this. If negative, they are put on monthly prevention. In Indiana, year-round prevention is necessary! It is not a question of IF your Labrador will become infected, but rather it is a matter of HOW SOON it will happen. To work properly you must give the dose at the same time each month. DO NOT MISS A DOSE. Please consult with your veterinarian to purchase the preventative (Interceptor is recommended by LOLIN and that is what we have given the Lab.

If you have young children, tell them that your new dog is still adjusting and to leave him largely alone. Even the best child-friendly dog may get upset if he’s confused and finds children piling on him to hug him at all times. Make sure they don’t poke and prod at him. Show them how to pet him nicely. Please teach your children and their friends respect for this dog and all dogs. Here is a wonderful website to help:

Remember that all children and all dogs should always be supervised. Especially young children may not behave appropriately around a dog (poking eyes, pulling tails), and some dogs may jump up on children and accidentally hurt them. Don’t expect your children to be responsible for your dog’s care. A dog can be a good way to teach responsibility to a child, but you will still ultimately be responsible if the child does not do his part. You should, however, involve your child (or children) in caring for the dog. Have them help you fill the food dish, or help you groom or exercise the dog. Involving children in obedience training is an especially good idea.

Labradors are not generally aggressive toward other dogs. We do have exceptions from time to time and in those cases, you have already received specific information about dealing with your dog. However, for the most part, your new Labrador should get along fine with your current dogs or with other dogs you meet while walking or playing. But remember: they may still be under stress!

We suggest these tips to ease the introductions:

  • Meet in a neutral place. Ideally a fenced park that none of the dogs have been to before, or a backyard that neither have been to before. There should not be other dogs around and it should be fairly quiet.
  • Introduce your new dog to your oldest/alpha dog first. Have each of the dogs meet individually, working down to the youngest dog if you have several. If any agitation has been shown, use a leash on BOTH and make sure you have two people — one person per dog.
  • If initial introductions go well, use a safely enclosed area and allow the dogs to meet off leash (depending on their personalities and providing no agitation has been shown). Quite often reactions are much different when a dog is on a leash. The restriction and proximity to the person can increase a dog’s sensitivity and/or territorialism.

Again, during the adjustment period, it is often helpful for the dogs to spend some time apart so as to reduce the overall excitement level and stress. This is especially true if one of the dogs is excitable and wants to play and the other does not. As they relax and adjust, they will work out an amicable relationship. There will often be a certain amount of posturing and even some snapping or growling. In most cases, these “confrontations” are over almost before they begin and in these cases you need not worry. If a fight does break out, pull the dogs apart as quickly and safely as you can, taking care not to get bitten in the process, then crate or isolate them. For a very fearful new Lab, allow him to be alone in a crate, so he will feel safe for the next 24 hours with several potty breaks and water provided. Do not ignore any posturing: observe carefully and see how they are resolved. Separate the dogs during the adjustment period while you are not home, even if they are acting fine. Do this as a precautionary step. If they are still a little tense or “depressed” (quiet) then slowly increase the time they spend together, to give them enough time for adjustments. Be sure to spend plenty of time with all your dogs. Your older dogs may become jealous of the newcomer if he takes up all your time. If over time it becomes apparent that the two dogs are continually jostling for “alpha” (top dog) position with each other, you may have to step in.

Please remember that the Labrador was bred to go out and retrieve small game. While this does not necessarily mean he will make lunch out of your rabbit or obsessively stalk your parrot, it does mean that you should exercise caution and allow only supervised interaction until you are satisfied that you know how your dog behaves with other pets. Even at that, we recommend that such pets are always separated when you are not at home. In the case of cats, they at least need to have a safe place to retreat where the dog cannot reach.

Most Labradors can be taught to leave cats alone. But, few dogs can resist a cat that runs from them. By keeping your dog on leash indoors for a while, you can prevent “the chase” from becoming a habit. Once he no longer races after the cat, then work on transferring his attention to you by distracting him when the cat enters the room. Feel free to use food or whatever it takes for him to voluntarily look at you even when the cat is in view. Praise thoroughly. You do not want to always punish him for looking at the cat because that will reinforce the thought that cats are bad (and therefore should be chased down and dealt with). Note that it is not unusual for a Labrador to tolerate “his” cat but to immediately and mercilessly chase any other cat out of your backyard or to lunge after strange cats seen on walks. Again, this is the high prey drive that was bred into them centuries ago.

All of our adoptive homes are to take their new dog (especially young Labs under age 2) through at least one basic obedience course within 2 to 4 weeks from the time the Lab enters your home permanently. Even if your dog is very well-behaved, an obedience class lets the two of you interact further, better define your relationship, and learn how to deal with new situations together. This is the best place for the Lab and you to learn each other’s personalities. Remember, the Labrador is a large dog. He can easily get into trouble if he does not mind you. An untrained Labrador very often winds up in the shelter. You owe it to yourself and your dog to undergo obedience training. Obedience training enhances the relationship between dog and owner. Most dogs love the extra attention and the chance to show you what they can learn! Now, sit back and watch your new dog blossom with your loving guidance. ENJOY.

When you first bring your new dog home, make sure you have him on a leash. Spend the first 15-30 minutes walking him outside around the perimeter of your yard or the area that you will be with him most on your property. Walk slowly – let him “lead” mostly – and let him sniff and pause if he wants to. If you have a place you wish him to relieve himself, encourage him to “go potty” in that area and praise him warmly when he does. The excitement of the move and new family will cause him to have to relieve himself more often than normal. You must be prepared to give him plenty of opportunities to do this in the beginning. Whenever the rescue dog is not confined, supervise him – set this dog up to win and be successful!

You might want to consider isolating the new dog from your current dogs during the first entry to your home. He or she will appreciate the safety and quiet at first as he explores your home. Crate your resident dog or have someone take him for a walk while your new dog explores.

Keep in mind that if your new dog has a few accidents, it does not necessarily mean that he is not housebroken. Nerves and excitement can cause uncharacteristic accidents. Watch for typical pre-piddling behavior – circling, sniffing, etc. Do not scold or hit a dog for having an accident – rather, verbally get his attention, and take him right outside to his spot to do his business. If he does it, praise him! Once he relaxes and learns the rhythms and routines of your home, all his manners will return.

Even in a fenced yard, you’ll want to leave your rescued dog on leash for the first week or so. This way, you can reinforce a recall command and help monitor pack behavior if you have other dogs. Until your new dog bonds to you and makes good eye contact, we recommend leaving him on leash.

Feed your new dog twice a day: in the morning and at night. Ask and encourage the dog to sit before putting the bowl down. Put the food bowl down for 15 minutes. If the dog does not eat his food, pick up the bowl until the next mealtime. After a couple of days of this routine, even the most finicky of eaters will change their minds. Feeding this way, you can monitor exactly how much he is eating. Feeding your new dog in his crate or area where he will be sleeping will help to give them a positive association with the crate or sleeping arrangements.

If you have other dogs, feed your rescue dog away from them but at the same time. You can feed in the same room but use opposite corners. You may want to arrange having another adult in the room for the first week of feedings to monitor the “pack behavior.” Make sure each dog sticks to his own bowl. Keep vigilant over feeding time for a couple of months.

Many of the dogs that pass through rescue have been crate trained at one time or another. Every dog needs a place to escape to, a place to call his own, and a crate provides an answer to these needs. Your new dog may have some degree of separation anxiety when you leave him for work or alone at home. Crating the dog in the beginning will eliminate accidents, chewing destruction, and other mischievous activity that is rooted in nervousness and insecurity.

Your dog is safest in the crate when you are not home until you can totally trust him loose in the house. This is especially true if you have resident pets because you can’t supervise their interactions when you’re away or asleep. Children should be taught to leave the dog alone if he retreats to his crate. You should never use the crate for disciplining. The crate must be a dog’s sanctuary for crate training to be effective. Crates are great for traveling with your dog later – the dog will always have a familiar den to retreat to and feel comfortable and reassured. Each time your dog is confined, make sure the dog knows he is a good dog and that the crate is the best place in the world.

While crating a dog helps make everybody safe, crating should NOT be abused by locking the dog in the crate all the time. Dogs need to be with you and should be with you unless they cannot be supervised or trusted alone in the house. For instance, if you are going to shower and the dog still sometimes chews, crate him for those 15 minutes for safety, but then let him out to be with you. If the dog is crated while you are working all day, you MUST make an extra effort to let the dog “hang” with you until he is reliable loose in the house.

If you prefer not to crate, make sure to set aside a safe, indestructible space in your home for your rescue dog. You may want to keep your dog on easy cleanup flooring at first. If the area of confinement is too large, you may begin to have housebreaking accidents. It is not recommended to use the basement since your dog will not feel “part of the family” isolated away from it.

Try to develop and use a consistent daily routine for feeding, exercising, and bathroom duties. Dogs are creatures of habit and routine translates into security for them. If you do the same things in the same way and in the same order, the dog will settle in more quickly and learn what is expected of him and when.

Let your new dog out to get some fresh air and take care of business as soon as you rise in the mornings. Feed your dog after a walk or romp in the yard and allow a bathroom break before you go to work. Practice leaving for work with your dog for a few minutes at a time while you are still home before you actually have to leave. It’s a good way to prepare your new dog to be alone.

Upon return from work, immediately let the dog out for exercise and a bathroom break. This is NOT the time to read the mail, make a phone call or flop yourself on the sofa. If the dog has exercised heavily, wait 30 minutes or so before the evening feeding. Give another bathroom break anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours after the evening meal, depending on the dog’s age – it will be your job to figure this out. Give your dog another potty break right before you go to bed.

Rescue dogs come from a variety of backgrounds, but all dogs can benefit from socialization. After your dog has time to settle into your home and begins to look to you with confidence (in approximately 2 to 3 weeks), start providing new socialization opportunities.

Now you can start inviting your friends and relatives over. Do introductions to new people gradually. Introductions can take the form of petting, playing fetch, even going for a walk. Do not force the dog to accept new people – do it positively, with lots of praise, allowing the dog to approach people rather than new people approaching your dog. Be sure to tell your visitors that your dog is new from rescue, so they need to be more sensitive. Do not reach for the dog right away – let him go to them. If he does not go to the new person, that visitor should completely ignore the dog. Suggest after the dog has met and sniffed the new person that they pat the side of the dog’s neck or side of the shoulder instead. Patting a dog on the top of the head is interpreted by dogs as a powerful dominance attempt and can be a challenge to some dogs, a frightening thing to others.

Start taking your dog new places for short periods of time – nearby parks, obedience classes, etc. The opportunity will allow you to determine how your dog responds to strange or new things and will allow you to know what additional training your dog might need.

You do not need to frighten your dog into complying with household obedience commands or prove to him you are the toughest creature around by using constant brute force. Help your dog understand that you are the leader in the household by “telling” your dog this in a language he understands – body language and daily habits. Respect is not something you can force a creature into giving you. Positive reinforcement is the best method of communicating with your dog.

Above all, be patient, firm, and consistent with your new dog. Use positive reinforcement and lots of praise when he is good. Undoubtedly you will get lots of advice – good and bad – from other dog owners. Read and research as much as you can to prepare yourself. Understand that sometimes you may need to try more than one approach to an issue because every dog is different. Please contact Love of Labs, IN with any questions you have about your new dog. Our goal is to make sure rescue dogs never have to be uprooted again, so we are dedicated to helping you troubleshoot any problems – the sooner the better before they become bigger problems.

Most of all, be prepared to give and receive more love, affection and loyalty than you ever thought possible! Enjoy your rescue dog for many years to come and thank you for helping to adopt a rescue dog in need!

– Credit for many of these tips is due to German Shepherd Dog Rescue of New England, Inc., Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc., and the American Kennel Club.


Potty Training Guide

Click below for a guide that covers:

Potty Training Methods

Crate Training Tips


– Thank you to betterpets for this guide.

Enjoy your new family member!

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We sincerely appreciate what you are doing to help make a wonderful life for a dog in need!

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Please select your item from the drop-down list. If you are adopting, please also add the name of your new family member.

Name of dog you're adopting

Thank you!

We sincerely appreciate what you are doing to help make a wonderful life for a dog in need!


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