Rescue Education

Introducing Your New Rescue to Your Children: 7 Simple Reminders to Keep Kids Safe

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When you are rescuing a dog and there are kids present in the family, or even friends and relatives that plan to visit, there are several things you should consider as you introduce dogs and children. Additionally, there are several interactions you should discourage and curb when it comes to kids and their interaction with dogs. This is for the safety of children and dogs a like.

Many of these things may seem like a given, but for each and every dog owner and adopter there are always lessons that can be learned to reduce stress on a dog, and unwanted situations within the family. 

These 7 simply reminders can help keep kids safe and dogs comfortable in child/dog interactions:

1.     Children should not put their hands in a dog’s food bowl, or play in their food, nor tease a dog with food, bones, or toys.

2.     Pulling an item out of the mouth of a dog should be avoided. If they are chewing on something that is not there, try a drop it command, and if that is not working try using a higher value treat to distract the dog from the object it should not be chewing on and redirect to a more appropriate object.

3.     Close contact with a new rescue or unfamiliar dog should be monitored. Children and adults should not put faces up close into the face of dogs, pull or grab dogs’ ears or tails, or yank paws. 

4.     Climbing on or over dogs or laying on top of dogs can cause stress to the animal and stress reactions. Be gentle when petting dogs and approaching them.

5.     While dogs may look cuddly and like they want to be hugged, avoid hugging and pulling a dog tightly to you, it may cause the dog stress that makes it want to get away and the dog may react to let you know it is uncomfortable.

6.     Avoid yelling, screaming, and loud noises around a dog. The stress of yelling can cause a dog to react to your stress and anxiety. Commands do not have to be loud and angry to be effective.

7.     When teaching your dog commands, use a firm voice, but not a loud, angry, or pitchy scream to get a dog to behave. Treats and rewards will help your dog be at ease with learning commands. This should be practiced by adults, before having children mimic this. Make sure a dog is comfortable with commands before turning over the training to a child.

Please watch this dog bite prevention video – the perspective of your children and the dogs can be very different. It’s important to make sure to supervise interactions and look for signs a dog is giving that it is not enjoying certain types of attention.

In our next blog post we will talk more about signs of stress with dogs and toddlers

5 Things You Should do Before You Board Your Pet

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Many pet parents prefer pet sitters or trusted friends and family to watch their extended family member during holiday travel vs. boarding them. But in some instances, pet owners just don’t have a choice. The holidays can be a chaotic time of the year where people are over committed, and pet sitters may fill up quickly. If you find yourself in a position where boarding is your only option, or if boarding is your preferred option, it’s still good to make sure your pet is ready for this experience.

 

1.  Find a Reputable Boarding Option – Word of mouth is one of your best bets on finding a great match for boarding for your dog. It’s always best to get first-hand accounts of how someone else’s dog did at a particular boarding facility. Not only friends and family, but your Veterinarian, groomer, or dog walker may have great recommendations as well. These are people you already trust with your dog, so it stands to reason they may be able to give you reliable recommendations for boarding.  

 

2. Check it Out! - Once you have a boarding recommendation, check online for other pet owner experiences, and book an on-site visit. It’s good to talk with the facility. Find out what their daily routine is with your dog. Is it going to be a lot of play time during the day? What are their surroundings like? What kind of day can your dog expect? Boarding facilities can have anything from crates and kennel runs, to doggy day care like surroundings, some boarding facilities even have private rooms with beds and TVs! Make sure to find the one that will most put your dog at ease while you are away.

 

3. Make Sure All Vaccines are Up to Date – Before you drop your beloved family member off at a boarding facility, doggy day care, or anywhere your dog may come in contact with multiple dogs, make sure their vaccines are up to date. Also make sure they have had their flea and tick treatment and any other recommended vaccines for the protection of your canine friend. Recommendations include DHPP, Rabies, and Bordetella. Some facilities require Canine Influenza vaccines and Lepto. Make sure to find out the requirements from the facility you choose, and also the recommendations from your Vet.

 

4. Book Early – Whether it’s a long weekend or a holiday like Christmas or New Years, reputable facilities fill up quickly! You may need to book many weeks to months in advance. Depending on the size of the operation and its popularity.  Make sure you are thinking ahead during the holidays.

 

5. Pack Accordingly – Make sure you have your dog’s food, medicine and supplements, identification, and anything special. You know your dog better than anyone else, if there is a special item that will put him or her at ease while in boarding ask the facility if they can accommodate. Is it a favorite dog bed, a special toy, perhaps a blanky? It’s a fine balance between losing this special item and making sure your dog is happy while you are away. Weigh the pros and cons, check in with the boarding place and see if you can send those special things along with your dog.

It’s not always easy to leave your pets for the holidays, but sometimes vacationing with your pet just isn’t an option. It’s always good as a pet owner to have several options and contingencies in the event you go on travel.

Falling in Love and Adopting - The Lu's Labs Way

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Sometimes the dog you fall in love with on our website isn’t the dog you end up with – but you always end up with a dog you will love.

Our adoption process can be a little bit different than other rescues. It takes a little time to get through the vet checks, the reference checks, the interview, and the homecheck. But once you are approved your dedicated Adoption Coordinator (AC) works tirelessly to make that perfect match. Sometimes the dog that may have caught your eye on the website, is no longer available by the time you can start looking in earnest for your forever companion. And remember, there are other people like you who are also in the process of finding their family friend. So sometimes someone who has already been going through the process may be in line in front of you for the same dog.

We know it can be frustrating when you at first see a pup that you think you want, and he or she is not available to you. But the thing is about rescue, there is always another dog that needs rescuing. And they all have that endless capacity for love that labs exhibit. Each dog needs to be pulled from a shelter and given a chance at a wonderful life. And that’s what we do.

All our dogs are pulled from high kill shelters and bad situations in the south. (And now in some cases in Puerto Rico.) We have a great network of southern fosters that bring these dogs into their homes and show them love, sometimes for the first time for some of our dogs. They work with them on their manners, give them a roof over their head, make sure they experience treats and fun, and they get them all their initial vetting. The dogs get their shots up to date and go through a battery of tests. When needed dogs are spayed or neutered in the south, microchipped, and sometimes, if a dog needs surgery that will happen down in the south as well.  

With our well thought out process, the dogs start out in the south, and once they are ready for adoption they head to the north and are transported by another network of loyal volunteers who make up our transport team. Sometimes, when we have a concentrated group of dogs coming up from the same area, and we have it in our budget, we will pay for transport to the north. Once here they go into northern foster homes that can be anywhere from as far south as Suffolk, Virginia to as far north as Pennsylvania.  Once they are in their northern foster home, they are ready for their meet and greets. Most of our dogs are met within 7 days of arrival and go to their forever homes. AC’s explain the process in detail to each one of their applicants. 

AC’s work hard to help find the right matches and they are always hoping that their people will be the ones who get to meet the dogs of their applicants dreams. But just as there are many AC’s there are many qualified applicants. Patience is key and being willing to wait ensures that you will eventually get a dog that will be perfect with your family. We don’t try to force matches. Not every dog will match each person’s needs – no matter how soulful their eyes are.

Can A Lu’s Lab Rescue Dog Go to Homes with Cats?

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As an Adoption Coordinator for Lu’s Labs as well as a cat owner, and a Lu’s Labs adopter I feel I have the trifecta of experience to help other would-be adopters who also own cats… or who are owned by cats, whichever the case may be. Simply having a cat does not disqualify you from adopting a dog through our rescue. But it may take more time as we have to make sure that the dog will fit into a cat friendly household.

One of the reasons I volunteer for Lu’s Labs is because of how thorough they (we) are. When I first was looking at adopting through Lu’s Labs there was a dog I was absolutely in love with. She did indeed get along with cats, however the southern foster characterized her as “liking to play with cats.” I knew in my house of 3 cats who had been used to a dog that pretty much left them alone, that sort of personality would probably not work. But Luisa was patient with me and she found me the right dog that fit our home. Luisa was always caring about the resident cats as well as wanting to make sure she made the best match for one of her babies – the rescue dogs.

We never even “tried out” the first dog in my home because of my concerns, even though it was a foster to adopt situation. At Lu’s Labs, the goal is always to have the least transition for a dog. Rescue dogs have been through enough, we do not want them hopping from home to home as people “try out a dog.” And this is especially true with homes with cats. We want both the safety and well-being of the resident cat to be thought of, as well as the safety and well-being of one of our rescue babies. To that end, we have 4 different designations we use internally in all of our communications. This is done between the intake coordinators and the VP of Adoptions, VP of Fosters, and Medical Director so that they know where and how to best place a dog. Not only into a foster home, but into a forever home. All the adoption coordinators have access to this information on the dogs.

Lu’s Labs has a very definitive 4-part rating system to help the AC’s coordinate with their adopters and explain which dogs may be available to adopters with cats.

No – Well if a dog is a “no” with cats, it’s a no. This means the dog has, for whatever reason, proven itself to be untrustworthy living in a home with cats. Something has been observed either before Lu’s Labs took in the rescue, or during its evaluation, medical, or stay with a southern foster. We’ve deemed it not a safe dog to adopt to a home with cats. No means no.

Unknown – This means that we have not had a chance to observe this dog around cats. We have no idea how it will react, whether or not it will have prey drive toward a cat, and whether or not the two can co-exist in a home together. In these cases, we err on the side of caution and do not adopt these dogs out to homes with cats. Why tempt fate? Unknown dogs are just as much a no to cat homes according to Lu’s Labs, as a “No.”

Maybe – In a maybe situation that means the dog has come into contact with a cat but doesn’t necessarily live with one. It may be that the dog was temperament tested with a cat at the shelter, but that does not give a full picture. It may mean that the dog saw a cat out on its walk and didn’t chase it. It may mean that the dog encountered a cat and chased it but did not seem to want to harm the cat.  These scenarios are very short-term and have not been proven over longtime exposure through Lu’s Labs or previous owners. In a “Maybe” situation, then we will adopt the dog out to a home where the people have experience with dogs, and the cat is dog savvy. This still means proper introductions need to take place. Please see our protocol.

Yes – This is the rating with cats that a first-time dog adopter who owns cats needs to be looking for when it comes to adopting a Lu’s Lab. When a dog is a yes with a cat, that means that it has lived with a cat and has proven itself not to harm cats. But here’s the rub. Every dog and cat is different. Just like you aren’t going to be friends with every person you meet, not every dog and cat are going to be friends either. It is a process that takes time, energy, and effort. Just like my story in the beginning. I knew my cats well enough that I knew introducing a dog who wanted to play with them, wasn’t going to work. You have to know your cat. Yes does not automatically mean yes for every situation. And EVEN in a yes case, you MUST use proper protocol for introducing a dog and cat.

As a dog and cat owner you HAVE to want to take the time to introduce a dog to your cat and vise versa. Not all cats are easy going, and not all dogs are either. You have to have a plan in place. And if you are going to give up after a couple of hours, a day, or week, and return the dog because it’s not adjusting fast enough you are missing the point of adopting and rescuing a dog. They are not all perfect right out of the chute. But with love, care, and time they will learn and grow with your family. It may mean special training with a personal trainer that comes to your home, or a very patient and deliberate supervision that spans months.

Please check out our separate blog detailing cat and dog introductions and protocol.

Lu’s Labs Protocol for Introducing Cats and Dogs

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The first introductions between the resident cat(s) and the new dog are a very important part of the process. One of the best methods is to separate the animals for the first few days to weeks. Others do it differently, but for the sake of it making or breaking an adoption, this is the best option.

Before bringing the dog home, the adopter should put the cat(s) in a room (e.g., a bedroom, a bath room, or a spare room). The room should be one the dog cannot access and doesn’t need to access. For example, if the dog sleeps in the bedroom with you at night, don’t pick that room for the cat. In the “cat room”, give the cat all needed supplies: litterbox, toys, food, and water. The idea is to separate them and only allow them to view each other during specific times. The best way to do this is by the use of a baby gate across the door. The gate needs to be a barrier that allows the cat and dog to see one another but does not allow them to access each other.

To begin desensitization, while keeping the new dog on a leash, let the dog view the cat briefly through the gate, and then get the dog to focus on something else such as playing with a toy or practicing cues. Praise and reward the dog for being able to focus elsewhere. Continue to give the dog short viewings of the cat throughout the day.

Sometimes even seeing the cat at first is too exciting for the dog. If this is the case, close the door and begin feeding each animal on his or her side of the door. The cat eats his food in his room, right next to the door, and the dog eats her meal on the other side of the door. This allows each animal to associate the smells of the other with something good: food. You can also swap out the blankets and bedding of each animal, giving it to the other that way, the dog can get used to the cat’s smell and the cat can get used to the dog’s smell, without overstimulating either.

Hopefully through this process of slowly letting the dog see the cat and get accustomed to the cat’s presence, the dog will eventually become desensitized and lose interest in the cat. In some cases, the dog will lose interest in the cat within a couple hours, but it can take days, weeks or even months. Each dog (and each cat) is an individual and will learn at his or her own pace.

Once you have given the cat and dog a chance to “smell” one another, the next step is to make leashed introductions. One person should hold the loose lead and watch the dog’s body language. If the cat is not raising his back or hissing around the dog he can be allowed to move around freely. A cat is rarely a threat to a dog, but some cats will be on the offensive when meeting dogs. Allow both animals to be in the same room at the same time, but keep the dog securely leashed. Continue with this type of introduction until the dog is calm and ignores the cat, and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box normally. Continue indefinitely until both the dog and the cat seem happy and relaxed around each other.

If the dog is calm around the cat, you can ask the dog to sit, or lie down and stay, if she has been taught those cues, while the cat moves freely, sniffing the dog if he wishes. The dog should be praised and rewarded if she ignores the cat. If the dog is too fixated on the cat (e.g., staring at the cat, has stiff body language, will not listen to you when you call her name) or if she lunges and tries to chase the cat, you should try a different strategy for getting them to share space, such as putting the dog in the crate and allowing the cat to walk freely around the crate.

***When no one is home, the dog or cat should be securely confined to separate areas so unsupervised interaction are not possible. Unsupervised time together can occur after the cat and dog have been supervised around each other for a significant period of time (A month or so) and you are positive they will not hurt each other.

Animals with good past experience often adjust well and quickly to a new pet in the house. But if introductions don’t go well, the adopters may need to seek help from a professional dog trainer. Punishment is never the answer, it will not help a d it could make matters much worse.

In an upcoming blog post we will go into more detail on how we decide a dog is okay to go to a home that has a cat. If you are interested in how we make these decisions please look for this upcoming blog post.

Sources:

https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/introducing-dogs-to-cats/

https://bestfriends.org/resources/how-introduce-dog-cat

https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/introducing-dogs-and-cats

https://indoorpet.osu.edu/dogs/new_additions_dogs/intro-dog-cat

 

 

7 Reasons to Consider Adopting A Senior Dog

Charlie, our available Senior at Lu's Labs

Charlie, our available Senior at Lu's Labs

“While some may call me a senior dog, I will just say that it means I have years of experience in the fine art of love and friendship,” Says Charlie, one of Lu’s Labs current senior dogs ready to find his forever home.

Charlie isn’t wrong. Adopting a senior dog can be one of the most rewarding things you do in your life. And not all seniors are created equally. Did you know that for labs, they are considered seniors around 7.5 years old? Yet many labs still have lots of energy at that age, and love to run and play. And lab mixes may have even more playful energy than their purebred friends. In many cases they still may have more than half their lives to live, and they are looking for a forever home that will love them just as much as a puppy.

1. Easy Going Energy

Often these older ladies and gentlemen come with a more laid-back life experience and are perfectly happy to perch on a couch, with a head in your lap and watch the world go by. While others may have a desire to run and jump and play!

2. Know Just Where to Go

Most older dogs have already learned the fine art of potty-training and will be a lot kinder to your floors. You may have to learn their cues to get the hang of when they want to go out, but often they are already in the know about indoors vs outdoors.

3. Your Wish is My Command

Older dogs don’t make it around the block a few times without learning a couple of basic commands. Often an older dog has had the opportunity to learn a little. And you know that old saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” That’s not true. An old dog will learn if you give him or her a chance. The same as with puppies, gentle, positive reinforcement training, a few treats, and soon your older dog will get the hang of things.

4. Happiness is Everything
Most of the time older dogs end up in shelters through no fault of their own. Some common reasons why seniors end up in shelters include the death of an owner, a move happens where the dog can’t follow, a new baby is in the family, someone has developed pet allergies, the loss of a job, or some kind of change in the family dynamics or schedules where someone no longer feels they can care for their dog. Finding a happy home for these dogs who have been removed from their own warm secure place, is more important than ever before. Knowing love, and then losing it can be just as hard as never having known it before. A shelter can become a very scary place for these lovable seniors.

5. You are Saving a Life

Dogs that fall on the older side have a much harder time getting adopted. Too many people come into it with a preconceived notion that they will have less time. Yet time stands still when you have a loving dog. Each day is a great day. And at the end of a dog’s life we shouldn’t weigh it by how much time we had, but how great that time was. That’s why it’s so rewarding to give an older dog a home.

6. Health and Wellness

Sometimes there is a stigma attached to older dogs that they may be costly in vet bills. But the truth is, dogs of all ages cost money throughout their lifetime. Young dogs can develop unforeseen issues just as easily as older dogs. And for highly active young pups there are possibilities of ACL tears and other injuries associated with heavy play, not to mention just about anything else under the sun. Having an honest assessment of a dog’s health as you adopt them will prepare you for the future costs of care. But remember, just like your kids and your own health, a dog will stay healthier if you work toward prevention and wellness before anything develops by keeping up healthy exercise, food, and proper doggy weight, and find out some of the key supplements and preventative actions you can take along the way. Make sure no matter the age of a dog you adopt, you always think about a reasonable budget for health along with the regular expenses, such as training, food, treats, toys, and other doggy essentials.

7. Age Has no Guarantees

Whether you adopt a puppy or a senior dog, there is no guarantee that they will live to a certain age.  With dogs, it’s not the number of years we have with them that’s important, it’s the quality of life we bring to each other. And with each dog that enters our lives, they leave a piece of their heart with us. The longer we live and the more dogs we have, the more our hearts will become dog hearts full of love and loyalty. The next time you see a senior dog in need of a home, think of the loving heart inside that dog, and how he or she can be a sweet addition to your family.

Next time you see a little grey in the chin and around the eyes that means this dog has lived, and you have the opportunity to help them grow older into their golden years. Senior dogs are rewarding, loving companions, that warm your heart and enhance your life. Don’t pass up the opportunity to help a senior.

 

Adopt Don’t Shop: 8 Reasons Why - They May Surprise You

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No doubt you’ve heard the phrase adopt don’t shop, and you may often wonder what that means. After all, when you adopt a dog through a rescue there are fees attached to that. So, isn’t that also shopping? I mean the dog isn’t free… When you rescue a dog, you are not buying a dog, you are rescuing it. At the same time, you are funding an organization, saving a life, and sometimes you are even keeping money out of the hands of people who are more concerned about making a profit off the lives of animals vs. considering their health and welfare.


Likewise, when you decide to buy a dog from a breeder, a pet store, a craigslist ad, a yard sale site, a backyard breeder…you are not adopting a dog. You are buying it! Your money is not going to fund a charity, or a help organization. It is not helping to remove dogs from shelters or keep them out of harm’s way. It is funding the future breeding efforts and financial gain of the person or organization selling the dog. Even worse, it could be funding a larger industry like the puppy mills who prey upon people’s lack of knowledge about a breed, and the conditions where they operate.

And no…please don’t say you are saving the dogs from the puppy mill. Supply and demand. If you continue to purchase from sources that will utilize these mills, you continue to unwittingly contribute to the problem.

In the rescue world we really want everyone to get the semantics right. It’s important that you understand what you are supporting when you “buy” a dog. You may be supporting a reputable dog breeder…but have you truly done your homework?

The Following are the 8 Reasons Why You Should Adopt Not Shop

Save a Life – Approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year nationwide according to the ASPCA. While not all are doomed to the fate of euthanizing, according to a study done by Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine approximately 780,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters per year. When you adopt through a shelter or rescue, you are helping to make it possible for as many dogs as can be saved, to live a wonderful life.

Breeding Shouldn’t be Done by Novices – The term is backyard breeders. Backyard breeders are often pet owners that want to make a few bucks by breeding their purebred pet, but actually have no knowledge about genetic health issues in the pet partners. If it seems like a bargain-basement price for a purebred there is probably a reason. Even if it’s not a bargain price, do your research on the breeder, the blood lines, the possible genetic disorders, and make sure you are well informed. Don’t just get that “cute purebred” you’ve always wanted because a litter is available.

Fund a Rescue and Save Even More Lives – When you adopt through a rescue, not only are you helping to save the life of the dog you are adopting, the money you pay toward adopting that dog will go toward helping to pull another dog to safety, vet that dog, and give that dog a chance at a wonderful life. And the cycle continues to free dogs from the threat of being euthanized.

25% of the dogs in Local Shelters are Purebreds – Owner surrender and even breeder surrender can be the cause of purebreds landing in shelters. Truly examine why you are looking for a purebred in the first place. Is it a necessity? And why? If it is, you can find purebreds when you go through shelters and rescues. It will be harder to verify, but is your plan to show the dog? To present its papers? Or is it because you’ve heard that a certain breed sounds like a perfect fit for your family?

1 in 10 – Only one out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.  Rather than supporting those that will continually breed dogs, consider adoption and lets all hope this number will become more equal over time by the choices we make.

Don’t Support Puppy Mills – You’ve heard the term, but do you know what one is? This is a commercial dog-breeding facility that focuses on quantity and profits over the health and wellness of the dogs. Female dogs are bred repeatedly, with no breaks between litters, and are discarded to shelters or killed when they can no longer reproduce. An estimated 2.11 million puppies originate from puppy mills each year, and yet the conditions can be deplorable. Medical attention is atrocious. Food and water can be contaminated. Do not support the continued demand that allows these kinds of conditions to flourish. Being uninformed about where your purchased pooch is coming from supports the continuation of these inexcusable situations.

Purebred Health Risks – Purebred dogs, may look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, there can be many issues depending on the breed, and the breeder that cause these dogs to have a short and sometimes painful life. These genetic issues have developed over the last two centuries when popular characteristics were desired, thus caused by inbreeding to get the desired results. Anything from hip dysplasia in labs, breathing problems in bulldogs, serious heart conditions or neurological disorders in King Charles Cavaliers, and the list goes on… to maintain purebred lines, there are often inbreeding practices that shorten the lifespan of your beautiful dog. Would you rather have a dog with papers that will live for 8-10 years (Or less) Or a healthy happy mutt that has a life of 14-17 years. (Remember no life span is guaranteed no matter the dog, but the quality of life for a dog is just as important as the quantity.)

The Emotional Rewards are Endless – There is just something about adopting a dog who has been dealt a bad hand, that can tug at your heart strings and make you feel happy every day that you made a difference in your 4-legged family member’s life. This is something that’s unquantifiable yet anyone who has ever rescued a dog can tell you, there is a level of emotional attachment, that comes with knowing this animal was lost, and now it is found. And in a happy, warm, and loving home. Often the rescues actually rescue us instead.

We hope you will consider adopting through Lu’s Labs, but if we don’t have the dog for you, please adopt through another reputable rescue, or shelter and give a dog a chance at life and love.

(Below is a helpful chart that everyone who breeds dogs should think about before breeding, it's also an eye opener for people who are considering buying a purebred and why.)

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