How To Adopt a Labrador Retriever (and Rescue Properly)

This article is your one-stop destination if you want to know about the Labrador rescue and the adoption process of a furry companion that you are waiting for. The fulfilling process of rescuing and rehoming a dog is an alluring experience. Saving a life, literally and bringing it into your life. What can be more beautiful than this? The answer is, probably nothing. 

Without further ado let’s jump into the complete guide of rescue homes and adoption of a dog. This article will include these topics:

  1. Condition of dogs in rescue shelters.
  2. How did they end up there in the first place. 
  3. Benefits and downsides of rescuing a dog. 
  4. Steps for adoption and things to keep in mind afterwards.
  5. Important things about fostering a dog. 
Labrador Retrievers in the AKC

Dogs in rescue shelters

Numbers are decreasing, thankfully

On one hand, almost everyday people leave their dogs because they are unable to take care of them further in the future due to some encumbrances and on the other hand there are some people who are buying dogs from breeders and this needs to stop as soon as possible. However, the number of dogs who are homeless right now is less compared to the past so that’s a relief. 

They may need some extra care

Some dogs who were lucky and got into rescue homes with a no-kill policy. They live here safely until a family decides to take them home. Dogs who come into rescue homes very often need extra care by some professionals because there are high chances that they might be facing some medical problems, they can be underweight and need proper nutrition-rich food, they might be needing some kind of treatment for fleas or parasites as they were living on streets without shelter. 

They lack behavioral training

Almost all dogs who come into these rescue homes need behavioral training so that they can get adopted by a nice family and start their new refreshing life. People who are looking for adoption will obviously choose the dog who is easy to train that is why the dog in the rescue homes are provided with some basic training. It can really help in preparing those building blocks for a dog’s character who wasn’t fortunate enough to have a home.

We can’t even imagine what the dogs must have gone through in the past, they might have been abused, neglected, or beaten up. 

How they react in the rescue centers

Give him some time

Dogs that end up in rescue centers will take some time adjusting to their new environment. They will miss their previous home and owners even if they were abused by them. Not just home and owners, they will have a difficult time adjusting to their new food. This is why the volunteers in rescue centers feed the dog with the same kibble he was having at his previous home because he is familiar with it. 

Volunteers deserve respect

Talking of volunteers, let’s take a moment to appreciate the efforts of the people who volunteer to take care of dogs out of goodwill in these rescue centers. These people take some time out of their busy lives to take care of the dogs who end up in the shelters. 

Before looking at the process of dog adoption you will want to look at the circumstances that got these furry balls in this place, it might help you in the process of selecting your dream dog. 

How did they end up in the rescue shelters?

Looking at these cute fuzzballs doing their cute things you will wonder how can someone leave them here. They are too cute to just give away like that to a stranger, to live in an absolutely strange place. 

Dog owners failed

Well, the reasons dog owners give for giving up on their dogs is not the whole truth always. The majority of the time they come up with excuses like they are shifting to a new place and pets aren’t allowed there. Sometimes it is true but other times it is clear by looking at the dog that they weren’t able to train him and left him at the rescue shelter. Sad, Right? 

Dogs get older

In some instances when the dog grows into an adult they leave him at the rescue shelter because it does become a little difficult for them to take care of a full-grown dog with all the howling and barking. Plus they don’t find the full-grown dog cute anymore. 

Dogs needed training

Dog owners don’t tell the actual reasons for leaving their loyal pet because of the embarrassment they will face. Studies show that most dogs who are left at the rescue shelter were owned for less than a year and were young dogs. As this is a tricky age, they need training in their teenage years but owners fail in training them and mess up big time, the result being the dog has to now live in an unknown place. 

Some more possible reasons

Dogs are not always the exact copy of what dog owners expected them to be in their imagination. So they leave them back into one or the other rescue home. The commonly given reasons by dog owners are: 

  1. Unexpected financial costs that they had to bear. 
  2. Dogs sometimes have destructive behaviors like soiling in the house, chewing the edges of furniture, prey drives, and many like these. 
  3. These cute looking canine buddies can be very disobedient. 
  4. Excessive barking and howling. This can lead to neighbors getting pissed and complaining to the dog owners.  

Well, this is where your role will come into the picture, you can adopt these dogs and give them obedience training. Just imagine how amazing it would be when these dogs will get a second chance in life and this opportunity of starting a new life in new surroundings will bring a ray of hope in their lives. 

What dogs face in the shelter homes 

Kill policy 

Unlucky dogs who are disowned by their owners are in urgent need of a home that can accept them. Why did I use the word ‘urgent’? Because not all abandoned dogs are in a no-kill rescue shelter. They might end up getting killed if they didn’t get an owner who likes to adopt them so if you think it like that they are in a queue for death from the moment they took the first step in the shelter home until someone decides to save them and give them a second chance to live. 

It’s rewarding!

Trust me it’s not that difficult if you are ready to put in some effort into training them on some behaviors and socialization etiquette. In fact, rehoming a dog is rewarding in ways you have never thought. Some people who have rescued a dog have given testimonials that the rescued dogs shower all the love they couldn’t give to anyone upon you if you decide to adopt them and not splurge on buying a puppy from a breeder. You can literally save a life here, it’s a social service. 

Benefits of rescuing a dog 

With all the good feelings of saving a life from some unfortunate experience, there are other benefits of rehoming a dog which you should know as they might convince you to adopt an abandoned dog. 

Your kids will learn to love

As kids learn from the actions of their adults, similarly your kid will watch you in his growing years and if you do adopt a dog then it will give him some unsaid lessons of compassion in life. It will teach him the value of life even, plus it will teach him the value of money as well.

Skip the puppy age

First and foremost is that almost all the dogs in the rescue shelters are adult dogs who aren’t in their puppy years so it obviously serves as an advantage for you if you are looking for a dog who doesn’t need potty training and who will not wake you up at night. 

Fit for elderly people

Some people, usually old, look for dogs who are in their teenage, who can just sit with them on lonely days or watch the sun setting in the evenings. 

Get on with the fun stuff

Although puppies are all cute and amiable, we have to agree that they are a little difficult to handle. On the other hand, with the adult adopted dog you don’t have to wait for the puppy years to go by for all the fun stuff to begin like long walks on the beach and any other dog sport that you and your dog will enjoy together. 

Medical care sorted

Most of the dogs that come from the reputed rescue homes will have their medical care sorted to some extent. In rescue centers, they look for the possible medical problems the animals might be suffering from and they treat those problems. Just imagine how much money and effort you will be saving for yourself by adopting a dog and ditching the whole shopping idea. 

The option of several breeds

You can find more than one or two breeds in a rescue home. Some people have a breed in mind that they want to have as a pet except what if they couldn’t find it and what if they found it but it isn’t in their budget. The solution to this problem is adopting from a rescue home rather than buying from a breeder. 

One more misconception with people is that rescue homes only have mutts with them. Well, you can’t be more wrong. A lot of rescue centers have many pure breeds that irresponsible dog parents left with them. What if you find a perfect mixed-breed pet that you will forget your dream breed. It can happen. 

You already know about his personality

When you buy a puppy from a breeder you will have to wait to know or guess how his temperament will be like, if he will be good with your kids once he grows into a full-grown dog. This problem isn’t there with the rescued dogs. As he will be an adult and you will know his what his temperament is like, his medical problems among other things. On top of this, you can always train him to be a better version of himself, to be a lot more confident than he already was. 

Good at socializing

If you have other pets in your home adopting a dog would be a great option for you because dogs who are living in rescue shelters are already habitual of living with other animals. This might serve as an advantage for you. 

He may be already trained

There are chances that your canine buddy used to live with a family before ending up in a rescue center. You probably won’t even have to do any hard labor in training him how to behave around your family members or your kids for that matter.  


As all of us are aware of the fact that buying a puppy from a relevant breeder can create a hole in your pocket. Adopting a dog will be an economical option for you if you are cutting your budget. 

With all this being said you need to take your head with your heart on this beautiful journey. We will now discuss some downsides of rehoming a dog because we should be 100% honest in giving you all the information and you might need this part too. 

Downsides of adopting a dog 

Some people choose a rescue dog in no time over buying a puppy from a breeder at a significant cost. As they are of the view that if there are dogs who need a home badly then it makes absolutely no sense in wasting their money over buying one. 

Quality of life might suffer

However, some dog owners have previously experienced a reduction in their quality of lives because they decided to rehome a home from a rescue shelter. It might get difficult at some point and in some cases, their life was affected for many years. 

Sometimes it’s not their fault

 Despite all these testimonials, we shouldn’t lose faith. There are many dogs in the rescue shelters who just got there because their owners got divorced, or had kids, or moved to a different city and couldn’t take him, or just died. There can be any reason and if you’re lucky enough then probably you can get your hands on one of these dogs, who will be trained already and you won’t have to put in a lot of effort in his training. 

Choose wisely 

Take your head with your heart 

Some rescue dogs can prove to be problematic dogs. You have to choose wisely, this is where you use your head and not your heart. We suggest you look at the history of the dog you are about to adopt. We know choosing a cute fellow to live with can be a really heartwarming experience but you have to make a decision by looking at all the certainties and uncertainties wisely, after all, it’s not just about the dog it is for you and your family too. You people also deserve an amazing experience and it is about the welfare of everyone and not just one side of the party. 

Some are difficult to handle 

In some instances, the dog got into the rescue center in the first place because he was very difficult to handle. He might have an uncertain temperament which was unbearable for the previous owner, he might have prey drives and he used to chase squirrels, rabbits, deer, or cars, he might have a howling problem or any other problem which will be difficult for you to handle too. 

Even some experts will give up on these dogs and if you’re a newbie in training a dog then these dogs will not prove to be a good fit for you. Make sure you are ready to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter and then choose a dog wisely for yourself. 

Reason for adoption matters

Interested in competitions?

Probably, you want to adopt a dog because you are interested in competitions like AKC or Kennel Club competitions. There are other several tests and hunts going on these days like hunt tests, field trials, or obedience trials. One thing that you should keep in mind is that your dog should have pedigree papers or some other proof of registration with an apt Kennel Club.

The problem will arise when your dog will not have his papers which is the case with most rescue dogs even if they are purebred. On top of this, training a dog will be much easier if it’s a puppy from a reputed dealer. 

Labradors for family dogs 

If you want a dog for your family or to present someone as a gift then choosing a lab from a well known Labrador rescue center will solve two problems simultaneously, it will save a life and labradors are great family dogs, everyone knows that. It will bring so much happiness into your and your family’s life. If you can train him every day for some time then it will be a cherry on the top. One thing to consider is that a young lab under the age of 3 will be very noisy and cheerful, you might not want a dog like that if you have elderly people at home. Although this will be the right kind of dog if you have kids at home, elderly people will prefer a dog who is old and calm.  

Steps for successful dog adoption 

  1. Dominantly, you should make a list of all the rescue shelters near your home with the help of the internet or you can ask your friends if they have adopted a doggo for themselves they perhaps will have some information to share. 
  2. Furthermore, you can mail them your requirement for a dog and they will supply you with a list of labradors who need to be rehomed. 
  3. They can take the process ahead by asking you a lot of questions regarding your family members, the time you leave and enter the house, if you have secured fencing in the yard or not. You can expect some other intrusive questions too.
  4. In many cases, they will want to visit your house to check if everything is alright and they can even stop the adoption process if they find something questionable in your house or in you. 
  5. The fencing around the yard needs to be good to protect the dog from any kind of road accident as labradors are bouncy, dogs will want to run off to the road. 
  6. Apparently, the labs are very cheerful and bouncy in nature so they will expect you to have enough space where the lab can be himself. 
  7. Some rescue homes even ask that there should be an adult at home with the dog every time or if you can’t be at home all the time then the rescue home will be needing information about the arrangements that you will make for the lab. 

The key to successful adoption lies with the effort rescue homes will put in finding the perfect match between home and the dog. As they know the characteristics of the dog they will ask you about your needs and expectations from the dog. This is the time when you and the rescue home both speak freely and explicitly about what you can provide and what they need you to provide. Rescue homes are matchmakers if you see it that way. 

If they fail in this matchmaking then the dog can end up in the wrong house and a house can suffer from untold heartbreak. 

We suggest you do not lose your ease with the amount of inspection and questions the rescue home will throw in your way just remember that this is their work and this is what they do. It is their job to ask questions for your own benefit and you will thank them in the future for doing so once you have spent many years with your dog. 

Remember they will be by your side not just during the adoption process but a long time after that. They will act as your backup if anything unfortunate happens in the near future. 

They will not keep things about the dog from you, they will not hide any sort of behavioral pattern of the dog from you. Not that you shouldn’t adopt a dog who has problems, you definitely can and he can overcome that problem with a little patience, training, and time. If you have previous experience in taking care of a dog then it will be a bit easier for you to help him. Nevertheless, you do deserve to know what you are getting yourself into. 

Keep this in mind 

In the above section, we explained how rescue homes do all the questioning and inspecting, well, you can too, in fact, you should. Ask the questions that you want to know about the personality traits and medical condition of the dog. 

Don’t rush

Sometimes there are plenty of labrador puppies waiting for you to adopt them, what people understand wrong in this situation is that you don’t have to necessarily choose the dog in a second if you have found plenty of them. Wait, analyze, and then make the right decision.

Always look for documents

A problem that comes with this rewarding experience is that you don’t know about the medical problems he has suffered in the past. You can ask for his medical papers but who are we kidding they can be destroyed.  

Commonly found diseases in Labradors

Labradors are prone to certain health-related problems and we have an article written which you can read about the medical problems that are more commonly found in labradors. Relevant and reputed breeders keep a check on the stock they have but some are just inattentive in these cases, so you need to be more cautious. In the section below we have mentioned five health issues that are commonly found in rescue dogs:

  1. Fleas- Most animal shelters treat their dogs for fleas but even after adopting, you should continue to treat them for this as fleas can live for more than three months. 
  2. Intestinal worms- These can be in the system of your dog after the rescue home treated him of these, so you should continue to treat him until your veterinarian gives you a green flag. 
  3. Heartworms- Heartworms are dangerous to the extent that they can even prove to be fatal for your dog.
  4. Indigestion- There are chances that the kibble he was consuming in the rescue home wasn’t of very high quality but don’t try to change that completely. Change his eating habits with more high nutritional food but do it gradually otherwise he will not be able to adjust. 
  5. Skin problems- Having skin irritation allergies, dryness is very common in rescue dogs. Choosing his bedding smartly can be very beneficial in this condition and try to focus on making his food more and more healthy. 
  6.  Pet insurance is the key

The moment you decide to adopt a lab puppy, you should start looking for pet insurance, it becomes essential. A small mortgage goes a long way in diseases like hip dysplasia which is common in labs. 

Take enough time 

If you’re having second thoughts about adopting a dog then you can always take some time off of this thought and come back to it again when you feel like it. You can look around in your neighborhood to feel how it will be like if you had a dog, you can talk to your relatives and friends who have dogs. 

On top of this, take account of the resources, time, and expertise you can provide if all of this doesn’t match then you should probably wait. This can happen to anyone who is new in the world of dogs. If you really want to help you can donate some money to the rescue homes so that they can keep more and more dogs in there with a no-kill policy. 

What you should keep in mind is that the cute small puppy you will bring home will not be all adorable always; he will grow up into a jumpy big adult dog and he will have some needs. Hence, you need to feel ready for this from within. We are not trying to discourage you in any way but just suggesting you do what makes you comfortable at the moment. If a furry buddy always by your side gives you comfort then we are more than happy. 

Help dogs in some other way 

As discussed in the above section if you do not feel ready to take on a dog right now yet you want to help these poor souls somehow then read on the things you can do to help in this section. 

Sponsor some animals

If you’re someone who has financial resources but does not have enough time to raise a dog in your home, you can still help these furry buddies. You can sponsor a dog and a few animals with him if you can afford it. What this will do is take away the burden from the shoulders of rescue shelters a little. They will make the most out of your money in taking care of the animals you’re sponsoring. Financial expenses are required for several works like the fees of veterinary, food, accommodations, and many others. You can even suggest to your friends and relatives to do this godly work. The more the merrier.  

Become a foster parent 

Most organizations these days heavily depend upon the charitable donations people make, for workers, people often volunteer. This is how these organizations survive. Many people aren’t aware of the fact that rescue homes are always in search of reliable foster homes for dogs. You can always volunteer in fostering a dog, this will be a great contribution too. This way you will get to live with a dog for a small period of time and you can be the judge of yourself during this period. 

You can decide if you want to do it for a longer time or not, this period can serve as a mirror to you. 

Role of foster parents

Role of foster parents is of utmost significance as they serve as a guardian for the homeless dog for a short period of time. 

 Look out for basic needs

Foster parents look for the requirements of the dog and they care for him in the time of loneliness. You don’t have to worry about the financial expenses too much as the rescue homes are still responsible for the medical bills of the dog even if you are fostering him. You just need to shower some love and time on these beautiful souls. 

Help in rehabilitation 

 If there are any problems in the process of rehabilitation of the dog, a foster parent can help in correcting those problems. For instance, if a particular dog lacks behavioral training, an experienced dog owner can become his foster parent and train him so that it becomes easy for that dog to find a permanent home.  

Valuable feedback 

Foster parents remain in contact with the rescue homes continuously and while fostering the dog they tell all the needs and traits of the dog to the rescue homes. What this does is helps rescue homes in finding the right home for the dog while he is taken care of by the foster parents.  

For how many days?

If you’re wondering for how many days people foster then there is no exact number but usually, it’s just a matter of a few weeks and sometimes a few days before the dog finds a permanent home for himself (if he’s lucky enough). 

Qualities of an ideal foster parent 

Preferably, an ideal foster carer should have relevant knowledge about dogs and training techniques so that the fostered can find a permanent home for themselves. 

Nevertheless, some basic knowledge and experience in keeping dogs safe and cheery will suffice for most of the rescue charities. 

What they look for mainly is a premise which can keep a dog safe and secure from any possible accident from the transport running on the roads or anything for that matter. 

Foster parents should be people who can train some basic house manners the fostered dog and provide him the love he needs. 

Why do rescue homes need foster homes?

certain situations can be difficult for the doggo to bear alone so he might need some company, someone who can take good care of him in a time of difficulty. Some of these situations are listed below:

  1. When puppies are too young to go to their permanent homes but need a safe place to live for a short while. Rescue homes look for foster homes for such cute little puppies. 
  2. When a dog has just been through an injury he will have some recovering to do, a special place where people can look after him till the time he recovers will be very nice for him. 
  3. Some poor dogs who haven’t ever been with people in a home and when they need to learn some socializing, are kept with their foster families. 
  4. If a dog is showing any signs of stress in the rescue center then he is advised to go to a foster home. Love from a family can many a time can cure such stress-related problems. 

Not all foster dogs are the same 

Some rescue organizations specialize in a particular breed of dog it means they only keep a single kind of breed in dogs. Correspondingly, requirements will differ from breed to breed. Let’s understand this by looking at different breeds of dogs and their requirements respectively.

  1.  Shelter homes that help in rehoming guarding breeds of the dog will prefer foster families who do not have any other dogs as pets. 
  2. Those who keep their focus on dogs who have high prey drive dogs, like sighthounds and terriers will incline towards fosterers who do not have cats or any rats at home. Otherwise, they will chase other creatures and it will worsen their prey drives. 
  3. It is common knowledge that labradors are all jumpy and bouncy from birth to death, so it is natural for them to come with retrieving instincts and a lot of enthusiasm. They are good at socializing with other dogs at home but we can’t say the same for cats. Their behavior with cats will vary from individual to individual lab, it majorly depends on the temperaments and personality traits in the past. 
  4. Homes with children will be needing some further filtering by the rescue homes. 

Can you be a foster parent?

You’re reading this long and informative article probably because you want to foster a dog. Now comes the question if you can do it and in fact if you should do it or not. 

This is the thing you want to ask yourself and assess by looking at things around you, be the judge of yourself. Discuss this with your rescue society and most importantly your family if you live with them. 

  1. Fostering is not an easy-going experience for many of the foster parents because the emotional pain a foster parent is bound to feel after the separation of the family and the dog after this period will come to an end. 
  2. However, this is not the case with all the foster parents as many of them are happy to share the love and joy with the dogs for a short period of time. They cherish this time afterward. 
  3. Moreover, some are interested in helping a dog earning basic house manners which can help him in finding a perfect home for him.