You are Approved! Now what?

How to find the perfect match

Many applicants come to us with their heart set on one particular dog they have seen on our web site. In some cases the match was meant to be and all goes well. But in many circumstances there are several families interested in the same dog. A family may be meeting a dog on our web site on the day you are putting in your application, so that dog might be adopted before you are approved. We do our very best to match the desires of the applicants with the needs of our dogs and we ask that you be flexible in considering dogs available for adoption. We do not hold dogs for adopters and there are many factors that impact which dogs go to which approved homes. Please don’t be disappointed if the dog you initially apply for is no longer available. We get new labs in every single week and we are experts at finding that perfect match for you and your family!

Things to Expect

You should expect your new dog to act differently than how he did when you met him at the foster's home. He will be excited, nervous and maybe tired after the trip to your house. Being routine-oriented, your new dog may have just gotten comfortable at his foster home and now recognizes that the routine is changing yet again. He doesn't know the smells, the sounds, and importantly, the routines, and rules of your house. This is very confusing.

Dogs display anxiety and nervousness by: panting, pacing, lack of eye contact, "not listening," housebreaking accidents, chewing, gastric upset, , whining, jumping, or barking. As long as you understand where these behaviors originate, you can perhaps address them before they appear and deal effectively when they do. Your goal in the next weeks is to reduce the "noise and confusion in his head" and get him to relax, to be calm, and show him how to be good. Set him up for success!

Many rescue dogs go through a "honeymoon period." After the first day or so, the dog may be very quiet and extraordinarily controlled or "good." The "real" dog appears two to four weeks later - after he's mostly figured out the house rules, the schedule of the days, and the characters of his new family. At this time, he'll start testing out his position in the pack, and may "regress" to puppyhood behaviors and "bad" behavior. Be patient with him, firm in your expectations, praise him for appropriate behavior - especially when he is lying quietly and behaving himself. Most importantly, don’t panic. A few weeks of consistency will go a long way!


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 herself 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 resident dogs during the first entry to your home - he will appreciate safe 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.


Quiet time will be important for your new dog in the first week. His recent past may include a shelter stay which has worn him out with worry. Despite your excitement, try and resist inviting friends and relatives over to visit him. Give him time to get used to your immediate family and resident pets only. If the dog does not solicit play or attention from you, leave him alone to sleep or establish himself. Do not force him to play at first.


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 routing, 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 arrangement.

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." Watch that each dog sticks to his own bowl. Keep vigilant over feeding time for a couple of months until the pack positions are worked out.


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 work all day - you MUST make an extra effort to let the dog "hang" with you in the house 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 really 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 recommend to use the basement since your dog will not feel "part of the family" isolated away from it.


There is a good chance your rescued dog will show his insecurity by following you everywhere. This will include trying to hang with you in the bathroom, watching TV with you, getting the mail, and undoubtedly wanting to sleep with you. It is not unusual for him to whine or cry or bark if confined away from you at night - lights out at a new strange place is a stressful thing for him. If you put the crate close to your bedroom or somewhere he can see you, the problems are usually minimized. Safe chew toys in the crate at night will give him something to do if he is awake. Remember, during the first couple of weeks, the dog will probably get quite tired and worn out by the day's activities, so establishing a sleep schedule is usually not a big deal. As you wean him from the crating at night, make sure he has been well exercised - a tired dog is a happy and well behaved dog!


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, he 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 him after a walk or romp in the yard. Give him another chance to relieve himself before you go to work. Practicing to leave for work with your dog for a few minutes at a time while you are still home before you actually have to leave is a good way to prepare your new dog to be alone. Upon return from work, immediately let the dog out for exercise and bathroom break (this is NOT the time to read the mail, make a phone call or flop yourself on the sofa). If he is exercised heavily, wait 30 minutes or so before the evening feeding. He will need another bathroom break anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours after the evening meal, depending on his age – it will be your job to figure this out. He should get 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 in your home and is starting to look to you with confidence (2-3 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 you dog into complying with household obedience commands, or prove to him you are the toughest creature around by using constant brute force. You DO need to show your dog that you are the leader in the household. You can do this 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 adopting 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.

Contact Information

Lolin, Inc.
8063 Madison Avenue, #235
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Phone: 317-602-1470
Fax: 801-640-7688

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Mission Statement

Love of Labs' (LOLIN, INC) mission is to reduce the euthanasia rate of Labrador Retrievers and Labrador mixes throughout animal shelters/animal controls in the Midwest (ESPECIALLY INDIANA). LOLIN will accomplish this goal by spaying and neutering dogs we rescue from shelters and educating the public regarding adoption, heartworm prevention, sterilization for all pets, and responsible ownership. LOLIN, INC. is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3, IRS deemed Public Charity, and your donations are tax deductible to the full extent provided by the IRS. Love of Labs obtains operational funds through adoption fees, donations, and various fundraisers ONLY.