While you are eagerly awaiting a scheduled introduction to your new family member, we suggest that you use this time to prepare for your new Lab and to make sure that your home is ready.
- If you don’t already have one, find a veterinarian in your area. Ask people you know who have dogs for recommendations.
- Research dog obedience training programs available in your area. You will be required to attend at least one formal obedience training program with your new Lab. Training is a great way to spend quality time together and will benefit you as much as it does your new Lab.
- Make sure that your yard is totally safe and secure. If your yard is fenced, check to make sure there are no loose or missing fence boards, no nails are sticking out, and any wiring is securely attached to the fence. You may wish to consider installing locks on any gates to your yard. If you have an invisible fence, you will need to mark the fence with flags for training your new Lab. Check the inside of your house too. Make sure that all drugs, vitamins, herbs, supplements and similar items are not readily accessible. If your Lab will have access to your basement or garage, make sure there are no toxic substances (cleaning agents, fertilizers, insecticides, antifreeze, herbicides, etc.) that your Lab might get into.
- Pick up items around the house that might tempt your new Lab – for example, your new leather briefcase or your TV remote control. It’s better not to tempt your new Lab with an expensive “snack.” Keep items you don’t want chewed picked up until you have a chance to assess whether your new friend likes to chew.
- If you are not already familiar with items that can be potentially toxic or unsafe for your dog, take the time to familiarize yourself with those dangers and the signs of toxicity. Toxic foods include grapes and raisins, onions, chocolate, caffeinated items, macadamia nuts, Xylitol (sugar-free sweetener frequently found in gum and candy), alcohol, yeast dough, fruit pits and seeds (apple seeds and cherry, peach, apricot and plum pits contain cyanide), rotten or moldy foods, foods that are high in fat, sugar or sodium, and cooked bones.
- Decide upon the areas in your home that your new Lab will have access to and those that he or she won’t. Make sure everyone in your family is clear on what the rules are. If you don’t want your Lab to sleep on the sofa, make sure everyone knows it!
- A new leash and collar and perhaps a few new toys or treats might be in order, but don’t rush out and spend lots of money for items you may not need. Depending on the dog’s situation, your new Lab might come with his or her own suitcase of items and perhaps even a crate. Check with your volunteer for guidance.
- A change in environment will be stressful enough without a change in diet as well. If you have a preference for feeding a particular brand of food, keep in mind that you will need to transition your Lab to that new food S-L-O-W-L-Y. Your Lab should come with a small supply of his or her own food to make that transition easier. We suggest that you do not invest in a large quantity of a new food until you have determined whether your new Lab can tolerate it.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, enjoy thinking about all of the fun you’re about to have when you new family member arrives!