Why Were These Wonderful Family Dogs Given Up?
Adolescent dogs like their human counterparts can be a handful and hard to get adopted, even if they are dogs considered to be ideal for family dogs, such as the Labrador Retriever. When people do decide to bring home a large, enthusiastic teenage dog that hasn’t learned any manners yet, trouble may set in quickly.
You see these types of dogs in shelters all of the time because, in the outside world, people see other family-oriented dogs that are calm and sweet and think they naturally come that way. They don’t realize how much time it takes to get these dogs to that point, and they give up because the drive and the high energy level is more than they are willing or able to deal with.
Many otherwise well-behaved dogs act wildly in shelters, not because they are always that way, but because of their situation. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, what you see isn’t always what you get. If the dog is wild and jumping up, it could be crying out saying, “Hey, look at me! I’m a friendly dog! Pick me, Pick me!”
On the reverse behavior, if you see a dog that is really quiet, it could just be overcome by the noise and all the changes it has just experienced.
Why Are These Popular Dogs There In The First Place?
Popular family dogs you can find in the shelter may have been dropped off because the family found that they could not tolerate the typical behaviors that came up, such as the incessant need to chew and an a energy level.
Dogs bred for fieldwork (hunting) can have even more energy and drive than other breeds. Their exercise needs may seem impossible to meet, so many of these guys and gals end up in animal shelters or in rescue groups without ever having had any training.
Constantly shifting from one home to another and having to endure long periods of confinement in small spaces can make inappropriate behavior even worse, simple because the dog isn’t getting the exercise or attention it craves.
When an adolescent or adult dog has never received any formal obedience training, he may seem incorrigible, and that’s not what people expect from an adult family-type dog. Take the Labrador Retriever as the perfect example – one major reason why people adopt adult Labs is to avoid a lot of the work that comes with a puppy.
These people have heard that adult Labs are calm and they think this adult dog will be no problem at all. But if the Lab was never trained, you can have real problems, such as a Lab that has never learned to stop the habit of puppy mouthing or jumping on people. It’s one thing for a puppy to do those things but when a large adult dog does them, somebody could get hurt.
Adopting A Labrador Retriever From The Animal Shelter (3): How To Keep Your Shelter Lab Happy
The old saying that a tired dog is a good dog never applied to any breed more than the adolescent Labrador Retriever. Labs need so much exercise! This is especially true when they are young adults.
They are not a couch potato breed, but they will calm down after a good 40 minutes or so of vigorous aerobic exercise. This is why dog parks were invented!
All young Labrador Retrievers have energy to spare, but Labs confined to shelters for long periods may be in dire need of some serious cardiovascular activity to burn off excessive energy. Most Labs at these shelters aren’t getting enough exercise at all.
Labs are bred to go through the woods and marshes and get that duck again and again and again – all day long. This is an extremely active, high-energy dog and if you bring it into a sedentary lifestyle, it’s not a good fit.
Putting a Labrador Retriever in a fenced yard or taking the dog for a walk around the block isn’t enough. This dog’s exercise has to be heavy cardiovascular and it has to wear them out to the point of fatigue.
Finding sufficient outlets for your shelter Lab’s energy can make a huge difference in behavior around the house. Dog-daycare programs and professional pet sitters can offer exercise opportunities during the work day, but even without paying a penny to a professional, you can exercise your Lab by organizing play dates.
Nothing tires out an adolescent dog like another adolescent dog. Meet up with other dog people – friends, neighbors or people you meet in obedience class – and get your dogs together to channel that energy.
Invite them over for pizza or a backyard grill and turn the dogs loose. A lot of people become very good friends who get together for such dog-related activities. It’s an economical and fun alternative to an organized dog-daycare program.
After about 12 to 14 months, when a Labrador Retriever has finished growing strong bones, it can also begin more organized athletic activities, such as agility (a competitive obstacle course), or other higher-impact activities, such as jogging for long distances.
But never wait too long for obedience classes. This is a common mistake all too many dog owners make, and this goes especially for your newly adopted shelter Lab. Start bonding with it right away under the guidance of a professional, who can help you with strategies for introducing family members, other pets and dog-proofing your home. You’ll set a precedent for good behavior, and you’ll immediately begin building a relationship with your Lab.