Thank you!

171 Labs rehomed in 2010

52 Labs rehomed since 1 Jan 2011

We invite you to come and visit Labrador Rescue at

13 September 2010

New Arrivals

Periwinkle and Jolie

Periwinkle (left) arrived last weekend and Jolie (right) arrived this weekend, from the same pound. We reckon they could be sisters, what do you think!  I've had to colour code them with a purple collar for Peri and an orange one for Jolie, so we could tell them apart at a glance. Lovely Labbie paws but funny looking ears so possibly Lab cross Border Collie (or Kelpie) pups.

The kids are enjoying puppy cuddles :-).

12 September 2010

Dray is Wonderful !

Here's an awesome happy ending story for 9 yo Dray who was surrendered to us after his kids moved out of home and his parents decided to re-home him. Warms the heart!

Just a note to tell you how Dray is going.

We could not have been matched more perfectly than with Dray.

Each morning he wakes me at about 6am and he is kind of sluggish, he goes out to pee and he comes ripping through the house to my daughter's room, jumps on her bed (which I need to get him out of) and nuzzles her as he knows this is the time she gets up to walk him. He comes back for breakfast and naps for a while. When I grab my keys, he is up again ready to go to work! He is pretty sedate in the car until we enter work premises. As soon as he sees the building he starts yelping, wagging the tail and jumping around the car. He already knows where he is!. He gets out of the car and without waiting for me, lets himself in the building and makes his rounds seing the residents. He does this for about 45 minutes and then needs a nap. He knows how to get back to me and find his "quiet spot" to rest. The residents absolutely adore him and the staff are really getting involved in including him in activities. I thought it would take some time for him to settle, but it is like he has been with us his entire life.

One particular incident yesterday...........we had a woman and her very small child come into the facility, the child would have been about 2 years old. I must admit I was a little concerned when that child walked in as I had not seen Dray with a little one and did not know how he was going to react. Before I got to him to gab his collar, the little girl approached him and tried to pat his face but could not reach. Dray not only sat, he dropped and let that kid pat, hug and sqeeze him until she was content.It drew quite the crowd and melted a few hearts aswell. He was so gentle with her, he is the same with the elderly residents, it's amazing to watch.

He is really comfortable in the house, walks around like he owns it really. He likes the cat, but the cat does not like him. We are hoping the cat will come around. For some reason he will only wake me to let him out of a morning, I have not needed my alarm for three days now. He puts his snout under my arm or hand and gently pushes it until I wake.It's pretty cool to wake up that way each morning and it's amazing that he is so gentle with me but when he gets to my daughter's room, he is almost wrestling with her, they both love it though.

When K said he had an appetite, she wasn't kidding. He would eat until he burst. It's really hard to know how much to let him have.

It has been whispered that Dray may feature in an article in the paper because of the facility. I would need your permission to name your organisation when we are asked how we came to get him.

Anyway, I must go, Dray is back from his walk and wants his steamed vegies, I put them on when he leaves for his walk so they are ready when he gets back. My hubby complains. He says he should have been a dog, maybe then he would get his breakfast cooked each morning too.

Thank you for the work you all do, we would not have had Dray otherwise.

Potter - Mr Happy

Here are some recent pictures of Potter with his friend Holly.

Potter has also done a wonderful job being a big foster brother for the first time to the gorgeous Miss Molly who joined her new home yesterday.  She learnt a whole lot of wonderful new skills from Potter's family like responding to her name and walking to heel and coming when called :-). Thank you again from Lab Rescue!!!

Enjoy your new home Molly, on acreage with 4 children and goats.

Be a good girl ;-) !!!

25 August 2010

Potter's Story Continued

Sometimes there are challenges to meet with a rescue dog and Potter was no exception. Mouthing can be an issue that some of our new families need to address in their home. I hope sharing these emails will help others.

From Potter's family:

Just a quick e-mail to ask your advice regarding Potter. As I have said in my other e-mails, he is a dream of a dog, absolutely gorgeous. There is only one thing he is doing that I could do with some advice about. He is mouthing the kids arms and feet, and also mine. He has a fondness too for the cushions on the sofa which he picks up, carries around and with a playful look in his eye starts to chew. I have read on the internet that I should spray these things with something he doesn't like the taste of. Including toes and arms if necessary. Normally when I do the sharp "A" "A" he stops chewing us, but it doesn't work with the cushions as he thinks its a game.

Do you think he is doing this because of his lack of socialisation?

On all other counts he is wonderful. He has almost completely stopped jumping up now, and I can walk into to him in the morning and he is totally calm. He walks very well on the lead, and I tried recall with him today in a secure park in the pouring rain - obviously noone else was there!!! He came back to me every time, normally on the second call. After more practise, I will progress to trying it in the dog park next when he has other doggy distractions! As we intend to go for long walks in the bush with him and let him off the lead, could you give me an indication of when it becomes safe to do that? In other words, do I have to have him coming back to me immediately when I call when there are other distractions around?

He is such a wonderful dog, I want to try and get everything right so I hope you don't mind me asking you these questions.

As we speak, he is lying on the carpet about a metre from me, fast asleep after an hour long walk (or should I say wade) in torrential rain - its a good job I am english, I am used to the rain! Thanks again for choosing us to have him. I look forward to hearing from you.

From Lab Rescue volunteer:

I doubt if spraying will work.

Mouthing is not acceptable behaviour at any time. It is dominance behaviour and Potter needs to learn quickly that the humans in his pack are dominant over him!!! Whenever Potter mouths anyone, do not say anything to him or make eye contact (this would reinforce the behaviour). Move quietly and firmly to him and clip a lead on his collar, and lead him straight into the time-out room for 3 minutes. Either one of the adults can do this or one of your older children if they feel confident. The time out room can be your bathroom, laundry or loo or somewhere else boring when he can do no harm to himself or furniture. It is important to use a lead because otherwise he may turn his head sideways and continue the mouthing while he is being led away and it may escalate to stronger biting. I usually have several leads scattered around the house so I can grab one when I need it. If Potter makes a fuss in the time out room wait until he is quiet before letting him out. Otherwise let him out after 3 minutes. When you let him out don’t say anything and don’t make eye contact with him. Everyone should completely ignore him for several minutes and turn away if he approaches them. It is MOST IMPORTANT that you do the time out EVERY time Potter mouths someone – no matter how gently. Even if you have to do this 20 or 100 times, keep doing it and eventually Potter will learn there is a consequence for mouthing behaviour and stop doing it. But if he gets away with it even one time in ten that will be enough reward for him to continue doing it.

You can use the same time-out training for the cushions. Perhaps best to put the cushions out of reach for a week or so if this is feasible until you have the mouthing behaviour extinct and then do the cushion training. NEVER chase Potter when he has a cushion in his mouth – he will think it is a game and this will strongly reinforce the behaviour. Potter is grabbing the cushions because it is fun, he thinks it is a game, he gets attention when he does it, and he has never been trained not to do it. I didn’t have cushions here so he did not learn about them. You could try distracting him with alternative toys or even treats when he is interested in the cushions. And remember if he voluntarily lets the cushion go and comes to the alternative toy or treat, praise him big time and tell him how clever he is as soon as he lets go of the cushion. Potter will want to please you – it’s all about communicating clearly with him what you want and setting up scenarios so it’s rewarding for him to do what you want and he gets a clear message when you are pleased or displeased. Dogs love attention and food and hate being separated from their pack (time out room) so you can use this to train him.

I wouldn’t let Potter off lead in the bush until he is coming back to you immediately when you call even when there are other distractions around. Make sure you have a MIX of high quality treats with you – such as cheese, chicken, dried liver, cabanossi etc. Praise him as soon as he starts coming towards you and give him a treat when he arrives. Then let him run off again. If you put him on the lead – he will associate coming to you with going on the lead – and this will stop him from coming. If he never knows which type of treat he is going to get next, he will come back just in case it is his favourite one coming up. If he knows what treat he is going to get he is more likely to lose interest.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you are still having problems.

From Potter's family:

Thanks for the advice M. I have read your e-mail to all the children, and we are putting into practice the technique you suggested. I have already removed all the cushions and blankets from the family room whilst we get the mouthing behaviour under control.

As to your other e-mail - yes, we are definitely keeping Potter. I will start to action some of the things you mentioned today.

He has definitely found his forever home, now he just needs to understand his position in the pack!! I am still training all my children in life skills, so another member of the pack (Potter) to teach doesn't make too much difference :o)

An update on progress from Potter's family:

Just thought I'd give you another update on Potter. He has settled in beautifully, and I have now successfully managed to reintroduce 5 cushions to our lounge (quite an achievement!!)

I have started taking him to obedience classes and he graduated through the first 2 classes with ease. The dog trainers loved him (there was never any doubt they would!)

I got a tip from one of the experienced trainers to feed him by hand for a while at dinner time as it apparently really helps a rescue dog to bond. We did this for about ten days, and he has truly become our dog now. He continues to get complimented everywhere he goes with me, on his manners and gentle nature. He also gets complimented all the time on his good looks. I may be a little biased, but he is the cutest labrador by far. We have been very careful to keep him nice and slim by making sure he only eats his food, with the occasional addition of vegetables, and fish or chicken.

He has a couple of favourite toys, but really, what he loves the most, is our company. He sleeps brilliantly at night in the laundry room, and after two initial accidents on the tiles, is now completely house trained. He walks superbly on the lead, with his only dalliance when he sees another dog. I have trained him to come back when he is off the lead (using food of course), and he obeys immediately when I call his name. He is walked for at least 1.5 hours a day, sometimes 2.5 hours. We often meet up with my new friend Jane and her lab, Holly. Potter and she have become the best of friends and have great chasing games and rumbles where they really have no sense of where us owners are and Jane and I have to play dodge!! He stops at the edge of every pavement and waits for the walk on command before we cross. I can't speak highly enough of this intelligent, adorable dog, and will never understand how he could have been left on his own for so long!

He has learned not to jump up at the children, and he is more likely to lay down and roll over for a belly rub. My children adore him, and he is given many cuddles, kisses and patting.

He still goes to school with me every day to meet the children and half the school kids know his name now. Many of them say they have their own dogs and wish they behaved like Potter!! Lots of them stop to pat him, even the very young toddlers, and he happily indulges them.

I feel a huge sense of achievement and lots of love for this beautiful boy who has given us his loyalty. I just wanted to let you know how happy he is, and how happy he has made all of us.

As we speak, he is sleeping in his bed next to me in the lounge, snoring!! Although we are all looking forward to our holiday in Fiji, we are really going to miss him! I hope he enjoys the kennels and has some fun whilst he is there.

We will be posting a success story off to the website soon, together with a picture of him with all of the children.

Thanks again M.

Best wishes
AWESOME!!! Thanks for giving Potter a wonderful new life!!!

21 August 2010

Potter's Story - Part 3

We received lots of wonderful updates on Potter's progress which I thought would be great to share. We love hearing how our rescues are going in their new homes :-).


You were so right about Potter - he is absolutely adorable. He has slept well both nights and no accidents. He is laying at my feet as I type with his head resting on top of them. He hasn't barked once - god bless him. I took him out for a long walk this morning and did some light training with him whilst out. He met another couple of lovely agility dogs and the lady has invited me around to her house to bring potter to continue the fun socialising he had with her dogs. She also mentioned that she thought I might like to try agility classes with him (for beginners of course) which also includes basic obedience. So next Thursday, thats where we are off! Potter adores his new bed and I left him hesitantly for the first time today to do 2.5 hours work and came back to find him outside flat out on his back in his bed. He didn't jump on me when I arrived home, and having watched the Jan Fennel DVD, I ignored him for a few minutes before giving him a big hug.

The children adore him, and all day yesterday he was out in the garden playing with them. He has had loads of visitors, and considering the amount of change he has been through recently, he seems remarkably "unstressed" by it all. I think maybe he knows he has fallen very firmly on all four feet with our big family.

He really is an utterly gorgeous dog and we feel very lucky to have him. Everyone who meets him thinks he is fab, and he never stops smiling.

Last night we sat and ate dinner and he just lay down and made no attempt to pester us for attention or food. Could be that his long walk and all the playing in the garden left him absolutely shattered :o)

I will send a few updates as the next couple of weeks progress and let you know how he is getting on. Its great news about Jack as we did hope he would find his niche very quickly.

Potter isn't even bothering the rabbit or guinea pigs who are content in their big run. He has the biggest ever bone in the garden which he loves to chew. He also playfully lifted one of my cushions from the sofa last night and carried it around in his mouth. The kids were all trying not to laugh - it was so funny!

He definitely still has the puppy in him which is wonderful to see.

Thanks again to you and everyone at Lab Rescue. Already can't imagine life without Potter.


Just a quick update on the georgous Potter. We went for a very long walk this morning, 1 and a half hours, before meeting up with another labrador called Holly in the local dog park. She is a seven year old golden lab, and it was love at first sight. They chased each other, rolled with each other, kissed each other on the face, and generally had a riot. He really enjoyed the opportunity for rough and tumble play, and I have to say, she had the better of him!

So after a mammoth 2 and a half hour outing we came back before I had to go to work. He is still behaving beautifully on the lead, and is very good when the house is nice and calm. He is still getting very excited when there is lots of noise and people coming and going, and this is when he has a tendency to start mouthing. We are putting into practice your technique, but think, given his history, it may take him a little while to understand what is expected! He is thoroughly enjoying being part of a family, and has at least one really long walk a day which he loves.

When he is calm, he gets lots of cuddles from my youngest, E.

C, my son, and Potter have a special bond as he is the one who goes out into the garden to play chase the ball and running games. They both came in today covered in mud - in a perfect world I would have plonked both of them in the shower :o)

One day a week, my eldest O takes him to the coffee shop where all her teenage girlfriends get the chance to rub his belly and pat him. They adore him, and he of course loves the attention.

Just to let you know, we are planning to take him to the vet to scan him on the weekend. We have had the paperwork through from the pet register.

He is booked in to Pet Resorts whilst we are away in Fiji, and whilst there he will get two hours a day of play time with other dogs. He should enjoy that!!

Potter sends a big paw hug and lots of smiles and tail wags.


We took Potter to the vet on sunday and had his chip scanned. We will now proceed with sending the paperwork off.

He and I are off to obedience training tonight. He had a private lesson the other night at agility classes because it was rained off! The lady thought he was very handsome, and from good breeding stock. Potter just grinned at her!! He met a number of other dogs, and was very good with all of them, especially to the little puppy who had come along. The lady who runs it advised me to take him to obedience classes as well as this would bring him on in leaps and bounds! Potter liked the sound of the leaping and bounding!

He continues to make good progress, and is becoming less excitable as I try to ensure the kids are calm around him and they stick to the five minute rule when they walk in. He is much loved by the whole family and getting heaps of walks and playtime. This afternoon I am taking him over to my friends house. She has a seven year old retriever called Lily. They should get on like a house on fire.

He has a couple of new toys now, and particularly likes his oversized tennis ball! C and he played in the garden for ages yesterday, despite the mud! Hopefully we will have a dry week now and the garden will have a chance to recover.

A big thank you to all of you at labrador rescue who do such a marvellous job. We feel blessed to have him as part of our family.

I will keep in touch as time goes on. Big paw hugs and tail wags from Potter.


17 August 2010

Potter's Story - Part 2

Time in Foster Care

Hi everyone.

This is me, Potter – see my photo. I spent the last 2 years in a concrete run. I am so happy that M has come and got me I haven’t put my lipstick away since I got to M’s place! I just love playing with Jack – I hump him non-stop and then we race around peeing on all M’s bushes. I have never been inside a house in my life so that will be exciting too!

M says she will take more photos of me soon. Tomorrow I have my crown jewels off – I hope I won’t be too sore!!!

Love from Potter xx

Today Potter went to the vet to have his crown jewels removed. I asked the vet to check his ears and the vet found deep seated infection in both ears which would have been very painful. So Potter’s ears have been cleaned out and he will be having ear drops for at least a week. I’ve covered my goldfish pond with mesh until potter’s stiches heal up.

Potter, in contrast, has a softer nature and will fit in well just about anywhere and with most other dogs I think. He walks well on lead, sits for his dinner, and is much easier to handle than Jack. He still jumps up on people (so not suited to small kids) and still pees inside sometimes. Jack and Potter growl at each other over bones a bit so I separate them now.

During his time in foster care Potter showed us a nice nature and learned all sorts of new skills so that his write up on our website attracted much interest. We discussed him with a few families and finally found a wonderful new home that would meet all his needs. Do they sound excited ;-)

We are all so excited. Potter has a new luxury dog bed awaiting him, and my husband has been busy with some carpentry ensuring the two low gates are now fully Potter-proof!! As for me, I have been watching video clips on the internet as to how to train my new georgous lab. The bag of food has been bought, a couple of toys purchased, a new blue collar and lead,and some bones are now in the fridge and freezer. The kids are really looking forward to welcoming him into his new home, although the rabbit hasn't said much :o)

Thank you so much for all your help. I literally can't wait to meet him and I wonder how long it will be before we couldn't imagine life without him :o)

I will be in touch if I have any questions, and to let you know how he is settling in.

15 August 2010

Potter's Story - Part 1

Thought I might share Potter's interesting story over a few posts.

One of our volunteers noticed an ad for Potter in the classifieds

FREE to good home. 3yr old male labrador- beige in colour

very nice dog, regretfully 4 yr old daughter is scared of dog. he is a little active needs older kids or active people , he is very beautiful and has a sweet nature. loves company. Needs some training. please email or phone

... so offered our assistance. Surprised to find out it was placed by a friend with the owner's permission

hi, I am doing this for a friend, they can't do it. He is a beautiful dog but he can't join in with family as their little girl is scared of him. what is the process?
Our volunteer drove 2 hours (4 hour round trip) to pick him up and let us know when he arrived
Just got back from collecting Potter from .... 3 yo entire pure yellow lab. Nice looking boy – seems healthy. Friendly, travels well in car. Been kept in a small (< my kitchen) concrete run without sunlight for at least the last 2 years. For the last 9 months his owners haven’t even lived at the house and he has rarely been let out of the run. Never had any training and never been inside a house. No papers except signed surrender form and signed C3A microchip transfer.

I’ve booked him into the vet to be desexed and vaccinated tomorrow.

Will take some photos for a poster this arvo.

Potter does not know how to play although he is friendly and confident. Jack is trying to teach him how. He jumps up a lot!!!
Phew! Potter was in Lab Rescue care ready for a second chance.

14 August 2010

Sweet Ccelli

My 12 year old son accompanied me to a pet store this week. You should have seen his face light up when he saw the wall of toys. I just had to let him pick one for Ccelli ;-)!  The expression on this duck's face just cracks me up. The duck's legs and squeaker survived two Labs for about four days, LOL.

Poor little Ccelli arrived with a very cracked sore looking nose which the two vets she has seen suspect is sunburn. We're popping clear vaseline on it and seeing some improvement. The cracked bits are flaking off to reveal healing skin underneath. Ouch :-(!

The love affair continues between our two fostered pups, Diesel and Ccelli. I love the heart shape they slept in here.

13 August 2010

Join us in welcoming the newest member of Labrador Rescue!

We are pleased to introduce the newest member of Labrador Rescue! Jesse is now 7 weeks old and has already shown us why every family should have a Labrador. Before he was even born, he would bounce around every time he heard his Labrador family playing. When he came home from the hospital, he managed to wrap the Labs around his little finger. Every time he screamed, the Labs came running and demanded that we do everything we could to make him happy again. He enjoys nothing better than snuggling up with his favourite boys and having a cuddle. If there isn’t a Lab in the room, he refuses to settle. He loves his daily walk in his pouch, watching the Labs race around and burn up some energy, knowing full well that when we get home, all 5 Labs will curl up with him on the lounge for a nap. Thank god we have a big lounge or there would be no room for us! I am so proud that all of my boys are so gentle with Jesse without having been told. They have welcomed him with open paws and open hearts and are already super protective of him. I have no doubt that Jesse will grow up to not only be an animal lover but if his way with the boys is anything to go by, he will also have a special bond with animals that will allow him to calm even the most boisterous dogs.

Welcome to the family Jesse!

Katherine, Shane, Pepper (pictured above), Samson, Bourke (pictured above), Java and Prince (temporary family member, whilst waiting for his forever home)


11 August 2010

It's been far too long!

We are currently fostering two dogs under one year old, 10 month old Diesel and 6 month old Ccelli, yep crazy!! They do so love eachother's company :-)

Diesel is due to have surgery on his hips this week, our vets recommended fixing his hips or putting him down. We're really thrilled that we have the opportunity to proceed with surgery as he is a really lovely young boy who deserves a chance for a pain free life with a loving family.

20 June 2010

Two New Arrivals - Tessa and Bondi

Tessa and Bondi arrived in Canberra from the Wagga Pound yesterday, many thanks go to rescue and transport volunteers.

Tessa is a gentle, placid Lab x Goldie girl who definitely needs to go on a diet and start a healthy exercise regime.

Bondi is happy natured, playful young boy and is a little sweetie. He is full of energy and is a real livewire who will happily play games and run around for hours but also just loves to snuggle up and have a cuddle.

Doesn't this picture say it all !!!

06 June 2010

Boris - Living happily in an apartment!

We're thrilled to be able to share another happy story - this time one of our rescues has successfully adapted to living in an apartment!

Boris is a great advertisement for Labrador rescue. Not only is he the most handsome dog in the off-leash park but he is also the most friendly. No one can escape meeting Boris when he is out for a play. Everyone asks where we got him and we are happy to say that we got him from the good people at the Labbie Rescue. If you have any more Labrador/Whippet crosses I am sure you will find plenty of homes for them.

M and I want to thank all of you at the Labrador Rescue for bringing Boris into our lives. Since neither of us had a dog before, we needed a lot of assistance. Thanks first to L for talking through our choice of a Labrador. She helped us understand that it is the love and attention we give our dog that is more important than the size of our back garden. Our next thanks go to the D Family for giving Boris shelter and helping him gain weight.

 Smiles all round! Welcome to the wonderful world of dog ownership :-). 

01 June 2010

A Loving New Home for Dutch

Lab Rescue were contacted by a fellow who had a friend's dog, Dutch. His friend had to go overseas at short notice. This fellow was hoping to find a lovely home for Dutch but time ran out before his move to a smaller property. With his own dogs, he didn't have room to keep Dutch and wanted to make sure he went to a good home. He had Dutch desexed upon receiving him and offered to drive him to Sydney or Canberra whichever was most suitable for Lab Rescue. We put him in touch with a lovely home on our waiting list and would like to share the happy ending :-). Note: he had an issue not wanting to climb up open stairs ;-).

We picked up Dutch today and oh my god, was a beautiful dog he is!

He is so placid, so calm, so well behaved, we are in love already!

He has had a pretty good day also, lots of cuddles, a sleep in front of the fire place, a walk and a swim!

We have even managed to get him to go up the stairs (with a food bribe) so I am sure eventually he will be OK with them soon enough.

Dutch dog is not going anywhere!

Thanks for finding him for us, the kids are thrilled.

22 May 2010

An Unusual Thank You!

We all loved this unusual thank you message, it was very well timed and much appreciated :-)!!!

Hi all at labrescue

This is a bit of a strange email i am writing to say thank you. we recently adopted our lovely B from pet rescue which we found through your website. I had fully intended to adopt a lab from you guys but when all  of us saw B on the website she was meant to be. So thank you. It was your website that convinced me that i wanted to do the right thing rather than have a puppy and certainly not to have a litter of pups. I don't think i would ever buy another puppy again, as adopting means you can choose the perfect dog for you. hopefully we can foster some puppies some day so that the kids get to have the experience, we will let you know. So thank you it's a strange thank you but i just wanted you to know. I love your site and recommend it and B is such a great advertisement for doggy adoption.

Thanks and B is so appreciative.

11 yo Khan
 is looking for a loving home to spend his twilight years with

17 May 2010

Tobias is settling in well

Here's a lovely update on Tobias who joined his new home on Sunday - we're looking forward to many more happy stories and cute photos :-)

Tobias is happily asleep in the basket next to Basil and the 2 have been chasing each other around the house and garden having a ball which is great. He is such a lovely dog and A has obviously done a lot with him so please thank her. He walked well on the lead this afternoon and as all Labs do ate very well !!!!!

16 May 2010

Arousal - The Good and the Bad

This is one of many dog ownership tips I'd like to share with you under the name 'Paws for Thought' written by a friend at work, posted here with her permission. Please note that these posts are written by a dog lover learning more every day and happy to share. They are intended to give you options and ideas to think about. They do not replace the help of a professional (such as a vet, behaviourist, trainer or lawyer). Posts can be shared with others as long as you make sure that any references contained within the post remain with the post and please do not take chunks out of context. Preference is definitely for the whole post to be shared rather than pieces.

Arousal is a term you hear and read about quite a lot in dog training – from how to training books to popular TV shows. You hear it but you probably don’t really understand just how important it is. A certain level of arousal is needed for play, mental stimulation, training and learning but if it goes beyond a certain level then arousal gets to a level where a dog just can’t think – it can’t learn – it can only react. This is not something you want to see in dog to dog or dog to people interactions and it certainly isn’t something you want to see in a training session.

So what is arousal?

The term is often used to describe a state of high energy – energy that might be caused by excitement through play, fear, anger or by stress. High arousal levels (regardless of cause) appear very closely linked to aggression so it really helps to be able to predict, identify and manage increasing arousal levels.

The more activity that there is going on in any environment the higher the arousal level will be.

Play can also lead to escalating arousal levels – in play there is a certain joyful abandon and shedding of inhibitions. Play is exciting – that’s why it’s so much fun. But all this can lead to high levels of arousal where the dog loses self control – and in this they are no different than people at a sports match or kids in a playgroup.

What are the signs of high arousal?

Signs of high arousal include:
·         Dilated pupils
·         Excessive panting
·         Higher respiration rates
·         Higher blink rates
·         Higher tongue flick rates
·         Half moon eyes
·         High pitched repetitive barking or whining
·         Piloerection (hackles raised)
·         Flared whiskers
·         Penis crowning
·         Frenetic behaviour
·         Stiff body language
·         Hyper or nervous behaviour such as pacing or excessive jumping.

Other signs you will commonly see are the complete lack of ability to concentrate and what might seem to be ‘selective deafness’.

This is not a time to ask your dog to perform behaviours (even ones they know really well) and particularly not calling them to you unless you are prepared for a very low probability that they will respond. These are not something your dog is choosing to do to drive you nuts. If it happens to your dog you need to manage the situation as best you can and then think about what happened and how to avoid getting/letting your dog to that level again.

How do you avoid it?

To avoid over arousal in your dog you firstly need to learn more about dog body language and what to look for as arousal builds.

One of the best tips in play (dog to dog or dog to human) is to not let play go on uninterrupted for long periods. Frequently interrupt by asking your dog to do something to show that they are still in control of their actions and that you are in control of them. You might ask for a sit or for your dog to give you the toy and wait for permission to continue playing.

Being able to calm down your dog in an aroused situation is a key skill all dog owners should work on. You never know when you might need to rely on it to get you and your dog out of a sticky situation.

Dr Ian Dunbar has some neat tips on teaching what he calls ‘jazz up’ and ‘settle down’ to adolescents and adult dogs. Check them out at:

He also thinks that they should be the first lesson taught in training classes – as it is a key reason many people come to classes in the first place (to get some level of control in aroused situations) and because it then gives people a strategy to use when new people and dogs and other distractions interrupt classes.

I checked for other useful links for training these behaviours and unfortunately came up blank.

·         Barbara Handelman – Canine Behaviour. A Photo Illustrated Handbook

·         Karen B. London & Patricia B. McConnell – Play Together, Stay Together. Happy and Healthy Play Between People and Dogs

·         Pat Miller – Play With Your Dog

·         Robin Bennett – Off-Leash Dog Play. A Complete Guide to Safety and Fun

15 May 2010

Baby Time!

Jett's foster carer mum suffered appendicitis last Sunday and had to have an emergency caesar as well. Their cute little baby boy arrived 6 weeks early and will be in NICU for about 4 weeks. Both mum and bub are recovering well after a rocky start. Gorgeous Jett doesn't know what has turned his life upside down! Thankfully another foster carer can take him in while we shuffle dogs around to cater for the change :-). As you can see Jett's foster family love to play dress-ups with him. I'd love to see him in a baby bonnet now ;-)!!!


Ready for work

05 May 2010

Thank you for the Growl

This is one of many dog ownership tips I'd like to share with you under the name 'Paws for Thought' written by a friend at work, posted here with her permission. Please note that these posts are written by a dog lover learning more every day and happy to share. They are intended to give you options and ideas to think about. They do not replace the help of a professional (such as a vet, behaviourist, trainer or lawyer). Posts can be shared with others as long as you make sure that any references contained within the post remain with the post and please do not take chunks out of context. Preference is definitely for the whole post to be shared rather than pieces.

It's okay to feel taken aback when a dog, particularly your dog, growls at you or a child. But please don't punish the dog for the warning instead thank them.

A growl is a warning from your dog that they are not comfortable - fearful, threatened or aggressive. It's saying back off I'm not happy with this situation. It's a critical part of the behaviours that have been built into dogs to try and keep social harmony and stop fights that could kill or maim.

It's a warning - an important one to heed and do something about. But what? Well firstly remove the tension from the situation by getting out of the immediate situation before someone does get bitten. Now think about what was happening that your dog was so uncomfortable about. It might be something obvious that he wasn't happy about like being cornered under the bed with a tissue with no escape route and an irate human trying to reclaim the treasure (what is it with dogs and tissues and how important they become to humans when dogs have them?). It could also be something less obvious. 

Here's an analogy thanks to Robyn Hood from the TTouch world that might help:  Think of a cauldron of water sitting on top of a bunch of candles of different sizes. When the water boils over a bite is far more likely to happen.  Now let's take one dog's candles. One candle (a medium size one) is a fear of children. Another candle is a dislike of strangers (a large candle).  Another is loud noises and yet another smaller candle is being uncomfortable when people are around his food bow. Now on a particular day when the dog is not feeling all that happy (yes they have bad days too) you have visitors over and a child is running around the house. The child is a stranger to the dog and making lots of noise as she plays.  When the child enters the laundry where the dog is eating his meal the dog growls at the child. Lot's of candles here that you need to identify and work on reducing so that the incident doesn't recur. You also might need to have better management skills in the meantime (or perhaps for life).

Take the emotion (the scare, the humiliation, the disbelief) out of the situation and consider what caused the growl and how to deal with the issues so that the dog doesn't feel so threatened by the situation.

But whatever you do don't punish the dog for the growl. Why not? Well as already mentioned the growl is part of an escalating set of behaviours on the way to a bite or multiple bites and dogs are smart at figuring out what behaviours work and which ones don't.

If you punish the growl out of the dog there goes a major warning system - next time the leap may be from dog body language that you and others don't recognise to a full on bite - and no one wants to go there.

More on some of those more subtle messages in later posts. And I am not advocating doing nothing about growls but rather thanking your dog for giving you the warning and then coming up with a plan (perhaps with professional help) to work through the issues that contributed to the situation so that confrontation and bites can be avoided.

For more information check out the following as a start:

- Off-Leash Dog Play. A Complete Guide to Safety and Fun by Robin Bennet and Susan Briggs




02 May 2010

A quick word from Mocchy


Just a quick word from Mocchy.

Boy have I hit the jackpot. Here I am taking my best mate for ride on his ski.

My days are filled with swimming, running through parks then its down to the local café for a quick bite and chat ( where I'm a bit of a celebrity)

I'm groomed and cuddled constantly. The meals are yummy and healthy.

Met the local vet, seems like a pretty nice fellow, had me all better in no time….. Thanks Benny & the Pets.

Well off for a few laps before I have a snooze on my new sheep skin. Thanks again to all the guys at Lab rescue

Luv Moccha

Hey Moccha

We are THRILLED that you are soooooooooooooooo happy - thanks so much for keeping us up to date and we will add your wonderful story to our happy Endings page.

How fantastic you lucky dog!!!


Lab Rescue Gang

Play or Warming Up for a Fight

This is one of many dog ownership tips I'd like to share with you under the name 'Paws for Thought' written by a friend at work, posted here with her permission. Please note that these posts are written by a dog lover learning more every day and happy to share. They are intended to give you options and ideas to think about. They do not replace the help of a professional (such as a vet, behaviourist, trainer or lawyer). Posts can be shared with others as long as you make sure that any references contained within the post remain with the post and please do not take chunks out of context. Preference is definitely for the whole post to be shared rather than pieces.

Patricia B. McConnell has written an article called 'The Pause That Refreshes.  Play or Warming Up for a Fight - How to Tell the Difference' in the Nov 09-Jan 10 Edition of 'The Bark.  Dog is my Co-Pilot'  magazine.  I thought I'd share some of the things she has to say. If you want to read the full article then this edition is out in some newsagents right now for around $10.

About play

* In play you see many behaviours that replicatee those seen in fights - and many people find this really concerning.

* Scientists are having a hard time defining 'play' because it contains so many components of fighting, predation and reproduction and that doesn't leave much to distinguish play from these other activities.

* One scientist, Mark Bekoff defines play as 'all motor activity that appear purposeless, with motor patterns from other contexts modified and altered..' 

* There are however observable behaviours that distinguish healthy play from impending trouble.

What do you generally see in play?

* Behaviours often exaggerated (think of pups leaping and pouncing).

* Stopping and starting rather than continuing on with a behaviour (shaking a toy as though killing it but then not going on to eat it - hopefully).

* Lateral (sideways) direction of movement rather than forward.

* A tremendous amount of 'self handicapping'.

This is perhaps the most critical aspect of healthy play and it occurs when a stronger or faster dog adjusts their play to a lower level so that they don't use their full strength against the other dog (or child or human). Think of the large dog lying down (or even on their side) to play with a puppy or smaller dog.  Self handicapping is vital if you have teeth - imagine what would happen if dogs played with the full strength of their teeth and jaws (then again don't).

Self handicapping takes a certain amount of maturity.  For young pups and the inexperienced (and of course teenagers) the excitement and release of rules of behaviour in play can quickly cause the level of arousal (excitement) to scale up quickly and this is what often leads to danger.

* The next time you're watching two dogs play (it's easier with just two) keep an eye out (or video and rewatch) for the following:

- How many times were 'bites' delivered using a soft mouth?

- How many times did the bigger or stronger dog lie down and let the smaller one jump on them?

- I would add: How many times did roles swap?  (ie the dogs take turns being chased or rolling or whatever)

* What you want to watch for is for when self-handicapping starts to break down (often due to level of arousal).

How do you tell when things are heading towards a fight or aggression?

* The key question you should be asking is not 'Is this bothering me? ' but rather 'Is this bothering either of the dogs?'

* Watch the dogs and consider:

- Was that last 'play bite' a bit too hard or too long?

- Did the bigger dog body slam the other in a way that hurt or might cause injury?

- Do they keep willingly engaging with each other or is one dog looking for an out (tree to hide behind, exit from the space etc)?

- Do you see lots of 'play bows' (these behaviours are thought to mean that everything that follows is just in fun and not to be taken seriously)?

- Do you see lots of time outs where both dogs stop moving? Something like move, stop, move, stop, move with the pauses lasting only seconds when dog's first meet and then becoming longer as they become more comfortable.

- Are the dog's vocalisations changing - becoming rapid, higher or lower?

- Are their actions becoming more intense, jerkier and less self-handicapped?

My advice would be:

* Interrupt any play session (between dogs or people) regularly to check that everyone is still under control.  You can do this by asking your dog to do something like sit or come to you. If they comply then they are still showing self control and should be immediately released back to play (which in itself becomes a major reward for listening to you and doing what you ask).  Interrupt quite quickly and before things escalate to start with and then as you get to know the level of your dog's arousal and how much self control they have you can extend the time. 

* If at any stage you get that feeling in the gut, uneasy sense or the hair on the back of your head stands up act immediately and remove your dog from the situation.  Reassess what was happening and next time cut it off before this level.

More posts on play and body language will follow throughout the year.

For more information on Patricia McConnell, her books and advice on dog behaviour and training check out and

30 April 2010

Third Time Lucky for Ashley

We don't always have successful trials and are so relieved that Ashley has finally found her new forever home. She was surrendered by her owners (where she had not been treated well) and showed us her beautiful sweet nature in foster care so we decided on a lovely new home for her. Her first trial was with a couple on a property with stock and she thought it was great fun to play with the other animals, so understandably came back to us! Her second trial did not go well at all. We were very disappointed and were worried that the experience may have set her back too much to be re-homed before coming back into foster care. However the perfect home for her came up so we took the plunge and sent her straight there.  Here are comments from her new family:

I just wanted to give you an update on Ashley now that she's been part of our family for 5 days.

When Poppie died I really didn't think I would ever want another dog, she was just so lovely. C and the boys were really keen for a new dog and finally I agreed and we started looking. I don't know how you were able to pick such a perfect dog for us just through our application. The minute C brought her home from the airport I fell in love and she has been absolutely fantastic ever since.

On Sunday she went on her first proper outing to our middle son E's football match and once I had some help from another parent with her "gentle leader" she was absolutely great - before that she spent the whole time trying to take me for a walk and a little bit of time on the footy field while the players madly tried to grab her lead!

This morning she had to go to school to meet all the Grade 3 kids in W's class, she was amazing as they all came up one by one to give her a pat.

I'm looking at her now fast asleep in her bed surrounded by soft toys from the boys and can't believe how lucky we are that she's come to live with us.

Thank you so much, it's hard to put in writing how grateful we are and how much we all love her. 
Thank you for giving Ashley her perfect new home, we're all thrilled for sweet natured Ash :-)

26 April 2010

Web Resources for Children

This is one of many dog ownership tips I'd like to share with you under the name 'Paws for Thought' written by a friend at work, posted here with her permission. Please note that these posts are written by a dog lover learning more every day and happy to share. They are intended to give you options and ideas to think about. They do not replace the help of a professional (such as a vet, behaviourist, trainer or lawyer). Posts can be shared with others as long as you make sure that any references contained within the post remain with the post and please do not take chunks out of context. Preference is definitely for the whole post to be shared rather than pieces.

In previous posts about children and dogs it’s been mentioned that it is ideal for your children to learn as much as they can about dogs and how to treat them respectfully and be safe without necessarily doing it hands on with a dog (for both the child’s and the dogs sake). One option for engaging and educating children is the use of games, puzzles and other activities. There are a range of these available on the web (of varying quality) but here are just a few to start with.

Here are some of the web resources available to help children to learn more about dogs, and have some fun at the same time.

The UK Kennel Club has a site for children including Sasha’s 20 Paw Plan for Safety ( which can then lead to testing your child’s knowledge through the Safe and Sound Safety Factor Challenge ( In this game primary age children get to make decisions in about 10 different scenarios. Their decisions earn them bite marks or safety stars. If they can get through with no bite marks then they can print of a certificate.

The QLD Government has a website called ‘Kids Help An Animal Smile’  ( which includes all sorts of crosswords, posters, games, animal care tips and more. Check out the caring for Dougal Dog Quiz under the games link. It has three levels of play to select from and a wide range of questions testing your child’s (and your)
knowledge of dogs and their care.

The Victorian Government has a Responsible Pet Ownership website for primary schools with lots of information, activities and games. Check out

RSPCA Australia has a World of Animal Welfare site at with lots of animal related information and activities.

You can also check out The Frontline Flea Run game at where you get to chase pesky fleas with Frontline pipettes – well at the very least it will teach computing skills and timing : )

Other sites that might be of interest to you and your child include:

McGruff’s website at with a wide range of games of different levels of difficulty.

Clifford the big red dog site at

And of course the National Geographic website (

Of course parents should check out the sites for suitability before letting their children spend time there – as with any website.

Lacey is off to a great start!

This gorgeous young girl flew to South Australia to join her new family with a black Lab, her new big 'brother'.

...well she arrived safe and sound. She is beautful. She wanted to ride up front with me the whole way home.

...they are both running around like crazy and are soaking wet from swimming around in the pool.

Coffee and 'sit and watch time' now.

Lucky Lacey!

30 March 2010

Whitley (now Sam) is Blossoming!

Here is a photo of our boy just returned from one of his daily morning walks. If the smile is an indicator, I think he enjoyed it!

Here he is again playing with a ball in the back yard.

Sam, exhausted after a trip to the beach with his two new mates Coby and Hamish (Labradors)

Thanks for all your help again. We have a very happy hound and he is enriching our lives every day.
Sam was fortunate to join a family who called out a dog behaviourist the day after they brought him home. Starting out on the right foot! We were very impressed! Thank you!
Looks like you are reaping the benefits, as is your darling Sam :-)

Bobby is a Very Happy Boy

Hello all at Lab Rescue,

Just to let you know that Bobby is settling in well and adapting well to his new life. I walked him up to the primary school the other day and he loved all the attention from the kid's class mates.

I've attached a few pics of him in our house and backyard; he is a very happy boy indeed.

Just Beautiful !

Chocolate Bubba

This gorgeous baby girl is coming to join us on Thursday. Carole's son has chosen the name Java for her (thank you!). She is responding really well to some TLC in care.  She's had a bit of a rough start but her coat is starting to shine and she's now go, go, go! Can't wait to meet her :-).

26 March 2010

Update On Our Gorgeous Cindy

Hi everyone

Just wanted to update you on Cindy. We picked her up yesterday afternoon and we're in love already! She is such a gentle old sweetheart. It feels like she's always been around. We've been on a few gentle strolls and she's loving them. Our daughter, A, is totally crazy about her and tells anyone who will listen 'Cindy is a good girl'. Here's a photo of the two of them.

At J's suggestion we've put artificial grass on the back steps and she's having no trouble at all with them. In fact, it's even helped our Bichon, who's always been a bit tentative going up the steps.

Thanks so much for everything. We're loving our new family addition!

23 March 2010

Holly at the beach

Dear Lab Rescue Team

A big thank you to all those who have contributed towards Holly's cruciate ligament surgery, we are now passed the half way mark and I can go ahead and book a date for her surgery after Easter.

While the recovery time will be difficult for her, the final result will make such a difference to Holly's life. This girl is overweight, partly because she is a lab and eats anything and everything (dog food, cat food, horse food, chook food and failing that there is always a bit of horse or chook manure for the taking, or a bit of rotting kangaroo bone ), but also because she has continual discomfort and is unable to exercise fully.

Holly had a terrible start in life, she still bears the scar of a cigarette burn on one ear and it seems that the cruciate ligament injury could also have been the result of violence, but she has such a strong and forgiving character that, with the help of Lab Rescue, she has made an amazing recovery. As you can see in her photo she is happy, affectionate and friendly and loves life.

So thank you all who have contributed to make this surgery possible, we will keep you posted on her recovery.

08 March 2010

Volunteer Call - Thank You

We have had a volunteer step forward who is able to set aside 2 hours per week to help us keep foster carers supplied with a little starter kit for new dogs.
Thank you!

Our cute little foster Mad Max having a cuddle :-)

06 March 2010

Another Bubba

There's another baby boy coming to stay with us :-)

We have a very generous transport volunteer bringing him from Wagga to Canberra this afternoon who's help we greatly value.

The kids are thinking up names, any ideas?

Inundated with Golden Oldies!

Older dogs are often much more challenging to re-home. We were really excited and relieved that a suitable home came up for Maxine, they're meeting this weekend! Phew, but wait, can you believe it ...
we now have a few more ...

9 yo Buster surrendered to us in Sydney

10 yo Cindy rescued from a Sydney Pound

and we've just had an enquiry to surrender a 10 yo boy in Canberra

and we're still looking for a wonderful new home for our gorgeous 8 yo Zac!

Please help spread the word if you know people who are willing to give the golden oldies a loving home during their twilight years.  They'll be up on the website soon.

05 March 2010

Thrilled for Holly

Thank you :-)
Your generosity is very heartening.
We've already received $220 in donations for Holly!!!
Her amazed owners are so grateful and relieved and will be booking her in for the operation very soon.
We'll be sharing regular updates on Holly's progress here, so look forward to your company on her journey to a pain free, trauma free future.