Labrador retrievers regularly top the list of most popular dog breeds. These smart, social dogs are known for their amiable temperaments and their patience. Traditionally bred as hunting dogs, Labs are also among the most popular service dogs, acting as guide dogs for blind people and therapy dogs.
7 Secret training tips for a Labrador.
Labs are natural-born people pleasers. Introduce your Lab puppy to as many new people and places as possible during the early months of its life. Keep each new meeting and experience positive and upbeat. Doing this will reinforce your Lab's natural tendency to be friendly and accepting of everyone.
If you have young children in the home, be sure to socialize them to the animal as well as the reverse. Although Labs are patient and tolerant, they may still nip at a child who teases or hurts them during play. Make sure everyone knows the boundaries and rules.
Exercise Every Day
Labrador retrievers are high-energy dogs, which is part of the reason they are such great pets for active families. But if Labs aren't given sufficient exercise, they can quickly become bored. This often leads to destructive behavior and other common behavior problems, such as barking, chewing, and digging. It's also why Labs are not well-suited for apartment living; they're too big and too active.
Plan on giving your Lab an hour or more of exercise each day. Most Labs love long walks or a game of fetch. These are the perfect way to burn off your Lab's energy.
Start a Basic Obedience Program
Most Labs really love to learn. Take advantage of their innate trainability by starting an obedience program as soon as you bring your Labrador retriever home. You can work on basic obedience commands on your own, or sign up for a dog obedience class with a local dog trainer. Classes are a great way to train your Lab while socializing at the same time.
Since Labs get to be fairly large and tend to pull on the leash, make walking on a loose leash your priority. You should also teach your Lab to "come," "drop it," and "fetch," so you can take advantage of its natural tendency for retrieving.
Use Positive Reinforcement Training
Their eagerness to learn, playfulness, affectionate natures, and love of treats make Labrador retrievers fantastic candidates for positive reinforcement dog training. Reward their good behaviors with a small treat, a game, or some cuddle time with you. You'll find your Lab is soon offering you the behaviors you like with little prompting.
If you decide to use treats in your training, remember that Labs tend to become overweight. Use the smallest treats possible to reward behavior, and be sure to reduce the amount of food you're giving at mealtimes or increase exercise to compensate for the treats.
Plan on a Long Adolescence
One of Labrador retrievers' most endearing qualities is that they remain very puppy-like long after they've reached adulthood. The downside is that their energy level and tendency to get into mischief continue well into adulthood as well. Therefore, it pays to have behavior management tools handy.
Consider Service Animal Training
All of these qualities make Labs great service animals. The training to become a service animal will vary depending on what the dog will be doing; some are trained to be animal companions to sick children and adults in the hospital, while others are trained to serve as seeing-eye dogs. Others may assist people with mental illnesses, or behavioral problems.
Check the requirements for licensing and training where you live; some places have more strict rules and requirements for service dogs than others.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
Many Labrador retrievers are happiest and the most well-behaved when they have a job to do. Consider getting involved with a dog sport or training your Lab as a service animal or pet therapy dog.
- Crate train your Labrador so it doesn't have the run of the house when you're not there to supervise
- Provide your Lab with a variety of interesting toys and chews to keep it from getting bored.
- Continue practicing basic obedience commands; it reinforces your Lab's training and provides mental stimulation.
Training a Labrador to be a good house dog
Bringing home a new puppy is such an exciting moment and one you’ll never forget! Although there’s a lot to learn, one thing you’ll want to teach them as soon as they step paws into your home is house training.
You won’t have to wait long to discover that puppies pee a lot – sometimes up to 12 times a day! It’s your job to work out when they need to go outside and teach them what to do once they get there.
It will take between four to six months for your puppy to be fully house trained, but it will depend on its size, age, and ability to learn. Some puppies can be toilet trained really quickly in a few weeks, whereas it may take longer for some dogs and could be up to a year.
When considering how to toilet train a puppy you must follow these steps:
- Take your puppy to the toilet as soon as they wake up and after eating or drinking.
- Assign a toilet area, as this will help them recognize where to go.
- Once they’ve done their business, reward them with a treat and plenty of praise.
- Give them lots of opportunities to go to the toilet – at least every two hours.
- Don’t punish your puppy for accidents. This can slow progress, so keep the toilet training positive.
- Be consistent! Accidents are bound to happen, but stick to your routine and your puppy will soon be house trained.
Once you’ve established a toilet area, take your puppy there routinely to let them use it and then reward them. If they sniff around but don’t do anything, be patient… you might have to wait for a little while. If they still don’t go, bring them back inside and watch them carefully for their first five minutes. Take them outside again if you spot any warning signs of needing to go.
Potty Train a Labrador
Potty training your puppy will be easy as long as you are dedicated to setting him up to succeed. He is intelligent and easy to train.
You can begin training your Labrador Retriever puppy where to go potty and how to communicate his needs to you as soon as you bring him home.
It will take some time and repetitive training for him to connect all the dots, but he will pick it all up quickly as long as you are getting him to his potty places as soon as you can
Potty training a Labrador Retriever puppy will require you to have a potty spot set in place before training begins. You should know where you want your little Lab to go potty and avoid making changes to that spot during training.
Taking him to his potty spot consistently and on time throughout the day and night will be key to successful potty training your pup. You will need to watch the signs and signals he will give to let you know he needs to go.
Getting your Lab outside as soon as you see these signals and not letting him have an accident is crucial for conditioning your puppy to let you know he needs to go potty. There will be other times you should be taking your Labrador Retriever puppy outside immediately without waiting for him to give you the signal that he needs to go.
These times will include after meals and after waking from any sleep.
Getting Started - You will need to pay attention to your Labrador Retriever puppy for signs he needs to go potty. Also, try to be around to get him outside every few hours before accidents can occur.
You’ll need lots of treats for rewarding positive behaviors and patience, as this will take some practice and time. If you find yourself frustrated, try to catch your puppy earlier and get him outside.
There are 3 methods you use for the potty training
The Open Door Method
- Go to the door Train your Labrador Retriever puppy to go to the door he’ll use each time he needs to go outside to go potty. He can knock on this door, bark at this door, or stand at the door and wait for you to open it. Before you take your pup outside to go potty, take him to this door each time. Avoid carrying your pup outside. Set him down at the door and wait a moment before opening it to let him out.
- Time to go When it is time to let your Lab out, take him to the door and have him walk outside on his own after you open the door. Do this when he wakes from a nap or first thing in the morning as well as overnight waking to go potty.
- After eating After your Lab puppy has finished eating, take him to the door and have him wait for you to open it. You can knock on the door at his level each time and show him how to knock on it himself. Be sure to take him out to go potty after each meal.
- On the hour Depending on your Labrador Retriever puppy’s age, he should be able to hold it for an hour per month of age. Before that time is up, be sure to take him to the door to go outside. Once you are at the door together, wait a moment and then open the door to let him outside.
- Practice Be sure you are taking your Labrador Retriever puppy to the door and placing him at the door each time you need to get him outside to go potty.
- Treats Give your puppy a treat each time he makes it outside to go potty.
- Command As your Labrador Retriever is getting used to going to that door, start using a command such as "go potty" to ask him if that is what he needs. He should be able to go to the door to tell you he needs to go or if you ask using the command, he should start heading to the door on his own.
The Know Your Puppy Method
- Sleep and potty Know your Labrador Retriever puppy will need to go potty as soon as he wakes up in the morning. It is also likely he will need to go potty upon waking from naps. If your Labrador Retriever puppy is awakened and is whining, the urge to go might be what woke him.
- Meals and potty You should know your Labrador Retriever puppy will need to go potty about ten minutes after eating each of his meals. Taking him outside about five to ten minutes after his meals will set him up to going potty outside and not inside.
- Potty hours Your puppy can usually wait for one hour before going potty for every month of his age. This means if your Lab is four months old, he should be able to wait about four hours before needing to go potty.
- Overnight If you are crate training your Labrador Retriever puppy, he will whine in the middle of the night when he needs to go potty. If you are not crate training, you might want to consider keeping your puppy in a place blocked off from the rest of the house so he does not pee in the house. He should require at least one trip outside overnight for the first few months.
- Rewards Be sure to give your puppy a treat each time he goes potty outside. This positive behavior based training will condition him to head out when he needs to go and not have an accident inside.
- Practice The moment you let your guard down and aren’t watching or paying attention to your Lab puppy or if you are not letting him out after meals and upon waking or every few hours, he is likely to have more accidents. Keep on top of potty training, as exhausting as it is, and your Labrador Retriever puppy will succeed sooner.
The Potty Place Method
- Choose a place Pick an area within your yard where you will allow your Labrador Retriever to go potty. If you pick one area, you have a good chance of keeping the rest of your yard beautiful and free of dog poop or dying grass from pee spots.
- Go outside Take your puppy to the same place in your yard each time he needs to go potty. This will set him up to go to the same place when he starts to go on his own. While you are walking to the area, use words such as ‘go potty’ so he begins to connect going potty with that area.
- Know when to go Your Labrador Retriever puppy will need to be taken out to his potty area as soon as he wakes up from any nap or nighttime sleep. Do not make your pup wait. Be sure to get him outside and to his potty spot so he can go potty without having an accident. He’ll also need to go after each of his meals. Be sure to get him outside to his spot within minutes of eating so he has a chance to go when the urge hits.
- Hourly Your Labrador puppy should be able to hold it for one hour per month of age. So if you have a nine week old Labrador Retriever puppy, he should be able to wait about two hours to go potty.
- Rewards When you take your puppy to his special place and he goes potty, give him a tasty treat. Offering some enthusiasm will also get your pup excited and proud of his achievement.
- Redirect Your Labrador Retriever puppy is likely to have accidents if he is not taken outside to his special potty area on time. Be sure to watch for the signs he needs to go such as sniffing in the house or circling in an area inside. Get him outside right away to go potty. In the event your puppy has an accident, get him outside to his potty spot and try to be there earlier next time. Scolding him will be counterproductive.
leash train a Labrador
Take your dog to your chosen training location and attach the lead to his collar or harness and do the following tips.
Set off walking forwards
As soon as your dog to gets to the end of the leash (this may be almost immediately), stand still
Now wait for the dog to give you some attention.
At some point your dog will get bored with straining at the end of his leash and turn to see what is causing the hold up (see below for what to do if this doesn’t happen).
As soon as you have your dog’s attention, turn around and face the direction you have just come from, look over your shoulder and encourage your dog to come to your side.
Drop a treat just behind you for him to collect as he reaches you.
Start walking forwards (Step 1 again) as soon as he has gathered his treat from the ground.
The dog will probably then charge past you to the end of the leash. You know what to do.
STOP walking. Make like a tree.
Pause, gather your thoughts. Rinse and repeat the steps from 1 through 4.
Just remember, you can teach an old dog new tricks. And if you stay calm and patient, your Lab will get there in the end too.