Are you trying to train your dog, but find yourself at a loss? Take a look at our basic Labrador training tips to remember below!
Basic Labrador Training Tips to Remember
Labradors are one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world! They are commonly used for advanced service tasks, make fantastic family companions, and are one of the most trainable dog breeds you’ll ever know.
#1. Socialize Your Labrador Puppy!
If you ever perform any kind of training at all (with the exception of perhaps potty training), this could be the most important! Great socialization is integral for a puppy’s psychological development.
Whether or not you socialize your puppy could be the difference between an aggressive, fearful and anxious adult, or a happy, well behaved, confident and social companion who loves to interact with other people and animals alike!
Socialization is exactly what the word implies. You are teaching your puppy to gladly accept other animals (i.e. cats and other dogs), people, children and strangers, and all types of environments.
If not begun during puppyhood, this can become much more difficult during adulthood. Beginning to socialize a puppy between 12-16 weeks and onward is always recommended!
- Never separate a puppy from mother and littermates prior to 6 weeks at the earliest. Most professionals recommend 8 weeks. Puppies learn vital social skills from littermates, and a pup separated too early could face developmental issues.
#2. Positive, Reward-Based Training Methods
Those are key Labrador training tips! At one time not so long ago, “heavy-handed” punishment-based dog training techniques were recommended.
The trainer needed to show he was the master, the “Alpha,” and the leader of the pack. These methods were often uncomfortable for the dog, even painful and sometimes frightening.
The idea was simple. Dogs have a strong instinct for self-preservation, so they would quickly learn to obey to avoid anything uncomfortable. These methods usually worked, but not always without consequences.
The dog could grow to fear his handler. Many animals would become aggressive, antisocial, fearful, and sometimes even attack the handler out of defense.
Labrador training tips – Reinforce with Rewards, Not Punishments
Reward-based training techniques are recommended by nearly every professional today! You want to reinforce your training by rewarding your dog for a job well done. You want your dog to want to work for you, not fear the outcome if he does not!
This type of positive reinforcement training creates a happy dog in a safe, pleasurable environment. It’s also perfect for the pet-owner bond!
#3. Be Consistent and Organized!
Consistency is the backbone of dog training! Because we can’t speak to our dogs as a human teacher would to children, we have to be ever more perfect in our training.
Imagine young children learning to spell. All of the sudden, the instructor they’ve had for the majority of this year is replaced by a new instructor. The children would become confused if they were told something is actually spelt differently by this new instructor, and they would now have to learn this new spelling.
Any educator will tell you consistency is important when trying to teach a young child something new, just like it is for dogs!
You’ll need to find a correct training method that works for you and your dog, and stick to it! Unless you are already an experienced trainer and know what you are doing, switching up your techniques halfway through can be confusing to a dog. The learning process can take longer.
Now, let’s use potty training as an example. A good trainer will correct every “accident” their puppy has by swiftly running the little one outside and allowing him to finish. The trainer will then reward the puppy for eliminating outdoors, even if the accident began inside.
What if the handler only caught an accident occasionally? What if the dog was allowed to eliminate indoors ⅓ of the time? This puppy might learn it is acceptable to eliminate indoors if he didn’t want to wait. The potty-training process will take longer.
Border training is another splendid example. If you are teaching a dog to avoid a room like a kitchen, you can’t let your dog in the kitchen part of the time while not the other. It needs to be full-time avoidance.
The same is true for furniture. You cannot allow your dog on the couch part of the day and expect him to stay off of it the rest.
If you are trying to train your Labrador not to jump on company, it needs to be all company. Your dog could become confused if that one neighbour visits often and encourages the jumping behaviour.
#4. Short, Interesting, Fun Training Sessions
Any dog owner will tell you their dog has a short attention span! Our dogs are also easily distracted (which will be our next tip). Imagine the worst case of ADHD you’ve seen in a child and amplify that!
You want to keep your training sessions short because dogs can lose focus easily. Try to keep training limited to perhaps 15 minutes a day, and change up your training frequently. Don’t break your consistency, but rather switch from one task to another.
Train Indoors/ Limit Distractions
The great outdoors can become very distracting for a dog! You’ve got so many interesting things going on. All of the amazing sights and sounds can feel overwhelming!
Unless the type of training you’re doing requires you to be outdoors, begin inside. You can control and vastly limit any distractions inside. This helps ensure your pet’s attention is squarely focused on you!
Make it a Game!
Your training has the best chance for success if it is fun! You want training activities to be engaging and entertaining. Your dog is much more likely to learn he is enjoying himself.
- Instead of offering a simple treat as a reward, offer a game of rope tug (or both)!
- Make sure the outcome is rewarding!
- Be enthusiastic and engaging yourself!
#5. Learn to Read Canine Body Language, & Use Visual Cues
Labradors are highly intelligent! Though your Lab will be able to pick up on basic words and phrases, he can’t string together complex sentences. He’ll be much more adept at reading visual cues!
This isn’t just important for training. You need to learn to listen to your dog and be able to tell when he is uncomfortable. This is especially important when outdoors or around other animals and strangers!
Knowing when your dog is uncomfortable can go a long way toward preventing altercations. Forcing your pet into situations he does not want to be in can also lead to problems you don’t want to deal with.
Keeping your cool and avoiding frustrations will be much easier if you maintain realistic expectations for your Labrador! Though this is a highly intelligent dog breed, it’s still a dog. Your lab isn’t capable of a human level of comprehension and understanding.
It is going to take time for your pet to catch on to your training. In truth, how much time always depends on you as the trainer, your training experience, and your ability to train. So, it’s probably on your dog isn’t forming the associations you want him to.
What are you doing wrong, and how can you improve?
#7. Research Canine Behavior!
Do you want to know possibly the second most important Labrador training tip to remember, after socialization? This might even be the most important rule, depending on how you look at it.
Research! Read! Do your homework!
Read about canine psychology. Learn why a dog does the things he does, and what drives him. Research various training methods and ask yourself why they work. Why are they recommended over others?
Once you understand a dog’s psychology and social behaviour, there will not be any need for training lists like this one! You’ll truly understand your dog and be able to create your own training methods.
You’ll probably use existing methods you’ve read about because they work, but you’ll understand why they work. It will also become much easier to understand and follow these principles.
Complex terms will sound simple and become second nature, like:
You are desensitizing your dog to something possibly uncomfortable. Crate training is a very popular example! We slowly desensitize our puppies to the crate over time, rather than immediately crating for long hours. This way, we’re able to avoid separation anxiety.
This is the process of changing a dog’s reactions or feelings toward a disliked environmental situation, setting, or individual from negative to positive. You will gradually expose the dog to small amounts of the disliked thing while pairing it with something that is liked.
This is another word for a dog’s ability to control his bite pressure. Human skin is more delicate than a dog’s hide, and you want your dog to understand this! Bite inhibition training is usually begun with a young puppy!
Labrador training tips – Positive Reinforcement is Crucial!
In psychological terms, the “positive” simply means something is added. It isn’t necessarily good or bad, though most positive trainers will use rewards.
“Reinforcement” means exactly the way it sounds but is one of the most important things in dog training!
This is one of the most important Labrador training tips we can ever highlight! You always want to reinforce your training methods.
A good example of positive reinforcement would be: The child calls his dog by his side. The dog returns. The child hands the dog a treat (positive= addition of the treat) to reinforce the returning behaviour.