Congratulations! You have brought home a new Labrador puppy. You are feeling like a proud parent and your heart is bursting with love. “How can something be so damn durable?”, is a question you keep asking yourself day in and out. You promise yourself to be the best dog parent and ensure that your puppy is always happy, and healthy.
You took the pup to a vet for a general checkup. The bags of dog food are ready. You’ve brought your puppy amazing toys. You have also played with your puppy to the point that the Labrador puppy is tired and snoozing. However, is this all you have to do as a good dog parent? Where is the training?
If you are bringing home a Labrador puppy, you need to start the training process the moment the puppy enters your home. Most likely, you will be adopting a Labrador puppy at around 8 weeks of age. This is a ripe age to start training. The day the puppy comes home, you should start the training process immediately. This will prevent bad behaviors from setting in and help the puppy adjust to your house easily. This will also establish a bond between you and the pup. Overtime the love and mutual respect will continue to grow. Therefore, never undermined the importance of dog training.
Dogs are like kids. Or rather, dogs are like toddlers who never grow up. If you do not train them, you cannot expect them to behave well. Thus, as a responsible dog parent, it falls on your shoulder that you raise a well-behaved pup. In this article, I will be discussing tips for easily training a Labrador puppy.
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Labrador puppy training
To start and successfully train your Labrador puppy, you will need certain tools. As I mentioned before, training starts the moment your dog enters your home. Since puppies have a very short attention span, you have to be proactive and train your puppy, when he decides to offer his attention to you. The advantage of training puppies is that they are very fast learners. Even if their attention span is short, you can teach them a lot in a short span of time. However, this does not mean that you teach your dog a whole bunch of tricks in one go. Training sessions must not go over 15 minutes, especially when training a Labrador puppy. Some of the tips and tricks mentioned here will be applicable to all dogs irrespective of the breed. Some are specific for Labradors.
Introducing your other dog to the Labrador puppy
This is applicable if you already have a dog in your house. Your dog and the Labrador puppy must feel comfortable in each other’s presence. To ensure that the meet and greet goes without a hitch, introduce the puppy and the big dog through a baby gate first. Allow them to sniff and understand each other for a few days. Once it seems that both dogs are interacting well through the gate, you can allow them to stay together for short periods of time. Eventually, you can increase the duration.
A crucial point here is to make sure that your older dog does not feel left out. Your older dog needs to understand that he is still the top dog. For this, feed the older dog first and then feed the puppy in the crate. When the two dogs are spending time together, monitor and ensure that they are not being rambunctious and that the older dog is careful not to hurt the puppy.
A lot of dog guardians do not give enough importance to socialization. However, the quicker you socialize your dogs with other dogs, the fewer chances there are of the behavioral issues setting in. Labradors are people-loving dogs. If you do not have a lot of time to spend with your dog, do not get a Labrador puppy. Getting a Labrador puppy comes with its own set of responsibilities. One of them is socializing your dog as soon as possible. Once your puppy has had the first set of vaccinations, your puppy is ready to be socialized and make friends. Take your puppy to the dog park, and allow him to make new friends. If you already have a dog in the house, then your puppy has already understood socialization cues.
Never take your puppy out to the dog park unless he has had his full set of first vaccinations. There are many dog health issues that can transmit via social interaction. Therefore, your puppy must not go out of the house till the first set of vaccinations are over
Basic training of a Labrador puppy
Once your Labrador puppy reaches home, he is given a name. However, the dog must understand that the name being called is his. If your dog does not know what his name is, there is no point in giving your dog a name. To help your dog learn his name, use treats. Stand next to your dog, and show him the treat. When your dog comes to eat the treat, say his name, press the clicker, and offer the treat. Repeat this step a few times. This way, the dog learns to associate the clicker with the treat. Now move a few steps away from your dog. Call your dog’s name. When he comes to get the treat, encourage the behavior, click the clicker and offer the treat. Continue doing this till your dog learns his name.
Puppy potty training
This is something that you need to do with dogs of all breeds. The sooner your dog is housetrained, the lesser the accidents will be in house. I have already uploaded a blog post on puppy potty training in easy steps. Check that out and start training your puppy as soon as possible.
A word of advice. During training, there will be accidents. Do not lose your patience. It’s the puppy who has to adjust to your household, your needs and requirements. It will take him time to learn the rules of the house. Do not punish the puppy if he defecates or urinates in the house.
However, if this behavior is persistent, get your pup checked by the vet. Certain underlying medical conditions can cause your dog to lose control on his bowel movement and defecate or urinate in an uncontrolled manner. Therefore, if you are noticing persistent behavioral issue, always take your Labrador puppy to the vet before you start retraining.
Earn respect from your Labrador puppy
Dogs follow those whom they respect. I am not asking you to establish yourself as the alpha of the pack. I am asking you to establish yourself as someone whom your dog will look up to when he is in trouble or confused. Dogs most often respect those who are their immediate or primary care providers. Make sure that you are in that role. You should be the one giving your dog food, helping with the training, teaching him good behaviors and indulging in play time. The more you play with your dog, the more your dog learns about you, your behavior, your non-verbal cues. This will make the dog training process much easier in later stages.
Crate training your Labrador puppy
I have already written a blog post on the step-by-step procedure for crate training. Check that out if you are planning to start with crate training. Many people do not understand the importance of crate training. However, this is one of the first things you should teach your dog along with sit, stay, come and recall. Helping your dog understand that the crate is his safe place can come in very handy during:
- Emergency situations
- Escaping from other dogs
Some people feel that crate training is cruel. However, crate training must be done with a lot of patience, treats etc. This training can take anywhere from a few days to over a month, depending on your dog’s comfort level. Once you have successfully trained your dog to see the crate as a safe place, Your dog will love spending time in the crate.
As I’ve mentioned countless times before, sit is the foundation of all the other dog training procedures. Therefore, your puppy must learn to sit as soon as possible. Check out my blog post on how to teach your dog to sit. Alternatively, you can also check out this YouTube video in which I have trained one of my foster kids Coco to sit.
This is a very common problem with puppies of all dog breeds. Around this time, the gums are extremely itchy. Therefore, the puppies tend to bite to relieve the itchiness. Eventually, biting van grow into a habit if not curbed at early stages. When the puppy is with the mother or other siblings, they will either bite back or give a signal to the puppy to stop biting. However, with humans, it’s a little bit harder for the puppy to understand that he should not bite. Therefore, check out my blog post on how to stop puppy nipping behavior as soon as possible
Walking on leash
Depending on whether you’re using a color or a harness, you must introduce your dog to the walking accessories. Once your dog is comfortable, start to put the leash and harness on your dog. Ensure that you are using a lot of treats. I’ve already published a blog post on how to train your dog to walk on leash. Please check that out if you’re struggling with the whole walking routine. Do not start taking your dogs on hikes in the initial few months. During the initial training phase, walks should be kept to one or two blocks around the house.
The next in the list of training your Labrador puppy is teaching recall to your dog. The recall is when you call your dog from a distance and your dog responds by coming to you. This training would be of great help if you are planning to take your dog on hikes, conduct off-leash training or even take him to dog parks. When your dog is running wild and free in an outdoor area, you call him and he immediately leaves whatever he is doing and comes back to you, you have taught your dog a good recall. Recall training should start once your puppy is around three months of age.
When teaching a Labrador puppy or puppies of any breed, it is easier to reward the behavior that they have exhibited rather than use cues to express the behavior. For example, if your puppy sits on his own, reward the behavior and encourage it. This way, you are capturing the behavior that is already being expressed.
Unfortunately, sometimes, dog parents encourage behaviors that they might regret later. For example if you do not want your puppy sitting on the couch, never allow your dog on the couch. Suppose you allow your dog during the puppyhood stages on the couch and now when the dog is grown up, you are inhibiting him from sitting on the couch. This is not acceptable. The behavior you want from your pup should be taught right from the puppyhood stages.
Start clicker training with the Labrador puppy
You can start training your dog using the clicker method. This makes it easier for the dog to understand which behavior is expected of him. Check out my post on clicker training. This will tell you the steps of the clicker training procedure and how to successfully teach your dog any trick using a clicker.
Work on patience
Dogs can be very patient creatures. However, they have to be groomed to become this way. Train the pup to be patient and not jump the moment the food bowl is put down. If it seems that the pup’s attention is entirely focused on the food, you can use the command ‘look at me’ to redirect your pup’s attention towards yourself.
During the initial phases of the pup should go for the food, once it has been put down. Eventually, you will extend the time between putting the food down and allowing the Labrador pup to eat. This will help your Labrador puppy understand how to be patient.
A few tips to help you raise the best Labrador puppy
As I have mentioned a countless number of times before, Labradors are working dog breeds. They need to work and release pent up energy. If you do not provide enough exercise to your Labrador, there is a huge chance that your Labrador puppy may become aggressive. You may wonder if puppies become aggressive. Yes, puppies can also become aggressive if they do not find a way to release all of their excessive energy. It is also hard to train your pup if he is hyper-energetic. Therefore, you must provide your Labrador puppy 20 minutes of walk regularly.
Train after walk
If you’re finding it hard to train and keep your Labrador puppy’s attention on you, you should start the training process after the walk. After walking, there is no pent-up energy in your pup. Now, the training process becomes much easier. Since their minds are not getting distracted by ten thousand different things in the immediate environment, they will be more focused on the training.
Exercise at home
If taking your dog out for a walk is not possible, it’s a rainy day or you are just too tired, make sure that you have indoor activity setups with you. This will ensure that your dog is getting exercise even without having to step outside. Check out this video to know more about how to tire your dog out when indoors.
Provide enough mental stimulation
Only providing physical stimulation is not enough. If you have a Labrador puppy, you must provide mental stimulation as well. You can practice the commands that your dog already knows, teach new commands or use the mental stimulation toys that are available both in online and offline shops. Mental stimulation is not something that should be ignored or avoided. Studies have shown that dogs who receive proper mental stimulation have lesser chances of developing dementia in their senior years.
Always use positive reinforcement for training the Labrador puppy
The moment you start using shock collars, choke collars, prong collars or any other aversive means of dog training, you will lose the respect your dog has for you. The use of aversive methods is not the right way to train any dog. Always use positive reinforcement when training your dog. Labradors are extremely food loving dogs. Therefore, you can use treats to entice and train your Labrador puppy.
One thing to watch out for is Labradors tend to become obese very easily. Therefore, you must keep an eye on the quantity of food that you are giving your pup. If you are using food for training, cut down that amount from your dog’s meal. Alternatively, you can increase the level of exercise to compensate for the level of treats you are giving your dog.
When you were born, you did not know the rules of the world. You were taught. Similarly, your Labrador puppy does not know the rules of the house or how to behave with guests. This is training that you will have to provide. Try to understand the training process from the point of your puppy. Do not train for very long and do not train if you feel distracted. If your puppy is not getting the hang of the command in the initial stages, keep repeating the procedure and use positive reinforcement. Reward every small positive behavior that your puppy displays. This way, you can keep the puppy motivated towards doing better.
Do not overcorrect
As I mentioned before, training periods should be very short. Try to keep the training as a game-time. If you put too many rules on the table, your Labrador puppy will not understand and will start to feel stressed. Thus, short and sweet is the way to go.
The most significant tip that anyone can give you is to be consistent when training a Labrador puppy. Be consistent in your commands. Do not poison the cue and do not repeat the command multiple times to get your dog to listen to you. Always reward good behavior and keep revising the commands that your dog knows to keep it fresh in his mind.
Whether you get a Labrador puppy or a puppy belonging to any other breed, proper training is your responsibility. Since Labradors are very high-energy dogs, they require more exercise, playtime and mental stimulation than some other breeds that are more laid back and generally relaxed. Training is a solution to almost all dog behavioral problems. Therefore, do not skip on the dog training process. If you do not have the time to train your dog, you can employ the help of a dog trainer. If you have to stay out of home for long hours, consider putting your dog in a doggy daycare. Sometimes dog daycares also conduct dog training programs.
Focus on the training schedule. Do not try to train your puppy before he is old enough. Once you have gone through basic training by 18 months of age, you can start with the advanced training sessions. Training is a crucial part of bonding with your pup and helping your pup understand what you need and require from him. Check out the Labrador puppy training schedule chart to know
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