Training Labrador Retrievers
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2010
Are Labrador Retrievers easy to train?
Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed in the United States, so it's no surprise that I've had hundreds of them in my obedience classes.
I like seeing Labrador Retrievers in my classes because they are typically easy to train. This isn't because they are highly intelligent. In my experience, most Labs are moderately intelligent rather than highly so. But this is actually a benefit, because very smart dogs often use their intelligence to figure out ways to AVOID doing what they don't want to do, so they're often more challenging to train. So whether a dog is easy to train depends more on his willingness to please than on his intelligence – and most Labrador Retrievers are very willing to please.
The most common problem when training Labrador Retrievers is over-enthusiasm. Many Labs are much more energetic than their owners thought they would be. Young Labrador Retrievers, in particular, can be boisterous and rambunctious and you will need to focus on calming them down, calming them down, calming them down. This can take a long time, because the Labrador Retriever matures slowly. He will act like a spirited teenager for two or three years.
I had a 17-month-old black Lab in my classes named Elmo, and Elmo surely had attention deficit disorder plus hyperactivity. It was hard to keep his attention focused on anything for more than 30 seconds. He was constantly scanning with his eyes and ears and nose for something more interesting to do. And he couldn't sit still, always wanted to be in motion. Fortunately, Elmo was thoroughly good natured, so you couldn't help but love him, but training a Labrador Retriever like Elmo is certainly a challenge!
Training your Labrador Retriever can take some strength on your part, because many Labs are built like bulls, with thick powerful necks. Training a Labrador Retriever to walk on a leash without pulling may be the most challenging exercise. Training them to stop jumping on people is another one you may really need to work on. And because Labs are retrievers, they are "mouthy" dogs. Give them plenty of toys to carry around so they won't be tempted on chew on your household furniture instead.
In short, I love training Labrador Retrievers. All you really need to do is give them ample opportunities to vent their energy and enthusiasm (by providing enough exercise), then show them acceptable ways to walk on the leash and greet people....and don't forget those toys for carrying around.
So when you ask, "How easy is it – training Labrador Retrievers?" my answer is, "Usually easy to moderately easy. But it depends on the temperament and personality of the individual dog, plus your own dog training skills."
That's where I come in. Keep reading my dog training articles (and hopefully buy my book, "Teach Your Dog 100 English Words") and I will help you train your Labrador Retriever to be well-mannered and well-behaved. I've been working with dogs for 35+ years, as a dog trainer, canine psychologist, breed advisor, and author of 15 books about dogs.
Dog Training – What Works, and What Doesn't
Some dog training methods are based on what makes the OWNER feel good, rather than what on actually makes sense to the dog. For example, "positive-only" dog training is a big fad right now. Now, treats can be great motivators for training Labrador Retrievers, but if your dog will only obey for a treat, then HE is in charge of his obedience, not you. [read more]
Teach Your Labrador Retriever To Respect You
"Respect Training" is the dog training method I use and recommend for training Labrador Retrievers. I often get phone calls from distressed owners who are having trouble with their dog. Let's listen in on a phone conversation between myself and a typical dog owner (we'll call her Kathy Armstrong). Kathy: "Michele, my dog Jake is being difficult. I can't make him do anything. He only listens to me when he's in the mood." Me: "I see. Would you say Jake is behaving rudely?" Kathy (surprised): "What do you mean? How can a dog be rude?" [read more]
Teach The Right Words In The Right Ways To Your Labrador Retriever
My method of training Labrador Retrievers includes teaching specific words in specific ways so that your dog not only learns the words but also develops the respectful attitude that makes him happy to obey you. Teach your dog words and he will understand what you say. Teach those words in the right ways and he will actually DO what you say. [read more]
Solving Labrador Retriever Behavior Problems
One of the most common questions dog owners ask me is: "How can I stop my dog from (doing some specific behavior problem)?" They're hoping I'll tell them where to find a secret button on the back of their dog's head that will trigger a MISBEHAVIOR-OFF switch. :-) Alas, my answer is almost always the same, no matter what the misbehavior is. Here it is (free of charge!).... [read more]
Training Labrador Retriever Puppies
Just got a new puppy? Labrador Retriever puppy training starts the moment you bring your puppy home. If you use the wrong teaching method, your puppy will begin making decisions about how he wants YOU to fit into his life, and that's a recipe for conflict and behavior problems. Whatever he does, you must react properly or he will learn the wrong things. Here's my recommended schedule (what to teach, when to teach it) for training your Labrador Retriever puppy. [read more]
Housebreaking Your Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are typically easy to housebreak. There are two keys to housebreaking (housebreaking, potty training). Just two, but you have to get them both right. And I mean 100% right, not 50% right. Otherwise you're going to end up with a dog who is 50% potty trained, and who wants that? So here they are – your two keys to housebreaking (housebreaking, potty training).... [read more]
Socializing Your Labrador Retriever
Socializing means training your Labrador Retriever to get along politely with strangers and other animals. Labrador Retrievers typically love everyone, so the most common problem in socializing your Labrador Retriever is simply that Labs express their love with enthusiastic jumping, which often knocks over the object of their affections. Socializing Labrador Retrievers, therefore, goes hand in hand with training Labrador Retrievers to be calm. And this may be hard to believe but there ARE some aggressive Labs (toward people or other dogs), and some painfully shy ones.... [read more]
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