Tips to Make Labrador Training Easy

When it comes to training dogs, each breed has different characteristics, and some are much easier to train than others. When it comes to labrador training, you’re in luck – labrador retrievers are one of the easiest breeds of dog to train. Labradors are notoriously friendly, intelligent and easy to care for, and not surprisingly they are the most common breed of pet dog in households in the United States. But training any kind of dog can be more complicated and time-consuming than it appears at first. The following article can help you to understand all the steps you need to take to make training your pet as easy as possible.

It’s the responsibility of every pet owner to teach their dog the appropriate rules and boundaries in order to successfully live in their human family. The difference between owning a well-trained dog and an untrained dog is enormous, and in order to live a harmonious and stress-free life with your lab, you’ll need to invest your time and/or money into training.

While there are many different schools and methodologies of dog training and various theories behind them, essentially all agree that basic dog obedience training is essential for your pet to live a well-balanced and fulfilling life in the human world.
 

Why Good Training is Essential to a Dog’s Well-Being

Everyone wants their dog to be obedient, well-trained, and to consistently observe the rules of the household. As the old saying goes, a well-trained dog is a happy dog. An untrained dog can wreck havoc on any home, engaging in destructive chewing or digging, regularly begging for food and pulling on his leash, which can cause walks to be very frustrating. This often results in dog owners simply crating their dog without attempting to train the dog in the appropriate ways of behaving so he can live a more fulfilling and engaged life with the family.

Life with a well-trained labrador can be a joy from beginning to end. A well-trained dog will wait politely for food, will walk on a leash without tugging or lurching ahead, and won’t go completely wild when off-leash. A well-trained dog can be taken just about anywhere, to parks, restaurants, cafes, to friends and neighbors houses without any behavior problems.

But, unfortunately, no dog knows how to train himself. A canine’s natural instincts will cause all kinds of undesirable behaviors while living in the human world, and so it’s the responsibility of every pet owner to make sure their dog knows how to behave in all places and situations.

labrador-training

Essentially, training a dog involves two aspects: teaching your dog what behaviors you want him to do (e.g. sitting and waiting for food to be served, waiting at the door to be let out) and correcting behaviors that you don’t want (e.g. chewing on furniture, barking when someone is at the front door).

Also, a well-trained dog will be less like to become injured or have an accident because a human guardian will always be in control to keep the dog out of harms way.
 

Getting Started with Training a Lab

Dog’s don’t process information or learn in the same way that humans do, and this can cause a great deal of confusion, especially if you’ve been unsuccessful in trying to correct your pet’s unwanted behavior. Essentially, in a dog’s mind, he will want to repeat an action that resulted in a positive reward, whether that’s food or a toy or affection, and he will want to avoid an action that resulted in a negative response.

This is crucial for training, because the trainer can immediately reward a dog for performing the desired action, whether that’s to sit on the command “sit” or to wait when a door is opened until the command “okay” is said before running outside.

Labrador retrievers quickly learn to associate their actions with the result, so in order to make training effective you must immediately praise and reward your pet for the desired behavior and repeat this consistently until the behavior is automatic.

chocolate lab

The Different Schools of Dog Training

Classical Conditioning

Essentially, classical conditioning is a dog learning to associate certain actions and events with certain results (for example, if you always pick up your dog’s leash from a certain place before taking him out for a walk, he can learn to associate that action with going for a walk and become excited every time you go and get the leash). In terms of training a lab, this theory is fairly basic and old-fashioned and isn’t used by most modern trainers.
 

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning is a term to describe when a dog learns to perform a certain behavior with the expectation of a reward and to avoid a certain behavior because of the negative consequences. Essentially, trainers use this to correct unwanted behaviors by punishing them and have the animal repeat good behaviors by rewarding them. The punishments recommended by this training methodology are often criticized as being inhumane and unnecessary by modern dog trainers.
 

Traditional Training

So-called traditional training is based on observations and studies of wolf packs and trainers who use this method make use of physical punishment and coercion to simulate the behavior of wild wolves. This method uses the theory of a hierarchal pack to create dominance over the animal by being the “alpha”. This school of dog training has been widely criticized in recent years as the result of more in-depth studies of wolf packs, which have created new findings that contradict the traditionally held beliefs.
 

black labrador retrieverModern Science-Based Training

Modern science-based training, as the name implies, is a new methodology based on recent scientific research into dog’s behavior, habits, and reactions to different stimuli. Different trainers have their own methods and techniques, but most agree that traditional dominance-based training is obsolete and inhumane and aim to find more humane and reliable ways of training today’s household pets.
 

Positive Reinforcement Training

One of the most popular schools of dog training today, positive reinforcement focuses on only rewarding positive behavior and ignoring unwanted behavior or trying to change it into a positive action. This method can be highly effective for teaching dogs tricks and complex commands, providing they have already been put through basic obedience training and are house-trained.
 

House Training (AKA House Breaking)

It’s absolutely crucial that your labrador be trained to only eliminate outside the house. You should begin this at the earliest age possible, although very young puppies won’t be able to hold their bladders for very long. There are various methods of house training, but one of the most common is teaching a puppy crate training inside the house and when he has mastered that progressing outside. Essentially, you want to gradually teach your dog that eliminating inside is not okay and to wait until you let them out at certain times of the day. Routine and consistency are crucial here. Most puppies should be fully house trained by the age of about six months, although this can vary.
 

How to Train a Puppy

The earlier you start to train your puppy, the easier your entire life with your pet will be. It’s a good idea to begin training your new puppy with very short sessions as soon as he arrives in your home. One way to think about dog training is – every moment you are with your dog you are training him. You are your puppy’s new mother, trainer, leader and guardian, and it’s wise to start showing your new puppy the best ways to behave as soon as possible.

good dog training for puppies

However, you definitely want to be very gentle with puppies and give them plenty of time to just play and explore while you supervise. Think of training a puppy as being similar to having a baby, so you want to be compassionate and understanding. You can start to teach basic commands, begin on crate training and start to get your puppy accustomed to wearing a collar and walking on a leash, but anything more advanced than that will have to wait until your pet is at least six months old. You can also teach your puppy to know and recognize his name by using it as a command to get his attention.
 

Crates Can Help Training, But Be Careful

Crate training is generally a good thing, but do not use a crate to punish your Labrador. Many dog owners sometimes feel that a crate should be used for discipline, but punishing your dog with a crate results in him associating it with negative events. A crate should be a safe, comfortable and quiet place for your dog to relax. By training your dog to think of his crate as a safe haven, it can become a place your dog loves to go to relax or to get away from the chaos of the house for a while.

Using a crate isn’t cruel at all, and can be one of the most effective ways to train a puppy. To begin with, you want to only use the crate in very short sessions and gradually increase the duration. This will help your dog to become accustomed to being in the crate and help him to learn that there is no danger to being confined Make sure the crate you purchase is large enough to accommodate your dog, and put in a soft flooring, water and one or two of your dog’s favorite toys to make it comfortable. Transporting your dog in a crate while inside of a car is also much safer than having him travel on one of the seats.

 

Obedience Training

Whether you have a chocolate lab or a black lab or any other breed of dog, basic obedience training is absolutely essential. You’ll need to teach your dog the basic commands of sitstaydownwait, and probably the most important come. There are many different ways of teaching these commands, but one of the most effective ways is to use a treat or your dog’s favorite toy as a reward (whichever he prefers). You should only give the reward when your lab performs the command in the right way, and make sure you are consistent. It can be confusing for a dog and cause training to take much longer if the rewards you give are inconsistent.

black lab

Using Treats, Clickers and Other Training Tools

We all know that dogs love food, and using dog training treats can be one of the best ways to teach your pet. If your dog associates performing a certain action with a tasty reward, he will definitely want to repeat that action. Treats such as small pieces of meat or store-bought dog food can be used as a positive reward when your dog correctly performs the desired behavior, and can be one of the best ways to teach commands like “sit” and “wait”. Also, using food rewards will make training much more fun for your dog!

These treats are not bribes, but are rewards for good behavior and for performing the desired actions. By consistently repeating training with treats you can wean your dog off the food reward and eventually he will perform the action on command without any reward.

Another highly effective training tool is a clicker, a small hand-held device that makes a click when you press a button. Used for training many different kinds of animals, including horses and hamsters, clickers work like this: when your dog performs the desired behavior you simultaneously make a click with the clicker. Over time your pet learns to associate the action with the click and therefore reinforces the behavior so it is repeated.

There are many other training tools such as electronic collars, invisible outdoor fences and even automatic treat dispensers, but these probably won’t be necessary to put your labrador through the most basic stages of training.
 

Don’t Forget to Give Your Labrador Attention and Affection

In addition to all the training, don’t forget to give your pet a lot of attention, affection and time to play. Dogs who don’t receive love and affection from their human family can become anxious and fearful. You will have to dedicate plenty of time time to playing with your dog. Labradors crave love and attention, and you need to spend plenty of “quality” time with them, including playing with them inside, outdoor games such as frisbee and catch, teaching them tricks and possibly even other activities such as hiking and swimming. One time-saving tip to make sure you always have enough training time and play time is to always schedule a training session at the same time every day, and then schedule play time after each training session.

dog barking

 

Resolving Behavior Problems

Labradors do love to bark, and they do so in more than just communicative ways. Sometimes they get spooked and are anxious about what may be outside. In order to curb this, make sure that you are patient and correct the behavior by showing them that not barking is the behavior you want. Most dogs only bark because they simply don’t understand that their owners want them to be quiet. Every time they are quiet, reward them with praise, food or their favorite toy. If they do bark, you can choose to ignore it or give your dog a “negative” consequence, such as a sharp loud “NO”. Over time, they’ll come to associate the behavior you want (not barking) with the reward and will automatically behave that way.

Many other behavior problems can develop, such as destructive chewing, digging and even aggression. Unless you are experienced at training dogs yourself, it’s a good idea to get a professional to help you to resolve these problems. Usually, it’s simply a case of the dog not knowing what the correct behavior is and needing to be shown in a way he can understand.

 

When To Hire A Trainer

If you’re not seeing a great deal of progress by training your lab on your own, or you don’t have a lot of free time, you may need to look into hiring a professional dog trainer. Hiring a trainer is going to help you not only speed up the entire process, but can also be invaluable for helping to resolve any behavior problems that may have arisen and to give you the tools to stop any future problems before they escalate.

There are good dog trainers in most parts of the world, and each will have a unique way of working. Before deciding to work with any trainer it’s a good idea to look for independent reviews and to see the results they produce – i.e. look at some of the dogs they’ve trained to see how effective their methods are.

Not everyone will need a professional canine trainer, but labrador training can be tough and take a great deal of time so don’t dismiss the possibility offhand.

labradors are one of the best pet dog breeds

In Conclusion

Good dog training can completely change your life with lab, and can help you to bond with your dog and create many happy and fun memories together. In the long term, it’s definitely worth investing the time and energy into making sure your furry friend has been given the training he needs to have a happy and fulfilling life with his human family. A well-trained dog can be taken just about anywhere and will be a joy to spend time with in any situation.


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