Some General Training Info
for your new Labrador Retriever puppy...
House Rules for Labrador Retrievers and you !!
Before you get your new Labrador puppy home you should decide what the rules and boundaries of your home will be. What rooms is puppy allowed in? On furniture or not? Allowed on laps? Allowed to jump up? Just remember, what Labrador puppies are allowed to do a eight weeks (12 lbs.) will set the precedent for what they will want to do at four months (35 lbs.) and one year (70 lbs.) etc. Set these boundaries and stick by them. A new Lab puppy becomes very confused if these boundaries change. An olddog can learn new tricks. What is especially difficult is for a dog to "unlearn" an old habit and have to replace it with a new one (i.e. was allowed to jump up when it weighed 10 pounds , and at 50 pounds is not, or was allowed on the couch as a ten week old, but not as a six month old). Be careful, be kind. Help your new Labrador puppy understand what you want him or her to be and do as s/he gets old and bigger by keeping your expectations consistent throughout.
Nipping is an age old phenomenon of puppies and Labradors are no exception. In fact, Labrador Retrievers learn about the world through their mouth and will often nip and mouth at their families much like they play with their litter mates. This should be discouraged by everyone right from day one. A firm "enough" or "no" will usually control this behaviour. Games like encouraging your Labrador puppy to chase your hands or feet, or tug or war type games will encourage this nipping behaviour. So will swatting at the puppies muzzle or face and it won't accomplish anything. A firm voice and the removal of your hands is best. Replace your hands and feet in the puppies mouth with a rope toy, ball or other interesting toy.
Chewing on "contraband" such a shoes, baseboards, etc., etc., is going to happen with your new Labrador. What won't happen, if you do the right things, is your Lab puppy won't renovate your house. When puppy is chewing contraband say "no" firmly and replace the contraband with a toy that belongs to puppy. Rope toys are great as you can wet them and put them in the freezer for an instant teething ring. Once you give your puppy an appropriate toy to chew on, praise the pup for taking it. Most importantly, don't leave your puppy unattended outside of it's crate. When Labrador Retrievers are young they chew out of curiosity or teething. When not allowed to develop this habit, they will not grow up to be destructo-dogs.
Do not encourage barking and growling during playtime with your Labrador Retriever. This behaviour can become an obnoxious habit very quickly. If you want a Labrador Retriever that barks when people come to the door just wait. S/he will probably do this quite naturally when s/he grows up. If you do not want this, then discourage it when it starts. Do not bark and growl at your puppy during play or you will start a habit which you will regret. Labrador Retrievers are fairly quiet dogs by nature. This is part of their appeal However, as with any habit, it can be easily encourage and not easily discouraged once it starts. Please don't turn your new Labrador puppy into a neighbourhood nuisance with unwanted barking !!!
Some Labradors smile and talk. When excited and happy they wrinkle their nose up and make a growly sound. They usually have a toy in their mouth. They will wag their tail and wiggle their bodies. This is normal for Labradors and appears exactly for what it is. It should not be confused with snarling and growling however, if your Labrador should smile and talk and anyone you know is a little intimidated by dogs, warn then in advance of their visit.
It is very important to socialize your new Labrador puppy with it's food bowl and it's toys. You and all members of your family should be able to take food and toys away from your Labrador. Start this socializing immediately by putting your hands in the food bowl while your new puppy is eating. Give the puppy a toy and take it away. Repeat this often to ensure that food bowl and toy dominances do not develop. Labrador Retrievers do not typically have these dominances however, a little insurance goes a long, long way.
Yes you can train your Labrador Retriever on your own. No, we do
not recommend training your Labrador without formal obedience instruction.
It is very easy to train a Lab, however it is equally easy
to ruin one through faulty training methods.
We recommend "puppy classes" for your new Labrador puppy.
These are offered by various facilities and offer some easy obedience instruction
while helping your new Lab puppy to exist in a world of unknown
people and dogs. They are a lot of fun for Lab pups and their owners alike and sow the seeds for successful training throughout
your dog's life.
When it comes time for formal obedience training for your Labrador Retriever,
use a training facility. This way you will learn the correct way
to train, and your Labrador will learn well. At a facility
all training will occur with distractions. This is good. It
ensures that your Lab will listen to you regardless of where
you are and what is going on. This could save your dog's
life one day. Remember too, Labrador Retrievers are happiest
when you are. When they know how to make you happy (through commands),
they will repeat these behaviours readily, and in making you happy, they
are happiest. Obedience is fun and offers lifetime rewards for your
When choosing a training facility, interview them, ask what methods
they use. Food reward is a positive training tool. Strong corrections,
yelling, intimidating and berating dogs is negative (Labrador Retrievers
love positive reward). Small classes work well, large classes do
not. Ask about experience of the trainers. Ask for references.
Better yet, ask someone in your neighbourhood who has a Labrador
or another dog that appears well trained, where they went. Beware
of pop-psyche, fad, "new" or "revolutionary" training methods. Beware
of anyone holding a class in their yard, in a park, or in their really
big garage. These are not training facilities.