|Training & Commands
Lab puppies crave human affection and thrive on attention. This personality trait coupled with their high intelligence lend well to easy training. Labradors grow to be very strong physically and equally head strong dogs. It is very important to be firm from the beginning.
Labradors are stomach driven. A small treat and a kind word is all a Labrador puppy needs as an incentive to learn. Generally three days of repetitive training will yield results. Repeat until the lesson is learned and repeat it often.
Consistency is the key. Don’t give your puppy mixed signals. Everyone who will interact with the puppy needs to understand the importance of the puppy rules and needs to consistently enforce them. Labradors grow to be very physically strong and very head strong dogs. It is very important to be firm with your lab from the beginning. You need to always remember that you should never accept any type of behavior from your new puppy that you would not find acceptable in a grown dog.
The second most important word in a puppy’s vocabulary (after his own name) is NO. This can be said without raising your voice but in a gruff manner. Puppies are quite sensitive and will quickly pick up on the displeasure in your voice. Since Labradors are so eager to please, they will soon learn not to do whatever it is that causes you to speak in this way.
A Labrador will develop an extensive vocabulary if they hear the same simple words over and over. You as the puppy’s new master will need to spend some time in planning what words are important to your new puppy. Think of the things you will want your dog to do with your family and in your daily life and build your list of words around that. These words will need to be shared with everyone in the dog’s life so that they understand what you are asking of them. A good example of this is the word “load” for my dogs. Both of my dogs understand this word and the minute it is said they load into the back seat of either my car or pickup. They also know “unload.”
Leash training and sitting on command are the two first and most important behaviors to teach:
You will need a leash trained puppy to contain them in dangerous situations. Don’t think you can just put a leash on a puppy and off you go. My youngest dog, Lucille, was the funniest thing when I put a leash on her for the first time. She lay down on her belly on the sidewalk with all four feet straight out and I couldn’t even tempt her with a treat. In a case like this you need to put the lease on them and let them drag it around the house or the yard until they get used to it.(Please watch them while they do this) Never let the puppy be the commander of the lease. They should not be allowed to pull against it. Use your gruff NO every time they pull. You do not want an 85 lb dog pulling you around the block.
The command sit is important in order to keep your overly friendly Labrador from jumping on unsuspecting people. Just because you love your dog all over you does not mean other people do. Some people are very afraid of dogs and a jumping licking Labrador will scare them to death.
Some people think it is cruel to crate train a dog. Labrador puppies do well with crate training. Labradors, like humans, love their own space. The crate should be plenty large, kept clean at all times, and be comfortable. Puppies will learn to go to their crates without being told. Crates are wonderful containment when you must be away from home or do not have the time to watch or play with your puppy.
House training your new puppy takes patience and a very watchful eye. Most puppies need to make a trip outside 5 minutes after eating and 5 minutes after waking up. You must be constantly attentive to your puppy and realize that he has a small bladder and must go out often. The puppy’s failure is probably your fault.
When your puppy is successful at doing his outside business give a great deal of praise.
Always take your puppy outside to the bathroom immediately before bedtime and within 5 minutes of waking up.
My daughter read somewhere that you could teach a Labrador puppy to go to the bathroom on command. When my youngest dog was a small puppy I started saying Go Girl to her every time she went to the bathroom. Now when I take her outside I give that command and she uses the bathroom. This has been one of the most valuable things I have ever taught my lab to do.
Unless you catch a puppy in the act of going to the bathroom never punish them. They do not know what you are mad about unless you catch them in the act. If you catch them mid stream say NO in a gruff voice and immediately carry them outside. Under no circumstances spank them. You’ll just cause them to urinate on you because they will be so upset.
It is never too soon to teach your puppy to travel with you. They should be contained in the car but should go often. They make wonderful padded harnesses that snap into the seat belts. Never pass up an opportunity to take your Lab but never leave them in the car on a hot day. If your puppy gets car sick then take something to protect your car and to clean up the car. The only way to get them over car sickness is for them to travel often.