Choosing the Right Way to Train Your Labradors
There are many different types of dog training methods available for dogs. Some of them include:
• Confinement Training – This method involves keeping your dog inside a small area (a pen) all day and night with no human contact whatsoever. You teach your dog basic commands such as sit, down, stay, come, leave it and so on. You do not allow any other animals or children into the pen.
When your dog learns these basic commands, you begin teaching him new ones. For example, if you want your dog to go outside the pen, you teach him to get out of the pen by saying “Come here!” or “Go there!” etc.
• Socialization Training – This method involves interacting with other dogs and humans while training your dog. You interact with other dogs and humans through various ways such as playing fetch, walking on a leash, giving treats, sitting in a certain position or any other way that suits your needs.
• Reward Based Training – This method involves rewarding your dog after he/she performs some behavior. For example, you might give your dog a treat every time he goes outside the pen. Or you may reward him for doing something good like coming when called or staying put when left alone.
You then repeat the reward until the dog understands that you are rewarding him for something and then tells him what he is being rewarded for.
These are just a few examples of the types of dog training methods available.
When to Start Training a Labrador
The answer to this question is that it really doesn’t matter. You can start training your lab at any age. However, some age groups are easier to train than others.
For example, it is easier to train a lab that is 2 years old than it would be to train one that is 7.5. The age at which you start really depends on you and your schedule as well as your dog’s. If you can devote time to training your dog every day, then you should start younger. However, if you cannot handle the time commitment required to train a young one, then by all means get an older one and train it. However, older dogs tend to be harder to train than younger ones. You should also keep in mind that many breeders do not like their puppies to leave until they are at least 6 months old.
How Long Does it Take to Train a Labrador?
In theory, you can train a dog 1-5 commands in just 1 session. However, that really depends on the dog as well as the owner’s ability to train. Most books on dog training say that the average person should expect to spend about 5 minutes training their dog per day. However, this is not realistic for most people and 5 minutes is really not enough time to do it right. Most people can get a lot more done in an hour. Also keep in mind that during this hour you have to play with your dog as well. So realistically, you should plan on devoting at least 2 hours a day to training your dog. This may seem like a lot, but if you put in the time, it will be well worth it.
When Should You Start Using a Crate?
There is some controversy about when to start using a crate and what size to get. Some people say to get a crate once the dog is mature enough to control its bowels and bladder (around 6 months) and then some say to wait until the dog is older (9 months+) and some say it doesn’t matter. I believe the best time to get a crate is when you first get your dog at 8 weeks. This way, your dog will be used to it by the time he is 6 months old and can be trusted in it.
For those of you that don’t know what a crate is, it is a plastic kennel looking device that you can shut the door on. It is very useful for house training as well as general convenience and safety for your dog. You can keep your dog in it when you are at work so that it is not tempted to chew on furniture, or you can simply use it as a means of transportation.
A lot of owners put their crates in the back of their SUV’s and take their dogs everywhere in them.
Heres a picture of one.
How do I Get My Dog to Listen/Obedience Training
Once you have chosen a method of training, find out everything you can about that method. There are many books and websites out there that can help you. Also, you need to be consistent in your training.
If one day you use treats to train, the next day don’t.
Now that you have chosen a method and gathered all the information you can about it, the real work begins. Remember, patience is the key to any good relationship. Start off by getting a few of your dog’s favorite toys.
If you are just starting out your training, get 2 or 3 that your dog loves a lot. Use these toys to help you with the initial training.
Here is a step by step guide on how to properly train your dog.
Exercise and Discipline
Always make sure that the dog is getting enough exercise. Dogs that are not exercised enough are more likely to have behavioral problems such as chewing, barking and biting. Always remember to be consistent with the rules and discipline.
If one day you are letting the dog sleep in your bed with you and the next day you won’t let him, he will not know when he is going to be allowed to do these things.
To teach your dog discipline, you can try scolding him with a raised voice, ignoring him or even spanking him(using your hand or a rolled up newspaper). To avoid spoiling your dog, you must make sure that he obeys you at ALL times. This means that if you tell him to sit, he will sit.
If you tell him to lay down, he will lay down.
Once the dog has been exercised and disciplined, it is time to start the obedience training. To begin, get one of your dog’s favorite toys and use that for all of the following training sessions. Each day, add another toy until you have a whole pile of them.
This will help your dog learn that when you take a toy away, it will return with another one. Dogs are naturally scavengers and this will appeal to that instinct.
After the dog has gotten used to this, it is time to move on to step 2 of obedience training. Choose ONE command for your dog to obey. The most common ones are sit, down, stand, stay and leave it.
Pick one of these commands, but make sure you are consistent in its use.
During this step of training, it is very important to have a high value treat that you can give to the dog. These treats could be anything from a piece of hamburger to some cheese. The dog needs something that will really pique his interest.
Make sure that whatever it is, it is cut into very small pieces to make many treats out of it.
After you have your dog’s favorite treat, it is time to begin the obedience training. When you begin, make the command very easy. For instance, if you are teaching the dog to sit, just hold out your hand in front of his head while he is standing and say the command “sit.” Most likely, the dog will sit down because he sees your hand.
At this point, immediately give him the treat and praise him highly. After about 5 repetitions of this, try demanding the command without the hand gesture. If the dog obeys, give him the treat and praise him. If he does not obey, withhold the treat and try again. Once he is able to follow this command without any help from you, move on to the next step.
Add another command. Now that your dog can obey one command, it is time to teach him another one. Pick a different command from the list above and follow the same pattern as before.
Make sure that you are alternating which command you are teaching. For instance, if you are teaching the dog to sit on Monday, teach him to down on Tuesday, teach him to stand on Wednesday, and teach him to leave it on Thursday. By varying which command you are teaching, you will avoid confusing the dog.
After your dog has learned 3 commands in total, it is time to teach him to follow multiple commands. For this step, select a command that the dog knows such as “sit.” Now, take another treat and put it right in front of the dog’s nose but do not let him have it.
Tell the dog “sit” and when he does, immediately give him the treat you have in your hand and praise him. After about 5 times of doing this, try telling him “sit” without putting a treat in front of his nose. If he obeys, lavish him with praise and give him a treat. If he does not obey, continue to practice this until he can obey the command without the aid of a treat in your hand.
Once your dog can follow the commands you are giving him 80% of the time, it is time to move on to the next step.
As I have said previously, this system is far from perfect but it should serve its purpose if you are patient and persistent. I would also like to state that this method may not work on all dogs, but if you try it, I am sure that you will see results. Good luck!
Check out the Pet Confinement System for help with training.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Dog training methods: their use, effectiveness and interaction with behaviour and welfare (EF Hiby, NJ Rooney… – … -POTTERS BAR THEN …, 2004 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org)
- Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability (NJ Rooney, S Cowan – Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2011 – Elsevier)
- Labrador Retrievers for Dummies (J Walton, E Adamson – 2011 – books.google.com)
- A standardized behavior test for potential guide dog puppies: Methods and association with subsequent success in guide dog training (L Asher, S Blythe, R Roberts, L Toothill… – Journal of Veterinary …, 2013 – Elsevier)
- Your Labrador Retriever Puppy Month by Month: Everything You Need to Know at Each Stage of Development (T Albert, D Eldredge, D Ironside, B Ironside – 2016 – books.google.com)