Labradors are extremely friendly dogs that are eager to please. But unless you take the time to train them, they don’t know what to do and can acquire plenty of bad habits.
Just because they’re an “easier to train” breed, that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want and still find success. This guide will walk you through everything that you need to know to train your Labrador puppy.
Tips for Training a Labrador Puppy
If you’re looking to train a Labrador puppy, follow all the advice highlighted here, so your experience will be easier. Neglecting even just one or two of these tips can derail your entire training session.
1. Start With Name Recognition
If your Labrador doesn’t know their name, it will be a significant challenge to train them to do anything else. So, when you’re ready to train your Labrador, start by teaching them their name, then build from there.
Pick a name that’s easy to say, and don’t overuse it when you’re not training them. You need them to pay attention when you’re using their name, not tune it out as background noise.
2. Socialize Them
Introducing your Labrador to other dogs and other people is essential to ensuring that they display appropriate behaviors in these situations. If your Labrador doesn’t get experience in these situations early, it’ll be more challenging to teach them appropriate behaviors later. Please make sure your puppy has completed its vaccination schedule before exposing it to other dogs.
3. Keep It Positive
No matter what you’re training your Labrador to do, you need to use positive reinforcement only. Negative reinforcement and punishment will not give you the desired results. Instead, it will damage your relationship, making your dog insecure and fearful of you.
They’ll also come to dread training sessions, and you won’t be able to get the results that you want. Your dog wants your love and affection, so use positive reinforcement to keep training fun, and you’ll have better results.
4. Use Rewards
Your dog wants your praise but they also love treats. Using a small treat every time they do what you want is a great way to keep their attention and have them looking forward to training sessions.
Try to use their favorite treats only for training sessions. This will have them excited to figure out what you want and to listen.
5. Keep It Simple
You can’t teach your pup the most complicated tricks out there if they don’t know the basics. Once you teach them their name, teach them to sit and do other simple tasks before moving on to other, more complex things that you want them to learn.
6. Have Short Sessions
While you might have the time and patience for a long training session, your Labrador puppy doesn’t. Keep training sessions short and to the point.
An ideal length for a training session is 15 minutes, but 5 to 10 minutes is often more than enough. If you want to train more, schedule multiple training sessions for the day, but leave several hours between them. Even then, you don’t want to have more than three or four training sessions in a single day.
7. Eliminate Distractions
When there’s just about anything else going on, your Labrador will struggle to focus on you. Find a quiet place without distractions for your training sessions.
Ideally, it should be the same place each time. That way, your Labrador knows that when you go there, it’s time to train. This puts them in the right frame of mind, and they will be able to focus on the training session.
8. Stay Happy
Your puppy can feel your mood. If you’re frustrated or upset, it will stress out your puppy, and that’s not the ideal training environment. If you feel yourself starting to get frustrated, take a step back and end the training session.
A short training session is better than a long one where you were frustrated most of the time. In fact, a single training session where you’re frustrated can be a significant hindrance to future training sessions. It can make your Labrador antsy and unwilling to participate in future sessions.
9. Keep at It
If you’re looking to train your Labrador, persistence is key. Devote time every day to training sessions, and reinforce concepts from previous sessions.
The more consistent you keep things, the better results you’ll get. However, don’t overdo it. You want short sessions, but you also shouldn’t have more than three or four training sessions per day. It’s hard work for your Labrador and they need breaks too!
Now that you know the basic tips and tricks to train your Labrador puppy, it’s up to you to have the patience and persistence to stick with it and train your puppy. It’s going to take quite a bit of work, but when you have a well-trained Labrador for years to come after a few months of training, it’s well worth the effort.
So, what are you waiting for? Go find great training treats, make time in your day, and stick with it! You’ll have a fully trained and happy Labrador in no time.