If you don’t train your Labrador, they will take their own route, and you may not like the results! This article shares our top five priorities when training a pet Labrador and why they should be your focus.
My name is Vikki Sharpe, and I’m the founder of Tails of Success Labrador Training. Our team of Labrador specialists work with families around the world to help them develop great family pets, and we love seeing Labradors live their absolute best lives with their human families.
We know that having a young Labrador in your life can be challenging; it’s something we’ve experienced multiple times. It’s particularly tough if the training isn’t focused and you don’t teach them useful, functional, and practical skills. We hope this guide helps you focus on the most important elements when considering training for your pet Labrador.
If you can’t get your dog to come back to you, it’s pointless teaching them anything else because they will be too busy ignoring you whilst on the other side of a field.
When you teach your dog recall, aim for a reliable recall that happens in every setting and situation. Recall should occur quickly, not 10 minutes after you’ve asked them; it should be a nice instantaneous response.
A reliable recall will give you the confidence that whatever the situation, you can get your dog to return to you safely when you need them.
Loose lead or loose leash walking
This simply means that when you take your dog out for a walk, they will walk nicely by your side with the leash hanging loosely in a relaxed manner.
They will be pretty happy hanging out with you in the early stages, but as they get a bit older, a bit more adventurous, and a bit more energetic, you’ll find that they pull on the lead a little more each day.
We recommend that you identify where you would like your dog to walk and encourage them to be, and stay in that position from day one.
When I’m walking my dog, they know that the area around my left leg is their place to hang out. As long as they hang out there, they know that we will be interacting, we’ll be enjoying our walk together, and they will be receiving lots of praise and reward.
Focusing on loose lead walking from an early age really does mean that you will enjoy the walks as much as your Labrador does.
Focus or eye contact from your Labrador
When a dog is looking at you, they’re listening and showing that they are ready to take on more instructions. If you have an energetic, anxious, or nervous dog, this can be a great way to calm things down.
Asking a Labrador to look at you when asked means that they stop what they’re doing, turn around and give you complete focus, and when you have their attention, you can start to calm things down and let distractions pass by.
Settle and relax
This is a fantastic way to get your Labrador to relax and be calm. I know lots of you with young Labradors will be wondering if it’s even possible to do this because they’re a very energetic breed in the early stages.
You must encourage them to settle, rest, relax and even sleep as a well-rested Labrador is often a better behaved Labrador.
Adolescent Labradors need a lot of rest, but they may resist the urge to sleep because they want to be involved in everything and are worried about missing out. Teaching them to settle means that when you get their settle mat out and ask them to settle, they know that their job is to go and lay down and rest.
Mealtimes become much easier when you can ask them to settle on their mat while you eat, and you can start to enjoy sitting in a coffee shop safe in the knowledge that your Labrador is settled on their mat underneath your table.
Give your Labrador a job to do
Labradors are very, very intelligent, and they do need something to do.
You’ve got to make sure you’re proactive in giving them a job and giving them a sense of purpose. If we humans don’t provide them with a job, they will probably find their own job, which can sometimes be destroying furniture, digging in the garden or creating mischief. The job doesn’t need to be anything too complex; it can just be that you do specific training with them, engage their brain, maybe do a little bit of scent work or brain training.
It’s no coincidence that Labradors are guide dogs, sniffer dogs and support dogs worldwide; they are a highly intelligent breed that thrives when using their brains.
So those are our five top skills to work on and I encourage you to put those as your priorities when thinking about what to do with your pet Labrador. Above all else, have fun and enjoy every minute with your four-legged companion.
If you need any help and support with training, we are here to help you.
Tails of Success provides online training to clients worldwide at our Online Puppy School, Foundation Skills, Lead Walking, and Scent Detection programmes.
We also like to share our knowledge with as many of you as possible by giving up to date, breed-specific advice and support at our regular webinar learning events.
We would love to help you and your Labrador enjoy a great life together. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch!