It is very tempting to get carried away with puppy training.
These little Labradors are so willing to please and such fun to be around. But it is important not to go too quickly
Obviously we don’t want to be ‘correcting’ tiny puppies. And this can easily creep in if we ask too much too soon.
So what should we be doing with a puppy at two or three month’s old?
What are the stages in Labrador training ? No two trainers will ever agree exactly on this one!
An approximate schedule
I cannot tell you what you should do with your puppy except to give the above general advice, but it might help to see what I currently do with mine. This may not be exactly the same for each puppy, especially with retrieving, but it gives you a rough idea. Housetraining/cratetraining is not included
- Recall: Lots of puppy recall ‘phase one’ training. This means I blow the recall whistle whenever the puppy runs towards me, no compulsion, and no whistle unless the recall is already underway.
- Socialisation: Lots (almost daily) of outings to different places rural and urban (carried) Visits to family and friends.
- Bite inhibition: Discourage hard biting, allow mouthing
- Recall: Puppy recall phase two. Now I start introducing the whistle as a ‘signal’ to trigger the recall. I still give the puppy lots of encouragement by running away as soon as I blow the whistle.
- Socialisation: More socialisation, at least twice a week to busy public places
- Bite inhibition: Discourage hard biting, allow gentle mouthing
- Retrieving: Encourage chase and pick up (retrieve drive)
3 – 4 months
- Recall: Puppy recall phase two continues, reduce my run to a walk
- Socialisation: From ground level (after vaccination). Attend events/take into town. No other lead walking at all
- Bite inhibition: No biting, gentle mouthing allowed.
- Retrieving: Build drive.
4 – 5 months
- Recall: Puppy recall phase three. Whistle the pup and stand still
- Socialisation: One or two short outings into crowded/public places
- Bite inhibition: No more mouthing
- Basic Obedience: Simple basic obedience begins with ‘sit’ and off lead ‘heel’
5 – 6 months
- Formal obedience: heel and sit, leadwork, stay. Gradual introduction of distractions
- Gundog training begins
Some people train a good deal faster than this and achieve quite impressive results with quite small puppies. I come from an era where gundog puppies were left ‘untouched’ until 8 or 9 months of age. They were given time to mature and just be puppies before training commenced.
This was partly because training methods were much harsher in those days, but there is also some virtue I think, in not expecting too much of a small puppy
Early starters don’t get there faster
As far as I’m aware, there is no evidence to suggest that puppies that are ‘hot-housed’ from an early age, make more obedient, or better mannered dogs.
So don’t worry about rushing your Labrador into ‘school’ at eight weeks old.
You have plenty of time to enjoy your puppy and work slowly through a gentle but effective long term training programme.
What are you doing with your puppy right now? Are you having fun? Drop your comments into the box below.
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