Training a Labrador puppy is a lot of fun, provided you have some sensible, practical information and advice at hand. And that is what this website is all about
You’ll want to know
- How to train your puppy
- What to train your puppy
- When and where to start training
Let’s not waste any time!
How to train your Labrador puppy
Its a good idea to look into the different methods and techniques that can be used for training a dog before you get started with training your puppy
Modern puppy training methods are gentle, positive, and very effective, and that’s what your will find on this website. Smacking and rolled up newspapers are thankfully a thing of the past!
All our training exercises and instructions come with full explanations of how to achieve the right results.
We train each skill in five stages
- Get it!
- Pair it!
- Teach it!
- Proof it!
- Maintain it!
#1Get the behaviour
This is the part where you get the puppy to do the thing you want over and over again, so that you can reward him. The thing you want might be a sit, or a down, or a paw shake. It might be that you want your puppy to run towards you
Whatever it is you want, the first stage is to encourage the puppy to do that. Sometimes we use food lures to get the behaviour, for example, we can lure a puppy into a sit by moving a food lure backwards over his head.
Sometime we can use the puppy’s natural instincts. For example when you run away from a puppy to get him to chase after you.
Rewards are the key
Each time the puppy does what we want him to do we give him a nice tasty treat. This makes him want to do it again and again.
When a puppy starts doing the thing we want him to do repeatedly, of his own free will, then we have ‘got’ that behaviour. When we have ‘got the behaviour’ then we can start to give it a name – we call this name a ‘cue’
#2 Pair it with a name!
Here’s the bit where your puppy goes to language classes!
Naming your puppy’s behaviour is important. A lot of people think their puppy will automatically know that sit means sit. But he won’t
Now you have got him offering you a behaviour you like, you can teach him the human name for that behaviour.
You need to teach him by association. It’s kind of a game of pairs.
So you need to pair the action of sitting, with the word sit. And to pair the action of running towards you with the word come.
You don’t need to use these exact words by the way – you can make your own up if you want to!
Playing the pairing game is easy. Each time your puppy sits, you’ll simply say ‘sit’. No fuss, no bother, just say the word as his bottom hits the floor.
And next time he runs towards you, you’ll say ‘come’ as he flies into your arms. Don’t forget those tasty treats though.
For a more detailed explanation of each of these processes check out the individual training instructions for
Once you’ve played the naming game, you can get to the really fun part. You can teach your puppy to respond to your cue word.
#3 Teach the response to the cue
This is the part where people used to begin with dog training using traditional methods. But of course, because they hadn’t completed the first two stages, their puppies didn’t have a clue what their cue meant.
This meant traditional trainers often had to push and pull their puppies into position. Usually while saying the cue word over and over again.
This was quite tough on the puppies as you can imagine.
Sadly, because dog training is not regulated, you can still find trainers like this, teaching puppies by dragging them about and barking instructions at them. I don’t need to tell you that these trainers are best avoided.
No pushing and pulling
Nowadays, we get the puppy paying attention to us, which is easy because he associates us with games and rewards, and we say our cue word and wait for him to respond.
If he doesn’t do it the first time, we give him some encouragement – lure him into a sit for example, or run away from him to get him coming towards us, and then reward him as usual.
It doesn’t take long for the puppy to respond to our cues, because he already knows what they mean. You won’t need to push him into a sit, or drag him towards you.
Of course, we don’t give him the cues when he is distracted, that is what stage 4 is all about.
# 4 Proof the response we just taught the puppy
Proofing is just a fancy word to getting it right no matter what. A proofed sit is one that your dog will do anywhere, at the school gates, when visitors arrive, on a bus, in front of other dogs, and so on.
There is a lot of information about proofing on this website, simply because proofing is both the longest and the most important part of the dog training process
#5 Maintain your training for the long term
Most people cope well with stage five. The fact is, once you’ve completed stage four, it’s pretty much downhill all the way.
Maintaining your training means observing your dog and rehearsing good behaviours that have got a bit sloppy.
It means taking the time to have a few refresher sessions occasionally for those skills that need brushing up. And remembering to keep rewarding your dog from time to time.
You can do that standing on your head.
Training your puppy can be challenging at times, but it is an important part of puppy care and management. Good behaviour is also a key ‘safety feature’ where a large and relatively powerful dog is concerned.
Big dogs and safety
When you look at your adorable eight week old puppy, it may seem hard to believe he could ever harm anyone, but he won’t be small for long.
A full grown Labrador can easily knock a person over or drag them along on the end of a lead. Or cause a serious accident if he were to stray onto a road.
So it’s worth spending some time finding out how to go about the important task of educating your pup, and bringing him up to be a gentle and obedient adult.
What to teach
For safety’s sake, the minimum any Labrador puppy should learn is how to sit and to wait calmly to be stroked or fed, and how to walk nicely next to his owner on a lead.
Tricks versus serious training
Many people separate dog training, in their mind, into tricks versus ‘real’ training. In fact, everything you teach your dog is in a sense a ‘trick’. And all tricks are a valuable form of training.
You may well benefit by teaching some tricks to your puppy before getting on to the serious stuff.
This is because you are less likely to feel pressured to succeed with trick training, and therefore more likely to keep training fun and to speed up the learning process for your dog.
Trick training also teaches you to be a better trainer, by improving your skill and timing with practice.
When to teach
With modern training methods, which are largely force-free, training can begin at a very early age.
The secret to successful early training lies in keeping the whole process stress free and cheerful.
Your puppy should have no idea he is being trained, and he will enjoy his training sessions as if they were games. So, provided you teach your puppy using modern, positive reinforcement training techniques, you can start from day one.
If you are not sure what constitutes modern training, or positive reinforcement training, visit our sister site Totally Dog Training for more information and advice.
You will also find information lots more information on other aspects of puppy care in our labrador puppies section.
If you’d like loads more training assistance, don’t miss my new book, due to be released in September 2015
The Labrador Handbook looks at all aspects of your Labradors life, through daily care and training at each stage of their life.
Click hereto pre-order now from Amazon UK, with Amazon’s pre-order price guarantee
(Training a Labrador puppy was originally published in 2011 and has been revised and updated for 2015)