Training a labrador puppy

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Training a Labrador puppy is a lot of fun, provided you have some sensible information and advice at hand.

Modern puppy training methods are gentle,  positive, and very effective. Smacking and rolled up newspapers are a thing of the past!

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.

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.

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 to walk nicely next to his owner on a lead.

Dollarphotoclub_64465786Most importantly we need to train a puppy to come back reliably when he is called.  But this serious stuff is not the only way to get involved with educating your dog.

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.

How to teach

You will find lots of information on puppy training right here in our training and puppy sections.

Check out our popular Recall Training Centre to help you get this important skill underway,  and find out how to get your puppy walking nicely next to you with our Clicker Heel article

You will also find information lots more information on other aspects of puppy care in our labrador puppies section.

One article you may find particularly helpful is  :  ‘How to train a puppy to sit’   To make sure you don’t miss any of our other articles,  you can request free email updates.

More help and information

Happy Puppy jacket imageThere is help and support for all aspects of puppy training available on our busy Labrador forum.

You’ll be able to chat to other puppy owners and talk to those experienced in training Labradors.  The forum is free and you are very welcome to join. 

If you enjoy Pippa’s articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook published  in 2014.

Now available in most countries, the handbook is already a bestseller in the UK.

You can buy from Amazon using the link on this page.  If you do,  the labrador site will receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated and won’t affect the cost to you!

 

(training a Labrador puppy was originally published in 2011 and has been revised and updated for 2015)

30 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, my friend has a beautiful black female lab just under a year old. She was a rescue dog and totally loves her. However, she has consistently eaten her leather chair, her shoes, clothes, jewelry, any food on the counter to name a few. She jumps on her owner and I only, and recently started sniping at my hands and clothes, as well as her owners. My friend works full time and has asked me to help train the dog or look for a dog trainer since I introduced them :) Help! What should I do?

    • Hi Diane,
      Not sure if you are asking whether you should go ahead with taking on the dog, or how to go about it?

      Are you considering having the dog in your home all day, full time? Young Labradors are often very destructive if left unsupervised. This can go on up to around two years of age. Do you have a crate? Do you have room for a crate? Are you willing to devote some time to reading and learning about canine behavioural modification and training techniques?

      You might find it helpful to chat to other Labrador owners on the forum and to read through the articles in our Training and Behaviour sections

      Pippa

      • I just got a 4 1/2 week lab mix. She’s very active and likes to bite and chew on things. How do I break her from chewing on everything and get her to stop using the bathroom inside?

  2. Hi
    My Labraodor puppy is 9 weeks old and has been with me for 1 week. He is wearing a collar fairly happily but rolls over and chews the lead every time I put it on. He does not seem to be afraid of it but wants to chew anything he comes into contact with.
    How can I get around this?
    Liz

    • Hi Liz,
      Your puppy’s reaction is pretty normal. The lead is a bit of a novelty for now. Just pop it on for a few moments and keep the lead held so it goes straight up from the back of his collar to your hand. Then distract him with plenty of walking up and down, changing direction every few steps and lots of encouragement. Dropping the odd treat behind you as you go will also keep his mind off the lead.
      Fortunately your puppy doesn’t need to walk on the lead just yet so you can keep ‘lead times’ very short, just a few seconds, several times a day and he will soon get used to it.
      Pippa

    • Hi Garry, no one can tell you these things without any information I’m afraid. If you post a picture up of your puppy in the forum we might be able to give you a very rough idea of age, but unless he is clearly not a pure bred Labrador, we probably can’t help you with the other question.
      Pippa

  3. I just bought a 4 month old black lab last Saturday I bought a large pen in the basement for him. He won’t stop barking I am home for 2 weeks to train him I put him in the pen 3 times a day for half hour he will not stop barking I am concerned when I have to go to work I work from home 3 days a week.

  4. I have a 9 month old lab who bites (well, more like mouths but it can turn into biting when he really gets going) When will this stage stop? I correct him by saying no, and walking away from him but sometimes I think he thinks its a game. Any advice?

    • I’ve had a few dogs (2 Jack russles and 2 labs) how I stopped my dogs from thinking I was a toy was to substitute my hand/leg/foot/FACE/hair with a toy. what my dogs have gone for in the past is rawhides particularly the ones with the red stuff wrapped in them.

      When you have your dog near you have a toy/rawhide handy, then when he starts to mouth you:

      Put the toy in his mouth and play with him. You are not a chew toy lol.

  5. We have a 4 month old yellow lab puppy ” Major” he’s the greatest puppy we’ve ever had, we had Siberian husksys before & just had no luck, Major is already SO much more loving, loyal & caring..and he’s a perfect family dog however…we can’t get him to get potty trained all the way yet. We have gated him off into the kitchen until we get him house broken. (Is that bad?) He usually barks if he has to go out so, we’ll leash him & take him. We have him on a eating schedule& every time after he eats we always take him out. He’ll go pee outside & does great but, never fails…He’ll come right back in & pee on the kitchen floor….ugh! Please help!!!!!!!!

  6. I have approx 2 mnths old female lab… Her name is Kyra… And I love her…She is so playful but mouths so hard when excited… Everytime it leaves a big scratch of her sharp tooth… I have tried all time out sessions etc… But still when she become excited she bites badly… Please help…

    • I normally have a toy handy and replace my appendage with said toy. Another thing my mom does that seems to work is Mom actually yelps, like another puppy would if she was playing too rough with it. Idk how Mom figured it out, but I’ve had success with that.

  7. hi, i have a 5 week old cute little lab .. i got it 2 days back.. on the first night he didnt sleep at all.. and didnt leave us to sleep,but i think its normal for it in a new place right?.. in the past two days all he did was eat n sleep… is it okay?.. wl it take more time to adopt??

  8. My mother bought a beautiful 6 week old golden lab girly for my little sister (4 years old) and myself to own a few days ago, and she is struggling to be potty trained. I have tried lots of different ways, such as closing her off in just the garden or holding her until she whines and needs to wee. After all of it, she just won’t wee. Only once I take her from there and put her down does she wee. She has begun to favour our carpet, despite spraying and cleaning her wee every time. Are there any good secrets to training her to wee in the garden? (She will be an outside dog, but we don’t want her to wee on the patio.) Please give me some advise.

  9. Hello
    I have two labras one is female and the other is male female is stella and male is shadow this is my very first experiens with dogs and theyy are out of control they dont know anything like when i say sit they dont i say stand they dont when they are playing the dont even stop and listen to what i am saying now plz tell me what should i do to make them good plz help me

  10. Hello,
    I have a beautiful 6.5 lb. baby girl named Rarri who is 9 weeks. She is actually half lab half German Shepard and quite beautiful. Already she is showing how playful she can be, and bites many things, she loves to wake us up at 6 am (no joke) We are kennel training her and I do not know much about training a puppy although I am aware both breeds are very smart, playful and large in size. I cannot express how excited I am to see her grow I actually hope she is larger than average since she is a mix! That would be great. Although since she is a mix I am worried this can become a problem when training her?

  11. Hi! I have a 15 week old male black lab puppy who has stolen our hearts! I found him off of a posting online. When we went to go pick him up, we found him in a run down, disgusting place. He was malnourished, and the mother was no where in sight. Normally I know this is a danger zone for picking a puppy, but I couldn’t leave him behind. I knew if I did he would be dead.

    We have had him 3 weeks now, and he is healthy, hearty puppy. (his vet gave him the all clear). However my fiance and I noticed that he went from licking us to biting us, and he tends to growl. When we scold him he only barks back. I’m worried we might not break this behavior, and I don’t want him like this as an adult. How do we stop him from biting us and growling and just be a loving puppy?

    -K

  12. Hi . Bit of advice please on how to stop our 18 month old from running up to other dogs not in an aggressive way just an over friendly way. He hasn’t been neutered.

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