Naughty Labrador Retrievers can be stressful to live with. Dogs jumping on visitors, pulling on the leash or ignoring you as you call in vain, can all feel quite personal. If you find your Labrador embaressing, pushy or just plain bad mannered you are not alone.
The good news is that a naughty Labrador can learn to well behaved pretty quickly. You just need to know what is causing the behavior, so that you can avoid triggers or teach them better and more rewarding options.
- What do we mean by naughty behavior?
- How to teach a naughty dog to behave.
- Why is your dog so naughty?
What is Naughty Labrador Behavior?
The chances are your dog has a few naughty behaviors. Most dogs pick up a few bad habits along the way, especially if their owners are inexperienced.
The most common problems experienced by people struggling with their Labradors are:
- Pulling on the leash.
- Ignoring the recall, and not listening generally.
- Chewing and destructiveness.
- Rough and boisterous play.
Some of these behaviors are age related, but many can emerge at any developmental stage.
And there is always something you can do to resolve these issues.
Improving Labrador Behavior
We usually need a two pronged approach to fixing naughtiness. Obviously we need to get going on some training. But training takes time.
And in the meantime, we need to manage the dog so that they don’t get chance to keep repeating the naughty behavior.
For example, while you are teaching your dog not to barge through the front door without your permission, you could put a baby gate across your hallway to keep him behind it.
Or have your dog trail a houseline so that you can pick up the end and control him when necessary.
Changing behavior through training
We often think of dog training as being the fun stuff, like teaching a dog to sit, come, give paw, or take a bow on command But training is not just about teaching a dog to respond to our commands – to ‘sit’ when we say ‘sit’.
It is also about teaching dogs good default behaviors – ways to behave in common everyday situations.
Ways to greet guests for example. Or the right way to behave when we attach a leash to the dog’s collar.
What Makes a Labrador’s Behavior Good?
So, one way to be good is for a dog to obey your commands or cues as we now call them. Another way to be good is for a dog to know how to behave in certain contexts, without being given any cues at all.
Hopping into his basket when the doorbell rings for example, instead of barking and lunging at the door.
Both these approaches form an important part of any good dog training program. But what if training doesn’t work with your dog?
When Dog Training Doesn’t Work?
What if you’ve already tried training and your dog still ignores you? Well the good news is, that all dogs can be trained, even the naughtiest ones. And even dogs that are stubborn or don’t listen.
The bad news is that it will take a little time, a little knowledge and a little effort on your part. But there’s more good news!
Properly structured modern training methods are fun!
Naughty dogs can be totally transformed by using these effective training methods, and you don’t need to be an expert to resolve some of the most common problems this way.
So essentially, we are going to be talking about training. Sometimes though, we need to remove a few of the ‘obstacles’ that are in the way, before we can get going.
Why Labrador Training Gets Neglected
Some people never get started with training their dog for all manner of reasons. Often because they are just not sure where to start.
Maybe you have tried training your Labrador and failed? Maybe your dog is very strong, and ignores you and maybe you can’t bring yourself to be ‘tough’ on your dog?
Perhaps you have a really difficult dog?
Maybe you don’t have the right skills or natural ability? Or perhaps you are really short of time? Let’s have a look.
Can’t get started?
Sometimes we can ‘rescue’ a situation without entirely retraining a skill. For example, a dog that is straying too far on walks can be taught to stay closer to his owner using the About Turn Walk.
Sometimes there are so many problems or a single problem is so bad, that the simplest solution is to start from the beginning again.
In fact, there is never any harm in starting over.
If your dog is a ‘bit of a mess’ behavior wise, try spending a few weeks treating him like a new puppy. Pretend he knows nothing. Invent new names for some of the skills he needs to learn, and start from scratch using effective training techniques.
A great way to get started is with my Foundation Skills course. This helps you gain the skills you need in order to successfully re-train your dog. And it helps your dog learn how to work with you, and focus on you.
Have you failed in training before?
It can be very difficult to get going with re-training a dog when you have failed in the past.
It is really worth remembering that most people fail many times before they succeed. At a whole range of tasks and endeavours. And dog training is no exception.
Most people fail because they lack the necessary knowledge, fail to apply that knowledge, or don’t apply it often enough. You can change any one of these factors
The fact that you failed before is a really bad excuse for not starting.
Are you worried you are too soft on your Labrador?
If you think you are too soft to control your dog, think again! Modern training is based on ‘reinforcement’ not force or punishment. All you need is a willingness to find out how reinforcement actually works. And to apply the tried and tested methods that work.
You don’t need to be a pack leader. You don’t have to dominate your dog. Modern training is fun for both of you!
Is your Labrador a Difficult Dog?
The concept of the difficult or naughty dog is a very common one. Believing that the dog is the problem has its advantages.
It allows the owner to avoid feeling guilty about the dog’s behavior. After all if it is the dog’s fault, it can’t be theirs!
The problem with blaming the dog, is that the problem never gets fixed. There is no point in waiting for the dog to ‘want to change’. It isn’t going to happen.
Taking Responsibility for your Dog Training
The answer to most dog training or behavior problems is to bite the bullet and take full responsibility. This can be a bit daunting, but it is the only way to resolve any problems that you are having with your dog.
Taking responsibility allows you to take control of the situation and begin to change your dog’s behavior. This is often less challenging than you might think.
And the great thing about effective modern training is that it actually doesn’t matter how strong willed or difficult your dog is. There is no ‘clash of wills’ or power struggle involved. You are not going to be ‘breaking his will’. You are going to be changing his behavior by taking control of its consequences.
Short of time?
It is amazing what you can achieve in just a few minutes a day. For most of us, the hardest part is just getting started. And modern training is really quick!
Can you find ten minutes each morning and each evening to spend with your dog? Of course you can, you wouldn’t be able to care for a dog otherwise. And ten minutes, morning and evening, five or six times a week, is all you need to get started.
Make Dog Training a Habit
Habits are great because we don’t have to think about them. If you make a habit out of dog training it will become as natural as cleaning your teeth.
Experts tell us that it takes only 30 days to build a habit, but it’s very hard to make a habit out of a daunting and time consuming task.
So start small, and build up slowly. Begin with just three minutes a day. At the same time, every day. After breakfast or before, or just pick a time you know you’ll stick to.
Make a habit of this three minutes, rain or shine and before you know where you are, it will be second nature. Then and only then, start to increase the length of your training sessions. Build up to your ten minutes gradually. Make this the habit you never break.
What you need is information
In order to effectively change naughty behavior, you also need some basic information. You need to know how dogs learn from the consequences of their actions, and how to control those consequences yourself.
You can find a great deal of this training information on this website, and on our training site dogsnet.com One very effective way to learn about how dog training works is to follow a single skill right through from start to finish.
My book Total Recall explains how to do this when teaching your dog to come to your whistle. The whole book focuses on this one important skill. But by the end of it, you’ll also understand how to teach your dog pretty much anything.
You can buy Total Recall from Amazon by following this link. If you do, The Labrador Site will receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated and won’t affect the cost to you.
What can I do in just three minutes?
You don’t need to kick off with a ‘serious skill’, just start with something simple such as training your dog to bump the palm of your hand with his nose.
Something simple is best. That way you won’t get frustrated and give up before you have got your habit established. And simple skills are a useful way of engaging your dog when he is in new or distracting situations.
You can train your dog
There is only one difference between good dogs and bad dogs. Bad dogs aren’t trained. And our intelligent and quick witted Labs thrive on training.
Not only does your dog have enormous potential. You do too! Find out just why you are the best person to train your dog, even if you have made mistakes before: Could You Be Your Dog’s Best Teacher?
You’ve got this!
Your dog isn’t naughty because he disrespects you. In fact, he isn’t naughty, or bad at all, he’s just a dog. He doesn’t ignore you because he doesn’t love you. You don’t have to beat your dog or bribe him.
Your dog doesn’t have a personality disorder or ‘bad’ genes. He just isn’t trained. Yet.
You can train your dog. By yourself if necessary. You have all the ability it takes. You just need to give yourself a chance.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website