The importance of Labrador Training cannot be stressed enough. Because if there’s a single universal truth when it comes to your Labrador, it’s this:
The quality and richness of life that you and your Labrador will enjoy together is highly dependent on the level of success you achieve in training your lab to adapt to living in a human world.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to contrast a few examples of the life of an untrained dog Vs that of a well-trained dog…
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The Life of an Untrained Dog
An untrained dog can miss out on life.
When the family settles for dinner, he must be locked in his crate or out in the yard because he constantly begs and tries to steal food off the table.
People rarely volunteer to take him for a walk because he pulls so much. And he’s rarely allowed off the leash because he chases other animals and could run into the road, ignoring all calls to stop or come back to you.
When friends come to visit, he’s locked out of the way because he’s just too wild and your friends cannot bear it.
Trips to the beach? A hike through the countryside? Not a chance! He causes too many problems. It isn’t safe for you, your dog or for others. All that bolting around, jumping up, knocking children over, mouthing and chewing people’s belongings. He’s such a nuisance!
Now compare this with a well trained dog…
The Life of a Well Trained Dog
A well trained dog can sit with his family whilst they eat their meals because he knows not to beg or to take food from the table.
Friends and family love to take him for a walk because he’s so well behaved. He walks nicely beside people, he doesn’t wrench your arm off pulling out in front.
He is allowed off the leash because he knows to wait safely when told, he comes back when called and he never chases small animals or runs into the road.
A well trained dog goes everywhere with his family. To friends houses, to the beach, to the country pub for a meal. He’s always welcome because he never gets into trouble. He knows not to jump up or climb on people or furniture. And he will leave items when told and will not mouth or chew other people’s belongings.
Doesn’t this sound so much better?
Will Your Labrador Learn to Behave On His Own?
Well, he will learn to behave in some way, for sure.
Labradors, like all dogs, are talented at learning behaviors. They will usually repeat any behavior that ends with a reward. And a reward can be anything from a food treat to a game of chase. A reward is anything that satisfies a drive, need or desire.
Left alone to learn, a Labrador will likely:
Chase small animals…chasing is fun!
Raid the bins and counter-surf…This is where the tasty food treats are!
Mouth and chew things that are left within reach…this is a natural thing for a Lab to do.
He will do all of this because he knows no better and earns himself a reward.
Your Labrador is a dog. And all dogs are born with natural instincts and drives that result in behaviors undesirable to humans and could even be dangerous for your dog and those around him.
So plainly put, yes, your Labrador will learn to behave…in ways that are rewarding to him, but not necessarily how you hoped he would behave. There’s a good chance he will develop behavior problems.
Labrador Training: What Exactly Is It?
Training your Labrador means essentially two things:
- Teaching your dog to do things you’d like him to do that he wouldn’t do naturally of his own accord. For example, waiting at the door until you give permission to walk through, or holding a sit until you say he can ‘break’.
- Teaching your Lab not to do things he would naturally do that you DO NOT want him to do. Like chasing squirrels or eating food off your kitchen counters.
Put simply, it’s preventing behaviors us humans see as unacceptable and replacing them with ones that we do. All the while being mindful of allowing our Labrador to still ‘act like a dog’ and satisfy natural needs and desires.
It’s also educating your Labrador to understand a few simple commands (such as sit, down, stay, leave and wait) so that you can guide your Lab through a life living with humans in a safe, trouble-free and happy way for everyone involved, humans and dog.
Training will usually first start with house-breaking your puppy, then on to basic obedience training before moving on to more intermediate training such as a consistent recall and changing and shaping behaviors.
(for a good overall summary of ‘what is dog training’, read the following article on dog training over at Wikipedia.)
What are the Benefits of Labrador Training?
Training your Labrador serves many purposes, not least helping your Lab to fit more easily into a human society and lifestyle.
But possibly the most valuable benefit is the safety of your beloved pet and all the people around him.
It’s easy to keep a well-trained dog who responds to a few basic commands out of trouble.
If you’re observant, you can sense trouble coming and with a well trained lab, a simple command is all that’s needed to keep from danger.
He can be told to leave or drop things that are poisonous or harmful.
He can be taught not to jump up or bowl over small children or the elderly.
And he can be taught not to run into the road after small animals or cyclists.
The Importance of Labrador Training to Your Lab
Here is a list of just some of the benefits your lab will enjoy:
- Lower risk of physical accidents. For example: knowing not to chew electric cables, or running into the road.
- Lower risk of eating poisonous items or having things lodged in his stomach. He drops things when told and doesn’t chew on them.
- More varied life experiences due to being welcomed wherever he goes.
- Happier, less anxious around strangers or when left with a dog sitter.
- More time off leash to run free and play.
- Less time in his crate or being scolded for bad behavior.
The Importance of Labrador Training to You
Here’s just a few of the benefits that you will enjoy:
- Fewer expensive visits to the vet due to fewer accidents and emergencies.
- An easier time leash walking, not being pulled along or even tripped over.
- Not having your belongings chewed or your flower garden excavated.
- Easier to find a dog sitter for your well behaved dog when you need to go away.
- Less embarrassment and apologies to people he’s jumped upon, or even bowled over.
- More time with your Lab, taking him on hikes, to the beach, wherever you wish as he isn’t a nuisance.
- Far less stress overall as the owner of a dog that keeps out of trouble.
Training Creates a Stronger Bond Between You and Your Lab
As a bonus to the above, training sessions offer an opportunity for you and your Labrador to spend dedicated, quality time together working as a team.
As you train your dog, it provides you with lots of opportunity to praise and reward for things your Labrador does right.
And it provides lots of opportunity for your Lab to please you and to feel important, useful and gain a sense of accomplishment by successfully completing ‘work’ and the tasks that you’ve set.
This will strengthen the bond between you and your Lab, he will learn to trust and respect you more and will be ever more eager to please you and feel happy in the role it’s been given in life.
These are massive wins for you both :-)
Dog training is also easier than ever to get into, either by following the instructions on sites such as this one you’re reading, by following the thousands of free instructional videos on youtube, or perhaps signing up to a high quality dog training course such as the online dog trainer.
Training your Labrador is an essential part of being a responsible, caring owner.
It requires an investment of time and you’ll need patience, but with perseverance, the benefits are huge with you and your Labrador living a safer, less stressful and more fulfilling (possibly longer) life together.
Hopefully after reading this article you can see the importance of Labrador training, you understand the ‘why’ and are keen to get going on the ‘how’ and ‘when.’ The more effort you put into training at the start, the more you can enjoy the benefits of a well trained and well behaved Labrador Retriever as a family pet for many years to come.
The Labrador Training section of this website will eventually become a complete resource to guide you in your journey training your lab. Please check back often for updates and remember…be patient, the time you invest into training now will pay you back handsomely for the rest of the life of your Lab.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Can you add to the list of benefits Labrador training provides that we haven’t covered here? I’m sure there are lots more could be mentioned and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.