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After I realized the concerns I had around cost and time commitment for training were no longer an issue, I began hunting for the right training program. However, I still had one major concern – difficulty. I really wasn’t sure if Labradors were easy or difficult to train. After a lot of research, and now having gone through it, I thought I’d share everything I’ve learned. So, are labradors easy to train?
Labradors are easy to train because they are intelligent and highly motivated by praise and food. This, combined with their friendly and people-pleasing temperaments, makes them one of the easiest to train dogs breeds.
Not convinced? In this article, we’ll give in-depth information on all the reasons Labradors are easy to train, and by the end, you’ll be excited to start training your new companion.
Labradors are Smart
Intelligence is one of the most important qualities that makes a dog easy to train. If a dog isn’t able to understand what is expected of him, it is much harder to train him.
Luckily, labrador retrievers are some of the smartest dog breeds you can own. Stanley Coren, an expert on dog-human interaction and a psychology professor, puts labradors at number 7 on his list of the brightest dog breeds in The Intelligence of Dogs.
Because Labradors were bred to be hunting dogs that worked alongside their human caretaker, they had to be intelligent and trainable. So it makes sense that Labradors would end up being highly intelligent, like many other dog breeds that used to earn their keep like the Border Collie.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the complex tasks that Labradors can be trained for, check out my article: What Can You Train A Labrador To Do?
Labradors are Motivated
But intelligence alone does not make a breed trainable. You could have a highly intelligent rottweiler that is difficult to train due to temperament issues. If a dog isn’t motivated, he is going to be harder to train. This isn’t so different from humans. We all like a little motivation to do things, don’t we?
There are two ways that Labradors can be motivated: food and praise. Let’s take a closer look at both of these.
Labradors are Motivated by Food
Labradors are known for their seemingly endless appetite. In fact, if you own a Labrador, you have to be careful where you leave your stock of dog food.
Some Labradors will eat themselves sick. This is because many Labradors lack the ability to tell if they are full because the gene POMC has been bred out of them. If you’d like to learn more about this, you can check out this study by Cell Metabolism.
It isn’t always advised to use food to motivate your pooch, especially if your Labrador seems to be unable to tell if he is full. If your dog has any health conditions, you might need to avoid using food as a motivator.
For a healthy, active Labrador, you can use treats during training as long as you are monitoring the amount you are giving, and they are healthy treats.
The Best Treats for Training Food-Motivated Labradors
You want to be careful about the treats you provide for your Labrador because weight problems can lead to health issues, and no one wants that.
Here’s what to look for in a training treat:
- Buy small treats or break up larger treats into pieces: Because you’ll be giving your dog several treats over the course of a training session, stick to a treat that is small in size.
- Use super motivating treats only when necessary: If your dog LOVES a particular treat, but it isn’t necessarily the healthiest, you can still provide it sparingly. Save this highly motivating treat for when your dog has a hard task to perform or completes a task the first time. This strongly reinforces the behavior you’re working on.
- Find healthy treats: Try to find a natural dog treat with simple ingredients. You can also make your own Labrador training treats or prepare dog-friendly fruits and vegetables in small pieces.
Whatever you decide to use, check to be sure it is vet-approved for Labradors and that your dog loves it.
Labradors are Motivated by Praise
Labradors are also people-pleasers, which means they are happy to make their owners happy. By using a high pitched happy voice, you can motivate your Labrador to behave as you would like them to.
Instead of giving them a treat, simply get down on their level, give them a nice pet in one of their favorite spots, and say, “Good boy!” with all the enthusiasm you can muster.
Better yet, combine the powers of both of these motivators by giving a treat and ample praise when your dog behaves as you would like. Slowly, you’ll back away from the treats, but you never need to stop the praise. It makes your pooch feel good.
Negative Reinforcement Will Not Motivate Your Labrador
Punishment is not the same a motivation, and it will not help your Labrador develop good or healthy habits. Praise and treats should not be withheld when a dog fails to do something as long he tried. Reward the effort, and soon enough, he’ll catch on.
And it should go without saying, hitting or yelling at your dog is not the proper way to train your Labrador. This could actually lead to negative behaviors like nipping our of fear or scratching out of anxiety.
What Color Labrador is the Easiest to Train?
Honestly, I’ve never noticed any difference in dogs’ temperaments based on the color of their coat. There is always some variation between different dogs. Even within the same litter, you’d never expect to get dogs with identical temperaments.
In general, whether yellow, black, or chocolate labs are some of the easiest dogs to train. There are other reasons you might choose one coat color over another. Hunters might prefer a black or chocolate lab that blends more with the surroundings during a hunt, or you might just like the look of a silver lab.
Does Online Dog Training Work for Labradors?
Online dog training absolutely works for Labradors. In fact, I would even say it is easier. All dog training requires some effort on the part of the dog’s family, whether it is in person or online. You could spend thousands of dollars for an in-person trainer, but if you don’t back up that training at home, it isn’t going to work.
Here are the advantages of online dog training:
- It’s good one-on-one time with your dog. Online dog training gives you and your dog the tools to successfully train your dog without having to leave your dog with a stranger.
- You get to be hands-on. This means you will know how to curb unwanted behavior that may crop up in the future.
- Saves time and money. You don’t need to leave your home at all—no need to fill your gas tank or waste time in traffic.
- It can be more specialized. Training can be tailored to meet your needs. If your dog has a specific behavioral problem you need to solve, you can do that with online training.
- It’s you and your dog – and a trainer. You can access a trainer if training isn’t going well, which you won’t have if you try to train your dog with a DIY approach.
- Your family can watch it. The whole family can learn the training to help training be consistent.
So there really is no reason NOT to try online dog training with your Labrador. It is easy, effective, far less of a hassle than in-person dog training courses, and provides you will everything you need to know to train your dog well.
The one that I recommend is Brain Training For Dogs, by Adrienne Farricelli. It is the only online training that I reviewed and listed in my Recommended Products section. So go check it out!
Is it Easy to Train a Labrador?
It’s true. As you can see, Labradors are easy to train. They are one of the most intelligent dogs, and they are easily motivated by both food and praise. Because Labradors are easy to train, they are great candidates for online training.