When I got Molly, I swore that one of the first things I was going to do was put her through training. After my last dog, I recognized the importance of dog training and highly regretted having not looked into it then. The biggest deterrents for me at the time was finding the time, and the excessive cost. Fortunately, times have changed! With the internet today, these two things are no longer an issue. Training can happen at home on your own schedule, and many training programs (particularly online training) are very affordable! So, the only question that remains is at what age can you train a Labrador?
You can begin training your Labrador as early as 8 weeks old. During the first few months of a dog’s life, they are rapidly learning and developing, therefore the skills that you teach them during this time will be absorbed better.
It is important to understand the different levels of training, and which types of training you can begin earlier in a dog’s life versus those that you can’t. I’ll discuss that and more as we go through the article.
Why Start So Soon?
There are many benefits to starting training as early as you possibly can. These benefits include:
- Curbs Behavioral Problems- Puppies are known to develop feisty little attitudes early on. Often, this leads to bad habits like chewing the furniture or other belongings. Deter them from such habits early on is critical. Doing so can greatly reduce or eliminate the chance of these behaviors presenting a problem in the future.
- Helps with Socialization- It is necessary to have your puppy get used to being in the presence of others. That applies to both other animals and the people you spend time with. Nobody wants a situation where they’re afraid to invite people over due to the uncertainty of how their dog will react. The sooner your pup gets accustomed to others, the better off you will be.
- Strengthens the Bond Between Pet And Owner- When you begin training your lab puppy using a reward system, it creates positive associations. This reinforces the need to please you, by learning more of the skills that lie ahead. In addition, as puppies are naive and easy to mold, he will develop trust and respect for you more easily.
Both dog and owner benefit
These previous benefits are more so directed towards the owner. However, the perks of early training for the puppy are infinite. Teaching your lab to interact with different surroundings and different individuals is critical. In doing so, he is able to familiarize himself with the outside world more rapidly. For example, having been deterred when he was little, your dog will know not to run onto the road. This results in preventing an unnecessary tragedy.
Possibly the best benefit is that your puppy will be able to enjoy a wider range of experiences in his lifetime. Rather than getting scolded for a misbehavior, he will be able to enjoy more privileges. This occurring due to bad behavior being corrected early on. Puppies, just like babies, need their owner’s guidance every step of the way. When the process is done early, it is most beneficial for all parties involved.
What Are the Drawbacks of Starting Late?
Conventional wisdom has suggested that somewhere around 6 months old is a good age to begin training. This may not be so. By 6 months, the dog is at a stage where becoming set in bad habits or behaviors tends to occur.
When you delay training your lab puppy, you make it harder for him to learn new things. As the phrase goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! The reality is that you CAN, but it is MUCH harder!
It is also important to remember that a puppy’s ability to learn and retain new information is the strongest in the first months. Take advantage of that! Of course, this doesn’t mean you should teach your 1-week-old puppy to start doing complicated tricks. However, keep in mind that it will be easier to get him to learn some cool moves the earlier you do it.
How Can I Train My Puppy the Right Way?
Positive reinforcement is a training method that most experts and specialists nowadays are in favor of. With this form of training, the focus is on good behavior that he learns and masters. This method produces a loving, but firm environment for the new puppy to grow.
In the early stages, you can also introduce your puppy to potty training and socialization. These are two integral concepts that need to be mastered early on.
Socialization is key
To properly socialize your good-natured lab, expose him to a variety of environments and guide him in the interaction process. This is a base level technique and can be implemented almost immediately. Start with something as simple as having your puppy get used to being petted by others. This can be done in his first few weeks at home.
Doing this will begin to put him at ease with being around people who you frequently interact with. It will also help prevent nasty problems later on, such as your dog getting alarmed and possibly lashing out when someone new shows affection. The more your pup gets used to a wide range of people and situations, the easier it will be when those situations present themselves in the future.
Potty training can be a much more complicated subject. It will vary depending on when exactly you choose to have your puppy start. However, you will thank your lucky stars once your Labrador gets the hang of this. Hooray, no more carpet stains!
Brain Training For Dogs: The Cost-Effective Alternative
Thanks to modern advancements, training your puppy doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming! The Internet has an extensive selection of dog-training resources available right at your fingertips, whether that be articles or more in-depth online programs. 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!
Rather than getting a trainer to work with your dog, you can do it yourself through the use of an easy online program at a fraction of the cost. This will ensure that YOU are the one establishing a bond with your pup firsthand while simultaneously learning training skills which may come in handy in the future.
During these first few weeks at home with your new pup, you can start utilizing resources such as online programs in order to help you build that early essential bond with your dog. Brain Training For Dogs uses a simple progressive training program that breaks the training down into simple school-themed modules – Preschool, Elementary School, High School, College, University, Graduation, and Einstein. It can be done in your own home, at your own pace, and with the free trial and an affordable price (currently $47 at the time of this writing) it is a no-brainer to try it out.
A Mutual Effort
As the proud new owner of a Labrador Retriever, you probably already recognize that you are taking on a responsibility that you must fulfill. Labs can be easier to train than other dogs, due to their warm and eager-to-please nature. With that said, you still will need to put in the work required to ensure that your puppy gets the proper training. Fortunately, it is easier and more cost effective now than it has ever been! You can be certain that this training process will be a rewarding process for both you and your pup.