Training your Labrador is highly recommended for your dog’s safety and well being, as well yours. I’ve found that while you can never start training too early, it is also never too late to begin! People often associate training with simple commands: sitting, rolling-over, housetraining, and crate training. However, there is much more you can train a Labrador to do. So, what can you train a Labrador to do?
You can train a Labrador to do a myriad of things, from simple commands to very complex tasks. Some examples of what they can be trained for are:
- Typical indoor house commands – e.g. sit or stay until released
- Leash training
- Guard dog training
- Specialized training – e.g. service dogs, police/military, therapy, and hunting
Labradors are incredibly intelligent, which makes training them relatively easy compared to other breeds. In this article I’ll talk about some of the easier things that we can train our Labs to do. For the average owner, there are ways to help train at home that are more affordable and convenient than one might think. I’ll cover those details, and additionally explain why it is so important to follow through on training for the long run.
Simple Things to Train Your Labrador For
While some of what you train your Labrador for may be merely for entertainment, most of their training should have a very intent purpose. Tasks that are purposeful will likely relate to you or your dog’s safety and peace of mind in certain situations. Here are just a few examples:
Stay Until Released
Teaching your dog to stay in one place until you release them can is an important safety training technique. In situations where there are dangers nearby, there will be a reduced risk to them. This also can help your dog not get lost in chaotic situations. As a result, this allows you to focus on the immediate problem or danger instead of your dog’s whereabouts.
Obey On a Leash
As an owner, managing your dog on a leash is important. We need to ensure that they are not tugging and pulling us along. It should be understood that we are in control over where our dogs go, not the other way around! This keeps everyone safe and makes for a more enjoyable walk.
No Puppy Biting!
When your Lab is still a puppy, play biting will likely rear its ugly head. Many bite when playing or roughhousing and don’t even realize it is wrong because they haven’t been taught differently. Teaching your Lab that biting is wrong can prevent future accidents and aggression. For more specifically on that, check out my article: Lab Puppy Biting: Simple Tips To Stop It Early
Guard Dog Training
Labradors make incredible guard dogs. However, if not conditioned properly from the on-set, their effectiveness can be severely reduced. It is important to focus on a couple of aspects early.
Only Bark When Necessary
Teaching your dog to only bark when they feel threatened or when their owners are in danger is vital. This can help you, or others, become alerted when something is wrong. If your dog barks all the time it can have a desensitizing effect. Boy Who Cried Wolf, anyone?
Being a Barrier Dog
Training your dog to stand in-between you (or your family) and a perceived threat is another great technique. This places a wall between you and potential danger. Additionally, it has the ability to let her feel like she is protecting you without having to use aggression. If she simply guards you against something they perceive as a threat, chances are the threat will back down.
See Related: Can You Train A Labrador To Be A Guard Dog?
It’s important to understand the capabilities of Labrador Retrievers, which is why I mentioned the various specialized training types. However, these types of trainings are generally going to require seeking out professional services. This can become very costly.
Depending on your lifestyle, certain types of specialized training may be worth the cost. For example, gun dog training can save an owner both time and money in the long run. Some of the skills that can be taught that may not be instinctive to Labs can also hurt the wallet.
Additionally, it can be extremely rewarding for both the owner, and the Lab, to pursue some of these specialized skills. For example, Labradors can make wonderful Service Dogs for families in need.
Types of Training
Training a dog can be done a variety of ways. Historically, the go-to method was to seek out a professional in-person. Fortunately, advancements in technology have led to the creation of at home, online training. Each option has it’s benefits. So which one is right for you?
- Traditional, tried and true method
- Generally scheduled in a consistent and structured format
- Separation from owner and home environment can help with attentiveness
- Often requires a rigorous schedule and is time consuming
- Usually have to travel with your dog to the training location
- Less owner-involvement
- Convenient, flexible schedule
- Can be done from anywhere as long as you have a device and internet connection
- More owner involvement
- Very inexpensive!
- Modern, may feel less formalized
- Easy to not be disciplined
- Responsibility sits with the owner
My Pick: Online Training
While everyone’s situation is different, I personally recommend the online training alternative. The Internet has an extensive selection of dog-training resources available right at your fingertips. Owners can review text articles and books or sign up for more in-depth online programs. The one that I recommend is Brain Training For Dogs, by Adrienne Farricelli.
Adrienne uses a simple progressive training program that breaks the training down into 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. It is the only online training that I reviewed and listed in my Recommended Products section. So go check it out!
Why Is Training Good For Your Labrador?
Training your Labrador is important for both their mental and physical health. Challenging them cognitively and physically can provide long term benefits. Not to mention, performing your required commands typically results in a reward. We know they love being rewarded!
Your dog needs exercise daily, weather permitting. There may be times where opportunities to exercise is limited. In some instances, training can stand-in for your daily exercise and promote physical health for your dog as well.
Labs can experience increased cognitive ability the more they are exposed to training. Like us, the more opportunities they have to work their minds, the more mentally fit they are likely to be.
Labrador Training Overall
Training your Labrador is one of the most important things you can do. Labs are capable of learning a variety of skills, and should be afforded the opportunity to strengthen their minds to the fullest.
Nowadays, training can come in various forms. Online training is a great, modern alternative that is effective, affordable, and convenient. While you should start as early as possible, it’s never too late to start!