Labrador retrievers were initially bred in Newfoundland to help fishermen. As a result, they are known for being eager to please, energetic and water-loving. Fortunately, these traits make a Lab puppy easy to train. You will probably bring home your puppy when it is six to eight weeks old. This is the perfect time to begin teaching basic commands as well as manners for interactions with humans. It's also the best time to start potty training your Lab.
Things You'll Need
- Collar and leash
Socialize your seven-week-old Lab to as many people, dogs and situations as possible. Dog trainers and veterinarians agree that the best socialization period is seven to 14 weeks of age, though veterinarians caution you not to take your puppy out until it has received all its vaccinations. Compromise by inviting people to your house or holding your puppy rather than placing it on the ground. If your puppy seems overwhelmed or hesitant to greet, don't force it. Have the stranger ignore the puppy until it feels brave enough to approach. When it does, praise it, and reward it with a treat.
Begin potty training when you bring your Lab home. Although some breeds are challenging to housebreak, Labs usually learn quickly. If you can't supervise your puppy, put it in a crate or small room with a potty pad. When you are supervising, lead it outside every hour. If it goes, reward it and bring it back in. It does not go, continue to supervise, or put it in the crate. If you see it sniffing, run it outside. Anticipate your puppy's needs.
Teach your puppy to sit immediately. Labrador retrievers are known as exceptionally friendly. This means they are likely to jump all over you and your guests. Ignore this behavior until it stops. Don't look at or talk to your puppy. When it calms down, teach it to sit. To do this, hold a treat over its nose and move it slowly back toward the dog's rump. As its eyes follow the treat, it will sit. Say "sit" as he is doing it and then "good" and reward with the treat. After two or three repetitions, use your finger without the treat. Then, reward with a treat from your pocket. Before giving your Lab attention, always make it sit.
Yell "ouch" if your Lab nips you. Be dramatic. When it pauses, offer it a toy to play with. If it bites you again, yell "ouch" and storm from the room. Labs are bred to use their mouths, so a seven-week-old puppy must be taught immediately not to put its teeth on humans. Because it is eager to please, this method is very effective. You can also teach "leave it." Do this by holding several treats in your hand. Offer one or two and say "take it" before each. Then, close your fist and say "leave it." Ignore all nipping, barking and pawing. When your puppy voluntarily leaves your fist alone, praise it and give it a reward. Once your puppy can ignore treats, practice with hands, shoes and other objects your puppy picks up.
Practice loose-leash walking with your puppy from the first few days. Each time your puppy starts to pull, stop walking. When it turns to look at you, praise and start walking again. Repeat this consistently each time it pulls.