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Training a dog (specifically a Lab)





gverutes
Hi,
I have been dog sitting for a great Black Lab and eventually want to get one of my own. The dog's temperament and personality are amazing. I can only imagine that it was trained well. Does anyone have tips on how to train a puppy so it grows up to be personable, nice and perhaps not even bark?
jwellsy
I would suggest reading everything you can about the AKC canine good citizenship test.
http://www.akc.org/future_dog_owner/index.cfm?nav_area=future_dog_owners

Then watch as many episodes of Ceaser Millan's "The Dog Whisperer" TV show as possible and pick up his book on raising the perfect puppy.
http://www.cesarsway.com/

Labs are great to train. Keep in mind the second half of their name, retriever. To fulfill the breeds potential and their happiness train a Lab as a retriever.

Do not play tug-of-war with a retriever. That teaches/rewards them for resisting you. You want to maximize a retrievers bidability, doing WHAT you want it to do WHEN you want him to do it.

The highest level of play and satisfaction for the Lab breed simulates retrieving game.
- It starts with the dog sitting on your left in the heel position
- Give the sit and stay command
- throw a ball, dummy, stuffed animal, stick or anything else
- Line the dog up with direction you threw it
- give the command "fetch" with a volume proportional to how far away it is.
- use hand signals to guide him to the target. Right arm fully extended to go that way or your left arm fully extended to go that way. Your arm fully extended straight up in the air means go out farther.
- when they find the target and bring it back they need to hold it in their mouth and sit
- releasing the object only when you say the command "Give" as you take it from them.

The main thing is to use simple one word commands that do not sound like any other command words, Animals do not understand sentences, that only confuses them and they will lose respect for you if you only use sentences.

One drawback to a Lab is that they do shed a lot. You may want to look at Labradoodles to get the personality of a Lab and the cleaner coat of a Poodle.

Good Luck on your journey. Labs are great family members.
soljarag
whatever you do, you should start the day you get the puppy...... if you slack in the begining, it will make it harder in the future
ocalhoun
gverutes wrote:
Hi,
nice and perhaps not even bark?


My mother had a yellow lab who would never bark... except when she was home alone and someone or something was sneaking around. My father never heard the dog bark, because it wouldn't bark when he was around to do the protecting duty.

So yes, labs can be trained to not bark, and even to bark only in specific situations.

That particular dog was the best trained I've ever seen. My parents took him to obedience training early on, which costs money and takes weeks of time, but it paid off big-time.
LittleBlackKitten
Cesar is a perfect trainer and I reccommend him (First hand!) He is a genius when it comes to dogs.

But I feel its important to point out that a dog uses barking as a means of communication. It's not aggression-based in the correct situations. Stopping a dog from barking is like telling a child to never speak or make noise ever again. Do you see how unfair that is? Good barking is something we DON'T want to stop - that "Hey, there's someone here." or "Do you see me?" or "Yes!" bark is a good bark we don't want to stop.

Take a scenario common to most home owners. You're fast asleep, car's at the shop, and someone is trying to break in, and you sleep through it. You wake up to everything missing.

Now, If you have trained your dog to never bark, same thing is going to happen; that dog is going to be AFRAID of barking because it's not allowed, and is going to be fearful of the burgler, which is also NOT good, as fear will only cause a dog to lash out in frustration at it's masters or at other humans or dogs.

Now, if your dog is allowed to alert you to unwanted people on the property, you'd have one barking, defensive dog who's going to...make that burgaler think twice about breaking and entering.

Or, your child is about to wander off through the gate. A dog knows this is breaking the "pack rules" and is going to try to alert the pack leader by barking. A dog that is not allowed to bark or that thinks it is the pack leader will try to take the situation into it's own paws, and surely you can see why that's a very bad idea.

Barking also is a way for dogs to let other dogs know where they are if they can't see eachother, to play, and to communicate emotion and health status. Dogs that don't bark are often seen as weaklings in the dog world, and will end up being dominated, or "bullied".
gverutes
Thanks for the useful input!
ocalhoun
LittleBlackKitten wrote:

But I feel its important to point out that a dog uses barking as a means of communication. It's not aggression-based in the correct situations. Stopping a dog from barking is like telling a child to never speak or make noise ever again. Do you see how unfair that is? Good barking is something we DON'T want to stop - that "Hey, there's someone here." or "Do you see me?" or "Yes!" bark is a good bark we don't want to stop.

Yes, but on the other hand, there's always the annoying dogs that will bark at nothing at all for hours on end.
I'm sure such dogs have reasons for that (sometimes including insanity), but that is a situation to be avoided if at all possible.
coolclay
Training a lab, um let's see
Step 1. Give up
Step 2. Attach shock collar
Step 3. Lab proof your home

Just kidding of course, but it will definitely be a challenge. Labs are just stubborn.
natilovesmike
Sorry you got so many bad responses....

As a positive dog trainer here are my two cents:

1- Do NOT follow cesar milan's tips. He very rarely has good tips...most of the time it makes me want to cry.
2- Books you should read: a) Don't shoot the dog by Karen Pryor and b) The culture clash by Jean Donaldson. They will give you a very good idea of how to train a dog (or any other animal really).
3- Take your puppy to a puppy class, one that focuses on socialization and start socializing your puppy early. This means expose your dog to all sort of things, making sure that the encounters are always positive experiences.
4- Do not have impossible expectations (i.e, a dog that doesn't bark)
5- Find dog trainers that use positive reinforcement methods (try www.apdt.com for a list in your area)
gverutes
Thanks, yea some of the comments are both funny and ridiculous. I know it's unrealistic to have a dog that doesn't bark, but other behavior things I hope can be had.
ocalhoun
gverutes wrote:
I know it's unrealistic to have a dog that doesn't bark,

It's not unrealistic at all... Certainly a lab can be trained not to bark, I grew up with one who never barked.
And you don't need to be abusive to do it either:
1: Gain the dog's trust, so that it wants to make you happy.
2: When the dog barks, do the absolute minimum you can to let the dog know that this makes you unhappy. This can usually be as little as a shout or even a stern look.
3: Reward the dog for not barking in situations where it normally would... and reward the dog if it stops barking when you tell it to. (Never give a second reward for stopping repeatedly, or the dog might start barking just to get the reward.)
4: Repeat as needed.

If you do this patiently and consistently, most dogs will learn the lesson and not bark.
LittleBlackKitten
All tips have their place and taking everything in to consideration is a good idea. Get books or read rfom the various supports people have told, and make your OWN mind up. Just because I say Cesar Millan is the god of the dog world doesn't mean you have to agree, just like this other trainer seems to think the opposite, doesn't mean you have to agree with THEM.

We both obviously have our reasons, and mine are because I have used and employed Cesar's techniques on Cesar, faithfully, and it has worked 100%, and I personally believe he is accurate (but not perfect). An excellent example of this is in the rare episode where he admits he made a mistake, misread, and misacted.

Those who see Cesar as "vicious" and aggressive don't truly understand dog psyche and how to address canines properly; that being said, his ways aren't the only way to train a dog. A dog can be bribed to obey (treat/positive reinforcement training) or behavior modification and controlling your dog the way a pack of dogs would (Cesar's way). One breeds "I get what I want if I do this for that tall biped" the other breeds "I will listen because you said so", much like you would expect from a child.

All in all, do what your heart tells you, and decide what's most important; a dog performing when you want it to, which for some is just fine, or a dog truly respecting you as it's master.
gverutes
is it true that brown labs are less well mannered than black and yellow labs?
natilovesmike
wow...tipicall answer from a Cesar millan fan...I don't want to be rude really...but most of what you say is ignorance. I have had this conversation with lots of CM fans and some of them followed my advice and read the current and most accurate literature on "leader of the pack" type behaviors.

a little summary...leader of the pack theory is old and innacurate, the biologist who first came up with it did it when studying wolf pack in captivity not in the wild, so the pack were not natural, they were made to be together in captivity...in the wild the story is very different and there is not bullying around to the the alpha and stuff like that...alphas are usually the "parents".

Anyway...I don't want to have to write a whole lot here...but I do have to say one more thing...

Positive reinforcement is NOT bribing...again...I attribute that to ignorance, if you read the literature and actually do it right you will realize that there is a big difference between positive reinforcement and bribing.

But I do agree with you in one point though....you will get advice from many people and they will all tell you something different...so it is in your heart that you will find what really works for you. And I do hope that whatever you find...is humane.


Another thing I wanted to mention about barking...
Sometimes barking can be rewarding for the dog...so it can be hard to fade out by just ignoring it. If that is the case you might want to teach the dog an incompatible behavior. 1- figure out why the dog barks, specially if its something predictable...then train the dog to do something different when the trigger for barking appears...i.e, go get a ball and play. But still, don't have unrealistic expectations...all dogs are different and have different personalities.
LittleBlackKitten
I'll ask you once and only once not to come at my personal beliefs one time and one time only before you find yourself completely ignored. I have no respect for people who go "Don't listen to that listen to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE because I'M RIGHT!" it makes you sound like a child, really.
owenbeckham
Dogs are need to train with heart
jwellsy
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I'll ask you once and only once not to come at my personal beliefs one time and one time only before you find yourself completely ignored. I have no respect for people who go "Don't listen to that listen to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE because I'M RIGHT!" it makes you sound like a child, really.


+1 well said and polite.
uzeed
Trainning a dog can be so intresting.... i had a dog which i trained and i will never forget brown..... Anyway make sure you get a puppy, Always talk to your dog as if it hears you. treat the dog like a human and you will be amazed how your dog will act like a human for you...... I like dog for one thing, They know their owner.
Osbaldo
Great thread.
Give it time! The first thing you must to do is put her in the
crate while you are home.
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