One of the most important things to ask about a dog breed is whether or not they're easy to train. If you've never had a dog before, then finding a pup that's quick to train can be vital to making sure that you're the best pet parent for your dog possible. So, if you're thinking of adopting a Labrador Retriever puppy and are a first-time pet owner, then you're in luck.
Labrador Retrievers are working dogs bred to assist humans with tasks like herding animals or working with livestock. Retrievers specifically were bred as hunting dogs who would go and fetch the prey that their owner had just shot. A working breed responds well to training and wants to please their owner above everything.
So, are Labs easy to train? Yes, if done right!
Adopting a Labrador puppy is different than adopting an older pet. Puppies require a lot of work! They are not potty trained when you adopt them, so step one will be to potty train your Labrador Retriever.
Luckily, they're very receptive to any training method that you might research so long as it has been proven effective before. Just because Labrador puppies are easy to train doesn't mean that they'll be perfect students.
A few of the first things that you should prioritize with your Lab puppy are:
Once they understand the basics, you can move on to more complicated or fun things like rolling over or shaking your hand. Since Labradors are smart dogs and easy to train, they'll quickly pick up on things so long as you start training early!
What's most important for an active dog?
Lab puppies are active dogs, so you should prioritize the skills that will allow them to run around and socialize at a dog park with other dogs. As energetic dogs, the perfect owner for a Labrador puppy is someone who can give them the love and attention that they need to thrive while also tempering their excitement so that they aren't wild or unruly like a very active breed can become.
Whether you're a first-time dog owner or a veteran, it's always good to refresh your memory about how to make training fun and effective for your Labrador puppy. Keeping your puppy happy during training will make it much easier to communicate what you expect from them, and they'll be receptive to your expectations as well.
Positive reinforcement training methods
Just like when you were a kid and were given stickers, rewards, or pizza parties for being on your best behavior, a Labrador will learn well when they're given reasons to continue doing what you're asking them to do, and they respond best to rewards.
Positive reinforcement can come in many different forms, including:
- Treat giving
- A new toy
As Labs are very smart dogs, they'll pick up on things fast, too, so you won't have to worry about giving them a tasty treat as food. Otherwise, they may develop excessive weight. Working dog breeds like the Labrador are easy to train because they're an obedient dog.
Clicker training program
Another option for obedience training that can get the whole family involved is a clicker. A clicker is a small device with a button in the middle that makes a clicking sound when it's pressed. You can use the clicker's sound to signify when your dog has done something you feel should be rewarded.
When you're first starting with the clicker, you should accompany the clicking with a treat to show that the clicking means they've done well. Your body language should also tell your Labrador that you think they've done a good job.
If you don't think you have what it takes to be a firm teacher, then there's absolutely no shame in signing your puppy up for training classes. As soon as they have all of their vaccines, you can sign them up to have someone else train them.
A well-behaved dog is a happy dog, so there's no shame in recognizing that you wouldn't be able to give your puppy the guidance that they need.
Siobhan Brier is an animal and dog lover who will rudely interrupt conversations to point out cute dogs in public when necessary. She works as a content writer and co-owner of a small content writing agency in English, Spanish, and Portuguese called Inkless. As an online worker she travels internationally, and she is currently based in Mexico. She loves reading and writing, and she recently finished a novel based on her time living on the remote Galapagos Islands, a place known for its plentiful, endemic wildlife population!