Training Labrador Retrievers

November 20, 2014 – 08:54 pm

Labrador Retriever dog breed

Are Labrador Retrievers easy to train?

Labrador Retrievers are the most popular breed in the United States, so it's no surprise that I've had hundreds of them in my obedience classes.

I like seeing Labrador Retrievers in my classes because they are typically easy to train. This isn't because they are highly intelligent. In my experience, most Labs are moderately intelligent rather than highly so. But this is actually a benefit, because very smart dogs often use their intelligence to figure out ways to AVOID doing what they don't want to do, so they're often more challenging to train. So whether a dog is easy to train depends more on his willingness to please than on his intelligence – and most Labrador Retrievers are very willing to please.

The most common problem when training Labrador Retrievers is over-enthusiasm. Many Labs are much more energetic than their owners thought they would be. Young Labrador Retrievers, in particular, can be boisterous and rambunctious and you will need to focus on calming them down, calming them down, calming them down. This can take a long time, because the Labrador Retriever matures slowly. He will act like a spirited teenager for two or three years.

I had a 17-month-old black Lab in my classes named Elmo, and Elmo surely had attention deficit disorder plus hyperactivity. It was hard to keep his attention focused on anything for more than 30 seconds. He was constantly scanning with his eyes and ears and nose for something more interesting to do. And he couldn't sit still, always wanted to be in motion. Fortunately, Elmo was thoroughly good natured, so you couldn't help but love him, but training a Labrador Retriever like Elmo is certainly a challenge!

Training your Labrador Retriever can take some strength on your part, because many Labs are built like bulls, with thick powerful necks. Training a Labrador Retriever to walk on a leash without pulling may be the most challenging exercise. Training them to stop jumping on people is another one you may really need to work on. And because Labs are retrievers, they are "mouthy" dogs. Give them plenty of toys to carry around so they won't be tempted on chew on your household furniture instead.

In short, I love training Labrador Retrievers. All you really need to do is give them ample opportunities to vent their energy and enthusiasm (by providing enough exercise), then show them acceptable ways to walk on the leash and greet people.and don't forget those toys for carrying around.

So when you ask, "How easy is it – training Labrador Retrievers?" my answer is, "Usually easy to moderately easy. But it depends on the temperament and personality of the individual dog, plus your own dog training skills."


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"Allah commands us to go on a camping trip..."

English Woods a Suspected Cover for Terror
By Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 13, 2006; Page A14
LYNDHURST, England, Sept. 12 -- Jake, an arthritic Labrador retriever, slept beneath an ancient oak tree in a warm September breeze. Ponies roamed untethered, children kicked pine cones along gravel forest paths, and Edith Jones stood outside her camper wondering how such a tranquil spot had become, according to police, a training ground for terrorists

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