Labradors are dog species that are eager to learn. They are so intelligent that they can be trained at any age period. So Labrador owners are always in continuous doubt about the right age to start training. Conflicts still exist in deciding the right time for starting your Labrador training.
Some experienced dog trainers suggest that training should not be provided until the Labrador reaches 6 months of age. This suggestion implies that puppies should be left alone for a period and they should be kept happy for some time.
While other trainers suggest that training should start from 8 weeks of age. These conflicting age differences create some questions in the trainer’s mind. But these two age suggestions are meant for high level training. Even though these two age ranges exist, some people claims that there are no specific age ranges to start training.
Depending on the type of training, there may be some age changes. Base level training should begin from 3 days of age. Dog training is no just about building a bond but it’s a learning process to make your young Labrador to grow into an adult dog that is safe to be around with people and is sociable. Labrador dogs can be trained very easily than any other dog breeds but sometimes your puppy may be very slow in responding.
In such a condition you have to be patient. Some Labrador puppies are born with temperament problems which make them to get distracted easily so it is better to know your dog before starting the training. Labradors tend to enjoy the training only when they are healthy. So loss of interest in training means that your dog is in an unhealthy condition. So before going for training you should know your dog better.
When should training start?
In generally the right time for training usually depends on two things. They are the type of training and the right age for training. Following are the means to determine the right time of training;
1.Based on the type of training:
When most people suggest on training based on the age some says that the right time to start training should be based on the type of training you are providing.
- Base level training: Speaking of base level training we are not talking about teaching the Labrador puppy commands like “STAY” or ‘SIT”. These types of training begin from 3 days old. The main two important key points of base level training involves neurological stimulation and socialization. Socialization is all about ensuring that your Labrador puppy is comfortable around different types of peoples and various kind of environment. At this age the Labrador puppy can be made sociable by making him used to be being petted and played with. The puppy age is when he is with his litter and has a lot of playful activities. This makes him used to with other dogs. But you should have to keep in mind that too many people will make your Labrador puppy too much overwhelmed and it would create a stressful situation to the puppy.
Neurological stimulation is an important part of dog growth. The third day old age to the 17 days of life is considered as the most important period of neurological growth and development. So it is important to ensure that the Labrador puppies gain their neurological growth at this time period. Neurological stimulation training involves handling puppies gently and subjecting them to different kinds of sensation. Neurological growth training at this age period has resulted in early maturation of puppies. This training is called as Early Neurological stimulation (ENS) exercises. But this training is mostly confined to breeders. If the mother of the Labrador puppy is there then we don’t have to go for this training. Mainly the litter and mother will teach him about this till he attains 8 weeks of age.
- Formal training: The critical learning period for a dog lies in the first 6 months. In the first 6 months he is open to learning. It is also the period where he learning progress is more rapid. This is also the period when he is able to become adapted to new environment. At the end of 6 months all the behavioural issues will be at place so it is better to start training as early as possible.
The first seven weeks is the time to start obedience training. House training is an important formal training you have to give when you bring the Labrador puppy home. But there are certain issues in providing him the house training. In the first 12 weeks we cannot teach him potty training. Because under 12 weeks of age he doesn’t have a great level of control over his bladder or bowels. So they should not be punished for not learning it. In between 8 and 10 weeks we could start the training for basic instructions. But basic instruction should be provided only when is mastered in his house training skills and socialised well.
The basic training instructions sit, heel, stay, come and lie down. While learning to sit, make him sit for a couple of seconds because at this age he may find it extremely difficult to stay calm. They can be made calm by using meals. An 8 week old Labrador puppy is ready for this kind of training. Some Labrador puppies may learn it sooner.
- Advanced training: Most of us want to make our Labrador puppy to become active as early as possible. But we never make sure if he is ready for it. In the first six months don’t make him run for long distance. This is due to physical attributes of the puppy. At this age he is more prone to have joint issues. Also, the leg bones are in their development stage. Don’t expect your younger puppy to play well at fetch. They may not be understanding it much at that time. But it doesn’t mean that he will never master it in the future. For this training the calmer commands that you have taught before has to be reviewed because once the dog reaches puberty he becomes more energetic and create more issue because of the hormonal ages.
2. Based on the age:
- 8 weeks old: The highly recommended age period to keep him away from his mother. Owners usually get their Labrador puppy at this age. A Labrador puppy younger than 8 weeks is learning the skills such as canine communications, accepting discipline with others, pack order, bite inhibition and play. So a puppy taken away before 8 weeks hinders their development and is not fair to the puppy too. An important thing to be kept in mind is that when you bring him home after attaining 8 weeks of age he starts learning at each second he walks with you. 8-12 weeks of age is considered as the most fearful period of Labrador puppy although some doesn’t experience it. At this period it is better not to make him subjected to loud noises and harsh punishments.
The training at this stage should be simple ones. Start with simple commands such as “stop” and “no”. Teach him to stay calm during meals. Because puppies get overexcited at this stage. So it is better to start simple obedience training at this stage. Make him understand the daily routines. Routines such as sleep time, exercise period and play time should be made clear to him. Getting to know the place where meal and water bowls are placed is important to make him sure about the location in which he resides. You can help your puppy to understand the daily routines by following the right time on every day.
Biting training should be provided at this age period. The Labrador puppy is in his playful period at this age. So he is more likely to bite everything. At this age you should play with him more often than training him. But don’t do for tug of war type games because remember that he is still in the development process. Before the three months of age the dog does not have the capacity to retain the training.so periodic reviews are required.
- 3-4 months old: At this age period we can move to more complex commands such as sit, stay and lie down. But these complex will only work he have mastered in the simple ones. In this period we can train him to stop barking when you command him. So teach him to stay quiet and calm. He is now ready for accompanying for walks. But don’t start with long walks at once. Start from short ones proceed to more as he progress. Allow him to stay with other persons and animals in the house. So that he gets comfortable around other people. This age is the right time to play fetch. So the training for retrieving things starts at this session.
The stay command has to be strengthened at this period. Make him stay with us when the time for training or bathing comes. The right time to change his behaviour to a calmer and gentler one. These foundational skills are important in the future else he will not be obedient at adulthood and it can cause severe headaches in the future.
- 4-6 months old: The age period in which he is in his pack knowledge. He began understanding the ranking based on the submissions and dominance. The period where he becomes bratty and always tries to test your limits. He began showing wilfulness and independence. You should train him more about obedience at this stage and keep on the training with the main basic commands.
All training should be done in leash. Going off-leash should be done in a more confined space. Obedient training is more important because he doesn’t positively respond to your commands then it can become dangerous while in public. If he doesn’t listen at this stage then there is a possible chance of him not listening to you in the future period. It is the age when he starts teething. So make sure to provide him with enough toys to bite to wash off the stress. Chewing behaviour also starts at this stage so toys for chewing also needs to be considered.
This is the period where you should start with more complex training like retrieving. The right time to start playing with a ball. Play fetch with ball as the basic step to start teaching about retrieving. Tricks like roll overs and handshakes can be taught at this period.Making him listen to your commands is important. So start with seeking his attention when you go for giving him a command. It is time to make your Labrador puppy to realise the names of members in the family.
Why Should We Start Training Labrador Puppy at 8 Weeks?
The basic idea for this period to start training comes from the saying that “as soon as he reach home”. 8 weeks of age is the time to separate him from his mother so this time is when you usually receive your Labrador puppy. The first day to the 8 week period is the duration when he learns all about being a dog. Because this is the period where he is spending most of his time with his mother and the litter mates. By this period he must have learned all his bite inhibition practice from his litter mates. Basic dog knowledge such as canine communication and pack order will be taught by their mother. The first basic discipline classes must have been received.
When you receive him and bring him home he is now living in a different environment. Once he is with you he doesn’t have any knowledge about the new place. He is a keen observer at this stage. Everything we do, rewards, everything he sees, every experiences be it good or bad, sight, tastes, smell, and punishments everything have an impact on him. Because these experiences train him in some way. He believes that all experiences he had was granted by you so he waits for your guidance. In other words he may think of you as the alpha in his pack.
The Labrador puppy take signs from you in deciding where to go, where he shouldn’t be going, what should not be taken, what to be afraid of, and what should you play with and it goes on and on. At this stage they cannot take care of themselves but they study your every move and keep on learning about the new place. So at this stage they are very innocent so it is up to us in teaching them about the good habits you want him to learn.
This period has an advantage of breaking all the bad habits and teaching the good ones instead of them because the Labrador puppy has no preconceived reason to not follow you. But when you start training him never expect too much from him.
Always remember that he is still a baby so there is no need of correcting them. You have to keep the training sessions funnier because these age period is meant to be the playful period of the Labrador puppy. So every training should be more like games. Always try to keep it very short because the Labrador puppies have a very short attention span at this time.
So don’t try to make him attentive and train him for hours because it might be make him only stressful and not learning a single thing. Train him with gentle exercises for a short period of time when you have his attention. If your Labrador puppy is not interested in training or makes mistake while attempting to do it, just let him go. We can train later than stressing him too much.
The Six Month Rule
Many experienced dog trainers suggest that a Labrador puppy should reach 6 months old before starting the formal training. The main reason is that, for formal training a more obedient dog is required and we teach them the correct method by applying pressure on the leash and on collar. Young Labrador puppies cannot be subjected to such treatments because it may not be helpful for their growth and development.
It has also become evident that the dogs trained at 8 weeks old and 6 months old have similar kind of skill developed when become adult. As the dog’s bone and joints are still in development in the puppy stage they cannot be trained for formal trainings. Formal trainings are usually very tough so as for young puppies it will be much difficult. Mental strength and physical strength are of equal importance while considering the formal training.
The 6 months old Labrador puppies have already developed their new habits by this age. At this period he thinks himself of as a more independent dog. He will have all kind of mischiefs ready to show you. So in formal training complex commands are been taught. If he is not ready to listen or not calm then the training sessions are going to be much difficult. Keeping him steady and calm will be challenge at this stage. So in most situations the trainers will become frustrated because of his behaviour. As long as he resists we also starts pressurising him to do things that we want. This is where all the training sessions go wrong.
When he gets pressurised to do things against his will, he will get anxious about it. We have to watch carefully her because anxiety is the first stage to aggression. If he reaches that level then there is no way of going back. So in total we can say that this is the time period the trainer began facing more challenges. We will have to train him based on the dog’s will to perform. Even though we can apply pressure to the leash and collar to make him right, it might have a limit for doing this practice every time. There is always a stage
when the dog stop to respond to our commands so it is better the trainer and dog should have a proper communication. The dog may have the physical and mental strength but his willingness to learn new things is what matters the most. Patience is an important thing that the trainer should have while training the Labrador puppy above 6 months of age.
In this training period, every wrong behaviour he has learned and the entire wrong thing taught should be cleared. Over excited or improperly behaved Labrador puppies can be handled easily by training him just before his meal period, because at this time he may be hungry and is ready to do anything. It is just like training with reward but with increased excitement for rewards. Always have secondary reinforcements while training because not at every time we will be having a treat to reward him.
Labrador puppies are one of the enthusiastic dogs with eagerness to learn new things. Whether you want him to be just your companion or a service dog, it is a better idea to start training as soon as possible. In generally speaking there is no specific age for starting the training. Because Labrador puppies are very intelligent dogs. It always depends on your Labrador puppy and you wish and willingness to start.
But the type of training should have to be based on the age, mental development and physical growth. The basic training which includes socialisation and neural stimulation should begin from three days of life. But this only applies to the case when the puppy has lost his mother or doesn’t have a litter pack to train.
Generally you will receive your Labrador puppy at the age of 8 weeks old. From ages of 8 weeks onwards the simple basic training should be started. This includes the “stop” and “no”. A basic routine development takes place at this stage. It is also the period when he tries to get comfort around the new environment. Learns the place where his meal and water bowl is placed. The formal training should begin only from 6 months of age onwards.
Because this is the time when the Labrador puppy achieves the required mental and physical development. In between the eight weeks of life and six months of age should be the time for training the basic commands such as sit, stay, lie down and come. From the age between 12 and 18 weeks should the training for steadiness training and walking on leash should begin.
The first three months of age to the four months of age is the period when you should start teaching your Labrador puppy about retrieving objects. Before the first three months of age the puppy does not have the ability to retain everything so periodic reviewing is needed. In between the 4 months of age and 6 months of age is the period where he listens to you for your commands.
But for some Labrador puppies they may be hyper active at this stage. In such cases the training becomes difficult but still possible. The period where you can teach him about sound signals. If you want to go for more advanced training such as for hunting this is the best time to start. So in generally we can say that the training should be based on the dog’s growth.
If you want him to have certain skills and habits start with 8 weeks of age. But do not stress him with advanced training at that period. The most advanced training and complex commands should only be given at the age of 6 months. If your Labrador puppy progress slowly you don’t have to rush him. Take enough time for your dog to understand the commands.