Training Tips

A Labradoodle puppy's face says it all.

Mischievous, playful, intelligent, and seeking human connection. The Labradoodle craves to please you. That is a big start. They are super smart, intelligent dogs who use their brains to please you rather than to outwit you. They usually fly through Dog School, leaving the others far behind. But, their superlative intellect needs to be channelled by early training in order to get the very best from them. You can be sure that if you do not train your Labradoodle, it will, in a very short space of time, train you instead!!! An untrained Labradoodle can be a naughty, attention-seeking pain in the neck!

Labradoodles are employed in significant numbers of specialized areas. They:

  • Lead the blind
  • Work in hospitals and nursing homes as Therapy Dogs
  • Excel in Obedience and Agility Trials
  • Take part in Visiting Programs with the sick and the elderly due to their body cleanliness and gentle loving ways.
  • Excel as Alert and Assistance Dogs and Hearing Dogs
  • Make absolutely wonderful family dogs & are amazingly patient and forgiving dogs around young children.

Labradoodles thrive on training.

The time to begin training is the first day after you get your new puppy home. The main training "problem" we encounter is simply that someone who has never had one before, usually doesn't expect enough from their Labradoodle who is willing, in fact eager, to offer! They love to exercise their clever minds. In fact, if they don't get the training they are begging for, they can be naughty, and attention-seeking.

Most behavioural problems in a Labradoodle stem from its needing to feel that it is indeed a useful member of its human family. Early signals are naughtiness, and over exuberance. It's as if they are saying, “Hey! Take some notice of me....I want to serve you!!”

Take the time to put that extra care and effort into the early months of your Labradoodle puppy's life, and you will be rewarded with a canine companion without peer, a loyal friend, vigilant guardian and playmate of the children, patient baby-sitter, romping mate, jogging companion, or canine soul mate.

If we remember nothing else but this one point, we will still achieve a measure of success in the training of our dog. Dogs are not intentionally “bad” or “good”. They behave in ways dictated by instinct. You may hate your dog to be on the furniture, but your neighbour may quite like their dog sharing their armchair. It is up to you to show your dog what pleases you and what does not.

It is not fair to allow your dog to jump up on you today, when you are in your old clothes, and then tomorrow, forbid it because you are dressed in your good clothes ready to go out. The dog cannot be expected to appreciate the difference. And imagine how confusing to a dog, to be permitted to hop up onto the bed when clean and dry, but roused at for doing exactly the same thing when his paws are wet. Remember it is up to us to set the standards and then consistently and fairly re-enforce them.

In nature, dogs live in packs. They play in a pack, run in a pack, hunt in a pack, and even fight in a pack. Ever noticed how if two dogs start a fight, every other dog in the vicinity rushes up to join in? It is essential to the dog’s survival in the wild, that he knows his place in the pack. And the simple truth is, that if YOU are not your dog's pack LEADER, then your dog will surely be leader of your pack - you and your family!

When your puppy was growing up with his litter mates, they used play as a means of sorting out who stood where in the order of the pack. Puppies play rough! They growl and nip each other as they instinctively seek out their order in the pack. When your puppy comes home to you he/she will instinctively feel the need to find out where he/she stands in order of hierarchy within your family. Your puppy should learn early on that he is beneath even the smallest human being in pack order, and any nipping should be dealt with promptly.

You are not only Pack Leader for your dog (or should be), but you are also his/her GOD. So it is important that you are fair and consistent in your training. Try to work WITH your dog’s nature, rather than against it. Dogs, as the saying goes, will be dogs.

Good dogs crave their owner's pleasure. And Labradoodles are exceptionally good dogs! Dogs actually enjoy training, because it complements their natures as pack members. . In the pack, each dog searches out its 'boundaries' just like children do.

In this way, every dog is confident of its position within the pack. When new dogs meet, there is usually a lot of sniffing, breasting up and exhibitions of bravado along with plenty of stiff legged circling, as each dog measures up the other's position of leadership in relationship to its own. Your new puppy will instinctively be trying to work out who leads who. It is important that it is you! Your puppy must understand that even the smallest human is in a higher position of leadership than he/she is.

Naughty Dogs

Unwanted behavior like barking and howling, digging, chewing the furniture, leaping up all over everyone....all signal a dog out of control and begging to learn something.

Good dogs crave their owner's (pack leader's) approval. And Labradoodles are very good dogs! They need to know their position in the household and what is expected of them.

Teaching simple tricks, such as fetching a ball, carrying in the newspaper, lying in a special spot beside your armchair of a night, or walking quietly on a loose lead by your side, etc., are not only pleasing to you, the master or mistress, but also instil a feeling of usefulness and confidence in your dog. It is a good idea to feed your family before you feed your new puppy. this shows him that you are leaders and he must wait his turn.

This trait is one which can be capitalized on right from the start. The way to do this is to remember to praise the dog at the precise moment that it decides to do what you want, and to correct at the first sign of intention to disobey. DOGS THINK ONLY IN THE PRECISE PRESENT.

A dog is capable of concentrating only upon what is happening in the right NOW. It is pointless to punish it for what it did an hour ago, or even a few seconds ago. This is why clicker training is so useful, because it makes an instant connection in the dog's mind at the precise instant of the action.

Punishing a dog too long after the event, will only confuse the dog and make it lose trust in you, and lose respect for you.

This is the most common cause of the dog who........doesn't come when he's called !

So remember unless you catch the dog in the act of wrong-doing, you'll just have to grit your teeth, and leave it until next time for correction. Training a dog is similar to training a very young baby. Timing is crucial. We would not correct a baby for throwing its food onto the floor, twenty minutes, or even five minutes after the act! If he's doing something wrong and you can't get to him, a can full of pebbles, tossed to land just in front of his nose will startle him, which then gives you the chance to call him to you....for which you will praise him.

When timing is correct, the dog soon learns that good behaviour brings approval, like voice praise, or stroking with the hand, or giving a treat, whilst bad behaviour brings instant reproof or removal of your approval or presence. Stern voice, sharp tug on the lead, or whatever is appropriate for that moment.

The Lead

It is important to ALWAYS KEEP YOUR LEAD LOOSE. This just can't be over - emphasized. Resist the temptation to pull the lead taut. This will always teach the dog to pull against you. When your dog pulls to the side, or surges ahead, the word “heel” spoken firmly, accompanied by a short sharp tug on your leash, (followed instantly by slack, with “good dog”. It doesn't matter if the puppy has done right or not. He will associate the slack with the praise and begin to look for the slack and pleased tone in your voice.

TIP FOR PULLERS. If you start to feel as if you are pulling and jerking the leash too much, try another trick. Each time your dog lunges in front, turn quickly in towards him, giving tugs on the leash as you say “heel” (tug) “heel” (tug) “heel” (tug), and bump him with your knee each step. After a very little while your dog learns that if he surges ahead, he will very soon be 'going nowhere' and will sit down with a puzzled look. This gives you the opportunity to praise quietly and move off again.

Expect a little naughtiness at first. It's only a baby!

TEACHING THE SIT.

  1. Hold a treat just above and a little higher than his nose and behind his eyes.
  2. With your other hand, scoop his little bottom in the palm of your hand and plant it onto the ground. As you do this you are saying "Bozo..sit" with a downward inflection of your voice. When his bottom touches the ground, let him have the treat and praise him.
  3. Walk a few steps and repeat. Always walk a different number of steps, so as not to create a rythm that he anticipates, instead of learning the word "sit".
  4. The Labradoodle should be able to do this at eight weeks of age...they are very smart!

 

OLDER DOGS which have not learned to sit can be taught the same way if they are not too rebellious. Putting on a leash often helps. Your dog should sit squarely beside you when you stop walking. If he forgets, pull the lead sharply upwards, vertically, never backwards and instantly release (this is very important) as you repeat "sit" with a downward inflection of your voice. In the case of teaching a young puppy, pull the lead straight upwards with your right hand, and at the same time, scoop his little bottom underneath himself with your left hand. Then instantly praise, even if he only stays there for a few seconds. Gentle stroking is the best praise. Quick patting gets him excited and he will jump right up again.

At the end of each and every exercise your dog or puppy needs to know when he is released and should not release himself. “Good Dog” is not the best release, because it means we cannot praise our dog for encouragement to continue an exercise. Any word will do as long as it is consistently used. I generally say “off you go” or "free" and they know that the exercise is finished.

Sit "Stay" Always take the first step with the foot furthest from the dog when doing "stay" exercises. Place the palm of your hand squarely in front of the dog's muzzle in a short sharp motion. Likewise, when you are expecting the dog to walk off with you at heel, take the first step with the foot nearest to the dog. These small body language signals are easily read by the dog and help it to anticipate what you are going to ask it to do. Dogs instinctively look for body language. In the wild dog pack situation, every dog is intuitively "watching" for the body language of its pack members, as well as its prey. Often, the dog's very survival depends upon the correct reading of body language. These instincts are well developed, even in the domestic dog, and if we remember this, and work with the dog's instincts rather than against them, progress will be more rapid and also more permanent.

Never Ask for Anything You Can't Follow Through On

Be careful that you do not ask your dog to do anything you are not in a position to enforce. Each time your dog ignores your request, you are setting up a habit pattern of disrespect which will very quickly undo much of the hard work and training already done. When you strike a trouble spot, 'go back to basics'. In other words...back to the leash !

“Wait For Me” is a useful exercise I use when I want to leave the dog waiting, but don't expect it to remain motionless until my return. When "waiting" for me, the dog knows that it is allowed to shift itself around whilst waiting in order to be more comfortable, to sit or lie down, to turn itself over onto its other side, and so on, but still stay in the same spot that I left it in.

"Stay" on the other hand, means that the dog must stay quite still and if left at a "sit" has to stay sitting, and if left at a "drop or lie down" position, must stay lying down until you return to release it. The "Stay" exercise is important in Obedience Trials where the dog must remain motionless in exactly the same position master leaves him in.

Jumping on People is a Common Problem

As with all problems, it is a good idea to return to basics. By that I mean, teach the "Down" with the lead. This way there is no mistaking your meaning. your hand jerks the lead downwards sharply as you say "Down!" in a reproving and displeased voice. Step towards the dog, not away from it when teaching the "down".

As soon as the dog hits the ground, whether it was intentional, or accidental you praise the dog. This may happen a dozen times in the first session as the dog bounces up and down and back up again and you may feel that you are not getting anywhere. When your dog is DOWN, stroke it slowly. Quick pats encourage it to jump up again. And NO stroking or patting whilst in the air— ever. Remember consistency? Back to the leash and do not abandon it until the dog is doing the exercise perfectly every time.

Negative training (punishment ) is not recommended.

Positive training (reward - praise ) for wanted behavior and withdrawal of praise or removal of your attention or presence for unwanted behavior will bring positive results and a cheerful dog who is happy in his work.

Remember that quick excited patting produces quick excited responses in the dog. That is why so many dogs which play a lot with children and who have no formal training, turn into unruly, unmanageable pets when they do not have sufficient handling by an adult.

Heeling. some tips.

When you walk off WITH your dog at heel, start with your left foot. (The one closest to the dog). Use a cheery inviting tone and invite him along by saying 'let's go!"

When you LEAVE your dog, start walking with the right foot. (The one furthest from the dog).

These small body language signals are easily read by the dog and help it to anticipate what you are going to ask it to do.

You should re-enforce exercises on a long leash (up to 20 feet is ideal) and be absolutely confident of your control, before you do off leash work. You will find that to go slowly throughout the early stages until the dog is solid in its work, will give much faster progress and produce a long lasting affect.

Research carried out in the Defence and Guide Dog Centres in the UK shows that dogs have a stronger bond to the person who trains them than to the person who feeds and plays with them. The more intelligent the dog, the greater the need for early training.

Dogs develop intense devotion to their trainers, (their pack leader, remember?), and this is a sure indication that dogs enjoy being trained and indeed should be trained from a puppy on, in order to be happy well balanced members of our families and society in general.

Finally - Training Should be Fun for you and Your Dog!

These notes are only a basic introduction to the principles of training for simple obedience around the home and on the streets. Volumes have been written about the training of dogs in all kinds of activities and there are many excellent books on the market for those who wish to pursue dog training seriously or as a sport. But for you, it is often enough to have a well behaved pet around the home. And it is for you that these notes have been written.

Dogs do not behave in a way that is intentionally "good'" or "bad". They behave in an instinctive way according to their nature. It is up to us to "show" the dog what pleases us, (their pack leader), and what does not. Once the desired behaviour has been instilled into the dog it simply becomes a habit, just as bad behavior does if it is not corrected.

So How Much Training Is Enough?

Ten minute’s training daily is better than a long session now and then.

Your dog will eagerly look forward to its training and will set good habit patterns which you will both enjoy for the rest of its lifetime. Naturally, half an hour daily is better still, but a little quality time spent daily will pay huge dividends.

Good Luck and may you and your dog graduate and enjoy your training together.