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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Why is training essential for Labrador Retrievers?

Training is a part and parcel of everyday life. It may not occur to you, but you are imparting training to your dog whenever you bar him from doing something he oughtn’t. When you encourage him to do something good and positive, that too is training.

Training is a process of guiding your dog to a happy and healthy lifestyle. Training has so many advantages. Here are a few of them.
  • 1 Training will help your Lab become a well-adjusted animal in the human scheme of life.
  • 2 His good manners will also earn him good friends.
  • 3 He will be an asset to you.
  • 4 He will be a pet that you will be proud to show to your friends.
  • 5 You will enjoy taking your trained dog for walks.
  • 6 He will not be an embarrassment to you on your outings, as he will not unnecessarily chase other dogs or kids.
  • 7 He will not pick fights with other animals either.
  • 8 Training him keeps your house free of doggie poop and pee.
  • 9 Your trained Lab will not steal food.
  • 10 He will not nip your friend's ankles or jump up on guests.

You are doing your Lab a great big favor by training him. Training stimulates his brain and awakens his intelligence. You train your dog because he deserves it. He is a beautiful animal who must spend his life beside you amidst a loving family. He must definitely not be relegated to the dark recesses of a garage or tied to a stake in the yard. Are these not reasons enough for a responsible dog owner to train his pet dog?

1 Pack Behavior

Training a dog establishes the master and follower relationship. Dogs are basically pack animals. That is why they easily accept a master as their leader. In a pack, the one who gives the commands sets the rules, and makes the decisions is considered to be the leader.

Their pack mentality is what enables dogs to carve a comfortable niche for themselves among humans. Isn’t it nice to know that even if your family comprises of only you, your Lab will consider it as a pack to which he belongs. You will not find any cat following any such behavioral patterns. Cats are solitary creatures. A dog loves to belong! So if your Lab is given the clear message that you are the boss and he is the subordinate, you will find it easier to train him!

On the flip side, if you do not establish yourself as the leader, you will find yourself facing a very queer situation indeed! If you are not the leader your dog will consider it his duty to take on the role of leader himself.

How will this behavior manifest itself? Your doggie will start exhibiting rather rude and disrespectful behavior. Of course your doggie does not really realize that his behavior is rude or disrespectful, he is merely doing what a doggie pack leader does.

2 Follower dogs

Labrador Retrievers just love being follower dogs. In the doggie world things are much simpler! When you are the leader whom your dog can implicitly trust, then things are just cool for him. He does not have to be concerned about anything at all. He knows that you have things under control. While he follows instructions, you take care of all the decision-making. You are the one who keeps things under absolute control. He needs to have no concern with the complicated happenings of the human world around him.

Your Lab laps up the appreciation and compliments that people around him shower him with! He thrives on love! And he is an intelligent animal. So when you teach him anything, he learns it quite easily. Since he is so willing to learn and listen, you on your part find it easy to teach him good positive behavior. Goodness is contagious. So because your Lab is well behaved and content, you find it an easy and joyful experience to take him out with you wherever you go. As a result he loves this and loves you even more. Oh what a wonderful life dogs lead!

To add icing to the cake, a dog that is a follower knows that the consequences of his behavior are tons of praises, plenty of petting, and heaps of rewards. So why would the dog want to be anything else? The intelligent animal that your dog is also knows just the kind of behavior for which he will be scolded and reprimanded, so he steers clear of that sort of behavior too!

A well-trained dog soon understands the meaning of human sounds. With this he develops a sense of belonging to the human pack! He feels he understands what is happening around him and feels in sync!

Another interesting thing to note is that a dog that is a follower tends to have a better-developed brain! In other words, the more you teach and the more he learns, the more his brain tends to become stronger and faster! What an interesting state of affairs! The more he is taught, the more his capacity to learn new things increases.

3 Teaching Respect

Once your Labrador Retriever learns to respect you as his pack leader, you will find it much easier to teach him anything. This is because dogs want to please the leaders whom they respect. They are happy being followers.

Your Lab will love you, as all dogs just blindly love their masters. But he will respect you only if you have earned his respect. And always keep in mind that teaching him to respect you will in no way diminish his love for you. What must be uppermost in your mind is that if you want to take proper care of him, you must teach him to respect you. Respect is something that will create a mutually beneficial bond.

4 Educating your Labrador Retriever

Once you have taught your dog to respect you, you have begun the process of educating him. You were sent to school to get an education and as a result you can live peacefully in society today! Similarly, an educated dog will find it easy to adjust well in the environs of human society.

When you educate your dog, you teach him lots of words and their meanings too. While this process is happening, your dog is gradually building up his respect for you. He is learning to see you as a leader who is fair, worthy of respect, and a capable leader.

This brings about a change in his attitude towards you; his behavior will become much better towards you.

Once your Lab has acquired an education, he becomes a happy, smart, and confident pet. A veritable pleasure to own! With an understanding of some of the words of the human language he has become very confident. His education has equipped him with the knowledge of how to exhibit good behavior. He also knows what is considered bad behavior.

The fact that he knows what to do, as well as what not to do, makes him so very secure too! Dogs simply love security. In his little world you are the giver of knowledge and dispeller of darkness. So you are the absolute light of his little universe! He knows you are a person whom he can trust and look up to. Since he believes in you, he will do just about anything for you. Isn’t this what you want from your loving pet dog?

Another thing that you must realize is that if you want to enjoy the benefits of a true companion, you must educate your Lab. An uneducated Lab will be just another casual pet. He will never get to be the dog that he could have been. He will never get to know his own capabilities or his own true worth. And you must have heard the ancient saying that says, “A mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste.” So put in your best effort and train your lovely Lab! A Labrador retriever is such an intelligent animal that he could actually be classified as a true “thinking” dog. He looks at your face, gauges your facial expression, understands your body language, and listens very carefully to what you say. What a lovely pet to have for a companion. So make the most of it!

Dogs are not human – they are canines

In all our enthusiasm in showering our pets with love and affection and care and cuddles, we sometimes tend to overlook the fact that our four-legged furry companion does not belong to the human species. Unless we take enough care to see that he learns the nuances of being accepted into human society, he will exhibit his predominantly canine traits and characteristics.

1 Barking for no apparent reason

Barking is a very natural phenomenon for a Labrador Retriever. It was a means of communication of the dog with his master when the dog was used to retrieve hunted game. Today a dog that is domesticated and brought home to be a pet and companion will bark for numerous other reasons. Some of these reasons could be as follows.

  • 1 When he is bored, lonely, distressed or scared.
  • 2 To attract attention.
  • 3 Barking when defending his territory.

Excessive barking can also be accompanied by howling, which sounds really sad and morose. But there are very simple remedies for this excessive barking in most cases.
  • 1 Exercise
  • 2 Healthy food
  • 3 Plenty of love
  • 4 Tender care

Make your dog feel wanted. Regulate the temperature of the room so that it is in comfortable levels. Do not leave him in a dark room. Dark rooms can be rather desolate. Leave a light on if you are unlikely to be home before it gets dark. To give him a feeling of companionship, turn the television set on or let there be some music fill the room. All of these factors will add up to reducing his tendency to bark or howl in excess.

2 Soiling the house and surrounding environment

This is a lesson that must be taught very early in the dog’s life. Otherwise, life will be really ‘messy’ for both you and your dog. You must teach your dog that he is to relieve himself only in the spot that you designate for him. He has to be taught in no uncertain terms that he cannot relieve himself anywhere else. It is absolutely forbidden.

Dogs have a habit of marking their territory by squirting their boundaries with urine. You have to curb this habit of his too.

Otherwise, you stand the risk of having your curtains, upholstery, and furnishings squirted with smelly stuff. He needs to understand that when he is part of a family he cannot keep marking his territory.

When he does accidentally soil the place, you have to clean up with organic digesters to rid the place of any remnants of smell. If any smell remains, he is likely to soil that area again. You must never use bleach or ammonia for cleansing. Both of these cleansing agents closely resemble doggie urine.

3 Dragging things all over the house

Labrador Retrievers are given to dragging stuff all over the house. It is part of their natural instinct as hunters and retrievers. So if you are careless enough to leave your clothes or shoes lying around, you will find your doggie dragging them and leaving them all over the house. Thus in the initial stages of the pup’s life you will have to be careful about stowing your things away in cupboards and closets.

And do not forget magazines, newspapers, or any other documents too! Your pup could pick up just about anything that catches his fancy. So store your papers safely in your desk and your magazines in appropriate racks that your dog cannot get at!

One way of distracting your pup from your belongings is to give him his own toys to play with. Also, provide him with plenty of physical exercise so that he works off all his excess energy and is too tired to attack your belongings. A tired dog will not be inclined to disturbing your possessions.

4 Chewing your precious possessions

You do not want the marks of sharp little puppy teeth on your furniture or other knick-knacks that may be lying around the house, do you? So put away potential objects of attack in safe, inaccessible to the puppy places. Those objects that cannot be put away should be coated with bitter apple. This is a spray that a puppy naturally abhors.

When you catch him in the act of chewing, you can cut the process short by making a loud noise. Then tell him “No” in a very firm and authoritative voice. You can give him one of his toys to chew
on instead.

5 Digging holes

Digging is another very common doggie trait. Your Lab will dig to bury bones, chase and retrieve prey, or just for the sake of entertaining himself. Digging is a very inherent characteristic for a Retriever, so you really have to use your ingenuity to prevent him from doing so.

It is also a trait that you, as a Lab owner, will not really like. After all, you do not want unsightly holes appearing all over your wellmanicured or smooth, clean yard. So one good idea would be to provide one area of your yard where your Lab can dig to his heart’s content. This intelligent animal will soon recognize the area where he can freely dig.

Another thing that you will have to ensure is to keep your yard and garden free of other living creatures such as rodents, rabbits, or raccoons. The presence of these animals can trigger your doggie’s hunter instincts and drive him simply berserk.

6 Dog fights

When you have a well-trained Labrador Retriever with you, you will find that he will not get into unnecessary scrapes with other animals. This is because of the discipline that training ingrains in him. When you are with him and you sense that things are getting rather tense and a fight may be in the offing, just ask him to sit or stay. Then, gradually diffuse the situation by slowly taking him away from the potentially volatile scene.

Do not yell or scream at your dog. This will only excite him further and add fuel to the fire. If a dogfight does start, spray the sparring dogs with water, preferably from a hose. Aim at the legs and not at the head.

If there is no water hose near by, the owners must try to grab their respective dogs by their tails to break up the fight. Grabbing the dog’s tail will lift the dog's hind legs off the ground. This will startle them and take their minds off the fight.

Once the fight is history, make your dog understand that this kind of behavior will not be accepted or condoned. You have to be very firm about this.

7 Chasing cars or kids

The instinct to chase anything that moves comes very naturally to Labs. If you train him then he will listen to your command to refrain from chasing. In the kind of world we live in today, the objects that your doggie is likely to chase are cars or kids! Chasing kids could be disastrous if your dog catches the child and sinks his teeth into the little child. So you have to prevent your dog from giving in to his chasing instincts.

8 Biting without any provocation

Here are some factors that can be instrumental in exciting your dog into sinking his sharp teeth into a persons flesh.
Sudden movements
Unexpected noises

How do you recognize the fact that your dog may be bracing himself to attack? Observe whether his ears are lying low against his head, his hair standing up on his back and legs, or he is emitting deep and low throaty growls. These are indications that he is going into self-defense mode. So watch out!

So what should you do when you are faced with such a situation? FREEZE. Yes, do not move. Quick movements only frighten the dog further. Slowly count up to five under your breath. Then move very slowly. Slow movements are indications that you are not his enemy.

Another thing NOT TO DO is staring into your dog’s eyes. Your dog will get the feeling that you are daring him to attack. Also, never shout at him or throw any sticks or stones. Once your dog is calm, he will listen to you. If you still find him snappy, it would be best to consult your vet. Extreme cases might require your dog to be muzzled.

Why do I need to train my Labrador Retriever? After all he is just going to be a companionable pet!
Because you are human and your dog belongs to the canine species. Obviously there are so many differences between you both. He is a four-legged furry animal with a tail and he speaks no known human language. He simply barks. Yet a dog is known to be man’s best friend! How is this possible? How do you as a human communicate with him? The answer to this is training. Training your dog is a means of communicating with him. Training makes your dog happier since it takes care of his basic instinct to follow a leader. Training in obedience also makes his life safer in the environs of human inhabitation. Above all when you train your dog your bonding with him increases multi-fold. These are sufficient reasons for you to train your pet Labrador Retriever.

I want my Labrador Retriever to be my friend. So why should I want to consolidate my position as the leader? Understand that your Lab is totally dependent on you for his very existence. You provide him with food and shelter. You look after his every need whether he is well or in ill health. The goofy animal simply does not understand that stones and sticks in his mouth can hurt him. Neither does he understand that the bitter pills and potions that you force down his throat are for his own good.

Friends are our equals. There is no question of a master and follower relationship in a friendship. But a friendship sort of a relationship will just not work with a dog! He is, after all, dependent on you for everything. So you must establish yourself as the undisputed leader of the pack. He will respect you for being the pack leader. Rest assured that there will be absolutely no resentment from his side.


Uratashi said...

Hi! I read your blog. Looks so professional... Anyways, I'm starting my own blog about dog training, and i was wondering if we could trade links to each others blogs. You don't really have anything to lose. I get about 100 hits a day even though i just started. I will highly recommend this blog if you would also put a link to mine. Thanks.

Here it is:

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