Curious what kinds of things to teach your Labrador Retriever?
Teaching your Labrador new things is one of the pillars of being a Lab owner.
The best thing is that there are a ton of things to teach your Labrador Retriever, such as tricks and cues.
For this article, we’ll go over some of the things to teach your Labrador, both of the utilitarian and the fun kind.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will be able to teach your Lab some new tricks and make it a bonding experience for both of you.
Why should you teach your Labrador Retriever?
First, we’ll have to discuss the value of teaching your Lab new things. The obvious reasons would be for training.
Many things you can teach your Labrador revolve around teaching them commands that make both of your lives easier. These are the tricks like sit, stay, quiet, come, and more.
For these ones, we can clearly see why they are important in your Labrador Retriever’s everyday life.
Not only do they make your living situation much easier; your Lab also gets to go around the human world with manners.
But, what about things like handshakes, rolling over, or playing dead?
Do these things have any real value beyond acting as party tricks that you can use to impress your friends?
The long and short answer is actually yes. Teaching your Labrador new tricks is not merely about the results itself.
Much of the value in training lies in the trust and relationship you gain throughout the way.
In this study on how the human-canine relationship improves through training, results showed that owners who spent around 20 minutes of play or training time with their dogs drastically improved the degree of obedience of their pets.
This just goes to show that training does pay off in more than just one way.
Teaching your Labrador important things or training them is also an excellent way to mentally stimulate them.
As a high-energy breed, Labrador Retrievers are quite prone to acting out whenever they feel bored or when they don’t get to spend their energy in productive ways.
Aside from the physical exercise that your Lab gets, they also need some mental stimulation for their overall wellness.
With training, you can efficiently mentally stimulate your Labrador Retriever while also doing something productive.
Efficient ways to teach your Lab new things
Before we go into the tricks and commands themselves, let’s talk about the ways you can go about the things to teach your Labrador.
There are several ways that you can teach your Labrador Retriever new things, and the method you prefer largely depends on you.
Here are some of the different methods:
Luring as a way to teach tricks is a good way to teach things that your Labrador needs guidance to do. The most common trick that’s good for luring is the ‘sit’ command.
Luring involves getting your dog in the position that you want them and then rewarding them.
This will instill in them the lesson that staying in that position will get them some yummy treats.
The next step would then be to slowly integrate the cue phrase in the training.
Over time, they should be able to understand what you want them to do and associate the phrase with positive thoughts.
Just continue to be patient with the process. Eventually, you will learn what makes your dog tick and how to make sure that the training is successful.
Capturing a trick has to do with actions that your dog can already do on their own without you or someone else provoking them.
Capturing works best on simple tricks because you are essentially waiting for when your Labrador will do the action on their own and then capture it.
You can make use of a clicker and some treats to make the action and to create a positive association.
Once your dog does what you want them to learn, use the clicker to mark the action, and then give your Lab a treat.
You can keep on doing this until you feel like they already understand your cue.
While you are repeating the marking, you can slowly integrate the use of a command phrase.
As time goes by, your Labrador Retriever will get used to the idea that they will get treats when they do the specific action.
What are some basic commands to teach your Labrador?
The first things we are going to talk about will be on the basic commands that you can teach your Lab.
These commands are mostly utilitarian in nature, and you’ll be able to use them in day-to-day disciplining.
One of the most basic things to teach your Labrador Retriever is to teach them how to sit.
It is an excellent exercise in practicing discipline, and it’s not that challenging to do.
You only need to devote some time and effort and make sure to be consistent in your efforts.
In teaching your dog to sit, you can make use of the luring technique.
You can hold a treat in your hand (make sure that it is out of your Labrador’s reach) and hold your hand above them.
This will guide them into a sitting position as they look up towards your hand.
Associating the ‘sit’ action with a treat is a good way to begin the training.
Following the luring process, you can then begin to use the ‘sit’ cue when they perform the action.
Make sure that you use as little words as possible during the entire process so you don’t confuse your Labrador.
Next to sit, the ‘stay’ command is probably key to many more complex tricks. In fact, establishing how to stay is the first step to advanced training.
If you are interested in your Labrador Retriever learning another set of skills, enhancing their discipline through this command is essential.
While Labradors are generally easy to train, teaching a dog to stay can be challenging since it is one of the first steps to a disciplined dog.
Take note, however, that it may take some time for your Lab to get fully accustomed to the stay command, so you need to be persistent with it.
First, you will need to teach them to sit. Once you are sure that they have already mastered ‘sit’, you can then try to extend the duration of time that they stay put.
Command them to sit and then hold your palm out in front of you and say ‘stay’.
Whenever your Lab stays for more than a moment, you can incentivize the training by giving your dog a treat.
Make sure that you establish first that they need to stay and behave in order to get the treat.
Bear in mind that, again, it will take time. Do not expect your Lab to be able to get it immediately. Instead, be patient with them and try to do things one step at a time.
Common tricks and other things to teach your Labrador
1) Shake hands
Shaking hands is one of the most popular things to teach a Lab puppy.
And if your dog already knows how to sit, teaching them to shake hands will be a relatively straightforward process.
You should start by telling your Labrador to sit.
Once they are already in the sitting position, you can then attempt to grab their paw and shake it while saying the cue word ‘shake’.
Remember to give them treats when you do this so that your Lab understands that a handshake will result in a yummy treat.
To shake hands on command, you also have to start with the sitting position.
Hold your hand out in front of you and wait until their curiosity gets the best of them. They will most likely try to lick or prod at your hand.
When they attempt to lift their paw to your hand, grab the opportunity and take hold of their hand for a firm handshake while saying the cue word.
Again, treats are your best friend. With their deep stomachs, Labradors are heavily incentivized by food, so make sure to use that to your advantage.
2) Spin around
To teach your Lab to spin around, hold up a treat above their head. Once you’ve got their attention, try moving the treat in a wide circle above them.
Do this slowly and observe if they are following your movements.
Once they successfully follow your hand in one round, give them a treat.
Repeat these steps at least a few times to let them get used to the actions that you are performing.
Once you’ve repeated it a few times, you can now incorporate the cue phrase.
Like all other tricks, you will have to do this repeatedly.
Once you are confident that your Lab will follow, you can start to do the hand motion without the treat and see if they do the same motion of spinning around.
When they do, give them a treat! They will eventually be able to do it given enough time and practice.
Make sure to keep them happy and engaged throughout the whole process to keep the air as positive as possible.
If you are so inclined, there are actually a whole lot of things to teach your Labrador Retriever.
From basics commands to the most fun tricks, you can check out our selection of suggestions above.