A labrador puppy is often considered to be an ideal pet who can complete a family. Labradors are adored and admired world over for their learning abilities and balanced temperament. However, this cannot be generalized in all the cases and many Labradors may show undesirable behavior. Many labs cannot handle separation and the furniture in the home bears the brunt. While some labs may get too excited on arrival of guests, some may get overly anxious and fearful. Different labs can show different personality and behavior problems. It is entirely up to the pet parent to establish the appropriate or the accepted behavior. For example, in some households, pet parents may not allow their labrador puppy to sleep on the bed or the sofa.
With some patience and focused training, Labradors can be corrected easily. In other cases, special arrangement and problem management can be the only solution. Read on to understand and solve the common behavioral breaches commonly seen in Labradors.
Jumping on Guests and Visitors
Many pet parents are often seen struggling on the leashes of their Labradors who are jumping on people around. Labradors, both puppies and adults, often cannot control their excitement to meet new people at home or outside. Also, puppies jump to reach their mother’s mouth and lick on the side when asking for food. They also do this with other puppies as a part of their play. Dogs like to extend this behavior to their human family too and are amply rewarded for the cuteness such an act beholds. However, as the labrador puppy grows bigger and stronger (something they might not even realize), this jumping behavior can look close to a wrestle, more so if a visitor is not comfortable with such a boisterous welcome.
How to stop a dog from jumping on people?
When you have made up your mind that the jumping behavior of your Labrador puppy (or even an adult) needs to be stopped, you must also consider it as an animal’s normal behavior. Many methods you might have heard of may not work to tweak such a natural behavior. As a rule, always remember that physical methods to alter any behavior will not work. A beating or scolding will cause unwanted anxiousness and fear, leading to more behavioural issues to deal with.
The wrong approach
If you are thinking of shoving your dog away on his every jump on you, it is unlikely that he will perceive it as a discouraging gesture for the jump. On the contrary, dogs’ games include such shoving and pushing of one another. Thus, such an act to stop a jump may just start a physical game between you two!
Many trainers recommend the ‘no reaction’ strategy as an aid in discontinuing certain habits of your dogs. It is a good method to gradually eliminate certain behavior and habits in Labradors. However, reinforcement of ignoring those acts is an essential part of this technique. It means that all the members of the household need to practice it. However, it may not be really possible if you have kids at home or have frequent visitors, or take the Labrador to a dog park. In fact, infusing a proper training with the ignoring practice can produce some desirable results.
The right approach
One proven way of stopping your dog jumping on you and others is a mix of training and management. A Labrador can be quite bulky on attaining its adult size and thus a simple playful jump over a kid or the older people may prove fatal. Thus, it is important to manage such situations for precaution. It is a good idea to keep such people who are at ‘risk’ away from such a jumpy dog.
An effective method to guide your Labrador better around the house, and to also gain more control over his actions, is a house line. It is a very simple and cheap tool (basically, just a leash) that you can attach to their collar or the harness for better safety. In case of Labrador puppies, such a tool proves to be immensely helpful in ensuring safety and guidance. When you have a jumpy dog at home, you can stop them from jumping over others by simply pulling them back with the house line. You and the Labrador will very soon get into this practice and gradually the jumping can be effectively managed.
Now comes the part where your patience, as a pet parent, is necessary. While there is some degree of control over the Labrador’s actions around the house, you can gradually introduce a new skill that will work as an alternative to the jumping. However, teaching a new skill will come gradually with proper training in a few steps.
step 1: Reward no jumping
Begin the first phase of the training with an ample of treats and in a place free of distractions. When the dog will anticipate that something is in store for them, they will get excited and most likely start jumping on you. By ignoring this jumping, you need to wait for the dog to stop jumping and simply stand on the floor. At this moment, appreciate the dog with a generous amount of treats one after the other in fast succession. Throw the last one at some distance. Your Labrador will return to you after the last treat.
step 2: Reinforce no jumping
It is almost certain that the after gobbling up the last treat, the dog will get more excited and will start jumping on you again. You must wait for the dog to eventually stop jumping and then reward the stopping again. This time increase the time gap marginally between each treat you give. Repeat this step until the Labrador has stopped jumping on you upon his return after the last treat.
step 3: modified reward for no jumping
Be still till the time the Labrador is jumping on you. When he stops the jumping and has all paws on the ground, offer a timed stream of 5-6 treats with a little more gap in between. The stream of treats is to establish that the reward is for not jumping, rather than for showing excitement by jumping up and down. Throw the last treat at some distance.
step 4: Establish no jumping
Repeat the pattern in the previous step. But this time, increase the gap between each treat a little more. Throw the last treat at some distance. Throwing the treats or placing them on the floor will also prevent them from jumping up to grab it.
Note: You may make use of house lines and continue the training till you are satisfied with the changes in your labrador’s behavior.
Whining Labrador Puppies
Puppies naturally start whining when they are put in crates or are left alone. However, pet parents, naïve and experienced, may promote this whining habit unintentionally. If you rush to your crated puppy when they start whining to let them out, it is highly likely that the puppy is learning to find his way around to his problems by such simple manipulations.
How to teach your Lab to stop whining
A new place, new faces, and new learning, what can a tiny puppy do! It is thus, natural for your new puppy to feel excited, amazed, sad, exhilarated, and confused in their new surroundings. If they are left alone in the home for long times, it is not easy for these emotional little beings. Their anxiety on separation is neither good for your health, nor will it encourage a cohesive upbringing.
Encourage to stay quiet
A clicker and some bite-sized favourite foods will be the only things you will need to begin training your Labrador puppy to stop whining needlessly. It is important to choose positive reinforcement rather than punishing or yelling at the puppy. To concise, you only need to make the puppy learn that his silences are going to be rewarding. Follow these simple steps, and remember to be patient and loving.
Step out of the room where your Labrador puppy is and shut the door. Count to three or four. If the puppy whines in the three count, press the clicker (rather very swiftly) just when the puppy pauses for a breath, even if it is a small pause. If the puppy stays quite through these 3-4 seconds, press the clicker and come to him with a treat. Repeat this step two to three times. You need to look for the puppy learning to bring pauses between his whining.
When the puppy has been through the basic exercise of pausing between whining, we now need to make these pauses to stay longer. Step out of the room where your Labrador puppy is and shut the door. Count to five or six. If the puppy whines in the five or 6 count, press the clicker (rather very swiftly) just when the puppy pauses for a breath, even if it is a small pause. If the puppy stays quite through these 5-6 seconds, press the clicker and come to him with a treat. Repeat this step two to three times till the puppy is now pausing for about two seconds regularly before starting to whine again. You can repeat this pattern while gradually increasing the pause duration. If it is getting too overwhelming for the puppy, then you must give a little break from the training before restarting again.
If the Labrador puppy did not whine or cry when left alone initially in the first step of the training, then you may tweak the training a little bit.
- Come out of the room and close the door behind you
- Start counting to 5
- Immediately press the clicker on 5 if the pup remained calm and quiet in this time
- Reward this with a small treat
- Repeat steps 1 to 4 two more times
- Again come out of the room where your lab puppy is and close the door behind you
- Now count to 6 or 7 and repeat from 3rd step.
By following these steps and gradually increasing the time gap, your puppy essentially learning that the reward is for keeping calm and quiet in the room when the parents have left. However, it is also possible that the puppy might get too overwhelmed by all these exercises and eventually just give it all up. To avoid such a situation where all the hardwork may just go for a toss, you can try mixing the pause duration. It is a good idea to cushion a long pause in between two shorter pauses. This way, the duration clause in the training is also likely to be out of the picture.
Don’t be in a haste to leave your Labrador puppy for longer duration. Instead, slowly and gradually increase the pause and the ‘left alone’ durations to help them get accustomed to it. Most Labrador puppies learn fast and with the right kind of training and behaviour management, can prove that there is no match for their intelligence.