Teaching a Wonderfully Behaved Lab Pup Some New Tricks

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 14, 2016

Cooper (Red English Lab)

Cooper is a seven-month-old red English Lab who likes to jump up on people, doesn’t always respect people’s personal space, digs in the yard and needs help with basic puppy obedience and behavior.

At this point I’ve worked with close to 2,000 dogs and I’m going to say that Cooper was by far the most polite dog to ever greet me for a session.

It took me a few minutes to recover from Cooper’s greeting as I had never seen a dog adopt a play bow when meeting a human the way that he did. Once we got inside he remained respectful, deferring to the humans to allow them to pass in front of him so that he could dutifully follow from behind.

As I discuss the situation with Cooper’s guardian, his energy and behavior remained constant. Cooper’s guardians certainly hit the jackpot with this dog.

Even more amazing is the fact that Cooper has not even attended puppy socialization class. I strongly suggested that his guardian look for a puppy socialization class to enroll him in immediately. Exposure to unknown dogs in a classroom setting focused on socialization will go along ways towards helping Cooper. My only concern is to make sure that any training methods employed focus on positive reinforcement. Cooper’s personality and energy level are about as perfect as I have ever seen. I would hate to see someone come in and use first training methods or coercive tactics and hurt or break this wonderful dog’s spirit

One thing I forgot to go over was Cooper’s habit of digging. Dogs generally dig for one of four reasons; boredom (most common), something smells good down there, trying to get to cool earth to lay on or attempting to dig under a barrier. At Cooper’s age, Id be willing to bet a lot that its a case of boredom.

To stop a dog from digging out of boredom, simply fill in the hole, but add a bit of the dog’s poop about an inch below the surface. Dog will never dig in tat spot again.

Providing the dog with plenty of toys, proper exercise and stimulation is usually the best remedy for a dog who digs.

After going over these basic tips and suggestions, Cooper’s guardian mention that he didn’t really even know any basic commands yet, so we started out with the simplest of them all; the sit.

Cooper picked up the sit so quickly it was a natural transition into the down position which he also caught onto right away. Not only is Cooper a smart dog, he really wants to please.

Because we were making such good progress on basic commands I decided to introduce the “drop” command. This is a command that pays huge dividends when you are bringing up a puppy.

Because he picked up on things so quickly, I suggested that the guardian visit YouTube and look for different commands and tricks that they can teach Cooper. Dogs go through various stages of development and during some of the stages it’s easier to teach them then others. Because training a dog can be challenging, I find it’s best to take advantage when the dog shows that it is open and receptive. For Cooper, that time is clearly now.

The more commands and tricks that Cooper’s guardians teach him now, the better adjusted and behaved he will be in the future.

After we wrapped up the basic obedience training, I went over my petting with a purpose strategy. I have found that asking a dog to sit, come or lay down before you give it attention or affection is a easy and effective way to develop a healthy leader / follower dynamic. Cooper doesnt need this as much as most of my clients, but its a great habit to get into.

One of the primary things Cooper’s guardian wanted to work on was his behavior at the door. Because there are a number of young children who visit the home daily, the guardian wanted to make sure that the dog didn’t knock them over when coming or going.

We had one of the guardians step outside to play the part of the guest so that I could demonstrate the technique for Cooper’s family. It only took me one minor correction to get the dog to move away from the door and then stay behind the boundary I asked him to respect.

We repeated the exercise a second time, but this time Cooper’s guardian answered the door herself.

I was almost concerned that Cooper wasn’t even going to come near the door; another testament to how wonderful this dogs energy, intelligence and personality is. He really picks up on things quickly.

Usually I conclude these write ups by highlighting the various ways that the dog improved during the session. I can’t really take much credit for modification to Cooper’s personality and energy because as I mentioned multiple times in this write up, they started out just about perfect.

Enrolling Cooper in puppy socialization classes, and teaching him new tricks and commands while he is showing such aptitude for mastering them will put the finishing touches on what may be the best behaved dog I have ever worked with.

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