If you’re adopting a Labrador, you might have questions about diet, exercise, and sleep schedule. But among the most important things to know before bringing home a Lab puppy is the training schedule.
A Labrador puppy training schedule should begin at two-months-old, as soon as you bring your new pup home. Start by teaching him that you are the leader. From then on, teach 2-4 commands per month, starting with simple gesture-triggered cues, then advance to more complex and word-triggered commands.
In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about setting your new Labrador puppies’ training schedule. You’ll discover the types of training you should provide your puppy during different stages of his life at 2 months old, 3 months old, 4 months old, 5 months old, 6 months old, all the way through to adolescence and into adulthood, including how to;
- Start training early
- Teach your dog to follow you and understand that you are the leader
- Socialize your Labrador at an early age
- House train your pup by 4 months of age
- Train your pet to be compatible as a long-term companion
Welcome to my all new guide to your Labrador puppies’ training schedule. There’s a lot to this topic, so let’s get started…..
|Age of Puppy||Labrador Puppy Training Schedule: What to Teach|
|2 Months||Set Initial Anchors|
|3 Months||“Sit,” “Down” and “Stand”|
|4 Months||Sit and Stay|
Continue Potty Training
|5 Months||Reinforce Previous Training|
|6 Months||Increase Exercise|
Start Advanced Command Training, e.g., “Leave it” and “Wait”
Complete Potty Training
|7 Months||“Take it”|
|8 Months||Recognizing Commands for Different Places|
|9 -18 Months||“Spin”|
Other Tricks, e.g., “Crawl” and “Wave”
Are Labrador Puppies Easy to Train?
Labradors are often adopted at eight weeks but are far from fully grown, socialized, or trained. If you’ve recently adopted a pup, you may find the concept of dog training quite daunting and, more importantly, be wondering how easy or difficult Labs are to train.
Labrador puppies are easy to train because of their high social intelligence, loyalty, and desire to please; they can understand commands and positive consequences in the first few weeks. However, if you do not teach them early on, you may need to work harder to get them to unlearn bad habits.
However, please note that I assume that you have adopted the puppy at a young enough age and started training at the right time. However, don’t worry if you’re a bit late to the party or bring home an older puppy or a rescue dog; only realize it may take your Labrador a little longer to be obedience trained.
What Age Should You Train Your Labrador?
Since it becomes harder to train your dog the older he gets, one might assume that it would be best to train a Lab while he is a few weeks old. However, there’s such a thing as being too early in training your pup.
You should train your Labrador at two months old because, by that stage, he has grown enough to take cues and is sufficiently self-reliant not to need his mother to survive. He will have already learned canine behaviors by interacting with his mother and littermates, but now he can continue to learn by association.
It’s better to err on the side of being later than eight weeks than the opposite when starting puppy training. You can be up to two weeks later than the eight-week mark and get your pet appropriately trained.
Still, if you’re two weeks early, you may confuse or frighten him by overloading him with stimuli before he’s ready to make the correct associations. A traumatic experience can have a negative and counter-productive effect during this period.
Read further if you:
- Have a Labrador older than seven weeks (or plan to get a Lab puppy)
- Want an approximate schedule for training your pup
- Wish to train a dog using positive reinforcement and ethical training methods
- Want to commit to 1.5 years of casual dog training
How to Train a 2 Month Old Labrador Puppy
As mentioned above, the best time to train your Labrador puppy is at eight weeks old. At this point, the puppy is still learning your role in his life, and you can’t take for granted a position of authority over him.
Moreover, the puppy can only form the most obvious associations between command, response, and consequence, so it is crucial to adapt your training strategy accordingly.
Set Initial Anchors
When training a 2-month-old Labrador puppy, you should wait till he’s doing something right and then produce a stimulus that he can naturally link to the wanted activity. For example, if the pup is running towards you, you can start clapping.
Once he realizes that clapping and running towards you are linked, you can clap, and he will run towards you. However, you can’t expect the latter to happen at this stage. For now, notice the following and set distinct anchors for each.
- Following you
- Eating food / consuming a treat
- Assuming a natural heel position (likely if there’s another dog in the house)
Clapping, whistling, and a distinct word verbalized in a specific tone can all be good anchors. For now, you should avoid using anchors that are too similar to each other. “Sit” and “run” might sound different for a grown Labrador, but a young puppy might classify both as “mouth sounds.” That’s why the above anchor suggestions are distinct.
At an early phase in your dog’s training, you must establish yourself as his guide. This melts away a lot of the resistance as you train your pup to understand and respond to more complex commands. Therefore, the first step should be to encourage your Labrador to follow you around. As you may know, dogs evolved from wolves, and wolves follow the pack-leader (usually a parent).
Of course, when training a 2-month-old Labrador puppy, you have to incentivize him to follow you around. With older dogs, you can get away with delaying gratification for a longer period, but initially, you will have to praise, cuddle, or reward the puppy with training treats.
It would be best if you did not take abrupt turns in the first week of your puppy’s training. You need to build a positive reinforcement loop and let your dog establish a connection between following you and receiving a pleasant experience.
Once your puppy seems motivated to follow you for the incentive, you can start taking sudden turns and train him to follow you, despite the direction changes.
Lower Socializing Barriers
Labradors might be predisposed to being more social but can still develop uncharacteristic introversion if they aren’t exposed to enough people or situations early on in their lives. You should take your puppy outdoors and let him exercise his socialization potential at a young age.
Visiting friends and family is one way to go about it. You can also spot a dog park and carry him there. Remember that your pet is still learning to follow directions and walk with you. You cannot expect him to cover long distances. Unfortunately, many pet owners let their dogs’ physical limitations turn into social limitations!
While Labrador pups aren’t at a higher risk of getting agoraphobic, they can develop an unhealthy attachment with the indoors in rare cases. The best way to avoid this is to take them far enough from the house and make sure they have a positive experience outside. It is worth noting that you should do this as often as you can, preferably daily.
Start Potty Training
It would be best to start potty training your Lab puppy the first day you bring him home. Start by showing your pup where you want him to potty, such as a sectioned-off area of your yard or garden.
Make the area you want your pup to toilet look different from the rest of your yard so he’ll learn to recognize it. A good idea is to cordon off a small area and add some bark chippings.
Next, you need a potty training schedule such as first thing in the morning, after mealtimes and play, and hourly for young pups. I have a complete guide on how to potty train your Labrador that you may find helpful.
If you follow my blog, you know I am against punishment-oriented training. If you train your dog at a young enough age to avoid harsh bites, you will not need punishment-driven discipline strategies. In any case, using physical force or yelling at your pup will only instill fear and distrust and can actually cause aggression in your dog.
You can also check out my article, How to Discipline a Labrador: And What Not to Do! for greater insight into this topic.
When teaching a 2-month-old Lab pup, you can put him in a timeout if he bites with enough force, but he’s less likely to understand what he has done wrong! Instead, you can wait until your Labrador bites during a positive activity and then discontinue it. This will anchor the consequence better.
For example, if you’re giving your Labrador puppy a treat and he snatches the first treat violently, you can withhold the second treat until he learns to take it from your hand gently. But in contrast, if he bites you while you’re reading your book, there’s little you can do in terms of productive punishment.
You can act hurt and convey that what your dog has done has affected you. To do this, let out a high-pitched yelp such as “ouch!” then redirect the biting by offering a chew toy. Follow up using positive reinforcement by rewarding the correct behavior with a treat. Your Labrador will quickly learn that displaying good behavior reaps nice things.
Puppies need to learn their bite inhibition (soft-mouth) by continuing the excellent work their mother and siblings taught them. Don’t worry, though, as Labradors learn this skill pretty quickly as they were bred to retrieve downed game birds with a soft mouth and not to damage them while retrieving them for their hunter.
Here’s an Excellent Video all About Puppy Biting and Bite Inhibition Training…
You have to use your best judgment when training your dog to be patient. Generally speaking, your Labrador will be mature enough to learn self-control by the tenth week.
You can learn a ton more about how to train an 8 Week Old Labrador Puppy in my beginner’s guide.
How to Train a 3 Month Old Labrador Puppy
Assuming you’ve trained your puppy well from the eighth week to the eleventh, you’re ready to elevate his training. For the next few weeks, you’ll teach your Labrador how to respond to commands and position yourself as a companion.
Teach the Heel Position
While your 3-month-old Labrador puppy will initially follow you, if you merely adjust your pace, you’ll soon have him walking alongside you at the heel position, on your left-hand side, without a leash, harness, or fear of punishment. You can use a clicker or a whistle to teach your puppy to assume the natural heel position.
Chances are, at first, your Labrador will also try to change his pace to be behind you because of the force of habit. Walking in areas familiar to your dog will eliminate this problem. That’s why it is essential to take him to many different places in the earlier weeks, constantly working on socialization.
Train Your Dog to Assume Positions on Command – Sit, Down, Stand
Your 3-months old Labrador Puppy is mature enough to learn how to sit, stand, or hold a down position. While you previously trained him to assume a heel position, you can also teach him these techniques.
You may notice that your puppy can tell your words apart by the thirteenth week. So by the time he is four months old, you can use the position cues and can use positive reinforcement to get your dog to follow.
Activate Anchors – Start Recall Training
In weeks 8-11, you established anchors for some of your dog’s positive behaviors. These included whistling, clapping, or saying a specific word to indicate that your Labrador is doing a good job, typically followed by a well-deserved treat. Now is the time to see whether the anchors work!
Where you previously whistled when your Lab ran towards you, now you must whistle, so he begins his run. You are training your 3-month-old Labrador puppy to associate the whistle’s sound as your command for him to run towards you. This is the start of his recall training.
If this doesn’t work at first, there’s no need to be disheartened. Teaching good recall is an ongoing process. My dog was around 12 months old before I saw a noticeable improvement in her recall. Please avoid forcing the dog, as that only introduces confusion.
If you discover that your Labrador isn’t responsive when you activate the triggers, you should continue to re-establish the anchors and try again after another week or so.
Build Comfort With Crowds – Work on Socialization
In the past few weeks, you have trained your Labrador to acknowledge close friends and family. While this enables the puppy to be more social when you have visitors, a grown dog must learn to walk outdoors without acting out. That’s why at this stage, you must start taking your dog to slightly more crowded locations and experience many different stimuli. This transition must be gradual and try to keep experiences positive.
Teach Your Lab Target Training
Teach your Lab to ask for treats! Here I use the word “treats” loosely. Whether it is a cuddle, a pat, attention, or something tasty, you must teach your pup target training, for example, teaching him to touch a target with a specific part of his body. Remember that your Lab may end up biting or clawing to communicate if you do not teach him more acceptable communication methods.
Here, I recommend teaching your Labrador to touch your hand with his nose. While you’ll actively encourage him by holding out your hand, he will soon learn to softly touch your hand with his nose when you’re sitting. Ultimately, this is a great replacement for bites! Hand targeting is fun to teach, helps your pup build trust, and gets him using his brain!
How to Train a 4 Month Old Labrador Puppy
Crossing the fifteen-week threshold means your Labrador is ready for some big boy training. You have laid a strong foundation of discipline and positive reinforcement, making it easier to train your dog to follow more complex commands. In these weeks, you will introduce him to assume different positions, obey your commands as he moves away from you, and react to more nuanced anchors.
Remember, though, 4-month-old Labrador puppies have a short attention span so avoid long training sessions.
Teach the Sit and Stay
Teaching your Lab to sit and stay is a valuable command for him to learn. He’s already learned to sit for a reward, but you can now progress this by training him to stay, keeping his eyes focused on you at all times. Don’t expect too much too soon, as this can be difficult for your pup to grasp at first. Start by trying to get him to hold his sit for just a few seconds, and gradually increase.
Check Out This Cool Video of a Gorgeous Labrador Learning to Sit and Stay…
Train Your Dog to Fetch
If you have taken your Labrador to public parks and he has seen other dogs play fetch, it will be easier to teach him to retrieve whatever you throw. You can take one of your dog’s favorite toys and throw it at a short enough distance. Your Labrador may not bring the toy back to you for a second round, but he will soon get the idea of retrieving it.
You can then gradually turn it into a game of fetch over the next few weeks and reward your doggo with high-value training treats. Don’t forget; your Labrador has it in his genes to master “FETCH!” in no time at all!
Continue Potty Training
In the fourth month of Labrador training, you will continue potty training with a degree of independence. Teach your dog not to make a mess by rewarding him every time he doesn’t make one! Continue with a good schedule and sync your walks with his natural cycle to align with the times he needs to go.
Teach Your Lab to Walk on the Leash
Learning to walk outdoors on a leash is an integral part of dog training. You can use it to control your Labrador and later to test his ability to execute a command off-leash. A harness is also a good idea initially, so it is also used for outdoor training and walks.
Many owners will opt for a rear attaching harness. However, I prefer a front attached harness such as the Walk Your Dog With Love harness. This is the harness I use for far less pull and greater control. Your dog just can’t pull with this harness, it’s reasonably priced, and there’s a variety of colors and styles to choose from.
How to Train a 5 Month Old Lab Puppy
A five-month-old Labrador puppy is ready to be tested for his general obedience and the ability to deal with distractions, whether other dogs, people, or other animals such as squirrels or birds. A simplification of previous months’ training would be that you have sufficiently socialized your dog and trained him to recognize and associate personal affection, attention, toys, walks, and food as rewards.
Reinforce Previous Training
Now is the time to use all of the above as rewards and reinforce previous training while introducing distractions and prolonging your dog’s wait before gratification. Earlier, I mentioned that you could not expect an eight-week-old puppy to delay gratification. At five months old, your puppy can deal with distractions if you introduce them slowly.
Contain His Energy
At five months, your Labrador’s physical energy finally catches up with his enthusiasm and curiosity. You have to be prepared for your dog to run ahead of you now! However, suppose you have developed a solid relationship with your pup and worked on his training. In that case, he will stay within a reasonable distance, remaining by your side and showing his loyalty.
How to Train a 6 Month Old Lab Puppy
This is the last month to call your puppy a puppy as he moves into his “teenage years!” He is now officially an adolescent. Once your Lab puppy has reached his 6-month milestone, it also marks the point where you introduce him to advanced obedience training. The good news is that all the training you have previously given will make it easier for your dog to follow your lead.
Conclude Potty Training
Your dog has had months to learn how to communicate his need to go potty. He has also likely refined the patience to hold it instead of relieving himself on the floor.
Therefore, you can communicate your disappointment with your body language if your dog makes a mess. Avoid physical punishment and even verbal chastising as it impacts your dog negatively. All dogs can still have the odd accident up to 12 months old. Moreover, you have to be prepared for your dog to relieve himself indoors if he is excited or frightened, known as either excitement or submissive urination.
Now that your Lab puppy is six months old, you can increase his exercise to thirty minutes, twice a day. Energy levels, especially for larger breed dogs, escalate during this time. While the average exercise for a pup before this is generally five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day, a six-month-old Labrador can be out for one hour if you split his walks to thirty minutes a day.
Advanced Command Training
This is also the time to focus on your dog’s advanced training. To train your 6-month old Lab puppy, start with two commands that have the most practical use. “LEAVE IT!” is the command that instructs your dog to stop holding onto whatever he is biting down on. This is useful when he grabs hold of something he shouldn’t and is a powerful way to instill discipline.
The second command you need to train your dog is the “WAIT!” command. As mentioned earlier, you’re going to exercise your Labrador a lot more from now on. If your pet runs far enough ahead of you, the “wait” command can help you catch up!
From six months onwards, until your Labrador is a well-trained adult, you can teach these next commands or tricks in any order.
How to Train a 7 Month Old Labrador
As your Lab progresses to seven months old, a lot of the previous training needs to be kept consistent as you gradually teach him to comprehend more commands. I recommend adding up to two cues to your Lab’s training every month, or if he is struggling to grasp a particular technique, continue to work at that particular one until he has mastered it.
You can train your 7-month Labrador to take things from your hand following any command you find appropriate. While most people resort to “take it!” you may want to use different words, so your dog isn’t confused when you use “take it” in your everyday conversation.
You command your Labrador to bark or be vocal. Maybe there is a trespasser, and you want your dog to scare them away. This is great to teach your Lab as they don’t make good guard dogs due to their friendliness!
How to Train an 8 Month Old Labrador
Your 8-month old Labrador is ready to learn even more commands. You will need to continue training your dog to hold things or release them on command, but you can also proceed to add distance and even more background distractions.
You can train your dog to stop barking on command. Ironically, you need to train him to bark on command before learning to be silent on cue.
Continue using the word “speak!” as a trigger and do something that leads him to bark naturally. By giving him a treat, you will strengthen the association between the word “speak” and your dog’s barking.
Once your dog stops barking, say the word “QUIET!” and at the precise moment he stops barking, again reward him with a treat and give lots of praise. Over this month, he will learn to associate the respective commands with barking and silence. This is quite tricky, but your Lab will eventually get there if you practice and stay consistent.
Different Commands for Different Places
Usually, “BED!” is the ideal command to teach a dog to go to his bed or crate on cue. The eighth month is ideal for training your Lab to go to different places upon hearing the command word.
This could be for practical reasons or to make full use of your dog’s intelligence. Either way, do not overload him with place commands and stick to no more than two per month.
How to Train a 9 Month Old Labrador
If you find the training you’ve conducted over the last month to be beneficial, you can easily continue adding more places to your dog’s comprehension. Or you can use the ninth month to teach him a cool party trick!
Teach Your Lab to Spin
By dangling a treat in front of your Labrador and moving it in a circle till he’s spinning, you prime him for a command anchor. By saying “SPIN!” and giving a treat, you associate the reward with this anchor.
After a week, you can remove the treat and teach your Lab to follow your finger. Of course, you will still need to give him a reward after he follows the command. By the third week, you can cue your doggo to spin and see if he does so without your finger guiding him in a circular motion.
It might take an extra week or two but I recommend this as an addition in the ninth month because it allows you to continue training your pet to learn previous commands better. You can teach him to go to different places, hold or release objects, and fetch toys.
How to Train a 10 Month Old Labrador
Even in the tenth month of your Labrador’s training, you will need to reinforce previous commands constantly. That’s why I recommend adding only a simple “ROLL-OVER!” trick to his repertoire in the following four weeks.
Your Lab has already mastered the “DOWN!” position at 3 months old. You can now progress this further and teach him to roll over on command. Similar to teaching “spin,” use high-value treats with tons of praise.
How to Train an 11 Month Old Labrador
This is the last month before your Lab’s first birthday! Use this time to teach your 11-month-old Labrador “GO AHEAD!” You direct your dog to stay ahead of you, the opposite to “wait!” This is also used in agility competitions to command your dog to go ahead of you.
How to Train a 1 Year Old Labrador
While the one-year milestone might seem significant from a human’s perspective, your dog’s capability to internalize commands and learn to follow cues doesn’t change drastically past this threshold. Your 1-year-old Labrador only learns to comprehend more at the same pace as he has since the 6-month mark.
What does change is the fact that your dog is going to interact with other people more often. To keep him from simply barking for others’ attention, you can train him to do more tricks to give him a more attractive presence. “CRAWL!” and “WAVE!” commands are perfect for this period. You should also audit previously taught commands and see any weak associations you can reinforce.
How to Train an 18 Month Old Labrador
If you have trained your Labrador properly from eight-weeks onward, you will not have to alter his training regimen dramatically. If anything, this is the period where you customize his training to your convenience. Up to this point, you have learned patience, altered your routine, and even made friends, all to accommodate your pet’s growth and education.
Now is the time when your dog must learn to be compatible with your life. From the 18-month mark onwards, you must train your dog to be harmonious with modern adult life (within reason). It is sad to see dog owners having to give away their pets because of behavior issues. Such things are entirely avoidable if you train your dog properly and sufficiently exercise him.
It is also possible you’ve come across this article having adopted an older dog. If you have an 18-month-old Labrador who doesn’t seem to have previous training, do not panic!
It would be best if you simply established authority by having a positive yet commanding presence. Once your dog acknowledges your authority and sees you as a guide, you can merely treat him as a six-month-old, albeit on an accelerated schedule, and train him accordingly.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Labradors are an intelligent breed and are thus highly trainable. Your job becomes even easier once you have a workable training schedule in place and you stick to your routine. This month-by-month Labrador puppy training schedule will help you to successfully train your doggo and turn him into the beloved companion you always desired. Good luck with your training!
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