What age should my labrador Max settle down ?

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by House Proud Pets, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

    Aug 11, 2010
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    Having said that the Samoyed I had could give any Lab a run for its money. Rescued him at 3half and never ever missed a recall, as long as you had food he was there like a shot.
  2. Sleeping_Lion

    Sleeping_Lion Banned

    Mar 19, 2009
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    Do you do any training with him when you walk him?

    One of my girls, Indie, you can trust to pootle along behind you, greet all and sundry with a smile and a brief sniff, and nothing else. She's what, I think, many believe that all Labradors are like, but they are all individual characters, so you have to work with what you get. Tau isn't at all fussed with other dogs, she likes to play with them once she knows them, but she's more into training with me, treats are low on the order, retrieves are the absolute best thing since sliced bread.

    The key is finding what works for you and your dog, and the only way you can find that out, is by learning handling skills yourself, just the very basics, and how that works with your dog.
  3. redginald

    redginald PetForums VIP

    Aug 18, 2011
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    Whenever I used to walk my lab people would always say don't worry he will slow down when he's 2!!. We unfortunately had him pts last year at 7 after losing to lymphoma and he never did change, and I have no doubt if he went on to 14 he would have been the same, the only thing holding him back being health. In fact when he started behaving himself was when we knew he must be really ill, he was just always so excitable it was a nuisance but I miss it now! I'm sat next to a 17week old puppy now who is much more chilled than our lab was at 7!! Good luck, I'm sure you will find things easier with a bit of training!
  4. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

    Oct 19, 2011
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    I do not think you need a behaviourist, I think you need a good trainer/training help.

    Why can’t I get a reliable recall?

    ‘Come’ is no harder to train than any other behaviour but in real life it has a huge number of criteria that have to be raised one at a time in order to guarantee success.

    Often when puppies are brought home to their new owners this is the first time they have ever been separated from their dam and siblings and so they naturally attach themselves to their new family by following them about everywhere. Owners find this quite attractive and wrongly assume that this trait will continue into adolescence/adulthood, whatever the circumstances. A dangerous trap to fall into…

    At some point in time, usually from around 6 – 10 months, depending on the individual, “Velcro” dog will morph into “Bog off” dog (this is especially true of a breed that has been developed to exhibit a high degree of initiative). This is the time when owners suddenly realize that their dog will not recall when it sees another dog/person etc. Not only is this inconvenient but potentially dangerous as the dog could be at risk of injury from a car/train/another dog etc.

    How and when do I start with a puppy?

    My advice is to prepare for this inevitability from the day you take your puppy home. If you are lucky the breeder will have started this process whilst still in the nest by conditioning the puppies to a whistle blown immediately before putting the food bowl down during weaning.

    Dogs learn by cause and effect ie sound of whistle = food. If you, the new owner, continue this from the moment your puppy arrives you will lay down strong foundations for the future.

    By using the whistle in association with meals/food you need to establish the following criteria:

    • Come from across the room.
    • Come from out of sight
    • Come no matter who calls
    • Come even if you are busy doing something else
    • Come even if you are asleep.
    • Come even if you are playing with something/someone else
    • Come even if you are eating

    Once this goal has been realized in the house, drop all the criteria to zero and establish the same measures, one at a time, in the garden.

    Once this goal has been realized in the garden, drop all the criteria to zero and establish the same measures, one at a time, in the park/field etc.

    To train this, or any other behaviour:

    1. Make it easy for the dog to get it right
    2. Provide sufficient reward

    Do not expect a dog to come away from distractions in the park until you have trained it to come to you in the park when no diversions are around. Be realistic and manage your expectations; your sphere of influence/control over your dog may be only 20m to begin with, therefore do not hazard a guess that the dog, at this level of training, will successfully recall from 50m or more away. Distance, like every other criterion, must be built up over time.

    Some simple rules to follow when training the recall:

    • Whistle/signal/call only once (why train the dog to deliberately ignore your first command?)
    • Do not reinforce slow responses for the dog coming eventually after it has cocked its leg, sniffed the tree etc (you get what you train!)
    • If you know that the dog will not come back to you in a certain situation, go and get him rather than risk teaching him that he can ignore you. (If you have followed the programme correctly you will never put your dog in a position to fail).
    • Practise recalling the dog, putting him on the lead for a few seconds, reinforce with food/toy etc and immediately release the dog. Do this several times during a walk etc so that the dog does not associate a recall with going on the lead and ending the walk or being put on the lead with the cessation of fun.
    • Eventually, when the behaviour is very strong, alternate rewards ie verbal praise, physical praise, food, toy and also vary the “value” of the rewards, sometimes a plain piece of biscuit, sometimes a piece of cooked liver etc so that you become a walking slot machine (and we all know how addictive gambling can be)!

    In my experience recall training should be consistent and relentless for the first two years of a dog’s life before it can be considered truly dependable. You should look on it as a series of incremental steps, rather than a single simple behaviour, and something that will require lifelong maintenance.

    What about an older or rescue dog?

    Follow the same programme as outlined above however for recalcitrant dogs that have received little or no training, I would recommend dispensing with the food bowl and feeding a dog only during recalls to establish a strong behaviour quickly.

    Your training should be over several sessions a day, which means you can avoid the risk of bloat. It is essential that the dog learns that there will be consequences for failure as well as success.

    Divide the day’s food ration up into small bags (between10 – 30), if the dog recalls first time, it gets food, if it does not, you can make a big show of saying “too bad” and disposing of that portion of food (either throw it away or put aside for the next day).

    Again, raise the criteria slowly as outlined in puppy training.

    Hunger is very motivating!

    For those of you who believe it unfair/unhealthy to deprive a dog of its full daily ration, not having a reliable recall is potentially life threatening for the dog ……………

    How do I stop my dog chasing joggers/cyclists/skateboarders/rabbits/deer?

    Chasing something that is moving is a management issue. Do not put your dog in a position where it can make a mistake. Again you need to start training from a pup but if you have already allowed your dog to learn and practise this behaviour you may need to rely on a trailing line until your dog is desensitised to these distractions and knows that listening to you results in a great reinforcement. Chasing is a behaviour much better never learned as it is naturally reinforcing to the dog, which makes it hard for you to offer a better reinforcement. If you want to have a bombproof recall while your dog is running away from you then use the following approach:

    Your goal is to train so that your dog is totally used to running away from you at top speed, and then turning on a sixpence to run toward you when you give the recall cue.

    You need to set up the training situation so that you have total control over the triggers. For this you will need to gain the co-operation of a helper. If you have a toy crazy dog you can practice this exercise by throwing a toy away from the dog towards someone standing 30 or 40 feet away. At the instant the toy is thrown, recall your dog! If the dog turns toward you, back up several steps quickly, creating even more distance between the you and the toy and then throw another toy in the opposite direction (same value as one thrown)..

    If the dog ignores you and continues toward the thrown object, your “helper” simply picks the ball up and ignores dog. When dog eventually returns (which it will because it’s getting no reinforcement from anyone or anything), praise only. Pretty soon the dog will start to respond to a recall off a thrown toy. You will need to mix in occasions the toy is thrown and the dog is allowed to get it ie you do NOT recall if you want to make sure it does not lose enthusiasm for retrieving.

    For the food obsessed dog, you can get your helper to wave a food bowl with something the dog loves in it and then recall the dog as soon as you let it go to run towards the food; again if the dog ignores you and continues to the food, your helper simply ensures the dog cannot access the food and start again. (It is extremely important that the helper does not use your dog’s name to call it for obvious reasons).

    Gradually increase the difficulty of the recall by letting the dog get closer and closer to the toy/food. Praise the moment the dog turns away from the toy/food in the
    early stages of training. Don't wait until the dog returns to you; the dog must have instant feedback.

    Once the dog is fluent at switching directions in the middle of a chase, try setting up the situation so that it is more like real life. Have someone ride a bike/run/skate past. (It is unrealistic to factor in deer/rabbits however if your training is thorough the dog will eventually be conditioned to return to you whatever the temptation in most contexts).

    Until your training gets to this level, don't let the dog off-lead in a situation in which you don't have control over the chase triggers. Don't set the dog up to fail, and don't allow it to rehearse the problem behaviour. Remember, every time a dog is able to practise an undesirable behaviour it will get better at it!

    Most people do not play with toys correctly and therefore the dog is not interested in them or, if it gets them, fails to bring it back to the owner.

    Play the two ball game, once you have a dog ball crazy. Have two balls the same, throw one to the left, when the dog gets it, call him like crazy waving the next ball; as he comes back throw the other ball to the right and keep going left right so that YOU are the centre of the game and the dog gets conditioned to return to you for the toy. Once this behaviour is established you can then introduce the cues for out and then make control part of the game ie the game is contingent on the dog sitting and then progress to a sequence of behaviours.

    Recall Courses

    Ultimate Recall: 4 Day Course with John Rogerson

    • Training a reliable, automatic, non-negotiable, reality recall
    • Building block and foundation training of the recall
    • Relationship/influence building in recall training
    • The chasing/emergency recall
    • Sit and/or down on recall
    • Freeze/stop on recall/running wait
    • Distance/direction control
    • Calling dogs off of distractions
    • Out of sight recall (owner hidden)
    • Obedience/competition recall (dog is called from a stationary position)
    • Free running recall (dog is called while in motion)
    • Type "A" recall (dog re-joins his owner in motion)


    Dates for Ultimate Recall Course:

    At Caersws, Wales
    7th-10th June, 2012; 4 days duration 9.30 am-4.00 pm
    To register contact Gail Gwesyn-Pryce at gailconcenn@btinternet.com

    At Andover, England
    7th-10th August , 2012; 4 day duration 9.30 am-4.00 pm
    To register contact Pauline Wise at pauline@wiseowl.wanadoo.co.uk


    Chase Recall Masterclass (with Practical Demos) with Stella Bagshaw

    Date: Friday 22nd June 2012 Venue: Chobham, Surrey Max number of participants: 22

    Teaching a chase recall needs to be strategic, methodical and motivational – for both dog and owner.

    With unique understanding and first-hand experience of successfully teaching remarkably effective chase recalls, Stella Bagshaw will show you how to teach this important skill step-by-step, including:

    What signals to use – when and how
    Equipment, including line handling
    Theory versus real life!
    Motivation – what it really means to the dog
    Handler commitment and motivation.
    Prey – what the dog considers prey
    Environment – where you walk your dog and why it matters

    Practical demos included. Everyone should do this course! Donʼt miss it!
    The cost is £145 per person, to include refreshments and a light lunch.



    Stop! How to control predatory Chasing in Dogs
    by David Ryan


    by Leslie Nelson

    Website article:

    How do I stop my dog chasing? – David Ryan CCAB
  5. House Proud Pets

    House Proud Pets PetForums Newbie

    Nov 26, 2011
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    Wow this was my first thread on Pet Forum and I can't believe how much help and advice I got - thank you all so much - will update as I go
  6. TabithaJ

    TabithaJ PetForums Senior

    Apr 18, 2010
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    Labradors are usually very friendly, sociable dogs - mine certainly is :)

    If you start training a good recall or 'stay', you will find things a lot easier. It's taken me months to do this with Dexter, with a lot of practise, but it's worth it.

    Dex is 2 and a half and people are always asking me if he's a puppy! (albeit a very big one!)

    Many Labs retain their 'puppy like' qualities for several years; I think this is one of the most endearing things about them :)

    I would recommend either finding a good training class OR maybe investing if possible in some one-on-one training with someone very experienced. It can really help!

    Again though, if you can train a solid recall and/or 'stay', you will find life a lot easier. I do empathise - Dexter would go zooming over to every dog in sight if he could!
  7. lucysnewmum

    lucysnewmum PetForums Senior

    Feb 25, 2010
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    haha...this post made me smile! my labrador Zak was nearly 14 when he passed away and was as nutty as the day i got him at 13 weeks old! he is the reason i studied to become a dog trainer....as i never wanted to go through that again! god rest his soul. xxx
  8. Kiwi

    Kiwi PetForums VIP

    Nov 18, 2010
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    I have a lovely dustbindog-black lab pup but she IS a handful. Have taken a shortcut of the link at the bottom of your sig and look forward to reading it! Thanks! :)
  9. House Proud Pets

    House Proud Pets PetForums Newbie

    Nov 26, 2011
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    Max and I have just got back from our first afternoon of training. Once again thanks for all you suggestions and feedback. I used his usual gravy bones today and we managed to walk past 4 dogs on the lead with him concentrating on his treat and then on our return we were behind a dog - about 5m - and I managed to keep Max walking for at least 5-6 mins OFF THE LEAD without running towards the other dog - am so chuffed - just wait till I get out the liver treats - he will never look at another dog again :)

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