Sunday, July 29, 2007

Labrador Retriever with a few different problems - part II

This is part two of a two part e-mail from KBWSPIN (Karen) in regards to her Labrador Retriever who has a high level of energy , is difficult to handle and has a few others problems that she needs help with.

Reader's E-mail - Karen Writes:

Thanks for writing me back, Yes, I do have a name and it is Karen. We did buy our lab from a breeder. We have gone to two different trainers. Both trainers told me the same things. First he is one of the more difficult labs that they have worked with, meaning he has that extra energy that goes beyond the average lab (my vet like I told you agreed, he has seen many dogs and labs over the years and he definitely finds him more stubborn, hard headed, and hyper and difficult to control. I have a hard time just holding him back when I walk with him.

He still is very mouthy at eleven months old. He has been to the vet at least five times for eating things he shouldn't be. He gets sick throwing up and diarrhea. He jumps on people constantly. I had a x policeman who trains search dogs and narcotic dogs also work with us. He ended telling us to buy a collar that can give him a shock to stop bad behavior. That was a few months ago, although that does work we are rarely actually shocking him. We tend to warn him instead because we feel bad shocking him.

He is crated during the day, usually not more than five to six hours at a time. Sometimes less. It has been very cold outside so we haven't taken him on many walks during the winter months. We do have a fenced in yard but he doesn't want any part of running around back there unless someone is out there with him. Once the weather breaks he does get plenty of walks. It is hard just keeping his head from cleaning the sidewalk he is a human garbage disposal.

I hope this information will help you an then you can help me. I don't feel giving him away is an option because my kids don't want me to even though they do nothing to help take care of him.

Please write back soon,


Continue Reading...

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hello Karen,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

Thanks for the responses to my questions. I’m glad you feel not giving him away is an option.

I also had to laugh at your "even though they do nothing to help take care of him" comment. Now, isn't that always the way with the children? They want the dog, beg for the dog, and then don't do anything for or with the dog.

I understand that both trainers and the veterinarian are stating he has extra energy, is stubborn, hard headed, hyper and difficult to control, but what happens after that. Do they tell you anything you can do for him, with him, or is that it. It seems like the only one who had any advice was the policeman. The trainers do not want to train him?

More often than not, the hyper behavior is caused by too much energy and a need to release all this energy. There are also more and more disreputable breeders with very little knowledge on breeding Labrador Retrievers, and have less regard for temperament than that of the established breeders. These disreputable breeders don't produce well balanced, good tempered Labradors.

One other thing I didn't ask you Karen was - What happens to your Lab (what is his name) when he does these bad things (eats toys, walls, pulls on leash)?

First thing we are going to talk about Karen is obedience training and the Alpha dog. The obedience training doesn't solve all behavior problems; however, it becomes a foundation for solving just about any problem. Effective communication is necessary to instruct your Labrador Retriever with what you want him to do. What the Alpha dog basically comes down to is - Who is the leader. Dogs see all the people and other dogs in the household as a pack. Each person in the pack has a rank, with a top dog. Your Labrador Retriever's rank should be at the bottom of the pack. You and everyone in your family are ahead of him and he must understand this.

Here's an article on Alpha dogs with rules to follow to let your Lab know his place Establishing and keeping Alpha Position

First off Karen, training has got to be consistent, might be frustrating, and won't happen overnight. You will have to keep on correcting him, possible hundreds of times.

Whenever you want your Labrador Retriever to do something, you must TELL him, not ask. Remember, you are the boss, the top dog. You (and your family) are the one that makes the rules and give the orders. Stand up nice and straight, and in a firm voice TELL him what to do. Always remember this!

What you’re going to do is to teach your Lab the sit command (if he doesn't know it already). When he does, reward him with praise and a treat. Karen, you don't have to get crazy with this, just a Good dog, or Good boy in a happy tone and then a treat.

Now when it comes time to feed him, walk him, play with him, your going to TELL him to sit. When he does, praise him with the Good dog, or Good boy, give him the permission with an Okay and then give him his reward (his food, playtime, etc...).

What happens if he doesn't want to sit?

If your Labrador doesn't sit, you’re going to walk away from him and ignore him. Remember, No Sit, No Reward. Make sure you state your sit command in a good firm voice and if he doesn't obey, walk away and ignore him. You will try again a little later.

What you want your Lab to learn is to respect and obey you. His place is at the bottom of the pack, nowhere else.

Time for your Labrador Retriever to be fed... SIT, OKAY then feed him. Time for him to go out...SIT, OKAY and out you go (you go out door first, not other way around). You’re the boss! Practice, practice, practice. It might take much ignoring for him to get it.

As for his mouthing problem

Your Labrador Retriever's mouthing / nipping will stop, but you’re going to have to train him that this nipping / mouthing is wrong. I have written an article on this subject that you can find on the All About Labradors blog.

Labrador Retriever – Training your puppy to stop biting and nipping.

Follow the procedures in this article, making sure you're CONSISTENT with the training (this goes for everyone in your household).

For chew toys for your Labrador Retriever, I recommend and love the Kong toys (make sure you get the proper size for your Labrador). The stuffed Kong toys can keep him busy (and out of trouble!) for long periods of time by encouraging them to get the food reward inside. They also provide plenty of physical as well as mental exercise for him.

High energy Labradors needing plenty of daily exercise (physical and mental). Long walks (at least a half hour) and runs, plenty of toys and chews, and games of fetch will help to calm by tiring him out. A tired Lab is a good Lab. The hyper dog launcher will help to keep your hands clean and dry, and save your arm. Inside you can play games like "find the treat" and” hide and seek" (let me know if you need more info on these or other inside games).

For his jumping on people

Many recommend a swift knee to the chest or stepping on the paws. My thoughts on both of them are, absolutely not. Why? Because it's a great way to hurt your Labrador Retriever (broken ribs, cracked bones in chest).

This method will take two people to do:

Person # 1 stands holding your Labrador Retriever on a short leash, making him sit.

Person # 2 starts with you Lab's favorite dog treats in his pocket, standing approximately 10 - 20 feet away and starts approaching your Labrador.

If your Labrador jumps up on person # 2 as he/she approaches, they will immediately turn their back to your Lab and leaves. Person # 2 is not to make any further eye contact with your Lab, no vocalizing and no touching. Just a turn of the back and walk away. You will start this exercise over every time your Labrador jumps.

When your Labrador Retriever does not jump when approached, the approacher should offer him one a treat, pat him on the head, praise him with Good boy, or Good dog, and then walk away again and re-repeat the whole approach again.

Continue training in this manner. Every time he jumps turn and walk away, every time he doesn't, treat and praise.

Make practice sessions short 5 - 10 minutes at the most, as you don't need your Labrador getting bored of this exercise. As he starts to master this exercise, you can make the sessions longer.

Make sure you always end his sessions on a high note, this being your Lab successfully not jumping. Never, ever should your Lab be pet when he jumps on people, as he will think this is good behavior.

Also remember to change up people in the number two person’s position, this way your Lab just doesn't learn not to jump on that one specific person. Patience Karen, this might take some doing.

If that method doesn't work, you can try this:

When your Labrador jumps up, you or whoever he jumps on are to grab onto his paws and hold them up so that he can't get back to the floor. Do it without hurting him, and just be prepared to hold on. Eventually he is going to want to get down and he will try to take his paws out of your grip (whimpering or play biting at your hands). When he does this, squeeze (not hard) the opposite paw. He will go back and forth between your hands. TRY to wait until he stops to let him down. Continue every time he jumps, until he realizes jumping is not tolerated.

If these two methods don't seem to be working, let me know, and we will try something else.

On to his walking problem:

What I have used with my two Labs and have great success with, is the Gentle Leader dog collar. It is a collar that basically goes around the neck right behind the ears and another loop around the muzzle. It works by putting light pressure on your dog's muzzle and at the back of the neck causing him to slow down and wait for you.

It may take some time for your Lab to get use to wearing it, so you can leave the gentle leader on him in the house, not attached to the leash. Another bonus of the Gentle Leader is that you can also use it to teach your Labrador to sit, as well as prevent jumping. It will also help when he goes to eat garbage on the ground, when you are walking him. Instructions are provided with the Gentle Leader for this.

For his shedding, well that's what Labradors do. I have burned out a vacuum or two cleaning up after mine. Invest in a good slicker brush and/or a shedding blade to help remove loose, dead hair.

For the last two weeks, I have been experimenting with a product I found at my local Petco called The Furminator. I am having great success with this, and you won't believe how much loose, dead hair gets removed. It leaves my Lab's coats shiny, healthy and clean smelling. Look this product up on the Internet for more info. I definitely recommend this product.

As for bathing, I only bath when absolutely necessary. Too much bathing removes your Labrador Retrievers natural oils. The brushing will help to do a good job of keeping your Labrador Retriever clean.

In regards to your Lab eating everything, where is everybody when this is going on. I don't need to tell you that nothing should be left where he can reach it. You can try spraying objects you don't want him to get with Bitter Apple spray. For some it works, others like mine, no good.

Plenty of his own toys will help. Nylabone makes many shapes of bones, rings, knots, etc. Again, the Kong toy also. Stores are full of garbage toys that your Lab will quickly chew up and choke on or cause intestinal blockages. Rawhide is especially bad because it swells after being swallowed. Always inspect your Labs toys, when pieces are starting to break off, it's time to discard them.

When you do catch your Labrador Retriever chewing on something, give a loud LEAVE IT!" or "DROP IT command and quickly swap it with one of his toys.

As for the shock collar, I personally don't use or recommend them, but know of others that do and have had success with them. I know that they also have other collars such as citronella collars, which is a remote controlled corrective collar that emits a citronella spray when you press the button. I have never used these either.

Remember, different dogs will respond to different corrections. What works for one, might not work for another.

Karen, I hope this is of some help for you. Whatever you don't understand, please ask. Any other questions, also don't hesitate to ask. Keep me informed of what's going on, and how training is going. If some methods don't work, let me know and we will see what else we can do.

Good luck!

Take care of yourself, and your Labrador Retriever


Part one of this e-mail can be read here: Labrador Retriever with a few different problems - part I

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