Congratulations! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in the process of adopting one of the easiest and most rewarding dogs to train: a Labradoodle! We’re here to train YOU on the best way to raise your new companion, so sit, stay, and read on to learn all about it.
Know your Labradoodle
Labradoodles are like sponges — they absorb new commands quickly so training them is a cinch.
However just like sponges, they will soak up the bad stuff too. Aggressive training methods will terrify them and cause them to avoid you, in some instances making them feel like they need to protect themselves and others from you.
Yelling at a dog is pointless and counterproductive because they have no clue what you are saying, only that you are being hostile and potentially dangerous. Instead, a firm “NO” is all you will need. If “NO” is the only word used to stop a behavior then your Doodle will understand and learn to correct himself in the future.
Have you ever met a dog that supposedly hates men? Maybe they’re protective of their toys and food? This is not a genetic characteristic, but the product of a human’s behavior towards the dog. If a dog is continuously yelled at by men (or women), they will learn to fear that type of voice. If children cause harm to the dog, they will fear children. Fearing a certain type of person can cause your pup to lash out when confronted by someone who fits the description of their abusers.
On the bright side, if humans are generally kind to your dog and use positive training methods then he will learn to like all kinds of people.
Overall, treat your Labradoodle as if they are a young, impressionable child. Positive interactions bring about positive character, and negative interactions can hinder them in the future.
Tools for training your puppy
There are three vital items to utilize on the way to a well-trained Labradoodle:
- Relationship building/two way communication
We also recommend that you do these two things to supplement your pups education:
- Find an in-home trainer experienced in behavior
- Sign up for a puppy training class
The in-home trainer will come to your house and answer any questions about your specific home and family situations. Puppy training classes will help to establish you as the master, provide socialization opportunities, and guide you through basic command training (sit, stay, come).
Relationship building/two way communication
The most important part of relationship building and two way communication is understanding what role each family member will play in the training of your dog. It is a common misunderstanding that dog ownership is a one way street — humans telling dogs how to go about their life. This is not a harmonious relationship! Your pup must be able to respond to you, and you must be able to interpret what he is trying to say.
The leader is whoever will be the primary caretaker of the dog, and the one who will need to put the most effort into their training. Do not give this responsibility to a child!
The leader should be clearly established from the start as the one who will be enforcing the puppy’s rules as well as managing its schedule. This person also needs to make sure the rest of the family understands what is to be expected. They monitor the pup’s responses and adjust their schedule accordingly.
Another responsibility of the leader is to teach the puppy how to live properly in your home. This includes making sure all of the dog’s basic needs are met so they do not turn to destructive behaviors. Two important basic needs are free roaming and love.
Free roaming is when the puppy gets to explore his new home, seeing, smelling, and experiencing the surroundings on his own terms. Free roam time should be supervised by the leader, or alternatively the leader can guide their pup around the house on a leash. This time is for exploration, not play! Advise your children to leave the dog alone and let them adjust peacefully.
Puppies need love too. Who could resist cuddling a cute baby Doodle anyways? Holding and petting is best done by the leader or co-leader, usually while watching TV. Sit with the pup on your lap and snuggle away. If you don’t want him on the furniture, do so on the floor. Cuddle time is critical to forming a strong bond, and if you don’t give your puppy enough attention then they will jump and bite until they receive it.
If you plan on keeping your new puppy crated all day except for potty breaks and playtime with the kids, don’t get a puppy at all! Free roaming and love will teach your dog how to live in your home and build a strong, never-ending friendship.
Children should be taught how to handle the puppy before he is brought into the family. They must be aware that puppies behave differently than adult dogs — they jump, nip, chase, and destroy. The whole family should know what to do in order to mold your rambunctious pup into a well-behaved dog.
The child should “play tree” when the puppy is free roaming close by. This means that if the puppy comes near, the child should stand still and ignore its presence. When you take him out to potty, children should know where to wait and how to behave. Lastly, children must know how to interact with the puppy during playtime. They should be calm, relaxed, and slow. If they move quickly, the puppy will get too excited. Schedule playtime after free roaming time so your pup is tired out and less likely to bounce off the walls.
Using a stuffed animal, you can show your kids how to properly pet and hold the puppy. Demonstrate what to do if they nip or jump as well. Remember to do all of this before your pooch arrives so training goes as smoothly as possible!
In the same way that children need a schedule to make the best of their day, puppies need to have scheduled daily activities for their own good as well as the family’s. This also sets clear boundaries for children so they know that playtime is at a certain time of the day, not all day! The schedule should be written and posted in an easily accessible part of the house. It might look something like this:
- Wake puppy up
- Go outside with leader/co-leader
- Eat half of food from bowl, other half from leader and child
- Go outside with leader/co-leader
- Free roam until kids go to school
- Crate while children are taken to school or go with leader in lap or crate
- Go outside, free roam, then outside again
- Pick up kids from school with or without puppy
- Fetch outside with leader, children can watch from window
- Supervised playtime with kids inside
- Outside with leader/co-leader
- Training with leader/co-leader and child
- Cuddle time with family
Have your pup’s schedule written up before he arrives, but adapt it depending on how he responds. For example, if you find that little Max is up and at ’em after an evening nap, add fetch afterwards to spend some extra energy. Try to create a schedule that works with yours while giving your pup all that he needs at the same time.
To be an effective leader, one must give. If followers don’t receive anything in return for their deeds, what’s the point of following? Good leaders will make sure their dog works for the privilege of a reward. This trade-off builds the puppy’s respect toward all members of the family, leaders and children alike.
The no freebies method is quite simple. By holding onto rewards until after the dog has completed a task for a family member, he learns that he is lower in the hierarchy than the rest.
Asking your pooch to sit and stay seated until told otherwise is one of the easiest tasks he can do to earn a reward. Again, the prize is being withheld until he successfully completes the task, reinforcing the master/dog relationship dynamic.
Every time you give him food, let him outside, play with him, or give him a toy, your pup will be reminded that you control his world. He will learn that you are important and worthy of service in return for life’s greatest puppy pleasures!
Be in control.
Sitting on command isn’t all there is to it. A well-behaved dog must learn to control himself, rather than being instructed by his human. He has to realize that his family is giving him rewards, not keeping things from him. You will know he has had this epiphany when the good behavior occurs unprovoked. All you need to do is take away access to the reward, removing it each time your dog moves before being told to do so.
Training your dog to sit and wait for something on his own is easier than it sounds! Reinforcement and punishment are key. The point of the waiting exercise is to train the dog not to move, and to make moving unpleasant through the removal of something he likes. If he wants what you’re withholding, he’ll do his best to figure out how to obtain it.
To teach “wait”, simply show your pup what you’re holding, and each time he moves to grab it, you take it away again. This shows the dog that getting up or moving toward the object results in losing the object. After he has dutifully waited for his prize, you say “Go!” and show him that he can have it.
Teach sit and wait.
Supplies needed: dog food bowl, handful of kibble, dog.
Flash the kibble to your pooch, put it in the bowl, and put the bowl on a stool or table nearby. Have him sit and then place one hand on your dog, the other on the food bowl. Next, pick up the bowl, say “Wait”, release his chest/collar, then put the bowl two feet in front of him on the floor — don’t let go of the bowl!
When he goes for it, quickly pick up the bowl. Without a word (no “NO”, no scolding), have him sit again and start over. Say “Wait”, let go of the dog, and put the bowl down.
You will probably have to do this repetition at least five times or more, so be patient. Your desperate pup might try different behaviors out of confusion and frustration, such as getting up faster, laying down, or looking back and forth. Anything for the kibble!
Just keep repeating the exercise until he stays still with both hands off of him and the bowl. The moment he does this successfully, say “Go!” and motion toward the kibble, indicating that he has earned the right to chow down.
Why teach your dog to wait? Waiting is an effective way to stop a dog that would otherwise jump, scratch, or step on your toes when you have something he wants. Another practical use, especially for pups that tend to bolt out the door and push you aside, is to have them wait before you take them out.
Have your dog sit in front of where the doorknob is. Once he is sitting, tell him to wait and then open the door. Opening doors usually signifies going out, so your pooch might try to make a run for it. Shut the door when he moves, sit him back down, and restart.
Repeat until you are able to exit the house first without him moving; at this point you can say “Go!” and let him come out. Don’t cheat! Make sure your pup is still sitting still behind the door before you give the green light.
Consistency is key!
Being patient and consistent with a learning pup is critical. He needs to figure out what to do to receive the reward, but in order to make that discovery, he needs your help! You must be as consistent as possible when punishing bad behaviors and reinforcing good ones. If not, your dog will become confused and take a lot longer to realize what you are trying to teach him.
Don’t change the rules to make it easier on your pup just because he isn’t getting it right away. Decide on the exact criteria for bad behavior: a subtle lift of the rump or drop of the head during a waiting exercise, perhaps. Each time you catch this happening, quickly remove the reward and start over, no matter how long it takes.
Likewise, be consistent in the speed and manner in which you reinforce good behaviors. The first time Fido holds his sit, quickly give the go ahead as a way of saying “That’s right!”.
One of the hardest parts of teaching a dog to wait is stopping yourself from physically interfering. You’re going to want to stop your dog from moving or going out the door, especially after many repetitions of the same lesson.
Don’t interfere! The whole point of these exercises is to let him learn how to stop himself. When a dog learns self-control, he has learned the consequences of his actions. This is done solely through your control of his rewards.
Wait, don’t stay.
There is no respect in a “stay”. When learning to stay, a dog is physically stopped from moving — the control is physical. While staying can be useful in certain situations, it isn’t as beneficial for either of you in the long run. The subtle power you have in a wait is much more effective in teaching your dog to control himself and depend on you. If he has already learned to stay, try to avoid using “stay” when teaching wait.
Kids with treats.
Children are an integral part of the family, so they will play a big role in teaching your pup about respect. Dogs are very intelligent; they will see everything that happens in the house and realize that kids are at the bottom of the family pecking order. Children can learn how to make a dog wait. Having them exert this control over your pooch will drastically change the dynamic between the child and pet.
When having a child tell your dog to wait, it is best to use treats instead of a bowl. Kids don’t have the best reaction time but they can easily hide a treat when needed. Give your child a treat and tell her that the dog cannot have it until he stays put. Put the dog in a sit yourself, and instruct your child to say “Wait”. Make sure she knows that the pup must be able to see the treat, but he can’t have it until she says so!
Even if you’ve already taught your dog how to wait properly, he may try to take advantage of the tiny human holding his snacks. When he goes for it, have your child close her fist and raise it high above her head, holding it there until your pup is seated again. From here, she can repeat the drill until Fido catches on. Just make sure she hands over the goods when he obeys!
The most common issue when teaching a dog to wait is when they try to gobble up the treat numerous times instead of waiting. He has been sitting for a good amount of time and knows that moving will do no good. The problem here is that dogs don’t always understand that “Go!” means he can eat — they aren’t born fluent in English after all!
Instead of lunging he might just stay seated, staring at his prize until drool puddles at his paws. This can feel disappointing, but now you have the opportunity to teach him what “Go!” really means.
The first method to teaching “Go!” is to repeat the word every five seconds until your pup finally goes for the treat. Doing this won’t magically teach him what “Go!” means, but it will make it more likely that he will hear “Go!” right before he decides to move, and eventually the word will connect with the action in his mind.
The second method is to connect a gesture with the word “Go!” by motioning toward the bowl or treat with your hand at the same time. Once your dog is consistently reacting to the gesture and word together, you can gradually phase out the former by decreasing the emphasis of the gesture each time.
It’s a draw!
What should you do if Fido starts to get up on his own at the same time you give him the green light? Even though you were so close, the fact that he got up on his own will only reinforce the need to take, not wait. On the next repetition, your pup may sit for less time than usual if rewarded for a draw, so have patience.
If you tell your dog “Go!” and he doesn’t budge, maybe you aren’t holding something he truly wants at that time. Try a toy, a special snack, or a walk as a reward instead of the food bowl.
Does your puppy suddenly lose interest and flop onto the ground or trot off elsewhere? After having his food snatched away time after time, he may actually give up or forget what he was waiting for in the first place. Like kids, puppies have tiny attention spans. To keep him interested, place his food bowl closer to his front paws and make tapping sounds with your fingers.
Maybe your dog has a king complex. A pompous pup might learn to wait quickly, but after a few days of figuring out what’s really happening, he will rebel and conveniently “forget” everything you’ve taught. When this happens, ignore him! No waiting, no getting — he’ll come around eventually.
Respectful dog = happy family.
The dynamic between families and their dogs can be greatly enhanced by the sit and wait exercise. By adding this skill to the daily activities of your household, you will raise a dog that aims to please each and every member of the family, a dog who goes to his humans when he wants or needs something instead of snatching it himself. Happy dogs and happy people make a happy, harmonious family!