10 Lessons A Labrador Retriever Taught Me About Dog Training

– At McCann Dogs, I've had opportunity to help thousands of dog
owners to train their dog. But long before I was a
professional dog trainer, I was an under-prepared
Labrador retriever owner. This is Deegan, my 15-year-old black lab. You can see Deegan's
enjoying her favorite treat, a Kong filled with some peanut butter. Now, in my training experience, I had all of my time and focus and effort and attention on Deegan, but even at that, I
made a lot of mistakes. Now, as a professional dog trainer now, I often see students
making these same mistakes. So in today's video, I'm gonna tell you the top 10 lessons that this
Labrador retriever taught me about dog training so that you can avoid the mistakes that I made and really speed up your training. I'm Ken Steepe and welcome
back to McCann Dogs. (guitar strumming)
(dog barking) In the McCann Dogs training facility, we've helped more than 19,000 dog owners who are just like you to overcome their dog training challenges. So if this is your first
time on the channel, make sure you hit that subscribe button so that I can help you to have a well-behaved four-legged family member.

I'm gonna take advantage of
every opportunity that I can to do a video with my
15-year-old black lab. And in today's video,
I'm gonna tell you about the 10 lessons that she
taught me about dog training. And as a dog trainer now, I see people making these exact same mistakes and I want to help you to
avoid some of these mistakes. And you're also gonna learn some tips that will help your dog
to be more successful, help you to have a more
enjoyable training session, and they're really gonna speed
up your training process. It's really going to help your dog to understand what your expectations are. So let's jump into it. Here's number one: have high expectations. The good news is, your dog is capable of a lot more than you think they are. The bad news is, your dog is capable of a lot more than you think they are. So when you're working with your dog, regardless of the breed, I want you to have high expectations and maintain them.

Expect that through the training process your dog is going to stay
when you ask them to, your dog is going to come when they call. This was something that
was a real struggle for me to get the hang
of, to really know that I could expect more of Deegan, if I was clear, consistent,
and fair with her. One of the most frustrating
things I see on our channel is someone saying, "Oh,
you could never teach a," insert your breed here, "to do that," to come when they're
called, to sit and stay. I will tell you, after
seeing thousands of dogs and thousands of dog owners, any breed is capable of
success in their dog training. The key is your expectations.

So keep those expectations high. Number two is really important. It's about management and using
a house line for your dog. Now, that's something that
I didn't do with Deegan. And if you don't know
what a house line is, I'll put a link in the description below. You can check that out. But not being able to manage
your dog in your busy household gives them so many opportunities
to go do their own thing, gives them so many
opportunities to make mistakes where you can't be there to
give them the information.

They can pick up a sock
and run under the couch. You know, this adorable black
lab would always take laundry. She'd grab laundry, whether shirts, socks, pants, underwear, whatever, and then she'd go run around
the living room with them. And I never had a great
way to control that until I became a dog trainer and learned about the house line. And the value that I
see in the house lines with all of our puppies now,
with our students' dogs, it's a very powerful tool. And it really makes you seem
like a dog training superhero. So use those house lines
so you can give your dog great information in and around your home.

Teach your out command early. Now, whether you have a puppy
or you have a rehomed dog or maybe you're doing some retraining, get on top of that out command. Because, especially for puppies, because they're gonna be making
their way around your home, exploring the world with their mouths, and there's gonna be lots of times where you need a reliable out command. One of the secrets about
the out command, though, is doing things like an
engaging game of tug. You know, doing something
with an interactive toy, bringing your dog into you, playing tug, and asking them to out.

Right away, they learn
about great leadership because you're controlling the game. Number two, that's a game,
that tug game is a game that only happens when you're around. So they, it's engaging for them. But having an out command
is really, really important. Now, especially for the fetch. If you have just a
couple of minutes of time and you really wanna exercise your dog or do something fun with
them, you can play fetch. But don't let your fetch game
look like mine initially did where Deegan would run out,
grab the object, come back, and then satellite around me,
just outside of arm's reach.

So really teach your dog early
what the out command means and it's a valuable skill and it'll really step up your leadership. Now, a critical mistake that
a lot of dog owners make, and it something that I
made, a mistake that I made, and she really exaggerated
these mistakes for me, but be very careful about
your timing with food reward, especially if you've got
a food-motivated dog. Now, we've talked a little bit
on the channel about timing and how to wean your way off of food, but in the beginning, you're
gonna be using lots of food because it's a currency
that your dog understands. Especially if you have
a Labrador retriever. But it's really important
that you follow this formula. It's always cue, which is that word, stimulus, which is introduce the food, lure into whatever the
position is, and then reward. If you're not careful, especially if you have
a chow hound of a lab, and you introduce the food first, you put the food on their nose, that's the only thing
that they can think about.

So your cue now has
become food on the nose and they're just thinking about that food. So it's always word,
then introduce the food, make it happen, and then reward. Now, I touched on this
a little bit earlier, but when your dog starts
to have some skills, you know, when they're walking
on a loose leash better, when they are remaining in
that stay a little bit longer, it's really important
that you're proofing, when you're proofing an exercise, that you add the appropriate
amount of challenge to it. Now, this is a mistake that
I made when she started to, she was always a puller on walks, and the worst was when
we'd go up to the park and there were kids playing
baseball and soccer.

And I started to get some, she started to remain in at my side, and I really pushed things too quickly. I brought her too close
to those distractions, where she just couldn't help herself. She wanted to be the
happy-go-lucky bouncy lab that we all love. But it was really tough
for her to understand that it's important for
her to remain in at my side and no amount of food at that point would get her back on me.

pexels photo 5749805

So I needed to use my
leash and redirect her. But I've actually got this
slide that I'm gonna show you. Now, there's a zone, you'll start to learn that your dog has a zone where they're unaffected by distractions. And then there's a point that you get to that your dog will, is
absolutely going to fail. They will 100% fail
and pull on your leash.

But there's a threshold area where your dog is likely to be successful and if you're really on top of things, you're going to be able to teach them to choose you instead of
the those distractions. And that is where the magic happens. So take your time when it
comes to adding distractions and really help your dog to be successful. You know, as a dog trainer, as you as the dog trainer with your dog, if your dog's made two mistakes, you can't let them make another mistake. They don't understand. They've shown you that they
don't really get it yet. So really make an effort to
help them to be successful by reducing the distance,
by reducing the distraction, or reducing the duration, whichever one of those things
you've started to increase so that you can reward your
dog and really remind them what your expectation
is and what work it is that's going to be rewarded.

In saying that, take advantage of natural training opportunities. There's going to be a million of them, especially if you're a puppy owner. There's going to be all
sorts of things that come up in everyday life that
are a great opportunity to teach your dog, reinforce for your dog a skill you're working on. Maybe it is response to name. Maybe you're out with
your dog, or your puppy, and you're walking around in your yard or the area where you
take them out to go potty, and you see they're a
little bit distracted. Call their name. You know, take advantage
of that natural distraction and call their name, and
if you're in training mode, if you have a puppy who's
training in your house, always keep some food or keep
some rewards in your pocket in case your puppy makes a great choice.

But especially when
you're in training mode, be prepared to follow up. So if your puppy doesn't respond, you know, repeat their
name, guide them away, and then try it again
with less distraction. Maybe while they're focused on you, repeat their name and reward them. But these natural training opportunities are how you're going to start
to integrate your training, integrate the skills into the real world. But you need to be thinking
like a trainer the entire time. So when you have that
young dog in training or that puppy in training,
take advantage of these natural training
opportunities as they occur. Now, whether you have a Labrador retriever or any other breed, the retrieve, working on a retrieve with
your dog, playing fetch, is a very, very valuable skill. Not only is it a great
skill to burn off energy in a short period of time, but it's a great way to
build some engagement in a relationship with your dog. Now, a lot of people struggle with the same things that I struggled with, things that I mentioned a
little bit earlier in the video, with their dog coming in so close and then sort of hovering around them.

We have a video on the channel
that I want you to check out, I'll link it in the description,
that will teach your dog that all of the value of the retrieve game is when they get back to you, making it an engaging experience so that it involves both of you. But teaching your dog a retrieve. And this is something
we'll do with a puppy, if you have a puppy at home,
set up part of your hallway, or some non-distracting environment where you can be sure that
the puppy only has one option, it's to come to you. But work on the retrieve. You know, the amount of puppies,
energy that puppies have, you'll want extra little things you can do throughout your day that will burn some of that energy off.

And if you do have a Labrador retriever or a golden retriever or
any of the retrievers, it's something that they
will naturally want to do and you want to take advantage of that. Make training fun by adding a retrieve into your training sessions. Now, an important part of taking advantage of natural training opportunities
is to not test too early. You're thinking like a dog trainer. Now, I would never have a young puppy out without a line on or a
leash on and call come because they have an
opportunity to make a mistake. And I wouldn't have any way to follow up to help them to be right. This is definitely something I did with Deegan far too early. I was testing her stay with
really tough distractions without a line on, I
clearly remember doing that in the house because I wanted to show off how cool it was that my dog could stay, and then she failed miserably. But especially with things
like your come command, you're gonna remove that
word from your vocabulary unless you're training it.

So you're not testing your dog. You've got, maybe you're a
couple dog training classes in or you've watched a few
videos here on the channel and you're working on your recall. Don't call come unless you're
sure your dog is going to turn or you're ready to help train
them to help them to be right. Most important thing that Deegan taught me was to put the time in early. Now, Deegan was two years old when I started training with her. By that time, she had
a lot of opportunities to make bad choices, to learn bad habits.

It's going to be a lot of work. It's going to be frustrating sometimes, it's going to be incredibly
joyous sometimes. And sometimes you're gonna wonder if you have any idea what you're doing. But I waited until
Deegan was two years old. She'd had so many opportunities
to learn the wrong things, you know, make bad choices, be
rewarded by making mistakes, chewing on stuff and whatever
that might be for your dog, but you know, the puppies
I have trained since, all of the puppies that
we train in our school, these dogs have an opportunity
to only get good information.

So invest the six, eight months
that you're going to invest into getting your dog to
be that well-behaved dog who listens all the time,
and it will pay dividends for eight, 12, maybe even
15 years of their life. And it is so, so worth it. That initial relationship
building is something that, even with Deegan at two years old, you know, I really look
back fondly on those days. A really important way
to speed up your training and build a stronger
relationship with your dog is by being a great leader. Click that card right
there to make sure that you aren't accidentally being
a bad leader for your dog. If this is your first time on the channel, make sure you hit that subscribe button. We publish new videos every
single week to help you to have a well-behaved
four-legged family member. On that note, I'm Ken, this
is Deegan, happy training..

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