Don’t wait to start training, your pup is ready now!
Your puppy is almost 3-months old! It really is crazy how fast puppies grow and develop that first year. It might feel like you just adjusted his/her collar or just moved him/her to a new crate, and it is time to do it again. It feels like that for us too. Learn about training your 11-week-old Labrador puppy.
Training and socialization for 11-week-old Labrador puppy – week four home
Your 11-week-old puppy has been with your family for almost a month. Besides growing bigger each day, you should be seeing some other changes in your Lab puppy.
Bubba is as feisty as she is sweet. She is testing the rules every day but is also quick to heed a command of warning. This shows me that she knows the rules, knows when something is off-limits, but just wants to check and see if anything has changed since yesterday. This is a healthy attitude and behavior for her. We don’t mind a dog testing the boundaries as long as they quickly back off when given a command or warning.
Here are the things we worked on this week for training.
Bubba is doing great at crate training. I now feel confident leaving Bubba in the crate for 3-3 ½ hours at a time. We follow this by one hour of play time or time out on the tie out. She understands the routine and is fairly compliant with going back in her kennel after a time out.
We had to move Bubba into a larger crate this week. This crate should work until she is ready for her full-sized kennel.
Up until now, we have been guiding Bubba into the crate by holding onto her collar and saying KENNEL as we push her into the crate. But it is now time to expect more from her. The next step is getting her to go into her crate by herself on command. We will accomplish this in a series of steps. The first step is to place Bubba in front of the door to her crate and say KENNEL. If Bubba moves toward the door and goes into the crate, we will praise her. Then over time we will move her further and further from the crate door until she is going into the crate by herself.
At this age, you need to hover over the puppy and be ready for them to make a run for it. The puppy may think that he/she does not have to go into the crate, so at the first sign of refusal or even if you can tell your puppy is just thinking about not doing the work, you want to grab back onto her collar and guide her in while saying the KENNEL command.
Housebreaking Bubba is going well. She often sits in front of the outside door when she needs to go out, and we quickly take her out when she does this behavior. We want her to understand that outside is the right place to go when you need to go potty, so we praise and reward her for sitting in front of the door or scratching at the door with taking her outside.
Commands we use in week four
We continue to work on obedience commands this week and next week we will start some formal obedience training.
Bubba is doing well on the SIT command. She sits nicely while I put the leash on her and take it off. She is also sitting quickly on command before she is given permission to eat. It always surprises me how fast dogs learn this command when it comes to food.
On walks, I continue to work on getting Bubba to walk right beside me for a few minutes at a time. She is starting to understand and rarely pulls when we go on walks, although she still does not prefer to walk in the proper HEEL position. No worries, that will come.
We continue to work on getting Bubba to come to us on command. This is always a struggle with young puppies, there is a lot of distractions, and they seem to forget what they are doing mid-way through running to you. But don’t dismay, just be sure to use a long check cord or a Flexi-lead if your puppy is not reliable at coming to you.
One safety note. Make sure the check cord does not have a loop on the end you hold. If your puppy is dragging the check cord, that loop may get caught on something and hurt your puppy. Either buy a check cord that is simply a straight long rope or cut the loop off.
The long check cord is important for teaching HERE because it gives you something to grab a hold of or step on if your puppy decides to play games instead of being obedient.
Never use a HERE command if you are not in the position of being able to enforce the command. If you are saying HERE-HERE-HERE while you are running around the yard chasing your puppy, you are doing more harm than good.
Remember, it is VERY important that you call your puppy to you on a regular basis, pet him/her and release him/her. If every time your puppy comes to you, you put her away or take something away from her, soon your puppy will not want to come to you. You must work hard to make coming to you a good experience for your puppy. So, call her, praise her when she comes and release.
Socialization, socialization, socialization
You can never do too much socialization. So, continue to put your puppy in new situations, expose him/her to new noises, new people, new places. Anything you can think of. The more things and situations you expose your puppy to, the better your puppy will be equipped to adjust and learn in the future.
Just a few days ago I was walking Bubba and I slipped and ended up dragging my shoe along the road. Bubba jumped a foot in the air and tried to bolt away. This new noise was something Bubba was unprepared for. This is why you can never do enough socialization; you want to prepare your puppy to handle as many new situations as possible.
Introducing your puppy to hunting elements
Your puppy is now at the right age to start introducing him/her to hunting elements. But not ALL hunting elements. Please do not start shooting a gun around your puppy just yet. Introduction to gun fire is the very last element that we introduce hunting dogs to. And when we do, there has been a lot of pre-work done so that we have removed much of the likelihood that the puppy will respond negatively.
Learn more about how and when to introduce your dog to gunfire.
If the weather is cooperating, now is a great time to get your puppy swimming. Find a pond with a slow gradual decline into the water. Throw a puppy bumper next to shore and if your puppy retrieves it, then the next throw should be just a few inches into the water, then about a foot out and then 2 feet out, etc.
Work slowly and give your puppy praise each time he/she retrieves the bumper. Eventually your throws will be out far enough he/she must swim to get it.
Some puppies get a little panicked by the first time the ground falls away and they need to swim. Don’t worry, and don’t act fearful yourself. Just praise your puppy and keep going. If your puppy won’t go back in after the first swim, just call it a day and try again another day.
Our first introduction to decoys is done very simply. We have decoys set out for training and we move them around occasionally. We simply let Bubba run around while we pick up and move the decoys from one side of the field to the other. This gives her the opportunity to smell the decoys, paw at them and learn that they are not much fun. She can bite on them and try to tug them, but she is too small to move them, so soon she realizes they are just there, and she doesn’t need to worry about them.
In a week or so, we will start doing some puppy marks in the decoys, but not yet.
Continuation of assistant marks
Bubba will continue to get assistant marks most days from now until she is done her training. The marks will continue to increase in distance and complexity but all our marking scenarios for our afternoon sessions involved gunners out in the field.
For now, we will continue marks on short grass with white plugs so that Bubba can clearly see the item on the ground. Not too far down the road we will start incorporating some other marking concepts such as crossing deeper strips of cover and longer marks, but right now we are teaching the puppy to mark, to watch where the bumper falls and to run to the bumper. If we move to deeper cover too soon or make the marks too difficult we will inhibit Bubbas learning and marking ability.
Final thoughts on training for your 11-week-old Labrador puppy
Your 11-week-old puppy is quickly growing and changing. It is vital that you continue to introduce new training and situations so that he/she will continue to learn, grow, and develop. The training does not need to take a long time, but it does need to happen on a consistent basis. Keep at it and you will reap the benefits as your puppy grows into a full -sized dog and a stable hunting companion.
If you are struggling or need additional help with your new puppy, you can email me (email@example.com) or just give me a call (651-303-6459). I would be happy to discuss your goals for your retriever and tell you about the programs I offer.
Until next time, happy retrieving.