If you have a 14-week-old Lab puppy, you probably have your hands full. They are growing quickly, both in size and knowledge, but they are also still a bit like toddlers, always getting into something. Here is the training for your 14-week-old Labrador puppy.
Training and socialization for 14-week-old Labrador puppy
Here are the things we worked on this week while training of Bubba.
Working on control
As Bubba matures, we need to work on more control. Bubba must learn to control herself in different situations. We started working on this when we added SIT before feeding and SIT before getting a lead on to go outside. We continue to work on these control situations, but we are now adding more opportunities to exhibit control. When we release Bubba from her crate, we open the door and command KENNEL to keep her inside the crate until we say OKAY to release her. This is challenging for a puppy her age, she wants to bolt out of the crate, but she must exhibit control and wait for the release command.
Obedience training your 14-week-old puppy
We continue to work on obedience training using a chain collar and heeling stick. Bubba is learning to walk at our side, but it is far from perfect. She is also sitting on command, with occasional reminders from the heeling stick.
I continue to work on strengthening her SIT. I can currently walk away from Bubba 2-3 steps, and she will remain seated, but she makes lots of mistakes. I move my body while I stand a couple feet from her, and command SIT at the same time. It is very hard for puppies to understand that they must remain seated and still when someone else is moving. But it will all come. It just takes a lot of repetition and enforcement. I will slowly extend the distance between Bubba and myself.
A stronger SIT will also take some maturity. As Bubba gets older the obedience will get easier for her to understand and to complete the necessary commands. But I will also make the training more difficult by adding distractions.
Training your 14-week-old puppy to COME or HERE
We continue to work on the HERE command and getting a consistent response. It is not easy, and I did resort to treat training as I bid time to teach with the electronic collar. The treat training has helped a lot but has also resulted in some bad behaviors. Bubba is now jumping on me more because she anticipates a treat from my pocket. I have been firm and consistent in correcting the jumping, but it is most definitely a result of the treat training.
In addition, Bubba thinks she should get a treat for doing things she has been doing for weeks without a treat. I will continue with the treats for the HERE command for the next few weeks, and then I will start weaning her off them.
Introducing your Labrador puppy to hunting elements
Bubba is almost done her introduction to hunting elements except for gunfire. Gunfire must be done slowly, with the noise getting incrementally closer to Bubba over time. We have already started this introduction, but it will be several months or more before we move the gunfire right next to her.
Introducing your puppy decoys in water
Swimming is something Bubba loves to do, so this week we added water marks with decoys in the water. We give her the time to check out the decoys with no correction and when she finally picks up the bumper, we praise her with a Good Dog. A few marks through decoys will be enough to teach Bubba that the decoys are not the thing she should be retrieving.
Introduction to HOLD
I talked in-depth last week on starting prep work for the HOLD command. I will continue this training for Bubba for the next couple weeks and then will stop since she will be teething, and I do not want to cause her any pain while doing this training. I don’t do the HOLD prep work every day, just occasionally, maybe once every two or three days I will grab a hold of her lower jaw and hold until she stops squirming. As soon as she stops squirming, I say GOOD DOG and release her.
Increased distance for assistant marks
Assistant marks are vital for teaching Bubba to mark (watch where the bird fell so she can run to the correct area). We make sure she gets marks every day, but we limit the number of marks she gets to three. The reason we do this is because with young pups you want to build their retrieving desire. Desire is built not by giving your puppy unlimited retrieves. It is built by limiting the number of retrieves the puppy gets at any one time.
My husband likes to compare it to a Thanksgiving dinner. If you sit down and eat a huge plate full of food, you are not going to be hungry a few hours later. But if you only get a little piece of turkey for your meal and then are told that is all there is, you will be very hungry the next time you are offered food.
If you have a dog struggling with desire, you want to limit the retrieves. Sometimes to only one per day, or one every other day. Bubba is not struggling with desire at all, so we stick to three retrieves per day.
Final thoughts on training for your 13-week-old Labrador puppy
Your puppy is probably advancing well in training at this point. You should see some marked improvement in her obedience and behavior. If you don’t, you need to step up your game. Set some reasonable boundaries and enforce them. Work on obedience on a regular basis, even if only for 5 minutes a day. If you do, you will see your dog grow in leaps and bounds.
If you are struggling or need additional help with your new puppy, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.