About The Breed

Training Your Labradoodle

Australian Labradoodles are incredibly intelligent animals, but that doesnt mean that they dont need to be trained! The good news though, is that they are incredibly trainable and are always top of the class at puppy training classes. Training your puppy properly at an early age will pay dividends in the long run. A well-trained dog is a happy dog.

We recommend two books

Cesar’s Way by Cesar Millan and The Perfect Puppy by Gwen Bailey. Cesar's book is all about the energy between owner and dog, your dog's pack, and your position as the pack leader. If you get this part right, everything else almost falls into place. Gwen's book is a little more practical – sit, stay, come, etc. but is nonetheless very useful and the two books combined should get you off to a great start. Please invest the time in sourcing and reading these books – we will provide you with a great puppy but it is entirely up to you to turn him into a great dog!

We Set Our Puppies Up For Success

When you collect your puppy from Lomond Hills, he will not have received any training as such (virtually impossible with a whole litter of young puppies), but we do employ particular protocols and utilise some smart methods to set your puppy up for success. A couple of examples:

1. When we are feeding, playing or doing something else that is a fun or positive experience from puppy's perspective, we call them to come to us. When we are going to worm them, clip their toenails or do something similarly neutral or negative from puppy's perspective, we don't call them – we just go and pick them up. This helps them to learn that when they get called, good things happen. It is amazing the difference this makes when it comes to you training your dog to come back to you when he has been off-lead.

2. When our puppies are young and only nursing with mum, they stay in one warm cosy room and mum cleans up after them. When they start eating solids and pooping more, we open up the doggy door and they have access to an indoor toileting area where we use paper bedding. This area is fully drained and is disinfected regularly, so it is a clean and safe environment for our puppies, but is realistic and really give them a head-start on toilet training. They very quickly learn to follow their mum through the doggy door when they need to go to the toilet! It is amazing the difference this will make when you take puppy home – you will have him toilet-trained in no time!

General Puppy Training Guidance

The very first step doesn’t actually involve your puppy at all, but it does involve everyone else who lives in your household. Agree upon some basic rules, routines, commands, praise and ‘punishment’. For example, you may decide that your puppy is going to be restricted to the lower floor of your two-storey house, that he is or isn’t allowed to jump on the sofa and that he is or isn’t allowed to lick your face. It is important that every member of the household follows these consistently. If he licks one person’s face and is not reprimanded, he won’t understand why another person tells him off for licking their face. Consistency trains dogs.

The very first step doesn’t actually involve your puppy at all, but it does involve everyone else who lives in your household. Agree upon some basic rules, routines, commands, praise and ‘punishment’. For example, you may decide that your puppy is going to be restricted to the lower floor of your two-storey house, that he is or isn’t allowed to jump on the sofa and that he is or isn’t allowed to lick your face. It is important that every member of the household follows these consistently. If he licks one person’s face and is not reprimanded, he won’t understand why another person tells him off for licking their face. Consistency trains dogs.

Training must start the very second that your puppy arrives in his new home. The younger he is, the faster he will learn. It can be very difficult to see past the ‘puppy cuteness’ but you should start as you mean to go on. Don’t put up with something now that you don’t want to put up with later.

Make sure that he understands his place in the ‘pack’, and that should be right at the very bottom. That means that humans should walk through doors before he does and humans should eat their meal before he eats his. The youngest children or smallest human in the house need to be able to exert authority over him – an easy one for children is for them to be involved in controlling the supply of food, under adult supervision of course. Australian Labradoodles don’t tend to display any dominant traits, but even a few of these simple little things can make all the difference in establishing his position at the bottom of the pack.

Your puppy learns from his perspective

Think about everything you are doing from his perspective, reward desirable behaviour and ignore or ‘punish’ undesirable behaviour. (It so happens that ignoring your Australian Labradoodle is just about the most effective punishment since they are such people-focused dogs).

When puppy jumps up your leg, it is only human nature that you will think “oh, he wants a cuddle” and you’ll bend down to speak to him, give him a cuddle and lots of attention. You have just rewarded undesirable behaviour. If you don’t want your fully grown dog to be jumping on you and others when he wants attention, you cannot allow him to do it now.

Think about everything you are doing from his perspective, reward desirable behaviour and ignore or ‘punish’ undesirable behaviour. (It so happens that ignoring your Australian Labradoodle is just about the most effective punishment since they are such people-focused dogs).

When puppy jumps up your leg, it is only human nature that you will think “oh, he wants a cuddle” and you’ll bend down to speak to him, give him a cuddle and lots of attention. You have just rewarded undesirable behaviour. If you don’t want your fully grown dog to be jumping on you and others when he wants attention, you cannot allow him to do it now. When he jumps up your leg, do not make eye contact, nudge him off your leg gently (using your leg only – lowering your hands towards him will be interpreted as a reward – he’ll think you are giving him attention) and turn away. This way, he learns that jumping up your leg achieves nothing. When you spot him sitting on the floor looking up at you angelically, make a point of going over to him, speaking to him, giving him a cuddle and lots of attention. This way, he learns that polite, desirable behaviour earns the reward he wants.

When puppy is in his crate and is barking because he wants to be let out, ignore him and do not make eye contact with him. If you give him what he wants and let him out now, he will learn that when he barks, he gets what he wants and you will have encouraged him to display undesirable behaviour. Instead, wait for him to stop barking before you let him out. Hopefully, he will have stopped and sat/laid down for at least a few minutes before you let him out. If this is not possible due to his persistence, grab your 30 second opportunity if need be, but the former is better! This way, you have taught him that quiet, polite, desirable behaviour gets rewarded.

You can extrapolate this method across all aspects of his behaviour management and training. He must display desirable behaviour to get what he wants. Undesirable behaviour gets ignored. Its really simple – just get inside his head and think from his perspective.

Mouthing

Puppies love putting things in their mouths and this usually includes human fingers. You need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on mouthing, right from the very beginning. If he nibbles at your fingers, squeal like a puppy and he should stop. If need be, remove them from his mouth and distract him with a toy or something that he is allowed to chew on. Make a fist so that he cannot physically get your fingers into his mouth. If he remains determined to nibble your fingers, end play time with him, ignore him, stop making eye contact. This way, he learns that nibbling fingers is not allowed and you will ignore him if he persists.

Puppies love putting things in their mouths and this usually includes human fingers. You need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on mouthing, right from the very beginning. If he nibbles at your fingers, squeal like a puppy and he should stop. If need be, remove them from his mouth and distract him with a toy or something that he is allowed to chew on. Make a fist so that he cannot physically get your fingers into his mouth. If he remains determined to nibble your fingers, end play time with him, ignore him, stop making eye contact. This way, he learns that nibbling fingers is not allowed and you will ignore him if he persists.

There is a little game you can play to encourage him to stop mouthing in a positive way. Warning: this should only be undertaken by adults with a reasonably high pain threshold! Take a little piece of cooked sausage, chicken or something else equally tasty. Place it in the palm of your hand and make a fist around it. Go and sit on the floor next to puppy, presenting the closed fist to him. He will nibble and mouth at your fist to try and get the treat. Grin and bear it. It won’t take long before he sits and looks up at you, baffled as to why he cannot find or get to the tasty treat he can smell. As soon as he does this, open up your fist and present the treat to him on the palm of your hand. This way, he learns that mouthing your hand achieves nothing, sitting looking up at you politely does!

House training your puppy

The traditional method that many people seem to employ involves covering the entire floor with sheets of newspaper – DON’T DO IT! This will only encourage your puppy to go to the toilet inside your house on your floor, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re looking to achieve. Instead, what we have found works best (quickest and most efficient) is to take your puppy outside into your garden at frequent, specific times.

The traditional method that many people seem to employ involves covering the entire floor with sheets of newspaper – DON’T DO IT! This will only encourage your puppy to go to the toilet inside your house on your floor, which is exactly the opposite of what you’re looking to achieve. Instead, what we have found works best (quickest and most efficient) is to take your puppy outside into your garden at frequent, specific times.

First thing in the morning, straight after meals, as soon as he wakes up from a nap, if you see him snooping around with his nose to the floor and his tail in the air or even if he just hasn’t been outside within the last hour or so. The final time of the day that you should take him out to the toilet is last thing before bed. Stay with him and watch what he is doing. Don’t pay him too much attention initially – he is there for a purpose – to go to the toilet – and if you try to play with him, that will only delay proceedings.

Use a phrase when you go outside, such as “be clean” or “busy busy” – eventually he will associate that with going to the toilet and you will find it very useful. As soon as he has done the toilet, go over to him and make a big fuss of him, praise him to the hilt. Then take five minutes or so just to play with him before returning inside. Providing you follow this procedure religiously, there is little reason why it should take you any longer than a week to have him house trained.

Overnight is a completely different kettle of fish. Whatever you do – don’t wake up to let him outside during the middle of the night. He would learn to expect it and would develop reliance upon it. You won’t want to get up in the middle of the night, every night, for the next 12 – 15 years! Instead, he must learn to ‘hold it in’ until the morning. We feel that the best way to achieve ‘clean and dry’ overnight is to crate train your puppy.

Crate training

The best way to introduce your puppy to his crate is to feed him in it. Pop his bowl of food in the crate, guide him towards it and if necessary, pick him up and put him inside. He will notice the food straight away and start eating. Whilst he is busy eating, gently close the door so that he gets used to the feeling of being enclosed. It is important that the crate is a very positive place for your puppy to be, and the food really helps to fix the association. The crate should never be used as a place of punishment...ever! Now we’re getting to the important bit about the use of the crate overnight.

The best way to introduce your puppy to his crate is to feed him in it. Pop his bowl of food in the crate, guide him towards it and if necessary, pick him up and put him inside. He will notice the food straight away and start eating. Whilst he is busy eating, gently close the door so that he gets used to the feeling of being enclosed. It is important that the crate is a very positive place for your puppy to be, and the food really helps to fix the association. The crate should never be used as a place of punishment… ever! Now we’re getting to the important bit about the use of the crate overnight. Cover half of the floor area with a nice thick blanket, cover the other half with newspaper (NOT a puppy toilet training pad – this is scented and encourages toileting – we want something to catch an accident, not encourage one) and put a small (but heavy so that it doesn’t spill) bowl of water in the corner. Just before you go to bed, pop him inside his crate and close the door whilst speaking to him in a positive, but calm and soothing voice.

When you wake up in the morning, go back to his crate, open up the door and take him outside to the toilet. You will find that he will likely have done the toilet on the paper in his crate overnight. This is absolutely normal and to be fully expected. Don’t tell him off, he doesn’t know the routine yet. The frequency of this occurring will decrease as time goes on and as he learns what time you go and let him out every morning. A consistent time helps a lot! On each occasion that he has a clean and dry night, give him lots of praise first thing in the morning before taking him outside. Eventually, he will be clean and dry overnight, every night, and it is at this stage that you can remove the newspaper and cover the entire floor area with a nice soft blanket or bed.

Training to sit

This element of training should be started from the very moment you bring your puppy home. The best time to conduct this training is at meal times. Prepare the bowl of food as you usually would and approach your puppy holding the bowl in one hand. Bend over (keeping the bowl high enough that your puppy cannot get his nose into it!) and use your free hand to plant his bottom on the floor, whilst using the vocal command “sit”. Keep your hand firmly on his bottom just above the base of the tail and place the bowl of food in front of him on the floor. Then remove your hand and give him lots of praise.

This element of training should be started from the very moment you bring your puppy home. The best time to conduct this training is at meal times. Prepare the bowl of food as you usually would and approach your puppy holding the bowl in one hand. Bend over (keeping the bowl high enough that your puppy cannot get his nose into it!) and use your free hand to plant his bottom on the floor, whilst using the vocal command “sit”. Keep your hand firmly on his bottom just above the base of the tail and place the bowl of food in front of him on the floor. Then remove your hand and give him lots of praise.

Complete this exercise at every mealtime and it won’t take long before he will almost have his bottom on the floor before you even touch him. Continue to use the verbal command “sit” and instead of using your hand to place his bottom on the floor, use it to signal the command by holding up your flat palm. As you make progress, start to carry out the exercise at non-meal times as well, perhaps using a treat initially as a reward. It won’t take long before you’ll have him sitting on command, at any time and for any reason that you want.

Lead training your puppy

Best way to start off – train your puppy to walk by your side, without a lead. Introducing the lead before he is trained to walk by your side can be disastrous, as he will try to resist the lead, pull against you and try to slip out of it – a negative experience for everyone.

So, start off in your back garden, just you, your puppy and some tasty treats. Hold a treat between your fingers, show your puppy the treat and as soon as he has ‘locked onto it’, put it down by your side and start to walk forwards.

Best way to start off – train your puppy to walk by your side, without a lead. Introducing the lead before he is trained to walk by your side can be disastrous, as he will try to resist the lead, pull against you and try to slip out of it – a negative experience for everyone.

So, start off in your back garden, just you, your puppy and some tasty treats. Hold a treat between your fingers, show your puppy the treat and as soon as he has ‘locked onto it’, put it down by your side and start to walk forwards. He will follow the treat and after a few paces, stop, ask him to sit and let him have the treat. Give him lots of praise. Then take out another treat and repeat the process. Each time you repeat, try to walk a few extra steps before letting him have his treat. Only spend about 5 minutes doing this at a time, as puppies have quite a short attention span. It is a good idea to do this about 3 – 4 times per day though, especially when you are starting out. This way he will remember the previous time and will know exactly what he has to do in order to get the treat. Do this for about a week.

Once you have reached this stage, it is time to introduce the lead. Start off by using a very lightweight collar and lead – the little canvas puppy collar and lead sets are great. Put the collar around his neck, tight enough that it won’t fall off, but loose enough that you can get a couple of fingers between his neck and the collar. Clip on his lead, and then repeat the process of walking a few steps and giving a treat, just as you have done previously, but with the lead on. He won’t even notice it is there! Build up the number of steps that you can take before giving the treat, just as before, and it won’t take long before you have a puppy that will walk alongside you, as happy as can be, without ever pulling on his lead. You have trained him to walk beside you, to heel. The lead is there as a back-up in case he sees something he wants to chase.

Training to stay and achieving the recall

This should only be started after “sit” has been well established. The best place to practise this is in the back garden so that you have enough space, but are in a safe and enclosed area. Firstly, ask him to sit, using the verbal command and hand signal as described above. Then, use the verbal command “stay” and raise the palm of your hand as if you are signalling for traffic to stop. Continually repeat the word “stay” and keep your arm out in front of you with the palm of your hand facing your puppy and start to take backward steps. If he starts to follow, you need to start again by asking him to sit.

This should only be started after “sit” has been well established. The best place to practise this is in the back garden so that you have enough space, but are in a safe and enclosed area. Firstly, ask him to sit, using the verbal command and hand signal as described above. Then, use the verbal command “stay” and raise the palm of your hand as if you are signalling for traffic to stop. Continually repeat the word “stay” and keep your arm out in front of you with the palm of your hand facing your puppy and start to take backward steps. If he starts to follow, you need to start again by asking him to sit.

Initially, just take three or four steps back before stopping, bending down and calling him by his name in an encouraging tone, e.g. “Bouncer, come!” When he arrives at your feet, ask him to sit again and then give him lots of praise and a treat, which you should have in your pocket. Repeat the process several times; increasing the number of backward steps you take each time. Just as with the lead training, little and often is the key to achieving this. When you are out walking, you should not let your puppy off his lead until you are very confident that the recall is well established and don’t doubt that he will come straight back to you when called. To make the transition from on lead to off lead, it is a good idea to practise the recall in a wide-open space, but using an extension lead. This allows you to ask him to stay and walk quite a distance away before calling for him to come to you.

Once this is well established, the next step is to let him off the lead but it is very important that you call him back to you nice and often to make sure that he is listening to you and paying attention. It is worth carrying some treats initially to reward him every time he comes back to you when asked. This can be gradually reduced, but treats should be used every now and again to reinforce the “something good happened when I go back when called” mentality. If for whatever reason, you struggle to get him back to you, do not lose patience and get angry with him as this will only make matters worse. He won’t want to come back to you if your voice is deep, raised and he knows that he is going to get a row.

Dealing with scary situations

If you take your puppy to a new place or embark on a new activity, there is the potential for him to be nervous or scared of something. In order to prevent this from happening, or to overcome a particular thing he is frightened of there are a two things you need to do.

  1. You need to be a cool, calm and confident pack leader that is scared of nothing. You cannot show fear or distress of new situations and you cannot make a big deal about them. Don’t tell him that everything is OK in a quiet or timid voice... that spells out that you are concerned about the situation.

If you take your puppy to a new place or embark on a new activity, there is the potential for him to be nervous or scared of something. In order to prevent this from happening, or to overcome a particular thing he is frightened of there are a two things you need to do.

  1. You need to be a cool, calm and confident pack leader that is scared of nothing. You cannot show fear or distress of new situations and you cannot make a big deal about them. Don’t tell him that everything is OK in a quiet or timid voice… that spells out that you are concerned about the situation. You must behave as if everything is normal, mundane and boring. Don’t look at the scary thing, don’t scoop puppy up to protect him from it, walk past it as if it isn’t there. If you show negative emotion, you are reinforcing his belief that there is something to be scared of – if the pack leader is scared, everyone should be! If you repeatedly show negative emotion such as fear or distress in situations such as this, he might start to think that the role of pack leader is vacant since you are not behaving as a pack leader should. If he thinks that role is vacant, you are in for trouble – he will try to fill it! Read Cesar’s book.

  2. You need to embark on lots of new experiences early in life (8 – 16 weeks’ old is best) and if there is anything in particular he is frightened of, you need to make a point of doing it lots and lots! If you avoid the experiences he is scared of, he will be scared of these for life. You need to get him comfortable with the things he scared of by repeatedly doing them over and over again in a short space of time, whilst he is young.

This will help in your efforts to create a happy, relaxed dog that is a pleasure to take everywhere with you and join in with all of your family activities.

Training is never finished or complete, it is ongoing and requires regular reinforcement. The hard work is at the start, but if you want it to last, you need to be willing to refresh his training on a regular basis.