Training your Labrador the Basic Commands

When training looking to train your Labrador Retriever, it is extremely important to begin training at a basic level as soon as you bring them into your home. Once your Labrador is in your home, you only have a short amount of time to set down the rules and boundaries that need to be obeyed by your dog. Getting your dog to listen to you may seem like a difficult task, especially if you are adopting a rambunctious puppy. However, training is a very important aspect of your dog’s life, and can make a huge difference in temperament and behavior. It can also help speed up the process of socializing your dog.

A warning for training your Labrador Retriever: If you are frequently using treats as a training tactic, be certain to use low-fat, low-calorie treats (some dogs like baby carrots or grapes). If you are using regular treats, during the training program you should cut back slightly on their daily alloted amount of food. This can help prevent your dog from becoming overweight.


Once you have brought your Labrador Retriever puppy home, the first step in their training is to teach them their name. In the early phases, you will probably be introducing them to a lot of new concepts, so this is the perfect time to begin their training. Use their name every time you interact with them, repeatedly if necessary. This can be especially effective when using their name in conjunction with toys or treats. Once they associate your speaking their name with interaction with you, you can begin teaching them the command “Come” or “Here”.

Teaching a puppy to “come” can be quite difficult, as they may playfully rebel against any command that you give them. Do not get discouraged! Be patient with your puppy, and do not chase them if they run away while you are telling them to “come”. It’s recommended that you use the command “Come”, and if your puppy obeys, they should be rewarded with treats or praise. As with all training of your dog, positive reinforcement, along with a lot of patience is the key to success. Your puppy, however, does not have a very long attention span, so training sessions involving commands should be kept short, and repeated on a regular basis.


Once your puppy is familiar with the command “Come”, and is able to recognize its name, you can begin training your dog to obey other commands. The next command that you could focus on would be “Sit”, which is a very basic command. Dogs are more apt to obey you if you use a low tone of voice for commands, and a higher tone of voice for praise. The command “Sit” can be introduced when you have the full attention of your dog, which will probably require holding a treat. Hold the treat out just above your dog’s head, as they are standing facing you. Now, use a firm, low tone of voice, and say “Sit”. You can also use their name before the command, which helps reinforce that this is a command directed at them. If your dog does not obey, move the hand with the treat up and back behind your dog’s head, so that he has to crane his neck to keep watching it. In this event, most dogs will sit, as to keep a better view of the treat. If your dog sits, repeat the command “Sit”, then give them praise, and reward them with the treat.


A related command to “sit” would be “down” or “lie down”. This command can be first introduced after you have gotten your Labrador to sit. After they sit, give them praise, but do not give them the treat. Then, in a low tone, say the command “Lie Down”. If the dog does not lie down, try moving the hand with the treat towards the ground. The dog will naturally try to follow the path of the treat, and may lie down. If they obey, repeat the command, and reward them with praise as well as the treat. If they do not obey, repeat the motion with the hand holding the treat, except lower to the ground. Your dog should eventually lie down, and subsequently earn the treat.


One of the more difficult commands to teach a Labrador Retriever is the command “Stay”, especially when food is involved. To make this much easier, you should teach your dog a “release” command first, such as “OK!” or “go get it!” to signify release from the “stay” command. However, most dogs will understand any release command that you use, as long as you use a higher-pitched tone of voice for the release command. The first step to teach your Labrador to “Stay” is to get them into the “Sit” position. After this is accomplished, place a treat about two feet in front of them. If you have a particularly rambunctious dog, you can place it around six feet away. Once they are sitting, kneel down in front of them, and place your hand, palm out, in front of their nose. In a gentle but firm voice, say the command “Stay”. The outstretched hand will help them associate the command with the hand motion. Once you say the “Stay” command, back away slowly. Be prepared to snatch up the treat if your Labrador decides to go for it! If they obey for several seconds, say the release word, “OK!” and let them have the treat. Be sure to reward them with praise.


This is also a very difficult training tactic to teach Labrador Retrievers, since they are very active and excitable. They tend to tug on their leash, eager to explore the world around them. The best way to teach a Labrador Retriever to “Heel” is to pull back sharply on the leash when they are tugging, repeating the command “Heel”. Once you have done so, make your dog sit for several seconds to calm down, then repeat the process. With lots of positive reinforcement, teaching “Heel” can be a lot less difficult than it appears.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Sanja says:

    I have just one question.
    In my house, we speak four languages, (differents at home, differents at job, but english we dont use very often). I am asking in which language shoud I talk to my dog (like stuffs “Come”, “Sit”, “Heel”) .
    If anybody can help me, my e-mail is sanjabalosevic@hotmail.com
    Thank you very much!

  2. pjdhanoa says:

    It really doesn’t matter which language you use, as long as you are consistent. Sometimes I teach my Jack Russell Terrier commands in Japanese, because the words are more fun for me to say, and I never confuse him. He knows exactly what I mean when I say those commands. Dogs also respond to tone and hand gesture, so sometimes you don’t need actual words at all!

  3. Chris says:

    Hi great articles though i notice on this one you say about using baby carrots or grapes as treats, its quite well publicised that grapes and raisins can be highly toxic to dogs and therefore should not be given in any quantity especially to labs. Might just want to edit that bit out as its bad advice. However carrots are good – they will help them to see in the dark :-)

  4. Nancy says:

    Grapes and raisins can kill a Labrador retriever.
    Carrots are great.
    Celery is fine too.