Once called the "lesser" or "St. John's" Newfoundland, the dog we know today as the Labrador retriever was originally bred for water retrieving. It still excels at this task today, but it has also soared in popularity as a family dog. According to the American Kennel Club, it is the most commonly owned dog in America. The AKC recognizes three different colors for Labradors; black, yellow and chocolate. These intelligent, friendly, easygoing and energetic dogs have come to be known as "labs."
Using a crate is not cruel. Your chocolate lab can come to enjoy a nap or some time away from young children inside its crate. Labs dislike going potty and sleeping in the same place, so a crate can help you potty train your lab by eliminating messes while you aren't home. To save money, purchase a crate that will be large enough for your adult Labrador (which can weigh up to 80 pounds) to stand up and turn around. If your lab is still a puppy, purchase a divider to shrink the space down so that your puppy won't have room to use a corner as a bathroom area. Tuck treats into your dog's bedding inside the crate to encourage it to explore the crate on its own. Give it time to get used to the crate before locking it inside.
Your chocolate lab should be able to hold its bladder about one hour for every month of age. This means that a four-month-old lab can reasonably be expected to hold it for four hours, but you should give your lab opportunities to relieve itself more frequently than that. Walk it outside on a leash every two to three hours. Go to the same spot every time. Encourage your chocolate lab to go potty. When it does, reward it with treats and praise. Your affectionate lab will love the attention it is getting from you. You can also play a quick game of fetch as a reward. This type of positive attention will teach your lab that it is going potty in an appropriate place.
Unless a health problem is causing your lab to make messes in the house, it probably doesn't know where it is allowed to go and where it isn't. Your job is to teach it. Using positive reinforcement when your dog potties in the yard will help. In addition, teaching it not to go inside the house is simpler than you might think. Interrupt your lab with a noise whenever you catch it making a mess in the house. Take it outside, encourage it to potty and reward it when it does. Labs are affectionate dogs and don't respond well to punishment or negative reinforcement. These methods can create fear and further complicate house training.
As your lab learns where it is supposed to potty, you can start to teach it to ask when it needs to go out. Tie a bell to your doorknob. Show it to your chocolate lab and encourage it to "touch" the bell with its nose. Reward it with praise and a treat when it does this. After your dog learns to touch the bell, start requiring it to touch the bell before taking it outside. Don't open the door until it does ring the bell. When it does, let it out immediately. After your lab goes potty, praise it and reward it with treats. Eventually you can start withholding the treats, but your chocolate lab should always be rewarded with a trip outside when it rings the bell.
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