Dogs need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Create activities that utilize the Labrador’s unique abilities; games involving retrieving will be particularly enjoyable for your dog. Use playtime to reinforce training, to strengthen your bond as owner, and simply to have fun.
Simple rehearsed scenarios such as supplying a handkerchief on the command of a “sneeze” are an enjoyable way of developing your dog’s ability to recognize a given cue and react accordingly. This type of game exploits the Labrador’s love of both retrieving and social interaction.
Fetching Useful Items:
Labradors instinctively retrieve, and will happily bring almost anything to you. Train your dog to fetch your slippers by throwing one a short distance and saying “fetch”, followed by “come”. Use a lead first to ensure response to the command.
Retrieving on Demand:
Once your dog understands the concept of fetching, you can train it to find any item. It must, however, be taught to understand exactly what you want it to bring back. Do not expect your Labrador to fetch something it has not been specifically trained to retrieve.
Enjoyable Learned Routines:
Physical games are the most exciting for your dog, but even “playing dead” can be satisfying when rewarded set piece is an extension of “down” command, with your dog learning to lie still until you release it by saying “ok”
Having Fun with Moving Objects:
Labradors are moderately good soccer players, although they usually lack the desire to win that some terriers have! Giving verbal encouragement, teach your dog to roll a ball with its nose. Avoid food rewards as these are too potent a distraction from the game.
Toys Belong to You:
When you finish playing, make a point of putting away all toys. This re-establishes that you are in charge, and playtime is available only through you. It also makes toys more desirable to your dog and therefore more useful to you as a control tool. Always give praise control tool. Always give praise for relinquishing toys, or exchange them for a food reward.
Ending Playing with Rewards and Praise:
Constructive games keep your dog’s mind active and alert. Adequate mental as well as physical exercise can help prevent destructiveness or anxiety, which are often merely symptoms of boredom. It is easy to incorporate training into play by continually reinforcing basic obedience commands such as “Sit”, “Stay”, “Come” and “Down”, and by rewarding good behavior. Always finish games on a positive note, with food treats, stroking, encouraging words, so that your Labrador looks forward to future activities. Just as with children. If learning is fun dogs will want to learn more.