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Hi all! I have a lab pup who is now 4 months old and absolutely amazing! We love him to bits but he is very very independent and headstrong.
He responds very well to training when treats are involved. But most commands he will not adhere to unless we have a treat. The only ones are ‘here boy’ and ‘sit’! My main concern is walking on the lead. He is from a country background and all his ancestors we’re working dogs so I’m trying to use this as an excuse?!!! We live in the suburbs so not city and not country. We have loads of field and woods around us but have to walk through some streets to get there. And he is a nightmare! Just won’t walk at all! Nose to the ground on streets and will not listen to any command or even get lured by chicken (which is his favourite thing!). We have to literally lift him up by his lead and harness to get him to walk anywhere. And then there is the next plot of grass or tree!! 😂. It took me an hour to reach the end of my road with him tonight. Any advise please would be much appreciated! I am an experienced dog owner but I’ve had border collies and never labs. They seem more obsessed with sniffing than Collies!!
 

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Believe me, working Labradors are by and large some of the best trained dogs! But working lines fall into two camps. There are the "Game Finders" and the "Guided missiles" The game finders tend to be a little slower than the guided missiles, more deliberate in their actions, giving their nose time to detect the scent. But they dont look as flashy as the faster guided missiles when working, so Field Trials dogs these days are often guided missiles. But a guided missile is no good to you the handler if cant get it to where it needs to be, so they are trainable.

Sniffing! Oh yes, there is a world of difference between a Border Collie and a working Labrador! A Labrador's job is to find and retrieve shot game, and the only way to find the bird, fallen in long grass or brambles is to use it's nose, and over the years the dogs with the best noses have been selected. Border Collies on the other hand are used to round up sheep. Really they dont need a nose for that, they can see them a mile away. So thinking about that, you have what you have brought, a dog with a great nose who likes to use it!

When walking our dogs we would never allow them to sniff. Particularly in my wood which is alive with scent, Roe and Muntjac deer, Rabbit, Pheasants, Partridge, there is scent everywhere and if allowed my dogs could easily become "Self employed" heading off on their own to follow a scent. So how do I train them not to sniff? Sorry but I have to say this, you are unlikely to have much success using a harness. A soft collar and lead, or even a slip lead is far better because it allows you to lift the head off of the scent with a sharp "No" or "Leave." Where with a harness the lead is connected further back along the dog making it impossible to lift the head off the scent. You can afford to be a little firm about the correction. It's a command, not a request! I also would not use treats in this scenario. It's too easy to get it wrong and to actually be rewarding the very behaviour you are trying to eliminate. "If I sniff them mum will give me a treat!" My dogs get plenty of treats, but rarely for training once past the initial stage. In my house 9pm in the evening is treat time.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much John. This is brilliant information. Obviously I have done some research as this is the first time I have owned a lab, but you have given me a lot of advice I didn’t know! Re game finders and guided missiles, I hadn’t heard of this. Can
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you tell from a pic? I’d heard there are two type of lab. The English show dog and American lab. Mine is undoubtedly the American lab as his parents are working labs and he is slimmer with a longer snout and bigger ears. But I hadn’t heard of working labs fitting in to two categories. Obviously, my ‘working lab’ is a family dog so not sure if it’s going to pose a prob if I don’t find him a ‘job’ to do?
 

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Forget the "English and American" rubbish, no such thing. The Labrador is a UK breed and it was in 1903 that the UK KC accepted the Labrador as a breed and issue a breed standard, and every Labrador anywhere in the world is descended from those founding dogs. Americans always like to pigeon hole things and say that working bred dogs are "American" and show dogs are "English" which is patently untrue because people were both showing and working Labradors here in the UK long before the American KC even accepted Labradors as a breed! The first ever Labrador Field Trials winner was Flapper, bred by Col. Bates in 29/9/1902 and owned by Major Maurice Portal, he was trained and handled by Ritchard Sharpe. It was not until 1917 that the AKC accepted the Labrador and interestingly 10 years later, in 1927 there were still only 27 Labradors registered in America!

The name "Game finders" and "Guided Missiles" is only conjured up by me to describe working dogs of today. Breeders of working Labradors have their likes and dislikes, just like everybody else. Anne Courtier, the breeder of the famous Endacott Labradors once said to me, "I dont want a dog which I have to fight every inch of the way." Sadly she has now retired from breeding and trialing her dogs. If you watch the two videos below. The first is my Amy. and the second Chloe. You can see how much faster Chloe is than Amy. (Although admittedly Amy was quite a bit older in the vid)


 

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Just listening to those two vids above. You can tell which is next door to an aerodrome and which is in the middle of a private wood! 🤣 Thats why I love my wood, nobody there but me!
 

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I have what a lot of working folk would consider show bred Labradors, but some of the older kennel names in the pedigree also worked their dogs, so they're dual purpose, and I do work my Labradors. My youngster is currently just over 12 months of age, and is incredibly fast, very immature in comparison to some other dogs of her age, very much a pup still, but there's nothing wrong with a dog that is slow to mature. Just for comparison a couple of photos of her, I also have a flat coated retriever and she keeps up with her, a much racier breed, and, interestingly, she has American lines in her pedigree, but, as John has said, it's not really a term that means anything, I think it's used in the US but not in the UK.

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