Labrador Retrievers: Guide to Being a Better Master – A Review

by Lorie Huston

Labrador Retrievers: How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend on Capability MomIt’s true, when we got a dog, I was clueless about how to train her – my family always had a dog but a) I wasn’t in charge of it, and b) the dogs (we had more than one but not at the same time) weren’t trained unless you count jumping up on people, begging for food and only coming when you throw roast beef from the end of the driveway, trained. My daughter began asking for a dog at age three, I told her she could have one when she was nine. We got one when she was ten. I never stood a chance of angling out of this promise. Not that I would, except maybe on some rainy or freezing cold days when all dog walking tasks fall to me.

My expectations were slightly higher for our family dog so I bought many books (even Golden Doodles for Dummies which I took perverse pleasure in reading anywhere I went – sometimes I held it upside down for fun…kidding, but I wanted to). I also read the Monks of New Skete book (usually in doctor’s office waiting rooms) among others – some better, some tougher, some crazy.

So to find a book like this that is clear and comprehensive and offers such great resources would have been a dream. Not just for prospective owners of Labrador Retrievers, this book has clear, considered instructions, and a great list of resources. This is just the first in the pet series Pets 101: The Guide to Being a Better Master. Upcoming books will be about German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers and Doberman Pinschers.

Here is an excerpt from the book that is applicable to other breeds as well.

Chapter 5: Socializing Your New Pet

Labs are generally very tolerant of children. Given their rambunctious spirit, though, they often become too exuberant and may accidentally become too rough or even knock over a child while playing. If this happens, teach children to stand perfectly still, with heads down, feet planted firmly and hands clasped in front of them. They should remain in this stance and ignore the dog until it calms. This technique is called “Be a Tree.” Dogs love to chase moving objects, but they quickly become bored with a stationary item, such as a child acting like a tree. Labs are smart and will soon learn that when they become too rowdy, the play stops. They will then adjust behavior accordingly and learn to settle down.

It’s still good practice to supervise very young children around a pet. Leaving a young child alone with any pet can lead to accidents and injuries. Though Labs are generally tolerant and are known for their gentle disposition, it is possible for an individual dog to react by snapping and/or biting if its tail, ears or hair are pulled roughly or if it gets stepped on, hit or kicked.


Lorie Huston, DVM is a small animal veterinarian with over 20 years experience with dogs and cats. She is also a free-lance writer and blogger. Lorie attended the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1986 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to that, she attended the University of Nebraska, where she received a Bachelor of Science. Lorie currently practices veterinary medicine in Rhode Island. She cares for both dogs and cats and enjoys interacting with pet owners and their pets. Surgery is her favorite part of the business day.

Lorie shares her home with six beautiful cats, all of which were rescued, or had been abandoned at the hospital where she works: Lilly, Midge, Rusty, Dillon, Rhette, and Merlin. Though Lorie loves dogs as well, she feels that bringing a dog into the household would be unfair to Lilly. Lilly lost a leg, part of her tail, and several toes after being mauled by a dog when she was a kitten. She has lived with Lorie since that time and is currently happy, healthy, and not at all bothered by the fact that she has only three legs. As a result, as long as Lilly is with Lorie, her family will remain entirely feline.

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7 comments on “How to Train Your Dog – A Review and Giveaway”

  1. Just reading this post makes me want to get a Lab! But I have two toy poodles that I love to pieces and I used Monks of New Skete years ago. Having two children now, the excerpt you have is spot on!

  2. I like the Monks of New Skete book too. The best advice for training our dog is just … consistency. We don’t train our dog with too many commands, but we practice them in the order of importance:
    1) Come – we do this daily with treat but we change up the amount of treat to make it interesting
    2) Down – once a week. my dog hates down.
    3) Wait – We do that with Down, once a week
    4) Paw/Shake — just a vanity trick for fun.

    Coming when called can save a dog’s life.

    Another good trick, teach you dog to go inside the house off leash from the bottom of the driveway that way in case he slips out, he won’t freak out and run away. We always keep him off leash around the front yard and voice command him back to us. He’s like a yo yo that way. And we are working to have him heel, off leash, further and further away from the house though 3 houses is his limit so far.

  3. Thanks so much for reviewing my book. I’m very pleased that you found it so useful. The section about socialization that you included as an excerpt is especially important for families with young children. Thanks for including that. :)

  4. Sounds like a great book and if I will will pass it along to my sis who has a mini poodle (similar temperament I think to the lab). I am hoping to stay pet free although my kids ask all the time : (

  5. The Monks are great. It is so hard training a dog. We have a 10 year old Aussie and he is still crazy. It really comes down to being consistent with the animal, gaining his or her trust, and making sure the dog knows his place in the pack.

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