The Labradoodle is widely regarded as the first ‘hybrid’ dog breed – it’s all in the name. They were originally bred as hypoallergenic guide dogs, and their popularity has soared in recent years. What’s not to love? Even-tempered, low shedding, active and affectionate, the Labradoodle really is an ideal family pet.

Smart and sociable little rascals, they are happiest when they are with the people they love, being on their own can sometimes be quite the challenge at first. They are active, energetic and full of beans – but with good positive training, your Labradoodle will quickly learn their doggy manners. 

Right. So here we are, at the very start of our ultimate guide to Labradoodle training. Let’s get cracking!

Prerequisites for training my Labradoodle puppy

What age can I start to train my Labradoodle puppy?

You can start Labradoodle training as soon as you bring them home. Your puppy is basically like a sponge at this time, that soaks up everything you say and do with them. Having said that, there’s no time like the present! Let’s start easy and simple – don’t want your Labradoodles to struggle with frustration.

What do I need to start my Labradoodle training?

You don’t need anything fancy – just a few pieces of your dog’s own kibble and loads of patience. But will need the following goodies for an easy training period:

  • A pouch or container for those all important treats
  • A soft collar with their name tag. We also recommend you have a harness, but by law in the UK, dogs do need to wear a collar with a name tag. 
  • A harness – they are much kinder for your Labradoodle pup to walk in, and your puppy will get big and strong quite quickly!
  • A 2 metre training lead. You’ll need this for your recall training. Even though Labradoodles are super friendly, you don’t want them running up to everyone they meet. It’s way too early to get a bad rep around the neighbourhood.  
  • A mat or piece of vet bed for teaching your pup to settle
  • Training Treats – Who doesn’t love a treat? Your Labradoodle definitely will. And so will you, since it will make training much easier. We’ve written more about treats here.
  • Two identical toys that you can do swaps with when training your puppy to let go or when teaching them other games like fetch. 
  • A soft brush to not only groom your puppy but also to bond with them. Labradoodles have lovely curly coats that need some maintenance!
  • A crate and playpen: Not everyone likes the idea of a crate, but they’re far from prisons. They can actually be super handy for training and making your puppy feel comfortable!

Good to know about training Labradoodle puppies

What are Labradoodles bred for?

It might seem like Labradoodles have been around forever, but the first one was actually born in 1988. Wally Conron, a guide dog breeder in Australia, received a request from a blind lady whose husband suffered from severe allergies to dog hair. And so the Labradoodle was born. Poodles, by their nature, couldn’t perform the tasks of a guide dog so well, but by crossing both breeds, it turned out a dog capable of guide dog tasks with hypoallergenic fur. 

What does this have to do with how I train my Labradoodle?

It’s all in the name. Your Labradoodle is a mix of a Labrador and a Poodle. Besides a quirky name, it’s important to know their breeds well because they have different genetic traits that are useful to consider when training. Here we go:

Labradors are bred to retrieve. Before earning their title as beloved companions that we know and love today, Labradors would have been hunting and retrieving. They are strong swimmers and will often go out of their way to find a puddle to splash in.

Poodles were bred largely for hunting ducks. Nowadays, Poodles have come a long way from their former life as duck hunters and are linked to lives of luxury. You know the stereotype of Poodles being perceived as the ultimate pampered pooch – a far cry from the duck pond. 

As you can tell from their active background, you must be mindful that they need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep out of mischief. 

Alright, now that you know some basic history, here’s some other information you’ll find helpful to get the most out of your Labradoodle training. Your Labradoodle is likely to be a foodie; which is excellent since it will make training as easy as pie.

  • Labradoodles often have a fascination with water. They’re pretty much like fish once they jump in, so be prepared to go fishing them out of muddy puddles on a regular basis. 
  • They are really active and will need a lot of exercise once they are fully grown. Any excess energy will probably be put to bad use finding trouble, so make sure they get enough daily physical activity. 
  • They have an amazing sense of smell, so retrieving or scent work games will be a great treat. 
  • Labradoodles are very sociable and love nothing more than greeting everyone with bursts of excitement. That being said, make sure to focus plenty on sitting, not jumping and calm behaviours, so they really get those impeccable manners, bang on.
  • The Labrador in your Labradoodle (try saying that after a few drinks) loves retrieving, so they’ll enjoy carrying pretty much anything. Make sure that they’re allowed to carry whatever is it they’re carrying; otherwise, prepare yourself to see your socks in their mouth. 

Overview of the training programme and topics we’ll cover

So let’s get cracking then. Let’s get stuck into what you’re really here for… Labradoodle training. Before we begin, remember that training sessions should be kept short, always end on a high note and to work within your pups capabilities. Oh, and remember to have fun…this isn’t torture.  

Here is what we will cover in training. It sounds like a lot, I know. But don’t panic – we’re going to break it all down for you into bite sized pieces: 

  • Sitting
  • Lying down
  • Learning their name
  • Coming when you call them
  • Walking nicely on a lead
  • Playing fetch
  • Sleeping in their crate
  • Coping with being left alone
  • Going to the toilet in the right place 
How we build this programme: Push Drop Stick

Labradoodles are eager to please and keen to learn. That means they don’t always handle frustration well, and find it difficult to cope if they make mistakes. This is where the ‘Push, Drop, Stick’ method comes in handy. 

The ‘Push, Drop, Stick’ method gradually raises the difficulty of training exercises. Because it’s gradual, it helps avoid getting your pup too frustrated and sets them up for success without boredom setting in. 

Here’s how it works. Repeat the same training exercise with your puppy 5 times. If they get all 5 right, you get to ‘push’ by going up to the next level. If they get 3 or 4 right, ‘stick’ to the level they’re at and keep practising until they ace all 5 rounds. If they get just 1 or 2 right, let’s drop down to something that’s a bit easier. 

Week 1 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Week one of Labradoodle training. Let’s go!

Remember to take things slowly. There are so many new things happening to your pup, and they still might need time to adjust. Cuddles should help them get the hang of things easier but give them the chance to walk away if they’re not up for snuggle time.  

We’ll dive straight into socialisation exercises, training, and husbandry tasks in the first week. 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Let your puppy explore the garden
– Teach your puppy about surfaces
– Name
– Sit
– Recall
– Retrieve
– Sleep Training
– Toilet Training
– Alone Training
– Brushing
– Hand Touch

Sleep TrainingThe First Week

In time, your Labradoodle will sleep wherever you decide. But in the early days, we recommend keeping them close to you at night. It will help them feel safe and cared for – leaving their litter is quite a big step, after all. As for you, this will also help with toilet training as you’ll be able to get them outside at the first whimper and hopefully avoid an accident. Oh, and you’re probably right in predicting that you won’t be getting the best sleep over the next few weeks. Your puppy may be unsettled and will most likely need at least one toilet break through the night. It will all be okay in a few weeks time, though. Until then, here are our easy steps to help your labradoodle sleep at night:

  1. Set up the crate or puppy pen next to where you’re sleeping.
  2. The crate should be a cosy warm den for your puppy. Soft blankets and a cuddly toy should do the trick to help them settle. It is also a good idea to cover over the sides but keep the front uncovered so your pup can still see out. 
  3. Just before bed, take your pup out for one last toilet stop. Try going to bed between 23:00 and midnight to try and sleep as long as possible – going to bed any earlier would mean you’d be up again well before the sun is up!
  4. Then, put your puppy in their crate, give them a small bedtime treat and a kiss, and then it’s time for lights out. 
  5. As you can probably expect, many puppies won’t settle straight away. With that beautiful voice of yours, gently reassure them and rest your hand in the crate so they know you are there.
  6. When your puppy wakes up in the night (they definitely will at some point), listen to see if they are settling back down. If not, it’s time to drag yourself out of bed and take them on a toilet trip. 
  7. Your mornings will start a lot earlier than before – that’s for sure. Expect to be out at 6:00 or 7:00 am to take them straight to the loo.  They will be bursting!

That just about covers the first steps of Labradoodle sleep training. Here are a few more suggestions you’ll be pleased to learn about:

  • For the first few weeks, you’ll be tired. Very tired. But early mornings, late nights and disturbed sleep are all part of owning a puppy. 
  • Having them sleep near you is only temporary, don’t worry! As they mature emotionally and settle into their new home they will be happy in other parts of the house, and even outside of their crate.
  • Having them in your room does not cause separation anxiety later on. 
  • Stick to a routine! Consistency is everything. If something doesn’t appear to be  working, remember to give it time and patience – don’t try and change it immediately! It will backfire on you. 

Check out our guide on how to get a puppy to sleep through the night for more tips.

Alone Training

Labradoodles are very sociable. That can mean two things – they will always be happy to see you and that being alone can be challenging for them. To make family outings nice and easy, it’s really important to add alone training into your Labradoodle training schedule early. Here’s some tips on how to do it:

  1. Feed your puppy in their crate during meal times. This will help them feel at ease without you and also help them love their crate a little bit more too. 
  2. While they are eating, go and do something close by. No need to go completely out of sight, but try not to focus on your puppy either. Labradoodles love to eat, so use this time wisely to distract them away from you. 

PRO TIPS 

  • Take it slow and steady: It takes time for them to learn that if you go away you come back again, so gear up on patience. 
  • Keep it short and sweet: ‘’Facing your fears’’ doesn’t really work on puppies. Don’t stay away for long when you’re starting alone training with your Labradoodle. Just a few seconds is good enough in the early stages. 
  • Repeat: Practice makes perfect! Do this exercise at least once a day to build up alone time, and check out our guide to puppy separation anxiety
Toilet Training for your Labradoodle Puppy

With puppies, success is often measured by the amount of times your Labradoodle doesn’t wee on your carpet. Here’s the secret to it:  The more opportunities they are given to go out to the toilet, the less accidents there will be. We expand on our little secret in our puppy toilet training article. 

Oh, and you’ll be getting up from your chair to take your pup to the loo as often as possible. Every 30 minutes, after eating, sleeping or playing. We’re not joking. You’ll need eyes everywhere while trying to intercept any accidents and show them that outside is the place to go. 

Socialization Exercises to do This Week

Early socialisation is important for all puppies. It gives them confidence and teaches them to view the world in an optimistic way. Here are some puppy socialisation exercises to do with your Labradoodle.

Let your Labradoodle Puppy Explore the Garden

The garden is a great way to introduce your puppy to the great outdoors. They’ll get to experience some of the sights, sounds and smells that exist in the world. Your puppy will get to know all kinds of different types of weather; if you’re in the UK, this often means getting multiple weather wildcards in a single day. They will also get used to walking on different types of surfaces such as your tiled, wet lawn or open flower beds.

Teach your Labradoodle Puppy About Surfaces

Speaking of surfaces, it’s a good idea to gently teach them that different surfaces aren’t something to worry about. To get them there, here is a quick exercise you can run through:

Exploring different surfaces exercise

  1. Have plenty of treats ready.
  2. Only use safe surfaces, nothing too slippery. Gather surfaces such as:
  • A piece of carpet
  • A floor tile
  • A large tray with a thin layer of water
  • A large piece of tin foil or cardboard, something that makes a noise.
  1.  Put the surfaces out on the floor and let your puppy investigate. 
  2. Hand over some random treats as your pup explores; it will help teach them that different surfaces aren’t scary.
  3.  Let them take their time and go at their own pace. They don’t need to go surface exploring for hours on end – 15 minutes should be plenty of time. 
  4. Add 2 or 3 new surfaces each week to help build your pup’s confidence for when they start to step out into that big bad world of ours.
Training To Do This Week

Ok, so let’s get on with training your Labradoodle puppy, shall we? You’ll need some food rewards to teach your Labradoodle to do things. In our experience Labradoodles are quite food motivated, and you can probably use a low or medium value treat for this. You can even try to use their kibble as many will be delighted to work for their food.

For more info on what rewards to use check out our article on rewards and treats.

Teach your puppy their name

One of the first things your puppy will learn from you is their name. Fortunately, teaching a Labradoodle puppy their name is rather simple. We’ve summarised it in three steps – easy as pie:

  1. Say their name with that wonderful, jolly tone of yours, and reward with a treat 
  2. Repeat five times and take a break. That’s pretty much it. See? Pretty easy, right?
  3. Practice this a few times everyday until they start flipping their head at you every time you call their name. 

PRO TIP: In the early stages, don’t shorten or change your puppy’s name into a weird nickname. By this, we obviously don’t mean to call your puppy Timothy if their name is actually Timmy, don’t be silly. Make sure everyone in the family uses the same name too!

Teach your puppy to sit

Labradoodle training is often started by teaching them how to sit. Luckily for you, it’s easy for puppies to learn and owners to teach. Not only is it an exercise that looks incredibly cute as they’re learning, but it’s useful for all kinds of things – from stopping your puppy from jumping up at people, to waiting for the green pedestrian lights to go on.

How to get started

  1. You first need to start with a word that lets your puppy know they did the right thing –  something short like ‘good’ or ‘yes’ will do. We call this a marker word.
  2. Keep using this word when they do the right thing, and then follow with a tasty treat. 

PRO TIP: Puppies love a good smelly treat – the smellier the better. Bits of smelly sausage or cheese will definitely do the trick. Keep in mind your Labradoodle is likely to be very food driven, so it might also be the case that they lose their minds with excitement over those ‘high value’ stinky treats and chase those around instead. If this happens, try to keep it simple at first and just use their own kibble if they are motivated to work for it. Save the big guns in treat terms for when you really need it! 

How to do it

  1. Always begin training at home. The outside world is far too exciting at the moment, and your puppy will probably not focus on you.
  2. Stand in front of your pup with a treat in your hand and place the treat on their nose, then bring it up to your waist. 
  3. When your puppy puts their bottom on the floor, say your marker word ‘good’ or ‘yes’ and reward them with a treat. You’re heading in the right direction!

Recall – How to teach your Labradoodle puppy to come back when called

Your puppy should have a good grasp of their name by now, which should make recall training pretty straightforward. Don’t worry if it isn’t though – there are no straight lines in puppy training; only lots of ‘zigzags’. Pun intended.

How to do it

  1. You will need plenty of those high value treats and your best cheery voice.
  2. Call your puppy only once! This is super important as you want them to learn that their name only has to be called once for them to react to it.
  3. They don’t need to come back just yet, but as soon as they look at you make sure you drop the treat by your feet.

Use a long line (also called a recall lead) if you’re worried about letting your puppy off lead. It keeps everyone safe and you won’t need to feel so panicked! 

Retrieve/Fetch 

Well, your Labradoodle’s DNA is pretty much 50% loving to fetch and 50% loving to fetch. It’s unlikely you are going to struggle to train your pup to do this. It’s literally in their cells. 

How to do it

  1. Get your puppy excited by showing them their favourite toy and making it come to life by waving it around.
  2. Once they are interested in the toy, throw it a short distance away from you.
  3. They’ll likely follow and pick it up – they’re hardwired to retrieve, remember?
  4. With that lovely singing voice of yours, encourage them to bring it back to you.
  5. When they do, swap the toy in their mouth for another identical toy. If they don’t want to give up the toy then see if they’ll swap it for a treat and repeat. In this step, they should take the one you offer to them, and leave the one they’re carrying. 
  6. Repeat about 5 times and practice everyday. 
  7. Get your puppy excited by showing them their favourite toy and making it come to life by waving it around.
  8. Once they are interested in the toy, throw it a short distance away from you.
  9. They’ll likely follow and pick it up – they’re hardwired to retrieve, remember?
  10. With that lovely singing voice of yours, encourage them to bring it back to you.
  11. When they do, swap the toy in their mouth for another identical toy. If they don’t want to give up the toy then see if they’ll swap it for a treat and repeat. In this step, they should take the one you offer to them, and leave the one they’re carrying. 
  12. Repeat about 5 times and practice everyday. 

Prevention of Resource Guarding

This part of Labradoodle training is important – it will prevent resource guarding by teaching your puppy how to give up items willingly. Resource guarding is this thing that happens when dogs are unwilling to give up items back, or when they get protective over something from humans or other dogs.

From the training tips above, preventing resource guarding always comes down to a good swapping. Whether it’s toys or treats, swapping will do the trick. 

Ah, and we mustn’t forget. Resource guarding starts when we force our dogs as puppies to give up items or snatch things out of their mouths. To avoid that, resist your temptation to reach deep inside their mouths to get whatever it is they have. Ultimately, we want our puppies to be willing to give things up when we need them to.

Husbandry Exercises To Do this week

Husbandry – it’s a funny word isn’t it? What we really mean is care, handling, health and grooming

Your Labradoodle’s coat is going to need some attention so it’s important to get your pup used to the brush as early as possible. They’ll love a good rub, and it’s also a great bonding exercise to do together.

Start by just showing them the brush and running it over them with the flat side so they get used to the sensation minus the bristles. 

Hand Touch and Handling

If you handle your puppy too roughly or grab at them, not only are they going to have a bit of  a fright, but it could make them feel scared about being touched in the future. Of course, you don’t want your puppy to miss out on all the fantastic cuddles and rubs you have in store for them, so getting them used to being gently touched and handled is something you’ll have to add on your Labradoodle training to-do list.

Use plenty of treats, and remember to stop if they walk away. Touch should be a pleasant thing not forced.

Week 2 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Week 2 already! You’re probably not getting the best nights sleep yet, but I’m sure your pup will have started feeling much more at ease in their new home.  

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Fireworks
– Watch the world go by outside your house
– Play dress up
– Sit in the car
– Invite friends over
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Name – in garden
– Recall – cue word
– Fetch
– Drop
-Sit – add a cue word
– Leadwalking
– Grooming
Socialisation Exercises To Do This Week

Fireworks

Fireworks. We’re not party poopers but can just be the most dreadful things for pets – especially puppies. Help get your puppy used to the bangs with the Sound Proof Puppy App.  We love it here at Zigzag!

Watch The World Go By  

Without all of their vaccinations, going for walkies won’t be a part of your puppy’s day yet. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start socialisation. You can start showing them the wonders of the world from your house!  

Here’s how to do it safely, without them touching the ground:

  1. Choose a time when there are people around but it’s not too busy. 
  2. Carry your puppy outside of your house, just to the bottom of the drive is good enough. 
  3. Stay for around 10 minutes so they can take in all the new sights and sounds calmly, and in their own time. 
  4. Give your puppy a few treats. No need to give them handfuls – it will distract them from what’s going on outside. Just one every minute or so should be alright. Doing this will help them make a positive connection with the outside.

Play Dress Up

Yes, you heard right! You’ll teach your puppy how different people can look by having a fancy dress party. Okay, don’t take it too far – it’s not that much of a party. Just you in wigs and sunglasses.

Use things you may have at home to wear randomly around the house like it’s no big deal. Hats, scarves, gloves, thick jackets, or even a walking stick will help your puppy get used to unfamiliar looking people.

Sit in The Car

Car rides can be a real problem for our puppies. From motion sickness to sloppy poo, they can sometimes be too much. This is also because early car experiences tend not to be the most positive ones – they often lead to places that aren’t necessarily made of happy memories like leaving their litter or visiting the vets for vaccinations. But their lives will soon be full of car rides that go to great destinations like the beach, mountains, or to over to the grandparent’s house. But they haven’t learnt the joys of a day out yet. 

Until better days come by, here’s how to help your puppy avoid car-related stress and sickness:

  1. Choose your puppy’s place in the car, and make sure that it’s safe and comfortable for them.
  2. Have your puppy’s meal ready in a bowl.
  3. Take your puppy out to the car and secure them in their seat. 
  4. Pass them their bowl and let them eat their meal in the car.
  5. Stay close by, and sit on the driver’s seat. 
  6. Just let them eat their meal. No need to go anywhere yet.

In the next few days, repeat the exercise by sitting in the driver’s seat and then turning on the engine. 

If your puppy is happy and eating, you could try going for a drive just up the road. Some good advice is that you have someone else there on puppy duty so they can reassure your puppy if needed. Technically, they can be there to hold your puppy’s sick in their hands to avoid cleaning up later. Joking, but not joking. 

Invite Friends Over

Your Labradoodle puppy will almost certainly be a social butterfly, but meeting new people can be intimidating for puppies just as it can for us. Here are some helpful hints to get them started in their social careers:

  • Have your pup stay in their crate or pen while you greet everyone.
  • Let your pup explore at their own pace, without anyone crowding over them. It’s better to ask your friends not to lean or loom over them, but rather to let your puppy approach them in their own time.
  • We know you want to throw a puppy party, but no big crowds just yet. Bring just one or two people at a time to meet them. 
Training Tasks To Do This Week

Alone Training

Keep practising what you did last week with alone training. You’re doing great! It might not feel like it sometimes, but it’s sinking in more than you think.

This week, feed your puppy from a Kong or activity feeder to have them spend more time focusing on something fun and then quietly leave the room. Build up the time you go for gradually. 

Crate Training

Crate training can feel like a long process, but our crate training guide will show you the ropes. You’ll see – you’ll have a crate time once they start getting the hang of it. He he.

Name – in garden

The garden just has so many things your Labradoodle will want to sink their nose in. But they’ll have to know and respond to their name everywhere eventually, regardless of how distracting the place is. Practising calling their name in the garden will help build this up! 

Follow the guide to teaching your puppy their name as you did indoors, and don’t forget the treats! 

Recall – adding a cue word

This time, you’ll be adding a cue word for your Labradoodle to come back to you. Eventually, you’ll look like a wizard…using a magic word to get your puppy to come.

How to do it

  1. Call your puppy’s name and drop a treat on the floor when they look at you.
  2. Repeat this once more
  3. Once you’ve done it twice, call your puppy’s name, but this time don’t drop the treat
  4. When your puppy heads over for their treat, say ‘come’ or ‘here’ to add a cue to the behaviour. 
  5. Did they manage? Great! Reward your puppy with a treat when they get to you. 

Fetch and Drop

Again, the Labrador in your Labradoodle was born to bring things to you. You’ll see – they’ll be absolutely over the moon to make you happy and bring you whatever it is you ask. 

How to do it

  1. As you did before, throw or roll the toy away from you. 
  2. Move a few steps backwards, encouraging your puppy to follow with the toy.
  3. Remember not to tug, pull or apply any pressure! Take hold of the toy when your puppy gets to you. 
  4. Then, get another toy out and wriggle it around so it bursts into life. 
  5. When your puppy lets go of the first one, throw the second one for them to retrieve. See? You’ve done the switch now.
  6. Repeat this exercise 5 times.

Sit – add a cue word

This is where you really start communicating with your Labradoodle puppy and getting an outcome you want. Adding a cue word to sit training is literally like asking them to do something. You’re taking the training up a notch now!

  1. With your puppy in front of you, say your cue word – we suggest ‘Sit’ but you could use ‘sedersi’ or ‘eseri‘ or ‘take a pew’. Your puppy doesn’t care what language you speak as long as it’s consistent.
  2. Then use your hand signal to signal ‘sit’
  3. Use your marker word ‘good’ when they put their bottom on the floor and give them a treat.

PRO TIP:  Here’s a fancy term for you: Force Free ‘hands off’ training. This type of training means we don’t push bottoms on the floor or use any force. Let your puppy work things out for themselves; it will take some patience but lead to much happier days. 

Leadwalking – Introduction

I’m sure you can’t wait to show off your new best buddy to the rest of your neighbourhood. Oh, and you’ll want to do it on a walk, so they can see what a good pup they are. Of course, this will mean you perfecting your leadwalking. And that, my friends, will need a significant amount of time and patience. You’ll soon discover that Labradoodles are strong dogs, so you’ll want to start working on walking nicely as soon as possible.

We’ve written a great article on lead walking for you here that gives you all the details and tips for good leadwalking practice. But also help you prevent any embarrassing moments on your walks, of course.

Husbandry Tasks To Do This Week

It’s important to be able to brush your Labradoodle’s curly coat. You really don’t want to find out what sorts of things can end up living in a lumpy, matted coat. By now, you’ve already done a fantastic job at introducing them to the brush, so can start some gentle brush strokes down their back.  

How to prepare

  • Use a soft brush like a baby brush, cat brush or a zoom groom at this stage. Leave the hard brushes for when they’re older – they’re so soft at the moment it’s unlikely they’ll need a thorough brushing anyway. 
  • As you gently brush them gently, keep handing them over some treats to keep them happy. You know the drill. 

PRO TIP: If your puppy is very nibbly when you’re feeding them treats (you know, when they try to bite your fingers off with those baby shark teeth),  stuff up a Kong or pop some food on a Lickimat and use that instead to take their focus away from the brush.

Week 3 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining Exercises to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Scent Trails
– Go for a drive
– Invite Friends Over
– Write a puppy socialisation checklist
– Recall – outside in the garden
– Four Paws on the floor – Not Jumping up
– Down
– Generalisation
– Alone Training
– Harness fitting
Socialisation Exercises To Do This Week

Keep up with the Socialisation practice this week by trying out new games, and meeting new people. Your Labradoodle puppy will enjoy all the fuss we expect.

Scent Trails

Labradoodles love to sniff as much as any other dog, if not more. Let’s help them get the most out of their amazing nose by setting up some scent trails. Your pup will love you for it.

  1. Lay some treats around a room about one metre apart, creating a trail. 
  2. Put a pile of treats at the end of the trail. Literally like a pot of gold for them.
  3. Then, let your puppy in the room and show them the start of the trail. After that, they should follow the rest by themselves and be as happy as pie!

Invite Friends Over

This week, carry on introducing your puppy to small groups of friends as you did in the previous week. Follow the same rules of letting your puppy explore their visitors first and not the other way around. Trust us, that’s the way they’ll learn to trust people and no think they’re terrible livings things.

This week, carry on introducing your puppy to small groups of friends as you did in the previous week. Follow the same rules of letting your pup

Another good tip is to get visitors to give your puppy plenty of little treats to make their journey to friendship a lot smoother. It’s not really a bribe…but we all know the way to a Labradoodle’s heart, right?

Over the weeks ahead, try to get your puppy used to a wide variety of people. If you have friends with glasses, that like to wear large coats and makeup enthusiasts, bring them along!

Go for a drive with your Labradoodle puppy

Once you’ve practised sitting in the car and your pup seems pretty happy with being there, the next step is to go for a drive. Get a friend to help and be feeding your puppy treats to make the journey and experience nice for your Labradoodle.

PRO TIPS: 

  • You’ll want to listen to this one. Make sure to do this on an empty stomach… you know… just in case! We’re pretty sure you don’t want to drive around in sick-impregnated seats.  
  • Please, please, please, never leave your puppy alone in the car! Doesn’t matter if you’ve got the AC on, it can still get hot. 
  • Still haven’t had all their vaccinations? Then you must still carry your puppy to and from the car. Look at them, having the royal treatment.

Write a puppy socialisation checklist for your Labradoodle puppy

We have an extensive socialisation checklist you can read all about them here. Of course, this is only a guide, so you’re free to create your own if you wish. However, ours will provide you with some wonderful suggestions for activities to do with your puppy to help them learn about the outside world. Chooses ones that will suit your lifestyle the best.

Training To Do This Week

Recall – Teaching your puppy to come when called, outside

We’re happy to hear you’ve been practising recall indoors. Great stuff. But let’s face it, you’ll need to use recall the most when you’re outside. You know, when they’re off chasing ducks. Heh, just kidding, we hope!

How to do it

  1. Pick a quiet spot in your garden. If you don’t have one, ask a friend or family member to lend you theirs for an hour or so. Gosh, we hope you have friends like that. 
  2. Start simply by saying your pups name and ‘come’
  3. When they come, say ‘good’ (or whatever your marker is) and drop a treat.
  4. Now, let’s up the fun. As they run to you, run back a few steps – around three steps back is good. 
  5. Did they run to you? Fantastic – they can get a yummy treat. 
  6. Repeat this exercise about 5 times, increasing the distance you go away each time. 

PRO TIP: Being truly honest, this might be a little tricky for your pup. Nobody likes the feeling of being run away from – which is why you should turn it into a game.  Make sure to give them loads of praise whenever they come to you by being really excited. The more their tail wags, the better.

Keeping four paws on the floor (not jumping up)

A Labradoodle puppy jumping up might seem adorable to some people. It’s just like a little lamb leaping for attention. Flash forward to a 30kg Labradoodle adult jumping up, not so cute anymore.  Because you want to avoid getting pancaked on the floor, Teaching your puppy not to jump up, and that all 4 paws belong on the floor will be helpful. It’s really just good manners.

Here’s how to do it

  1. Puppies like to be close to our faces and also jump for attention. It’s just kind of their love language. Because of this, there needs to be a rule in your household that your pup only gets attention when they have all paws on the ground. So here’s how you do it. If they go to jump up, step back so their feet fall, or turn your body. 
  2. As soon as your puppy has four paws on the floor, which is where you want them, give them all the attention they want. Praise, pats, scratches and treats will always be welcome. 
  3. Repeat this whenever you greet them or whenever they try to jump, and you’ll be on the right track for teaching good Labradoodle manners. 

Generalisation – different locations

What is generalisation?

Generalisation is basically where your puppy can do anything you’ve taught them anywhere you ask. Should be simple right? Sadly not. Dogs often struggle to follow instructions in different places, so if you want them to be able to follow your instructions outside of the house (which is probably the most important place they’ll need to listen to you), it’s important to get them generalising. 

Teaching your puppy to lay down.

Teaching a lie down in your Labradoodle training will always be useful. You’ll want them to lie down for so many reasons, but especially when you’re out for a coffee and don’t want it to be knocked out of your hands. In the Zigzag puppy training app, you can find the full programme that teaches you step by step progression of how to teach your puppy to lie down. 

Alone Training

This week, we’re raising the time your puppy is left alone for 5 minutes. Remember that for you, it’s only 5 minutes but for your puppy it will feel like 5 hours – so make sure to give them some kudos for that.

Every puppy copes differently with being alone, so don’t rush to leave them if they’re not ready yet. You’re both doing a great job so far!  

PRO TIPS

  • A baby gate can be very helpful with alone training by stopping your puppy from following you. 
  • If your pup is only fine with being left alone for less than 5 minutes, that’s okay. Let’s go slow on this one. Just keep practising.
Husbandry Task To Do This Week

Harness fitting for a puppy 

Can you feel it in the air? The time for going for walks is getting closer and closer. Let’s prepare for the big day by getting your pup to a harness.

Here’s how to begin:

Pick a harness that’s padded and that doesn’t dig in too much. Once you’re at the pet shop, it’s likely you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of harnesses to choose from, we like this padded style of harness

Adjust the harness roughly to the size of your puppy. It’s no problem if it fits a bit loose at this stage – it’s much better than tight. For now, let them wear it loosely around the house, parading their new outfit. Remember to hand them treats for being such a good pup.

Week 4 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Week 4 already! Does time fly with your new best friend or what? Hopefully your pup is coming on leaps and bounds now. Just remember about the Push, Stick, Drop method – if they are struggling with anything, take it a step back and just practise until they feel comfortable. See why we kept insisting on being patient? 

If everything seems to be in order, here’s what’s on the agenda for Week 4. 

Socialisation exercises to do this weekTraining to do this weekHusbandry Tasks to do this week
– Meet another dog
– Find a puppy class
– Settle on a mat
– Lead walking
– Recall games
– Grooming sensitive areas
Socialisation Exercises To Do This Week

Meeting another dog: How to introduce your puppy to a new dog.

Puppies must be socialised with other dogs from an early age if they are to become friends – rather than pulling and barking every time they see them at the park! Socialisation is simply the best way to make puppies become friendlier as adults. Labradoodles are naturally prone to be social, so they probably won’t have any issues making friends, but it’s still something to be aware of. 

Start by organising a visit from a friend’s dog (and your friend of course, otherwise, it’s kind of rude). Make sure that the dog who’s visiting is already quite friendly, tolerant of puppies (they can be pretty annoying sometimes) and up to date with their vaccinations. 

PRO TIP: For now, let’s not get into off-lead play. We know it might be tempting but in this case, take things slowly.

Finding a good puppy class for your puppy.

As great as our Zigzag app is (we don’t like to blow our own trumpets too much, but we truly believe it is the best puppy training app around, and so do professional organisations worldwide!), we don’t intend it to replace a good puppy class or trainer. We also recommend you sign up for a good puppy class if you’re able to. They are fantastic ways for you to reinforce the Zigzag training lessons, but they’re also a wonderful meeting point for puppies to socialise with each other. 

When looking for a trainer, we suggest you choose one who is a member of CAPBT, APDT, or PPG.

Training To Do This Week

Settle on a mat

We would all love to take our pups everywhere. But of
course, only if they can settle and not chase everything that moves. Nobody has
time for that kind of mayhem.   

Let’s get you and your puppy down to the pub as you’ve
always dreamed of by including ‘’settling down on a mat’’ in your Labradoodle
training. 

How to prepare

  • Choose a mat – something comfortable, soft, and that you can carry easily like a towel, bath mat or piece of vet bed
  • Have your puppy’s harness on, and their lead ready. 
  • Bring a stuffed Kong with you or their favourite chew toy. (yes puppies chew a lot!)
  • It’s best to try this exercise when your puppy is tired to make it a bit easier 

Lead walking

Teaching your puppy to walk on the lead is one of the most important things you need to do. In fact, we’re so passionate about this that we’ve dedicated a whole article to it here. No one wants to be dragged through the park, so get cracking while your puppy is still young.

Recall games – Playing tennis with your puppy!

No rackets needed. In this game, your puppy is going to act like a ball, you and your friend like rackets. And no, you won’t be swinging yourself at your puppy. Playing tennis with your puppy means you and your friend will be calling your pup’s name back and forth. Your puppy should keep running between you, looking for a tasty reward.  Got it? Pretty easy, right?


Grooming a Puppy – next steps

Hopefully, you and your pup are bonding well over a good grooming session by now. This week, it’s time to brush through the more sensitive areas such as their tummy and paws. 

PRO TIPS

  • If your puppy gets over excited, choose a time of day when they are likely to be a bit calmer, maybe a bit sleepy. 
  • As always, use plenty of treats, so your pup learns to love to be groomed!


Week 5 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Congratulations! You’ve made it all the way to week 5 in Labradoodle training. I bet they have grown up so much by now. Just think how far you and your pup have come. It’s incredible how fast they learn!

And this is where it gets interesting. It’s probably around this time that your puppy can start officially going for walks following all their vaccinations. Exciting times!

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Go to the pub – you deserve it!
– Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist
– Alone Training
– Recall – outside using a lead
– Lead walking – outside
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend nail clips
– Grooming


Go to the pub – you deserve it!

 Ah, at last someone is telling you to go to the pub. You’ve waited a long time for this, haven’t you? 

Let’s get down there after a nice long walk, so they’re likely to be tired. 

PRO TIPS

Take a mat for them to settle on with a stuffed Kong or a chew toy, so they’re focused on something and not on everything going on around them.

Trust us. People will want to coo and fuss over your gorgeous pup. But don’t be afraid to (gently) tell them you’d rather they didn’t, especially if they’re playing with their Kong or napping. For your pup, the mat needs to be a safe space where they can enjoy being undisturbed.

Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

Remember that list from earlier? Find 3 new things you haven’t done yet and tick them off. If you’ve worked through lots already, revisit some important to you and your lifestyle. Could it be to visit the beach? 



Alone Training

Okay, we understand that leaving your puppy alone can be tough. But for everyone’s peace of mind in the future, they do need to learn to cope by themselves. 

This week, practise your alone training exercise at least three times, and start increasing the time you leave them. You already know this, but don’t rush. It won’t make training go any faster if you stress your puppy out.

Recall – Outside, using a lead

Ok, time to get this outside. I’m sure your Labradoodle has already been nailing recall indoors, but the real test is going to be when there’s birds, neighbours and plane sounds all around them.

If it doesn’t go to plan, don’t be disheartened. There’s always tomorrow.

Keep your pups focus on you with plenty of high value treats – those stinky, delicious sausages you often keep for yourself. Practice about 6 recalls with them on the lead for this week – we’ll move up to another level next time.

PRO TIP: You’re going to need to be super exciting and chirpy to detract from all those sights and smells. Oh, and only use the ‘ come’ cue when your pup looks at you; that’s how you know you’ve got their attention and your recall will actually work.

Lead walking – outside

Now that your pup’s vaccinated, nothing is stopping you from
going on those real-life walks you’ve dreamed about. Finally…the day has
come! 

We call lead training ‘’loose lead walking’’, which
basically means just that, that the lead is loose. It works like this:

  • If they walk forward and the slack disappears, you need to stop walking.
  • If the slack remains (forming a nice J shape between you and your puppy), you can keep moving forward. 

Sounds so simple, right? Lead walking is often one of the most tricky parts of Labradoodle training (or any kind of puppy training), so there’s no shame in wanting some more support. 

We’ve got a full loose lead walking training guide here – but in the Zigzag app you can directly talk to our team of expert puppy coaches who will be happy to give you personal advice.

 Push/drop/stick on known exercises

You know the drill. Refer back to Push, drop, stick on the exercises you are working on and work out if you’re ready to move on to higher training levels.



Pretend nail clips

Most dogs have sensitive paws, so trimming their nails can be a challenge. It’s therefore important to get them used to it early to avoid any dramatics when they’re older. Otherwise, you’ll end up with either teeth or a claw in your face. Not on purpose of course, simply reflex.

First, just like with grooming, you need to make sure they feel okay with us touching them. For now we will just pretend to trim their claws. No actual trimming, just your best impression of a claw-trimmer. 


Week 6 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist – Following on walks
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Check puppy’s mouth


Time to tick another 3 things off your Socialisation checklist. Have a think about any interesting or novel activities you enjoy and might want to enjoy with your Labradoodle. If you’re one of those people lucky to have a horse, maybe it’s a good time to introduce them to each other.



Following on walks

The ‘’Follow Me’’game is a great way to improve your pup’s recall on walks. It’s basically a way to get them to stay nice and close to you. It may feel like your puppy is glued to your side,  but once they gain some independence this might not always be the case. And let’s face it, you probably love them being glued to you.

In places where there are loads of distractions, this game helps keep the focus on you, and not on flapping pigeons they’d like to chase.

Push/drop/stick

How is your Labradoodle pup doing with their training? Time for an appraisal and time to push, drop, stick on any training to increase the difficulty.



Check puppy’s mouth – First steps

You need to check your puppy’s mouth regularly, just to check their teeth and gums. It’s always better to check, than having to book an appointment at the vet for something funky in their mouth. Your vet will often check your dog this way so it’s important they are used to it from you and can be a good patient.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Gently touch your puppy’s cheek, and reward them so they get used to your hand coming towards their mouth.

That’s about as far as you’re going this week with that. Easy, right?


Week 7 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Puppy Parkour
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Wait
– Walk with a friend’s dog
– Recall – off the lead
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Pretend ear drops


Puppy Parkour

…and what exactly is Puppy Parkour? Well, it’s a bit like agility training, but no need for fancy equipment.  You can do it with your pup just for fun. It is actually loads of fun. But it also has some benefits that come with it such:

  • Bonding with your puppy outside.
  • Confidence building 
  • For their physical fitness 
  • For helping their coordination and balance.

Since we’ve already been playing around with surfaces and obstacles indoors, it’s time to take it outside. Use some logs, puddles and stones to make a trail for them to follow!

Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

Have another look at the checklist and see what you haven’t done yet perhaps:

  • A swimming lesson
  • Going in a lift
  • Going to a shopping centre



Teaching your Labradoodle puppy to wait

Patience is a virtue, even for our puppies. It’s not often something they want to do willingly though!

When we say ‘’wait’’, we mean they are not moving when we walk away. It can also mean waiting to cross a road or waiting before they rush for their food or waiting at a door, so as you can see,  it’s pretty useful in many situations. 

There are 2 steps to teaching your Labradoodle to wait or stay

Duration: As in how long can they wait

Distance: How far away can you be and they still wait. 

Let’s start with duration.

Ask your puppy to sit just the same as you always do.

Don’t say your marker word ‘good’ until you have counted to 5 so there’s a delay before you mark and reward.

  1. While you count, remember to smile. Not so you look pretty, but this will let your pup know they’re on the right track. They respond to emotion at the end of the day!
  2. You’re going to need to repeat this about 6 times in order to build the time up. Baby steps will get you there. 

Now, let’s practice distance.

  1. Ask your puppy to sit as you did before.
  2. Introduce a hand signal for them to wait. A flat hand-like ‘stop’ is the most common signal, but feel free to do a fist or a peace sign if you’d prefer. 
  3. Take a step back. Then, return to your puppy and reward
  4. Now, try the same exercise but move to the side. 
  5. Repeat about 6 times.

PRO TIP: As you can probably already tell, patience is not your puppy’s strength at the moment. Try to anticipate when they might move and reward them before they do. That way, they’re consistently winning at the waiting game. It’s frustrating if they keep getting it wrong, and Labradoodles can struggle with that.

Husbandry tasks to do this week

Walk with a friend’s dog

By now, your puppy and your friend’s dog should be firm pals. Now it’s time to go for a walk together!

Let’s get real, though. This might not be as calm and as pleasant as you thought it would be. Your Labradoodle is a bundle of joy and eager to play, which means you’ll probably deal with a couple of pulls here and there. As long as you remember, there’s not a pass or fail when training. Everything is all down to practice, and it will be alright.

Recall – off the lead

Honestly, don’t panic! We know you are possibly terrified about this part. But it will be alright, trust us on this one. 

How to prepare

  • You’ll need a quiet place with few distractions, not near busy roads or fields of sheep. Many places have secure and enclosed dog parks, so if you’re really worried, you could go have a look for one in your area. 
  • This is where you need the smelliest and best treats of all! 

PRO TIPS

  • Stay close, you don’t want your puppy getting distracted if you are miles away.
  • Relax. Puppies are a bit like mirrors, if they see you stress, they will stress as well. 
  • Have a secret weapon: something like dried sprats or liver seem disgusting to us, but are largely irresistible for them. Keep them as your safety go-to treats for them when you’re training your Labradoodle for off-lead recall.
  • Practice in your garden first. Recall really can’t be practised enough, so better practise in the safest (yet distracting) place you can find as much as you can.

Push/drop/stick on known exercises

Remember to go up a level and increase the difficulty if they’re feeling up for it!



Pretend ear drops

Your Labradoodle will have quite floppy and hairy ears, this means that although they are beautiful, quite a lot of dirt can get inside them. To keep them nice and clean, it’s good practice to get them used to having their ears checked and drops put in. You want them to have a great time outdoors playing in the mud and water, but you also want to keep them away from infections or gunky ears. 

Again, for now, we will only be pretending to place drops in them but it’s useful training for the future. 


Week 8 – Training your Labradoodle puppy

Wow! You’ve made it to Week 8. What a great job you’ve done. I imagine your pup is looking quite like the little grown up now, but remember, they may look all grown up, but they are still babies under all that fur.

Socialisation exercises to do this week Training to do this week Husbandry Tasks to do this week
– Joggers and Cyclists
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Practice exercises in different locations
– Introduce nose work
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
– Nail trims


Joggers and Cyclists

What’s not to love about chasing joggers and cyclists when you’re a Labradoodle?

They can be quite loud and scary. Especially with those neon clothes they like to wear. We don’t want your puppy to be startled when they come round but don’t want them to chase either – as funny as this would look.

When you run into a jogger or cyclist, reward your puppy for ignoring them as they go past. You’re rewarding them for a behaviour you want to see more of, so this is the time to show them.

PRO TIP: If your puppy doesn’t want to take treats, it could mean they are stressed. Just go back a step, and take it from there.

Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist

Anything goes with socialisation, so time to get creative! Not too creative though. Don’t take them skydiving.



Practice exercises in different locations

Remember generalisation? In Week 8, it’s a good time to practice all your pup’s skills in places such as:

  • Pet Supermarkets
  • Train Stations
  • DIY Stores
  • Garden centres 

Yes, these are all locations your puppy would love to go crazy in. We do it on purpose. 

Introducing nose work to your Labradoodle puppy

Our dogs’ noses are a formidable tool. Let’s put them to work! 

You’ll need an old towel, and a stuffed Kong or toilet roll tube with some food. Hide the toy and use the cue ‘find it’ to get your pup to put that hooter to work! 

PRO TIPS

  • Don’t make it too hard, to begin with. This game is supposed to be fun and not frustrate them when they can’t find what they’re smelling. Imagine they do the same thing to you with Sunday Roast. 
  • After a few practices, you can start making it more difficult. You can maybe hide the towel under some cushions or on top of a chair.



How to trim your Labradoodle puppy’s claws (nail trims)

We’re taking the plunge today and trimming those claws. Don’t be scared. It’s not like they have bear claws.

Before you begin, here are a few things you should know:

  • Your puppy needs to be ready for this. If they are still unsure about the clippers. it’s better not to do it yet. Let’s take a few steps back and try again in another week. 
  • Dog claws have a vein running through called the quick which you definitely don’t want to cut. It will bleed a lot, and freak everyone out. Make sure you don’t trim too short. 
  • If your puppy has black claws and you are worried about the Quick, ask your vet or groomer to show you how to cut them. 

PRO TIPS

  • If your puppy has short claws, they may not need clipping – you can always pretend!
  • Just one paw a day is plenty.
  • If your puppy does plenty of pavement walking, this will help file their claws too, which means trimming them yourself is one less thing you’ll have to do.


What’s next for your Labradoodle puppy?

Well! What a journey it’s been. Why not have a look at some of the other training you can do with your puppy in the ZigZag puppy training app? The possibilities are endless and you’re going to love keeping your Labradoodle training up as much as they enjoy learning. 

In the Zigzag app, you’ll find more in depth training, games and socialisation advice tailored for your puppy and their breed or mix of breeds. 

If you run into some training hiccups, (who doesn’t?) you’ll have access to the Zigzag puppy coaches. They’re a friendly bunch, and are here to help you every step of the way. Don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you might have, they’d love to hear from you! 

P.S Looking for more puppy training tips