The Volunteer Heel, labrador retriever training tips


The Volunteer Heel, labrador retriever training tips
The Volunteer Heel

Our pup is 3 months old and has been conditioned to wearing the chain collar and being on the tie out stake.  The pup should understand that there is no future in fighting an immovable object.  With these objectives met we are ready to begin using the long line to gain general attentiveness and specifically the “volunteer heel.”

The long line is just what it says- a long line training tool.  You can order one from most of the dog supply sites or you can make one yourself.  The line should be made from a rope or webbing that is both lightweight and strong.  The line should be 15 – 20 feet long and have a snap swivel on one end and a hand loop on the other.

We first put the puppy back on the tie out stake for 15 -20 minutes to remind him that there’s no use in fighting the collar and tether control.  We also want the puppy to be a little bored before we introduce the long line.  Then we unhook him from the tie out and fasten the long line to the collar.  We will not say anything to the puppy until the session is over.  Out greatest goal here is to motivate the puppy to maintain eye contact with us.  We want our pup to think that it is totally his idea to watch us.


labrador retriever training tips, holding the long line
Holding the Long Line like this will save your shoulders.

When you’re doing long line work it is best to hold the loop with both hands and hold your hands solidly against your chest.  This will prevent the puppy from hurting your shoulders if he sees an elusive butterfly and gives chase.   Once again let me reiterate:  You say nothing while doing this.  Pick a particular spot in your training area about 50 feet away and walk directly to it with purpose.  If the pup resists, just keep walking.  When you get to the spot you’re walking to, stop and say nothing.  Wait about 20 – 30 seconds and walk to another spot.  You do this repeatedly without speaking for about 15 minutes.  Take the puppy back to the tie out stake and let it settle for about 15 – 20 minutes.  You want to do this once or twice a day for 2 – 3 days.  We’re setting the pup up for a lesson in making and maintaining eye contact with us.

The puppy is now used to the no talking, steady walking routine and is ready to learn eye contact.  After 3 days of this we’re going to make some changes.  As soon as the pup turns its attention away from us, we do “ an about face” and walk 180 degrees away from the puppy.  We do this as quietly as possible.  The pup is just checking stuff out when all of a sudden: Wow! What a surprise!  The pup doesn’t like to be surprised and comes running back towards us, probably past us.  We again turn and walk the opposite direction, again surprising the pup.  After 2 or 3 of these turns, we look down and our pup is walking with us keeping its eyes focused keenly on us.  Without saying a word we have caused our puppy to want to make and hold eye contact with us.  

We have still not said one single word to our pup during these sessions, but the puppy has learned to watch us.  When we do speak, he will listen.  The pup can only maintain eye contact with us by walking beside us so it can see and anticipate what direction we’re going to turn.  The pup has learned to do this for its own selfish reasons.  And because the puppy has learned the importance of watching us, everything we want to teach will be infinitely easier.  


The Volunteer Heel, labrador retriever training tips
The Volunteer Heel


Enjoy this article and our dog training tips by Woody Thurman providing information on how to train a Labrador Retriever puppy?  Share the link to the article with a friend or on social media!  

Become a happy owner of our world class Labrador Retriever puppies or learn about our Labrador Retriever training services:  Call Woody and Judi at (910) 462-3246 for more information.

About Woody Thurman:  Woody and Judi Thurman of Twin Lakes Kennel have been breeding and training world class Labrador Retrievers for more than 35 years. Twin Lakes Kennel is the number #1 resource for Labrador Retriever puppies.  We select from the most dominant American field bloodlines and breed for natural hunting instinct and tractability. Our Labs, both puppies and adults, are out of the top working Labrador Retriever bloodlines in the country. The end results are the most talented, well rounded Labrador Retrievers possible, making them a most desirable family pet.

More than eight thousand (8,000) Labrador Retrievers have been bred and trained during those thirty-five years. During this time, Woody has titled more than 200 AKC Master Hunter Labrador Retrievers. Woody has also qualified 47 retrievers at AKC Master Nationals. He has won the Ducks Unlimited Open Championships twice. In addition, two of his Labs, Drake and Rondy, bred and trained at Twin Lakes Kennel, are in the Master National Hall of Fame.

Our Labrador Retriever puppies are the culmination of a 30 year search for the most talented, well rounded Labrador Retriever possible. We select from the most dominant American field bloodlines and breed for natural hunting instinct and tractability. Our puppies begin a structured socialization program in the litter box and are introduced to birds at six weeks.

All our Labrador Retriever Puppies carry a guarantee against hereditary defects and to have basic retrieving instincts. Parents of all our Labrador Retriever puppies are physically sound with certified hips and eyes.  They are out of the top working Labrador Retriever bloodlines in the country.

We guarantee all our Labrador Retriever puppies to be free from hereditary defects.

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Call Woody and Judi Thurman at (910) 462-3246 for more information.