How to train a stubborn labrador retriever that will not listen

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Labrador Retrievers, by nature, are friendly, loyal and eager-to-please. Listed by the American Kennel Club as the most popular dog in America, they are intelligent, family-friendly dogs. Each Labrador Retriever, however, has its own personality.

Though the breed is typically considered easy to train, you may find yourself with a Labrador that has "selective hearing," or what seems like an unwillingness to listen to your commands. Even stubborn dogs like these can be trained.

Play with your Labrador retriever with a variety of toys, including balls, tug ropes and frisbees. Feed it different treats to see if it likes one better than another. Scratch it on the back or give it a belly rub. Of all of these, finding out what excites your Labrador the most will determine what motivates it. Do not expect your dog to listen just because you gave an order. Treats often work, but Labradors are also friendly and playful and may prefer a scratch behind the ears or a game of fetch. If your dog is not interested in food, find something that will get its attention.

Plan two or three sessions each day to establish a training schedule. If you plan them before your Lab's mealtimes, it will start to expect these sessions and will be more focused. Training sessions should be five to ten minutes and should focus on only one command at a time. Turn these sessions into games to help motivate your Lab. Keep a positive and excited attitude so that it will enjoy training and will be more eager to learn.

Speak a command out loud. Use a treat, or toy, to lure your dog into position as you do. To teach sit, for example, raise the treat over the dog's head, just out of reach. Do not repeat your command multiple times or you can confuse your Labrador. Say the command once and wait for your dog to follow.

Praise your Labrador and reward it with a treat or by tossing a toy (if your Labrador is motivated by play) the instant it starts to obey your command. Say "good sit" when you praise it, so that it can build a connection between your words and the action it just did.

Reward your Labrador Retriever each time it follows your command correctly. Gradually start withholding the treats or toys as your dog gets better and better at following each command. For example, give it a reward every two or three time, then every five or six, until you no longer have to reward your Lab with anything but praise.