Labrador Behavior Problems

Labrador Retriever Behavior Problems

Labrador retrievers are an intelligentOpens in a new tab.
, easily trained, sociable, and friendly breed of dog. They make wonderful family dogs and also go above and beyond with retrievingOpens in a new tab. games if you are into hunting.

This is exactly what the Lab was originally bred for and retrieving is in their blood, performing this sport while sometimes swimming to bring back game. They have webbed feet and are stellar swimmers.

Saying that a certain breed of dog is friendly, obedient, easy-going, easy to train, etc. doesn’t necessarily mean that every single dog of this breed has excellent temperaments.

Dogs are individuals, just like humans, and heredity and their surroundings will play a role in a dog’s personality.

Before getting a Lab from a breeder, you should know what you’re getting into as far as and the Labrador retriever’s behavior and temperament are concerned.

When adding a dog to your family, you have to find the right fit and many people don’t realize that dogs have certain instincts, they need exercise (especially Labs), they need training and they may bark, dig, and chase animals. Yes, they do pee and poop, many times in an inappropriate place, especially as puppies!

All of those behaviors are normal dog behaviors. Some may not be acceptable, but that is why all dogs need training beginning in puppyhood.

It is when behavior becomes abnormal, cannot be trained out of a pup, or results in aggression and destructive behavior that you have yourself a true behavior problemOpens in a new tab..

In the following post, I will inform you about possible Labrador behavior problemsOpens in a new tab. and I will answer the question, “can a Labrador be aggressive?” Also included will be some tips on how to deal with aggressive Labradors.

Labrador Retriever Behavior Problems
Image from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

Labrador Retriever Behavior Problems

All dogs need training and Labrador retrieversOpens in a new tab. are no exception. They pick things up pretty quickly, but sometimes you may have to deal with some behavior issues. If you deal with them early on, they shouldn’t escalate into something major later on. Some of these issues are listed below.


Barking is a way for dogs to communicate and is perfectly normal. Your Lab may bark to go out, with excitement as you grab the leash for a walk or if they hear a noise and sense danger.

It is when barking is excessive that it becomes an annoying problem. Try to determine why your pup is barking. For attention? When left alone or outside for too long?

Try to redirect their attention when barking, perhaps to play. Keep them busy with toys. Tell them “no” firmly and ignore them. Reward them with praise or a treat for when they are quiet. Only reward positive behavior.


Digging up your yard may occur if your Lab is bored. Don’t leave them unattended outside unless you want a tunnel to China! Give them something to occupy them while they are outside or play with them.

If they are still big into digging, the last resort is to give them a pile of dirt and let them go to town. This will be their very own “dig” pit.

Housetraining Regression

Once your pup is totally housetrained, there shouldn’t be any accidents unless your pup is left alone too long or they are ill.

If your potty-trained Lab suddenly starts having accidents, it could be a medical issue, so check that out first.

They could also be stressed by some new event in your home or a change in schedule, Be patient and try to get to the bottom of the underlying issue.

Keep in mind that dogs do not soil in the house because they are mad or trying to spite you. Dogs do not think or reason like humans. These are accidents and there has to be a reason for them.


Chewing is instinctual and normal behavior for dogs. Labs especially love to chew. Puppies chew to relieve teething pain.

As your puppy grows you need to teach them what they can and can’t chew. They need to have acceptable toys for chewing and they need to learn that chewing on furniture is not tolerable.

If you leave your Lab alone and come home to a shredded pillow, they may be bored. They need plenty of exercise especially before you leave them alone and also afterward. Give them toys to keep them busy while you are away.

There are many specifically for this purpose. Crate training from puppyhood can give them a safe spot as well as protect valuables around your home.

Also, scolding them after the pillow has been chewed will not correct the problem. They will have no idea why they are in trouble, after the fact.

Stealing or Begging for Food

Every dog should be fed their food out of a dish or given a treat from their hand. Of course, dogs are opportunistic and any morsel that falls on the floor is fair game! Don’t give your dog food while you are eating from the table or even the couch.

This sets the tone that begging is acceptable and comes off as impolite and is even awkward when you have guests. Begging will become old with you and your family and you can’t blame your Lab if you started and allowed it.

Your Lab has an excellent sense of smell and garbage in your trash can smells like a buffet to them. Eliminate the temptation.

Keep trash cans securely closed or in a closet or under your sink. Labs are smart and strong and can easily knock over the can to enjoy a feast which can turn into a constant battle and make them sick.


You may think jumping is oh-so-cute and adorable when your Lab is a puppy but as a 70lb full-grown adult, this is not acceptable and can be downright dangerous.

Yes, Labs get excited and want to be friends with one and all. Don’t allow your Lab puppy or adult to jump on you or anyone else. If they start this bad behavior, either ignore them until they are calm or redirect them to a good activity.

Nipping and Playing Rough

Puppies love to nip and dabble in rough play, especially with their littermates. They usually do fine with their brothers and sisters and if they nip too much, their siblings will yelp and run away leaving them with no one to play with.

You must do the same thing. Yell, “ouch,” and walk away, ignoring them until they are calm. They will soon get the idea.

This type of play must be eliminated as a puppy. No one will like or tolerate a large adult Lab nipping with its much larger teeth.

Many of the above bad behaviors are caused by us, the Lab owner. We are their teacher and they need to learn, with training and correction, what is suitable behavior and what is not. Being consistent is the key element needed.

Can a Labrador be Aggressive?

I have been writing about how sweet and friendly Labrador retrievers are. They make great playmates for children and show patience with them.

Labs are good with other dogs and don’t always make the best watchdogs because they are generally just too darn friendly, even with strangers.

I know you can sense that a “but” is coming and yes, each Labrador retrieverOpens in a new tab. is an individual and unique just as other breeds and we humans all have different temperaments and personalities, but any dog can be aggressive.

With all of the positive words used in describing Labradors, you will probably be shocked to learn that research in England has shown that along with Staffordshire terriers, border collies, and German shepherds, Labrador retrievers are among breeds who have attacked delivery drivers and mailmen. Yes, A Labrador can be aggressive.

Can a Labrador be Aggressive?
Image from PixabayOpens in a new tab.

What Causes Aggression in Labrador retrievers?

A few reasons for aggression in Labradors are listed below.

  • Improper training – Improper training with no consistency can cause aggressive tendencies. You need to be the alpha dog and be in charge all of the time. You cannot allow your Lab to take control.
  • Trauma – If you have adopted a rescue dog, sometimes they have suffered abuse and trauma which can lead to a wide variety of behavioral issues including aggression.
  • Medical condition – Your Lab may have a medical condition, issue, or injury that you are unaware of that may cause them to lash out if they are in pain or feeling ill.
  • Hereditary – Improper breeding can lead to dogs with genetic behavioral issues. These are extremely hard to deal with as this is just the way your Lab’s brain is wired.
  • Aggression for protection – Although no one wants an aggressive dog, some are only aggressive if they sense danger and are jumping into action to protect you.
  • Fear – Fear can be genetic in nature or from trauma or lack of socialization. Because Labs are generally friendly and outgoing, this may be a challenge to overcome if you have a Lab that is fearful of everything.
What Causes Aggression in Labrador retrievers?

How to Deal With Aggressive Labradors

Owners, relatives, neighbors, and visitors may become frightened by an aggressive or dangerous behavior problem.

Prevent aggression when your Labrador is a puppy Opens in a new being in charge, offering plenty of socialization, with ongoing training and enough exercise to tamp down all the energy they possess.

Listed below are some steps to deal with aggression.

  • Identify – Try to determine why your Labrador is acting aggressively. They may simply be bored, left alone for too long, not enough exercise, feel threatened, sense danger, etc. They may also have something medically wrong as well and you will have to identify the trigger.
  • Pack leader – Every dog pack needs a leader and you must be that leader. Your pup needs to know from day one that you are in charge. They must never take the lead and be in control. This just involves being consistent and reprimanding if necessary. It does not mean there has to be any yelling or hitting which will only make matters worse.
  • Correct – Correct bad behavior with a firm, “No!” Only give praise, treats, and positive reinforcement for good behavior. Tell them what a “good boy” or “good girl” they are when they are behaving calmly.
  • No rough play – Don’t play games that encourage aggressive behavior.
  • Veterinarian – Have your Lab checked out by your veterinarian if aggression comes on suddenly and out of the blue, especially if it continues. Your pup may be ill or in pain and they are lashing out due to a medical issue.
  • Seek help – If you are having trouble breaking your retriever of aggressive behavior speak with your veterinarian who can refer you to a trainer or behavioral therapist. Don’t wait until the situation escalates.
How to Deal With Aggressive Labradors

Although Labrador retrievers are rarely an aggressive breed, they can become aggressive due to some of the reasons listed above.

Always use a responsible breeder when deciding to get a Labrador retriever or any breed. Ask to see records and to view the parents to see what type of temperaments they have.

Always be consistent when training and correcting your pup. Most of all, know when to seek help if you feel you are in over your head with an aggression problem.

Recent Posts