english labrador without aggression

Aggression in Labradors?

OK, so you probably laughed out loud while reading the title of this, didn’t you??  I know, aggression is NOT typically found in this breed.  In fact, I hear most people say their labs would be the easiest dog to steal because they would be friendly even to a stranger (of course we wish we could teach them “Stranger Danger!” like we do children!) But from time to time I have heard cases from people reaching out to me for help, saying their lab is aggressive.

Mackie- Endless Mt. Labradors

I know, vicious right??? LOL

Right away I like to clarify, are we talking about actual aggression?  Or testy puppy behavior?  Let me explain…

I’ve heard someone say their puppy was aggressive because they were biting.  Let’s all recognize that this is VERY typical puppy behavior.  Puppies play bite with their litter mates, and will then transfer this behavior to their new human family because it’s what they’re used to.  [ilink url=”https://emlabradors.com/2013/02/how-do-i-get-my-puppy-to-stop-biting/”]How to Stop Puppy Play Biting[/ilink]

Puppies also go through, what I like to call, an adolescent stage (usually beginning around 12 weeks).  And just like a teenager, they have decided not to listen to a word you say and talk back.  I know you’re laughing now because you know exactly what I’m talking about!  Suddenly the pup gets mouthy and decides to maybe growl or bark in protest at you in that tiny little voice of theirs, after you tell them to do something.  This kind of behavior has also often been enforced while they were even younger.  This is why it’s all the more important to be very diligent in your training right from the get-go.

Paige puppy- Endless Mt. Labradors

Oh, innocence…

If the above scenarios do not fit your situation, here are some of the first things I would consider if you find yourself with a lab or canine that you fear is showing aggressive behavior:

  1. The first thing I would want to know is if she/he is spayed/neutered yet?
  2. Are there other pets in the house that are of the same sex?
  3. Has anything “socially” changed in your household? Remember, anything stressful for you can be stressful for your dog as well.  They can sense our anxiety and emotions and it affects them too!
  4. Is she/he in pain?
  5. Have you had the vet examine him/her?
  6. Is he/she up to date on their vaccinations/de-wormings/rabies/Lyme’s vaccine?
  7. Does he/she feel threatened in any way? I once knew a woman who’s dog became fearful and defensive around men.  After asking some more questions, I found out that her husband had some anger issues.  Whether the dog was being physically harmed or not, the dog could sense the tension in the home, specifically around this man.
  8. Has he/she ever been alone with small children (unattended?) Small children can inadvertently HURT dogs and make them not like kids if they are left to do this. Never allow children to pull on, bully, hit, or poke at a dog! It will “sour” them on children for good if this behavior goes on too long. Teach children to respect animals, and punish them in the same way you would if they hit, hurt, or abused another child/person. (I one time pulled on my daughters ears after I found her pulling on one of my dogs ears…it was a quick, effective lesson, and it never happened again!!)

If you cover all these issues and still need a good trainer, I’d go that route. If not, I would contact Lab Rescue, as they have people who are ready to deal with dogs that have “challenges”… I’ve heard that merely moving a dog to another family or environment immediately solves the issue.

10 Comments

  1. Great article. I have a 5 yr. old lab that is very aggressive towards a couple of her litter mates that we still see. One is owned by my son and we were taking care of her for a couple of weeks while he was away. Within a couple of hours of her arrival, my dog Lola viciously attacked her ripping one of her ears in half sending her to the emergency vet. A night and $1500 later Lilly returned back to our house and we kept them separated. Until my husband forgot while giving the dogs treats had Lilly and Lola out together. She attacked her again biting her face and catching the inside of the same ear!!! Lola lives with us and her mom, Millie who is 9 and our other lab who is a little over one. She showed initial aggression towards our new one when she was a puppy but now has accepted her, but has never warmed up to her sister Lilly. Lilly is a very gentle lab but i wouldnt say timid or submissive. Any other time Lola is a sweet kind and gentle lab. I just don’t know what she has against her sister Lilly.

    1. Could be a thyroid issue. I too know of a labbie that lashed out at his brother and many many stitches and a lot of money later he did it again before he was healed up from the first attack. I talked to my vet about it because he had also lashed out at one of my labs also , and the vet said to get a COMPLETE thyroid panel done, not just the t-4 test and they did and sure enough he did have a thyroid issue and so now he takes soloxine and hasn’t been aggressive again. The vet said that some breads of large dogs have that particular thyroid problem and people think they are just mean dogs when it can be taken care of for a fairly minimal cost. and the dogs feel better and so do the owners that are walking on eggshells. The pills are very inexpensive.

  2. I have a cousin who has a lab that hates strangers. the only lab I ever met that doesn’t live up to their reputation.

  3. i have a lab sam and he doesnt like sernt men at all .but iam a single woman and raised him all alone . and i have a neice that has a disability and he is very protective of her . but orther than that i couldnt ask for the best dog . he doesnt chew on things had him house broke in three days . and does what i ask of him . .. thanks you for your post and your pictures you have some very beautiful dogs . always tina mosley

  4. My lab is aggressive…she aggressively licks my face, arms, legs, feet and she isn’t discriminating when she does it!!! I could be in the middle of the night and she just can’t control the urge to lick me right across my lips right in the middle of the night. Sigh…I so love my Endless Mountain Lab (Daisey) I say thank you every day for my gift, that what she is…my soul my gift.

  5. I have a very gentle Lab/Golden mix that is about 8 years old. He is very good with people and kids, but is very Dog Aggressive, especially on the little ones. I have never understood this, and despite numerous attempts to stifle this behavior, have never been able to eradicate it.

    I would never allow him to hurt another dog, but other dog owners are either not aware of my dog’s hostility towards other dogs, or get very angry at me when they let their dogs approach my dog and he wants to eat them, even when I try to warn them off. Anyhow, is there a way that I can break my dog of this very embarrassing and possibly dangerous behavior? Any help would be gratefully accepted and appreciated.

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