How to Make Your Labrador Listen

If you are looking for a friendly companion, exercise partner, or simply a high-spirited and useful family dog, you should consider getting a Labrador dog. Considered the most popular dog breed in America, labs have active, playful personalities and sweet, loyal dispositions. With such personalities, Labradors make for excellent service and animal-assisted therapy dogs. However, training the dog plays a significant role in ensuring that there are fewer behavior problems and that you enjoy a positive bond with the pet. Dealing with a naughty Labrador that does not listen can be difficult, making it important to find ways of handling the situation. The first step in addressing such problems is to know your Labrador so you can understand the unique personality and distinct character of the dog.

What to know about Labradors

It can be confusing and frustrating when your Labrador does not listen. However, you should be able to distinguish between normal and stubborn behaviors. Familiarizing yourself with certain facts and traits about the dogs will help you understand common Labrador brain games. Here’s what you need to know about Labradors:

They love water

You should not be surprised if you notice that your Labrador spends a lot of time in the water. It is commonly said that Labradors were made for water; their tails and feet help them swim faster while their thick coats keep them happy even when the water is cold. These traits make them great competitors when it comes to diving.

Be prepared for endless energy

If you are planning to get yourself a Lab, you should be prepared for endless energy. This breed was made to swim, run, and work. Without adequate and regular physical exercise, which includes activities such as a long walk, they may end up displaying destructive behaviors. You may experience the dog escaping the yard or chewing on objects in the house.

Labradors are invaluable workers

Labradors are generally intelligent, full of energy, eager to please, and ready to work hard. These versatile workers can do almost anything, a factor that has seen them become popular choices for search and rescue, drug detection, service dog work, and therapy dog work. The fact that they are purpose-bred hunting dogs means that they are excellent retrievers in a variety of settings, while their special characteristics make them incredibly versatile sporting dogs.

They come in three colors

Labradors come in three conformation colors: yellow, black, and chocolate. While some people have argued that the dogs differ based on their color, none of the differences depend on color. This means that color is not an indication of character, and each dog is different based on its unique personality.

Training and obedience classes are recommended

With the high amount of energy that the dogs possess, proper training and socialization are important. The good news is that Labs have intelligent demeanors and are eager to please. This means that training can help to deal with a Labrador that will not listen, presenting joy to both the dog and owner.

Common causes of Labrador behavior problems

As a Lab owner, there is a good chance your dog will have behavior problems at one stage or another in their lives. However, even after behaving badly, your dog will run up to greet you when you get back home from work. This is because he does not understand morals or instinctively know right from wrong. When dealing with a naughty Labrador, you should differentiate natural and normal behavior from behavioral problems and abnormal behavior. This will make it easy for you to redirect him towards more acceptable behavior, an exercise that takes time and consistency.

Some common behavior problems that Labradors may develop include defecating and urinating in the home, destructive chewing, excessive barking, jumping up on people, fearfulness, aggression towards people and other animals, digging, being withdrawn, and hyperactivity among others. While problems such as hyperactivity and prolonged Labrador games can be handled at home, others will require a unique approach. In case of aggression and anxiety-related behavior problems, it would be advisable to seek professional help since there is a real danger that things could get worse with the wrong approach.

Just like humans, dogs have different personalities, genetics, and life experiences. All these factors go into shaping how the dog is and how it behaves. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all reason why a dog will behave in a certain way. Usually, behavior problems in Labradors is an indication of something wrong or missing in the dog’s life and is a way for the dog to try to cope with the situation.

Behavior problems can make it difficult for your Labrador to listen to you. This is why it is important to understand some of the causes of such behavior. Possible causes of Labrador behavior problems include poor health, fear of someone or something in their environment, inadequate socialization when younger, feelings of social isolation, lack of exercise, genetic issues, sudden changes in diet, sudden changes in daily routine, inconsistent rules, lack of comfort and inconsistent or lack of sleep.

Possible reasons why your Labrador does not listen to you

You will definitely want to know why exactly your dog does not listen to you. Dealing with a naughty Labrador will require that you consider the following possible reasons.

The command is not well trained

For your dog to respond to your command in the appropriate manner, you will have to train him for a considerable period of time. In case the dog was not responding right away to the same command in the past, there is a good chance that the command is not well trained.

The dog is scared

Labs who do not listen will not be effective and will not work. One of the reasons why your Labrador will not listen to you is because he is scared. Trying to motivate your dog to come to you using fear may make you a person that the dog does not want to come to. Similarly, if you use inappropriate forms of correction for misbehavior, fear of punishment may be a reason why the Lab does not listen.


When it comes to your dog’s performance, you will have to take into account distractions that shift your Lab’s focus. A public place that is full of loud people and other dogs is not the same as the relatively quiet space inside your home. Chasing squirrels, taking time to smell the grass, or following the blowing leaf can be great fun for the dog, making it difficult for the Labrador to listen.

You are speaking the wrong language

If your dog seems to be ignoring you most of the time, it may be as a result of some kind of language barrier. While your Lab speaks canine, you speak a different language altogether. Generally, dogs pay great attention to body language and will mostly communicate through eye contact, movement, and posture. The next time you speak to your dog, and he does not listen, you should take time to think whether he really understands the command.

Your timing is off

Timing may be an issue when your dog will not listen to you. For your Labrador to understand what they are being rewarded or punished for, timing is critical. Generally, you have between two and three seconds after their action to communicate your message. If you take too long, the meaning of the reward or punishment will be lost.

The dog is in pain

In case your Labrador is well-trained and has been displaying good behavior but suddenly stops responding to cue, it may be due to a physical problem. Physical pain will make it difficult for the dog to run, swim, play or act quickly or for long periods of time. In case the dog is reluctant to work in the environment in which it is well-trained, you should consider visiting a veterinarian to find out whether there is a medical problem.

Weak rewards

There are people who like to show how much their dog loves them by getting them to perform obedience commands or tricks. While it is possible for dogs to do things out of their love for you, they may start to ignore the command if the action is not beneficial to them. This means that weak rewards may be the reason why your Labrador no longer listens.

Lack of consistency

It takes a lot of time and consistency to train and redirect any dog to what you consider acceptable behavior. In case you do not provide clear and consistent rules to your dog during training, it will be difficult for him to understand what you want and follow through with it. Lack of consistency will lead to confusion and the dog will not know how to respond to communication from you.

No consequences

Just like humans, dogs need consequences. No matter how well-trained your Labrador is or the reward you have available, there are times when they will choose to disobey. If you do not teach him that good behavior earns rewards while bad behavior demands correction, the dog may end up not listening to you in the future.

What to do when your Lab does not listen

As much as you may want our furry companion to be well-mannered, you should understand that dogs have minds of their own. At the same time, a Labrador that does not listen is not necessarily dumb, disobedient, or defiant. While the situation may be frustrating, you should try these simple strategies to deal with any communication problems.

Give them a reason to listen

Most of the activities that your dog can engage in are much more interesting than what you are asking them to do. This is why you should ensure the reward they get for listening to you is both fun and exciting. Some of the best ways of doing this is by rewarding them with praise and play or dishing out high-quality treats. In this way, your Labrador will happily stop whatever they were doing to listen to you.

Consider what you are asking

Sometimes, your dog will not listen simply because they are unable to do whatever you are asking of them. Since training and obedience takes time, you should consider the capabilities of your Lab as well as the environment you are working in when communicating with him. Rather than getting frustrated or having unreasonably high expectations, you should give the dog time and opportunity to learn. In case they do not respond to commands, try asking for something a little easier.

Break the language barrier

It is already clear that language barrier can result in a situation where your dog appears not to be listening. It takes time for dogs to learn and understand that words are supposed to mean something. Instead of assuming that your dog has learned a certain verbal cue, you should consider accompanying verbal commands with a hand gesture. You may also want to express commands in a clear voice and keep them short.

Solve the underlying problem

With the many causes of behavior problems, it is important to think about what else could be going on when your dog does not do as you say. You may be asking your dog to lay down on an uncomfortable spot or issuing commands to an unhappy or sick dog. Since all these factors will cloud his mind, take time to address the root cause of the problem to ensure your Labrador is in the right mental state to listen.

Keep practicing

For any dog to adopt what you consider acceptable behavior, it takes time, effort, and consistency. This will also involve giving your Labrador numerous opportunities to practice what they learn. You need to be patient and be clear in your intentions as you work towards conquering any communication challenges that make it difficult for your Lab to listen. Make the training fun and exciting by incorporating a few Labrador games from time to time.

Tips to get your Lab to listen to you

Getting your naughty Labrador to listen takes a lot of practice. The good news is that it makes both you and the dog happy, effectively strengthening the bond you have. Here are a few tips to make the whole process easier.

Carry a bag of treats everywhere you go

It is clear that dogs are motivated to listen to their owners when the action they are required to do carries some form of reward. Since training a Labrador to listen requires consistency, you should carry a bag of treats everywhere you go. In this way, you can reward your dog whenever he behaves well. You should wait for him to make eye contact before praising him or giving him a treat.

Practice commands indoors first

It is much easier to start the training process in an environment where there are fewer distractions. This is why you should consider practicing basic commands indoors before venturing outside. Build up slowly to ensure your furry friend learns to obey before training outside, where there are more distractions and temptations. With the energy associated with this breed, Labrador training will require that you exercise patience.

Offer something irresistible

Dogs are usually drawn to activities that they find fun and exciting. This means that capturing your dog’s attention and interest will involve offering something irresistible. This is particularly important if you are in an environment with lots of people and activities. While praise and a favorite toy are good incentives, food will always be a great bargaining chip.

Do not scold your Labrador for ignoring you

It can be very frustrating when you repeatedly call your dog’s name, but he keeps ignoring you. The situation is even worse after you have been practicing the same thing for a considerable period of time. However, you should avoid losing your temper and scolding him since this will only make him associate looking at you with negative experiences. Wait patiently after calling the dog’s name once, then clap or click your fingers to get his attention.

Avoid punishing him unintentionally for obeying

If you are going to do something that your dog does not like, you should avoid using the command to get him to come to you. This includes leaving the dog park, bath time, getting groomed, and giving medicine. The best way to handle the situation would be to walk gently to the dog, put them on a leash, and guide them to where you want them to be.

Consider clicker training

This method involves pushing the clicker and giving the dog a treat immediately you get his attention. The good news is that clickers are easily accessible from pet stress and online stores. There are also numerous resources from which you can learn how to use the clicker correctly. If the sound of a plastic food wrapper captures the attention of your Labrador, there is a good chance clicker training will be effective.

Play the attention game

There are many Labrador brain games that you can use to teach your dog to listen. The attention game can help you measure how much progress you have made in terms of training. Simply place your dog on the leash in a quiet place and sit in front of him. Wait for him to look at you and reward him each time he makes eye contact. You can then move to areas with distractions, gradually teaching him how to listen and respond.

Train your dog to make eye contact

Getting your Lab to listen depends greatly on shifting his attention onto you. It is important to teach the dog that he has to look at you first before asking for whatever he wants. Before giving him food or letting him out of the house, make sure you have his attention first. These are great ways to train him on making eye contact and eventually listening to you.

Play hide and seek

If you want your Labrador to get used to keeping an eye on you, you should play hide and seek with him regularly. Start by hiding somewhere and calling your dog’s name then wait for him to look for you and find you. Make sure to praise him or give a treat every time he is successful. Once your dog responds well in the home, you can practice the same outside.

Get a training leash

A raining leash makes for a great way to get your dog to come to you when you call. This eliminates the worry that he will run away when you set him free for the first time. Buying a long leash will ensure that the dog has enough room to roam away from you. When the dog is occupied with something interesting, call him and entice him with a toy or treat. If he does not respond immediately, get his attention by giving a gentle tug on the leash.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise will not only keep your Labrador happy and healthy but will also prevent them from channeling their huge amount of energy into destructive behavior. If your dog rarely leaves the home or yard, they will be extremely excited when they finally venture into the big wide world. This will make it difficult for them to listen to you. When you exercise with your Lab regularly, you will introduce them to different situations and experiences, making them calm and ready to listen when outdoors.

Notice your dog’s emotional state

As much as you may try different ways to teach your Labrador to listen, you should always notice the dog’s emotional state. This is particularly important when the furry friend continuously ignores you.

If everything else fails, you should consider getting a professional dog trainer for Labrador training. A professional trainer will be in a better position to identify the reason why your dog does not listen. They will also be able to come up with the right methods of dealing with the underlying issues and correcting the behavior problem. However, you must ensure that the professional training classes will produce the desired results and help you enjoy a better relationship with your Labrador.  

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