A growl here, a bite there, aggression everywhere! Is this what you have been experiencing in your home lately with your Lab? Your concern should not go unattended. Anyone who owns a lab knows best when to allow it to settle down or caution strongly against such behavior.
According to a recently published journal, different breeds have different aggression levels. However, Labrador retrievers are generally not aggressive. It is not in their natural temperament to be so. They are friendly, warm, and welcoming dogs who get attached to their owners. Yet some will bite and harm at times. Having established that this is unlike them, read on to find out why they can be aggressive. As cherry to the cake, you’ll find out the golden tips on how to deal with an aggressive one.
What could be causing your Lab’s aggression?
You may notice your Lab having stored some collectibles and put them near its sleeping area. Let it come as a surprise. Labs like collecting things, no wonder they are trainable for hunting and retrieving.
If you pick the specific item, a sock, food dish, or some keys, you will see your Lab frustrated. The dog can start being aggressive by growling and barking at you. This can be a sign that you have disappointed the dog.
Behavior training issues
Good manners come in handy for dogs. When not socialized correctly, it will have instances of aggressive behavior to other pets and people. Your Lab could start barking at other dogs during your walks or not welcome strangers in your home.
The dog should be able to respond to commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay,’ and ‘recall.’ If your canine is having trouble with the response to this, you are in for trouble. Teaching and repeating these commands as you reward the dog drills in the discipline. It assures you of the dog’s loyalty as their owner.
Having an injury
When was the last time you groomed your dog? Did you notice any injuries? Like most of us, a dog is bound to get aggressive when it is hurt. Most injuries in labs occur in the elbows and joints, which can cause the dog pain.
The poor dog can be trying to communicate to you of its hurt. Before you think your dog is plain disobedient, give it a thorough check in the body.
It may be too much to expect for a stimulated dog to remain calm. If you are straight from active play, you will find a dog having some aggression if provoked. Something as small as your pet cat joining into its space can spiral some harsh barks.
When was the last time you took your pooch to the vet? All those loud barks and growls could be signs that your companion is ill. Ailments like hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and cancers affect labs a lot. This is in comparison to other breeds. As your Lab gets older, it could experience difficulties in certain areas. Your Lab’s back legs could also start giving out, and it may be unable to do things as usual. Since barking is the best way dogs know how to communicate, your pooch could be saying that it needs to get to the vet.
Reaction/ Side effects to some medication
You could have exposed your pooch to so much medication that you’ve lost count. From the vaccinations to the neutering painkillers and the drugs given as it gets old. Some drugs pose a risk of giving your pooch serious side effects. They may heighten your dog’s body temperature or just make it uncomfortable.
If you change your Lab’s diet, it may start rejecting the food. Though mild, you can observe some aggression. It gets worse when the kibble has loads of sugar or salt.
Dangers of having an aggressive Labrador
An aggressive dog will bite and harm people. It can be destructive beyond repair. Woe unto you if you have children. Their constant wails will be a guide enough that your pooch is harming them. A dog that keeps on barking ferociously is also not suitable when you live in an apartment space. Your neighbors could file you for nuisance, and you might have some trouble.
Tips on how to deal with your Lab’s aggression
Training your dog how to stay in a crate will calm it down. Labs like to have their own space. A good dog crate can act as a safe space where you can send it to relax.
When you notice aggression, take it to its crate and lock it up for a few minutes. Since it is surrounded by the things it likes and has collected, it calms down. Your dog should go through dog training from the puppy stages for better results. If you also go to work and leave your Lab alone during the day, crate training is handy. Remember not to lock the crate door so as to allow it to go to the bathroom comfortably.
Correct the behavior immediately and use positive reinforcement
When your dog bites, correct it immediately. Use verbal words like ‘no’ and stop any fun activity you were doing at the time. Your dog will associate the aggression as a negative behavior. When it stops growling and biting, offer it some rewards. A treat of gentle pat will be reinforcement enough. Labs love pleasing their owners and will respond to the things that make you happy.
Spray your limbs with a taste deterrent
Lab puppies are the most notorious in exhibiting aggression. Aside from the hormonal shoot up that boosts the growth, they can be a handful in behavior too. When you notice your pooch tends to bite your legs or certain places on the couch, spray them with a taste deterrent. The awful taste will distract the dog and teach it to avoid biting the areas. You should do this for two weeks for maximum results.
Neuter your dog early
Male dogs have high testosterone levels that make it prone to aggression. The hormones are responsible for growth. Within a year, the Lab can grow up to 55pounds. The American Kennel Club recommends that you fix your Lab at about 6 months.
If fretting about doing this, let the bigger picture of a calmer lab comfort you. Remember, a dog that is not fixed is highly likely to run away and get into fights with other dogs. You can prevent such by taking your dog for fixing.
Enroll the pooch for behavior classes
The American Kennel Club offers special classes for puppies called the S.T.A.R Puppy Program. This stands for puppy socialization, training, activity, and responsible owner. It is a basic obedience program promoting good behavior. Equipping your Lab with such skills will divert its energy in the right places.
Such a program will also involve your dog learning how to relate with other dogs and pets. In time, your pooch becomes more loving toward others. To reinforce the classes, take your dog to the parks to meet other dog owners and dogs. You should make this a routine and part of your doggy lifestyle.
Take it for blood tests at the vet’s
Knowing your dog’s history can aid you to put to pen the reason behind some of its traits. Even if it is unnatural for labs to be aggressive, personality traits are passed down the lineage. Your pooch could be like its former relatives that could be reported to be aggressive.
To know this, take your pooch for blood samples for clear results. Your veterinary will advise on the best way forward.
Be consistent in feeding
Changing your dog’s feeding program from time to time is unacceptable. Not only does it disorient the dog, but it can make it growl and bark over and over. Ensure you serve good portions to your pooch at specific times. Starving your dog up is awful, especially when you are away the whole day. When changing from one food type to another, check for the contents of the kibble. Too much sugar or salt can be predisposing your dog to more than you imagine. Check out our best food recommendations for your Labrador retriever here.
Play more gentle games
Games like tug of war are more aggressive than playing fetch or taking the dog for a swim. Focus on games that do not put both of you in an aggressive-filled state. You will want to buy the Lab some toys to keep it entertained. Chew toys also prevent your dog from being bored and chewing up your belongings. All these will save your day.
Being a keen dog-parent will ensure you can observe and correct the signs of aggression. With more love and care, your dog can be the calm Lab it is meant to be. Know that by being aggressive, your dog is trying to communicate something. It is your responsibility to find out what it is and resolve it. Learn more about Labs here.