Aggression in Labrador Retrievers can become insurmountable problems of dog owners who expect that they have raised a friendly and docile pet.
Many Lab owners whose dogs may have aggressive tendencies are usually not aware of this negative behavior until they go for a walk and the dog spots another dog walking along with his owner. Aggressive dogs try their best to get off their leash to attack other dogs. Some go to the extent of biting their owners just to be off their leash.
Aggression in Labs can come to a point where you dread walking or training your dog for fear of getting in fights with other dogs or being bitten by your own pets. However, you should bear in mind that aggression is a form of defense and is usually exhibited by a dog which is scared. This negative behavior may arise from poor socialization while still a puppy or as a result of a bad experience with another dog.
An aggressive Labrador retriever may be too much to handle because of their weight, size, and strength. Successful training of Labrador retrievers is a basic foundation in preventing the development and manifestation of negative behaviors including fearful aggression.
Never attempt to encourage a Lab’s fear by praising or petting them when they exhibit negative emotions including being scared, showing anxiety and/or uncertainty. Oftentimes we are tempted to pet or praise our dog in an effort to calm his fears however this gesture can often be misinterpreted by your dog as encouragement of his behavior. Our instinct is to show our dogs that “it’s alright, I am with you, don’t be scared” however your dog will perceive your soothing gesture as a way to tell him “good boy, your reaction or behavior is correct”.
A dog owner plays a very important role in helping his Labrador retriever get rid of fearful aggression by conquering his fear. Some of the ways that you can help your dog triumph over this problem include the following—
1. Showing him that you are the Alpha Dog. Never give a chance for your Lab to achieve dominance over anyone in the family. It is important that your Lab should know his social ranking within the family and behave as such. By nature, Labs are social animals that thrive within a pack where every member occupies a specific niche and play a specific role.
The best way to establish your authority is to manifest it through your emotions and energy during training sessions. It should be imprinted in his canine mind that you are the boss in the household. Your Lab should learn that he can only receive something from you if he deserves it. And what better way to be deserving of the reward than to earn it by properly obeying commands and displaying positive behavior.
2. The best way to overcome your Lab’s fear is to let him face it squarely. If he fears another dog, let him get used to the idea that you will always meet dogs in your walks. By gradually exposing him to the things or situations that he fear can help him get used to them and consequently banish his fears.
3. If there have been instances that your Lab has exhibited signs of intending to bite you, you might consider using an electronic training collar or carrying a stick.
4. Be quick to spot the first signs of aggression and tug on his leash to get his attention. A firm “No” will let him realize that you are not pleased with his behavior.
5. Consistency in your actions is a very important factor which can help determine the success of your training. A lab is a creature of habit and diverting away from the established routine can only add confusion and hinder your dog’s learning process.
Neutering a Labrador retriever has been demonstrated to help get rid of a Lab’s aggressive tendencies toward other male dogs and even toward other members of the household.
In cases where Lab aggression has been tolerated and allowed to develop, it can become a horrendous problem that can only be solved by hiring a professional animal trainer or animal behaviorist. But if you are quick to spot the signs and readily address the behavior, you can easily nip the problem in the bud.