I have a 6 month old female choc lab named Kai. She's active, playful and very loving. I know that lab personalities vary and they aren't guard dogs, but everytime we seem to encounter strangers whether it be a delivery guy, or just strangers approaching me she's always really friendly and never hesitates to run up to them and play. I've heard of some labs being a little more "on guard" and protective of their owners until the owner gives them the okay that the stranger is good and I just want to know if and when Kai will ever be a little more cautious or protective. Is there anything specific I can do to help her? Any feedback would be great thanks!
I wouldn't even think of trying.
If you really feel the need for protection, teaching her to 'speak' would be a good deterrent.. a large barking black dog is intimidation enough.
Labs aren't guard dogs, they love everybody. We always joke that if anyone broke into the house Baloo would be like, "Oh HI new best friend!! How are you!! Would you like to play with my toys?? PET ME!!"
Personally, I love that he loves everyone. It is much easier to not have to worry about him being hyper-reactive, or nervous around new people. Peanut (minpin) is friendly, but a little on the shy and reserved side, so I always have to pay attention to make sure she's not getting overwhelmed or upset. (she's especially nervous around small children). Trust me, having a super friendly dog is MUCH easier than having to worry about not only the dog's comfort, but also liability and what not.
In all seriousness, it is my own personal opinion that it is my job to protect my dogs, and most definitely not the other way around.    I rely on locked doors and security systems to keep me safe, although my little minpin would put forth a valiant effort to protect, I'm sure. She's real intimidating, too.  ;D
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
I do agree with Kaytris on teaching them to speak.
I have noticed an increase in 'protectiveness' of the house as my boy as gotten older(more awareness of this from 1-1.5 yrs old). He most definitely will "alert" to an intruder, any out of place noises, and I do feel safer from that aspect.
By their nature, labs aren't protective like some other breeds. For example, some are very well known to put themselves between a stranger and their master until released...a lab is not one of them.
However i don't have any experience to back this up (with a LAB) but I honestly think if the sh*t hit the fan, our labs would sense it and know how to step up the game in a real life danger situation. I'm a firm believer that there is still ingrained instinct, and if I was being physically attacked...it's game on. Similar to that experience mentioned in Marley and Me, or a just like a human parent guarding their children in a real life danger situation.
I had a dog growing up that if my dad and I would wrestle, or if someone would actually hit me even jokingly the dog would react very aggressively to protect me.
Thanks! Any tips on getting them to "speak"?
find something that causes them to speak naturally...vacuum, some noise maker, etc...than begin to associate cause/the word speak/reward, then distance the original cause so that it is just "speak"->reward.Originally Posted by Kai
My first Lab, my beloved Bess, was like Baloo. The only reason to fear her would be if you were allergic to dog saliva or black Lab hair.
My present Lab, my quirky beloved Puff, barks at many people she sees. She barked at our next door neighbors whenever they drove in for 4 years. (Then she'd run toward them, barking, wagging her tail, and then leap up to put a quick kiss on a face.) She sometimes does this when she sees others in the neighborhood, too. On this afternoon's 2 PM potty break, she saw 3 bushel size white plastic bags left between the sidewalk and curb and barked a number of times at them.
Having had both extremes, be pleased with your friendly Lab.
As far as teaching to bark, what worked well for Puff was for me to bark and that would set her off. Then I'd preface my bark with saying "Puff, SPEAK!" When she did, I gave her a treat and praised her. (Also, I used a hand signal at the same time I said "speak!" -- making a hand movement like a quacking duck's bill -- so she responds to either the verbal command OR the silent hand signal.)
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Both my two previous labs were as sweet and gentle as could be but they also both went into protective aggression when they thought I was being attacked.
The first event is when my little brother jumped off the garage roof in the dark to scare me. Tank, my lab went for his throat! Thankfully my brother screamed his name and Tank realized who he was and Tank just fell to the ground.
The second event...with Travis...was more of a mistake. I happened to see the UPS man coming in the dark, Travis was sleeping right in front of the sliding door. I motioned to the man to open the door. It startled Travis and all he saw was some man coming at me from the dark. He grabbed the guys sleeve but no tears or breaks. Thankfully the guy had a yellow lab and had known Travis for awhile and realized what the dog thought.
Anyway, the upshot is, once you've been with your lab long enough, if you actually need protection, you'll have it.
My only advice is to train NO VISIT when it comes to strangers, and get Kai to 'ask' for permission to run up to people she doesn't know for lovins. When you determine that the plumber isn't a mass murderer, you can give her an ALL CLEAR or OKAY - GO VISIT and let her say hello.
Other than that, you're working against an instinct that tells these dogs to love just about everyone they meet.....
Never going to happen with about 99% of labs, as others have said. You can teach them to speak though.
My lab barked maybe 10 times in his first 18 months of life, but now that he is approaching two, he tends to bark (just once or twice) when someone enters the door and he can't see them.
That being said, on walks, I find that just the mere fact that he is more than 50lbs, scares people. Those scared actually freeze and/or walk across the street. I live in a very urban area. So in essence, on walks he tends to scare some just by his size. My last dog was a 120 pound swiss mtn dog - he was a good guard dog at the house and sent scared people on the street running in the opposite direction.