If your Labrador has been cowering a lot you are probably wondering why and what can be done about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your Labrador might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Labrador cower? Possible reasons are that someone mistreated it, it’s unsure of its surroundings, previous owners neglected it, illness, injury, being aggressive around it or it might be going through a more fearful stage if it is a puppy still.
Your Labrador might have been doing it for multiple different reasons and it could be the result of a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason. There are also a number of things you can do about it.
Why your Labrador cowers
Below, I will show you a number of reasons why your Labrador might cower a lot and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
Someone mistreated it
The reason why it does it could be that someone mistreated it. This would be more likely if it started cowering suddenly after someone was aggressive towards it or if it cowers only when a certain person is around.
However, if it does seem to get anxious when a certain person is around it could also be the case that it just doesn’t trust them yet. This would be more likely if it has not had many interactions with that person yet or if it is a puppy.
It’s unsure of its environment
The cause could also be that it is not sure if its environment is safe. This would be more likely if you have recently adopted or bought it. In this case, it should become more comfortable as it becomes more sure of the safety of its new home.
In this case, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by training it, playing with it and exercising it. If it does not begin to improve after a few weeks, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Previous owners neglected it
The reason why it has been doing it could be that previous owners mistreated it. This would be more likely if you adopted it from a shelter and you do not know who the previous owners were.
In this case, it would also be likely that it will improve over the course of weeks and months and it would help to also give it positive attention. If it does not improve over the course of weeks and months, it would help to consult with a vet.
Illness or injury
The cause could be that it has gotten an injury or illness. This would be more likely if it has changed its behavior suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
You are aggressive or emotional around it
If you are aggressive or emotional with your Labrador it could be why it cowers. This would be especially likely if it only cowers when you are around.
Labradors tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. If their owner acts aggressively or emotionally with them, they will likely become uncomfortable because of it.
It is still young
If your Labrador is still a puppy, it could be going through a more fearful stage that puppies can go through sometimes. It would still help to follow the tips below. If it does not stop cowering after a few weeks, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when trying to figure out why your Labrador has been doing it.
If your Labrador always seems to cower
It would help to consider if it always seems to do it or if there is a certain time that it tends to do it more. If it does it more at a certain time it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it does it more when you are about to leave home, it might be because it has separation anxiety.
Whereas, if your Labrador always seems to get afraid of things then it would make it more likely that it has something to do with being mistreated when younger or not being able to socialize when it was younger.
When it started doing it
If it has not always cowered, it would also help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it started cowering suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated by someone, you were aggressive towards it, illness or injury. It would help to consider what happened when it started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always been cowering, it might be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to do it by rewarding it when it does it or it could be because previous owners mistreated it.
Who is around when it cowers
It would also help to consider if it does it more around certain people. If it does it could be a sign that it is being caused by that person.
How to get your Labrador to stop cowering
Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to stop doing it.
Be calm around your Labrador
As mentioned above, Labradors tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. This is why it is important to be calm around your Labrador and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way that you want as opposed to using aggression.
Give it exercise and play with it
It would also help to make sure that your Labrador is able to get the daily recommended amount of exercise. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally. Generally, it is recommended for Labradors to get an hour of exercise per day when they are healthy adults.
Reward it when it does not cower
It would also help to reward it when it does not cower when it normally would and to stop rewarding it when it does start to cower.
It would also help to recognize when it is likely to start cowering and to redirect its focus onto doing something else such as laying down.
Avoid rewarding the cowering
It would also help to avoid rewarding it when it cowers unless it seems to be doing it for a reason such as being injured, ill or scared of something in its environment. Instead, it would help to use positive reinforcement training to encourage it not to cower and to fix any issues that might be causing it to cower.
Avoid physical punishment
If you punish it when it cowers it could also be making the behavior worse.
Instead, it would be better to avoid reacting when it does things that you don’t like and to use positive reinforcement training techniques instead of punishing it.
Get help from a vet
If you are unable to figure out why it has been doing it or you cannot get it to stop, it would also help to get help from a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador and to confirm or rule out injury or illness as the cause.