If your Labrador has been hiding a lot you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of common reasons why they hide and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Labrador hide? Possible reasons are that it is fearful of something, illness, injury, being in a new environment, being aggressive or overly emotional with it, inadvertently rewarding the behavior or it could be going through a more timid phase if it is a puppy.
Your Labrador might be hiding for many different reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Why your Labrador hides
Below are some common causes of Labradors hiding and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours does it.
Someone mistreated it
The reason could be that someone mistreated it.
This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter. In this case, it would be likely that it would begin to do it less as it becomes more comfortable around you and its new surroundings.
However, it would help to give it lots of attention, exercise and to play with it to get it to be comfortable sooner. If it doesn’t improve over the course of a few weeks then it would help to get help from a vet or dog behaviorist.
It could also be the case that someone mistreated it recently. This would be more likely if it has started hiding suddenly and if it does it when a certain person is around.
It could also be the case that something has been causing it to become fearful. This would be more likely if it does it more at certain times such as when there are fireworks, sirens or construction works outside.
In this case, it would help to remove the thing that is making it become fearful if possible or to try desensitization training.
Injury or illness
Another possible reason is that it has gotten an illness or injury. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, if it has been crying, vomiting or showing other signs of being ill or injured. If it does seem like illness or injury is the cause, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
The cause might be that something has been causing it to be depressed. Causes could include an owner moving away, being mistreated or another pet dying.
In this case, it might improve over the course of a few weeks. But, you can help by giving your Labrador positive attention in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. If it does not improve after a few weeks then it would help to get the help of a vet or a dog behaviorist.
It’s unsure of its environment
Another possible cause is that it is unsure of its new environment. This would be more likely if you recently adopted or bought your Labrador or if you recently moved homes. In this case, it would be likely that it will become more comfortable over the course of a few weeks or months.
You are aggressive or emotional with it
Labradors were bred to work alongside their owners for hours daily so they are highly intuned with their owner’s emotions. If you get aggressive or emotional around your Labrador it will cause it to react to it and it could be why it has been hiding.
Instead, it would help to be calm around your Labrador and to give it lots of training so that it learns how to behave.
It is still young
Sometimes, Labrador puppies will go through a more fearful stage when they are around the age of 6 weeks old. If your Labrador is a puppy then it could be the case that it is going through a more fearful stage and it is likely that it will stop in a few weeks.
You have inadvertently rewarded the behavior
It could also be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it rewards when it hides. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it hides, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not hide, to recognize when it is about to do it and to redirect its focus and to train it to come to you on command.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out why it has been doing it.
When it first started doing it
If your Labrador did not always hide, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
If it did start doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as illness, injury, being in a new environment, being mistreated or going through a fearful stage as a puppy. It would help to consider what else changed when it first started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always been doing it and it is adopted then it could be that it is trying to get used to its new environment.
When it seems to do it more
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to hide since the timing could also have something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to hide when there are construction works outside it could be the case that it is fearful.
Whereas, if it seems to do it at random times then it could be due to things such as illness or injury, depression, being in a new environment, you have inadvertently rewarded it or it is going through a fearful phase as a puppy.
What to do about your Labrador hiding
Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to stop hiding. You will likely find that using a combination of them will work best.
Be calm around it
When interacting with your Labrador it would help to be calm with it since they can be very responsive to their owner’s emotions. If you get emotional or aggressive around your Labrador then it will usually cause it to react itself.
Give it exercise and play with it
Labradors are a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. When they don’t get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally. If your Labrador has not been getting much exercise then it would help to make sure that it does.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has learned to hide due to rewarding the behavior. Instead, try to reward it when it does not hide, to redirect its attention when it is about to hide and to train it to come to you when you want it to.
Avoid punishing it
If you punish your Labrador for hiding then it will likely reinforce the behavior and make it become more fearful of you. Instead, it would be better to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way you want it to.
Get help from a vet or dog behaviorist
If you can’t figure out why it has been doing it or it has been doing it for more than a few weeks then consider getting help from a vet or dog behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored to your particular Labrador.