If your Labrador has been being aggressive you are probably wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to be less aggressive.
So, why is my Labrador aggressive? Possible reasons are that previous owners mistreated it or trained it to be aggressive, being too emotional with it, being aggressive towards it yourself, injury, rewarding the behavior or a lack of training.
There are many possible reasons why it might be aggressive and it could be the result of a combination of causes. But there are some things you can consider which will help in figuring out the exact reason. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it should become a lot easier to get it to stop.
Why your Labrador is aggressive
The different reasons why your Labrador is being aggressive will likely come with some clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
It could be the case that previous owners trained it to be aggressive or they mistreated it and it has caused it to become aggressive. This would be more likely if you adopted it from a shelter.
In this case, you could try giving it lots of training yourself to get it to change its habits. But, it would help to seek the guidance of a dog behaviorist in your area so that you can see how to get it to change its behavior in a secure manner.
You’re too emotional with it
The cause could be that you have been being too emotional with it. Labradors tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. If you are emotional with it then it will likely cause it to become reactive itself. Instead, it would help to interact with it in a calm manner and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way you want it to.
You’re too aggressive towards it yourself
The cause could be that you have been being too aggressive with it yourself and it has caused it to feel threatened. Again, it would be better to use positive reinforcement training to change its behavior and to avoid being aggressive towards it.
A lack of exercise
Labradors are meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to start behaving abnormally. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day. If yours has not been getting that much it would help to make sure that it does.
Dogs learn a lot about the world and who they can and cannot trust when they are young. If yours did not get to socialize much as a puppy it might have caused it to see other people or dogs as a threat. This would be more likely if it is not aggressive towards you but it is towards other dogs and people.
If your Labrador has started being aggressive suddenly it could be because it is in some pain. This would be more likely if it has also been showing other signs of being in pain such as limping, not wanting to move about and crying. In this case, the best option would be to take it a vet.
You have been rewarding the behavior
It could be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it becomes aggressive. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it starts being aggressive it might be doing it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way you want it to.
A lack of training
If you have not given your Labrador much training then it will not know how it is meant to behave and it will behave the way that it feels like behaving. This is unlikely to be the way that you want it to behave which is why it is important to give it lots of training.
Protecting territory or its owner
If your Labrador starts being aggressive in situations such as when someone is in your home or when someone is at the door then it would be likely that it does it because it is being protective.
Things to consider
If it has only started to become aggressive recently
It would help to consider whether or not your Labrador has started being aggressive recently. If it has, it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.
If it has started being aggressive suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as getting injured, learning that it gets rewards or being mistreated. It would help to consider what else happened when it started being aggressive.
When it becomes aggressive
It would also help to consider the timing of when it starts being aggressive since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it becomes aggressive when you are approaching a different person it would be more likely to be due to it being overly protective. In this case, it would help to give it positive association training.
How to get your Labrador to be less aggressive
The best way to get your Labrador to stop being aggressive will depend on the cause of it doing it. Below, are a number of options that you have. You will likely find that a combination of them will work well.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves giving your Labrador rewards when it shows signs of behaving the way you want it to and not rewarding it when it does not.
To use it to get it to stop being aggressive you would reward it when it is not aggressive when it normally would be and you would reward it when it shows signs of not being aggressive.
Below, is a video on how you can use positive reinforcement training to stop aggressive behavior.
Avoid positively reinforcing bad behavior
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have encouraged it to be aggressive by giving it things it wants when it starts being aggressive. Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to change its behavior.
Train it to listen to your command
If you have not been giving it much training yet, it would help to start doing so by starting with the basics. By training it, you will be able to get it to be more responsive to your command and to see you more as the leader.
Avoid being high energy yourself
It would also help to interact with it in a calm manner so that it is less likely to become reactive to your own behavior.
Avoid punishing it
If you punish your Labrador, when it misbehaves, it might not know why you are punishing it and it might cause it to develop feelings of resentment. Instead, it would help to give it lots of positive reinforcement training so that it learns how to behave that way.
It is important to be consistent when training your Labrador. It is unlikely that you will be able to achieve big changes with just one training session but you should be able to get much more noticeable results over the course of a few weeks.
Get help from a dog trainer
If you are unsure of why your Labrador has been doing it or you think that it might become violent, the best option would be to get help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to see how to train your Labrador in a secure manner.