If your Labrador is always anxious, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
In this post, I will show you a number of reasons why your Labrador is anxious and what you can do about it.
So, why is my Labrador anxious? Possible reasons are that it has separation anxiety, it’s in a new home, someone mistreated it, it is fearful of something, it is still young or that you have been inadvertently reinforcing it.
There are actually a number of reasons why your Labrador might be anxious and there are many things that you can consider when trying to figure out why it does it. When you have a good idea of the cause, it will become a lot easier for you to deal with it.
Why your Labrador is so anxious
Below are a number of reasons why it might be being anxious and what would make them more likely to be a main reason.
The cause could be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become anxious. This would be more likely to be the case if your Labrador tends to become anxious when you are about to leave home.
If your Labrador does seem to have some separation anxiety it would help to try and avoid leaving it alone for long time periods by periodically coming back when you normally wouldn’t.
You can also watch the video below on some more tips on what you can do about your Labrador’s separation anxiety.
A new home
The reason why it does it could be that it has recently moved into a new environment and it is unsure of how secure it is. This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter or bought it from a breeder.
In this case, it would be likely that it will improve over the course of weeks. However, you could help by giving it lots of positive attention in the form of exercise, training and by playing with it. If it does not improve, it would help to get the advice of a vet or dog behaviorist.
Someone left or another dog passed away
If someone recently left home or another dog passed away it could be the reason why it has been being so anxious.
It would be likely that it will improve over time. However, you could help by giving it exercise, training and toys to play with. If it does not begin to improve, it would help to get help from a dog behaviorist or vet.
You are emotional around it
Labradors are a breed that tends to be very responsive to their owner’s emotions. The reason why your Labrador gets anxious could be that you get highly emotional around it.
Instead of interacting with it in an emotional way, it would help to be calm with it and to give it lots of positive reinforcement training.
The problem could be that something has been causing it to be fearful. This would be more likely if it gets anxious when there is something that it might be afraid of such as fireworks, construction works or thunder and lightning.
If it is possible to remove the thing that is causing it to be scared, that would help. If that is not possible, you could also try desensitization training.
A change in its schedule
Labradors usually like having a regular routine and knowing what to expect. If your Labrador’s daily schedule has changed it could be what is causing it to become anxious. This is because it will be unsure of what is going on.
Ways that its schedule might have changed could include a change in the time that you take it for a walk, when you feed it or when you tend to go to sleep and wake up.
Someone has been mistreating it
The cause could also be that someone has been mistreating it. This would be more likely if it started being anxious suddenly and if it becomes more anxious when a certain person is around. It could also be the case if you recently adopted it from a shelter.
A lack of exercise
Labradors are meant to get daily exercise. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally. A lack of exercise could be contributing to yours being anxious which would be more likely if it is less anxious after getting exercise.
Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.
It is still young
If your Labrador is still a puppy it could be going through a more anxious phase.
In this case, it would be likely that it will become less anxious as it gets older.
However, it would help to give it positive reinforcement training, attention and exercise now to reduce how anxious it is when it is older.
You have inadvertently reinforced it
It could also be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it is anxious it will likely do it more in order to get more treats.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is behaving the way you want it to and to encourage it not to be anxious with the tips below.
An issue with its diet
It could also be the case that there is an issue with its diet. This would be more likely if it has started being anxious since a change in its diet or if it is more anxious when it eats certain foods.
It would help to make sure that you have been feeding it correctly and that no one else has been feeding it without you knowing.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider about your Labrador being anxious.
If it has become anxious suddenly
If it did not always behave that way, it would 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 has started being anxious suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated, frightened of something, a change in its schedule or moving homes.
Whereas, if it has always been anxious then it would be more likely to be due to things such as you inadvertently training it to be anxious, separation anxiety, being emotional with it, being young or not enough exercise.
When it becomes anxious
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that it tends to be more anxious since it could also be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it becomes anxious when you are leaving home it would be more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when you have fed it a certain food it could be because of what you fed it.
When you should be concerned
Below, are some situations where your Labrador being anxious would be a cause for concern and a reason to take it to a vet.
- It has been showing signs of being ill
- It becomes extremely anxious regularly
- It has started acting unusually such as by being fatigued all the time
- It has been being anxious for months
What you can do about it
Below are some things you can do about your Labrador being anxious.
Take it to a vet
If you can’t figure out why it has been being anxious or it has started doing it suddenly, it would help to take it to a vet. By doing so you should be able to get expert advice tailored to your Labrador and to rule out medical causes.
Reward it when it shows signs of not being anxious
One thing you can do to reduce how anxious it becomes is to positively reinforce the behavior when it does not become anxious. You can do this by rewarding it when it is not anxious and then not rewarding it when it starts being anxious again.
Redirect its attention
It would also help to learn to notice when it is about to become anxious and then to redirect its attention onto something else so that it doesn’t get into a habit of being anxious. You can redirect its focus by giving it things to play with or by training it to do things such as to come to you on command, roll over or sit.
Avoid rewarding its anxiety
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have inadvertently been reinforcing the behavior.
Instead of giving it things that it wants when it is anxious, try to stop rewarding it, to redirect its attention and to use positive reinforcement training.
See a dog behaviorist
If you cannot get it to stop being anxious, you could also get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to find out why it has been doing it and how to get it to stop.
Avoid being highly reactive 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 emotions.
Avoid leaving it alone for long time periods
Since your Labrador could be doing it due to separation anxiety, it would help to avoid leaving it alone for long periods possibly by coming back quickly on your lunch break.