If your Labrador has been acting nervous you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
In this post, I will show you a number of reasons why it might act nervous and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Labrador act nervous? Possible reasons are that someone mistreated it, separation anxiety, being in a new home, inadvertently rewarding the behavior, a lack of exercise or you might be acting too emotional with it.
Your Labrador might be doing it for multiple reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are also a number of things you can do about it, depending on the most likely cause.
Why your Labrador is so nervous
Below, I will show you a number of reasons why it might be being nervous and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
The cause could be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become nervous. This would be more likely if it tends to become nervous when you are about to leave.
In this case, it would help to try to take some measures to reduce how anxious it becomes when you leave. You can watch the video below for some tips.
The cause could be that someone mistreated it and it does not trust people as much now.
If you adopted it from a shelter it could be the case that previous owners mistreated it and it has caused it to be nervous around people as a result. In this case, it might improve as it becomes more comfortable in its new home but you can help by giving it positive attention in the form of exercise, training and by playing with it. If it doesn’t improve after a few months consider getting the advice of a vet or a dog behaviorist in your area.
If your Labrador started being nervous suddenly it could also be the case that someone mistreated it recently. This would be more likely if there is a certain person that it tends to hide from or if you saw someone mistreat it yourself.
A new home
If you recently bought or adopted your Labrador it could be the case that it is nervous because it is not sure if its new environment is safe yet. In this case, it should become less nervous as it becomes more comfortable in its new home. If it does not improve, it would help to get help from a vet or dog behaviorist.
You get emotional around it
Labradors tend to be highly responsive to their owner’s emotions. The reason why your Labrador gets nervous 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.
You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior
It could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it is nervous then it might do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to avoid rewarding it when it is nervous unless necessary.
Someone left or another pet passed away
The reason could be that someone recently left home or that another dog passed away. This would be more likely if it started being nervous shortly after the person or dog left.
It would be likely that it will improve over time. However, you could help by giving it exercise, training and toys to play with.
Not enough exercise
Labradors are meant to get exercise on a daily basis and not getting enough can cause them to behave abnormally. Not getting enough exercise would be more likely to be the cause if your Labrador tends to behave better when it has gotten 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 young it could be going through a more nervous phase.
In this case, it would be likely that it will become less nervous as it gets older.
However, it would help to give it positive reinforcement training, attention and exercise now to reduce how nervous it is when it is older.
An issue with its diet
It could be the case that it is being caused by a problem with its diet. This would be more likely if it suddenly started behaving differently since a change in its diet.
It would help to consult with your local vet about its diet and to make sure that no one else has been feeding it without telling you.
Illness or injury
The cause could also be that it is ill or injured. This would be more likely if it has started being nervous suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured such as vomiting, fatigue or limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Things to consider
If it started being nervous suddenly
If your Labrador has not always been nervous, 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 started being nervous 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. It would help to consider what else changed when it started being nervous.
Whereas, if it has always been nervous it would be more likely to be due to things such as you inadvertently training it to be nervous, separation anxiety, being emotional with it, being young or not enough exercise.
When it becomes nervous
It would also help to consider the timing of when it does it since the timing could also have something to do with it.
If it does seem to be more nervous at a certain time it would be more likely to be due to things such as separation anxiety, someone being around that it does not like or something happening at that time that it is afraid of like construction works. It would help to consider what is different at the time that it starts being nervous.
How to get your Labrador to stop being nervous
Below are some things you can do to get your Labrador to be less nervous.
Reward it when it is not nervous
It would help to encourage it to be less nervous by rewarding it when it is not nervous. By doing so, you should be able to teach it that being well behaved causes it to get rewards and being nervous does not. This should help to discourage the behavior.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have been making it act nervous by giving it things that it wants when it is nervous.
Instead of rewarding the behavior, try to reward it when it is not nervous and to redirect its behavior when it starts showing signs of being nervous.
Avoid being emotional around it yourself
As mentioned above, your Labrador will respond to your own emotions. If you are highly emotional around your Labrador it will cause it to react itself. When dealing with your Labrador it would help to be calm and to use training to get it to behave the way that you want.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If it has been acting that way for a long time or you are unable to get it to stop, consider getting help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is doing it and how to get it to stop.
Avoid leaving it alone for long periods
Since your Labrador might become nervous due to separation anxiety, it would help to avoid leaving it alone for long periods possibly by coming back quickly on your lunch break.
Take it to a vet
If it has started doing it suddenly or it has been showing signs of illness or injury, it would also help to take it to the vet for a checkup. By doing so, you should be able to rule out medical causes.