If your Labrador is overly protective of you, this post will show you some common causes and what you can do about it.
So, why is my Labrador so protective of me? Possible reasons are that it has been trained to be that way either intentionally or inadvertently, it didn’t socialize much as a puppy so it is not trusting of other people and pets or that it is naturally overly protective.
Your Labrador might be being overly protective for many reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can do about it and there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause.
Why your Labrador is so protective of you
Below are some common causes why Labradors can be very protective of their owners and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
It thinks you’re in danger
The cause could be that it thinks you’re in danger. This would be more likely if it does it when you are talking to people that it has not met before, when someone else is on your property or if it does it when someone touches you.
In this case, it would help to train it to listen to your command, to train it using positive reinforcement training and to avoid negative reinforcement. Each of which will be discussed below.
It was mistreated when younger
It might also be the case that it was mistreated as a puppy so it is now not so trusting of other people or that it was trained to be aggressive by previous owners. This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter.
In this case, it would help to give it lots of training as discussed below. It might also be worthwhile to seek the guidance of a dog behaviorist or trainer.
Labradors can be protective of their owners and it might be the case that yours has been doing it naturally. This would be more likely if it has always been overly protective.
Even if it is naturally protective it will still be possible for you to get your Labrador to be better behaved around other people and dogs by training it. I will show you some things that you can do below.
It has been encouraged
It could be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it becomes overly protective then it might be doing it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Puppies will, naturally, explore the world a lot and learn about what they should and should not trust while they are puppies. If your Labrador was not able to get much exposure to other people and dogs as a puppy, it might never have learned that they can usually be trusted.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason why it has been doing it.
When it does it
It would help to consider if there are situations when it tends to be protective and if there are situations when it is not.
It is normal for a Labrador to be more protective when someone it does not know is in its home. However, it could still be the case that you have been reinforcing it by giving it things that it wants when it starts being overly protective.
Whereas, if your Labrador does it when you are walking past other people on walks, it would be more likely to be due to things such as it being reinforced, not getting to socialize as a puppy or not being trained to be well behaved. This would be a more serious issue and something that will be necessary to stop with training as shown below.
When it first started doing it
If your Labrador has not always behaved that way, it would also help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
If it did start doing it suddenly it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards when it does it or someone mistreating it.
How to get your Labrador to stop being so protective
Below are a number of options that you have when getting your Labrador to be less protective of you.
Train it to associate other people and dogs with rewards
One option you have is to train your Labrador to associate other dogs and people with rewards. By doing so you should be able to get it to have a positive and less aggressive response to seeing other people and dogs.
To do this you would start giving your Labrador special treats when you are approaching other dogs or people with it and stop when your dog begins to start being aggressive at them. By doing this it will learn that being aggressive around other Labrador results in it not getting rewards.
It is important to make sure to take measures to do this in a secure manner by keeping it a safe distance away from people, on a leash and with a muzzle. If it is aggressive, it would be best to do it with the help of a dog behaviorist.
Train it to listen to your command
If you have not given your Labrador much training already then it would help to start by training it to do things such as sit or stay.
By doing so you should be able to get it to be more responsive to your command and to be easier to control when it is around other people and dogs.
It would help to start by training it the basics and then to build up to training it to do more challenging tasks in more distracting environments.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have been reinforcing the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it starts doing it. Instead, it would help to give it rewards when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it starts being overly protective.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If your Labrador becomes aggressive around people or you cannot get it to stop, the best option would be to get help from a professional dog behaviorist or trainer in your area. By doing so, you should be able to see why it has been doing it and how to get it to stop in a secure manner.
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