If your Labrador has been acting timid or afraid you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
In this post, I will show you why it might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Labrador act timid? Possible reasons are that it was mistreated, it’s in a new environment, illness, injury, it’s going through a more timid phase as a puppy or you might have been inadvertently rewarding the behavior.
Your Labrador could be doing it for a number of reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are also a number of things you can do about it that will depend on the most likely cause.
Why your Labrador is timid scared or afraid
Below, I will show you a number of reasons why your Labrador might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
The cause could be that it can hear noises that it does not like. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at certain times such as when there are construction works or fireworks outside.
In this case, it would help to try to reduce the loudness of the noise or to use desensitization training.
The cause 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 will become more comfortable over the course of weeks and months as it gets used to its new environment. However, you could help by giving it lots of training, exercise and attention.
The cause might also be that someone has been mistreating it in its current environment. This would be more likely if it starts to act afraid around certain people.
It’s unsure of its environment
If you recently adopted your Labrador it could be the case that it is unsure of its new environment. In this case, it should begin to improve over the course of a few weeks or months. It would help to give it positive attention in the form of training, exercise and play. If it does not improve it would help to get the help of a vet or dog behaviorist.
Illness or injury
The reason why it has been being afraid could also be that it has gotten an illness or injury. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill or injured. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
It’s still young
If your Labrador still a puppy it could be going through a timider stage that many go through. This would be more likely if your puppy is around the age of 6 weeks old since it is not uncommon for Labradors to become slightly timid at around that age. In this case, it would be likely that it will become less timid as it gets older.
You intimidate it
The issue could be that you have been intimidating it. Instead of approaching it quickly, aggressively or by getting emotional with it, try to interact with it in a calm manner.
You have inadvertently reinforced the behavior
It could also be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. Instead, it would help to give it rewards when it is behaving the way you want and to use positive reinforcement training to change its behavior.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider about your Labrador being timid, scared or afraid.
If it has always been timid, scared or afraid
If it has not always been behaving 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 started doing it more suddenly it would make it more likely to be due to things such as being mistreated, a change in its diet or getting ill or injured. It would help to consider if anything else changed at around the same time that it started doing it.
Whereas, if it has always been that way it would be more likely that it learned to be that way by rewarding the behavior, being in a new environment, being a puppy, illness, injury or previous owners mistreating it.
When it does it more
It would also help to consider if it tends to become afraid at a certain time since the timing could also have something to do with it.
For example, if it tends to become scared when you are about to leave then it would be a sign that it has some separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when there are certain noises outside it would be more likely to have something to do with the noises.
How old it is
It would also help to consider the age of your Labrador since its age will have an impact on the most likely cause of it being afraid.
If it is a puppy, it would be more likely that it will stop doing it as it gets older but it would still help to give it lots of training, exercise and positive attention.
Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely to be due to one of the above reasons.
What to do about your Labrador being timid scared or afraid
Below are some things you can do about your Labrador being afraid.
Take it to a vet
If it has started doing it suddenly or it has been showing signs of being ill or injured, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador and to rule out illness or injury as a cause.
Make sure that it is getting the right amount of exercise
Labradors are a breed that is meant to get exercise on a daily basis. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally and it could be contributing to its behavior. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.
Avoid negative reinforcement
It would also help to avoid encouraging it to be afraid by making sure not to reward the behavior and to use positive reinforcement training to change its behavior instead.
Be calm around it
Since your own actions might be causing it to be acting that way it would help to be calm around your Labrador and to avoid making intimidating gestures. It would also help to give it lots of positive reinforcement training as opposed to punishment-based training.
Avoid physical punishment
It would also help to avoid punishing it since it might not know why it is being punished and it could be contributing to it being afraid. Instead, it would help to get it to behave the way you want with the use of positive reinforcement training.
Make sure that it is getting the right diet
It could also be the case that an issue with its diet has been causing it to behave that way. This would be more likely if it has started being afraid suddenly after a change in its diet.
It would help to make sure that you have been feeding it correctly and it would help to make sure that no one else has been feeding it without telling you.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you can’t get it to stop being afraid, it would help to get 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.