Having a Labrador that growls can be a very concerning thing and is something that you’ll be wanting to stop. This post will help you to figure out why your Labrador is growling and how to stop it.
So, why does my Labrador growl? Possible reasons why your Labrador growls are that it is in pain, it is fearful, it’s protecting food or possessions, frustration, enjoyment or that it is being dominant.
There are actually multiple reasons why it might be growling and it could be due to a combination of reasons. Despite that, there are some things you can consider that will help in figuring out the exact reason.
Why your Labrador growls
Each of the different reasons why your Labrador growls will likely come with a number of clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
The cause could be that it is protecting something that it thinks belongs to it. This would be more likely if it tends to growl more in situations such as when it is eating or when someone is trying to sit where it normally sits.
In this case, it would help to seek the guidance of a dog trainer or behaviorist since dogs that are normally well behaved can become aggressive when they are being possessive.
The cause might be that something is causing it to become fearful. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when there are noises outside.
The cause might be that something is causing it to be in pain. This would be more likely if it has started growling more suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being in pain like limping or being less active. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Uncertainty of what’s about to happen
Sometimes, dogs will growl when they are unsure of what is happening and it could be the reason why your Labrador growls sometimes. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you are trying to train it or when you suddenly change its daily routine.
It’s having fun (other dogs, tug toys)
Dogs will also often growl when they are having fun and it might be why yours growls sometimes. This would be more likely to be the reason if it tends to growl more in situations such as when you are playing tug of war with it.
It could be the case that your Labrador has been growling because it is being dominant. This would be more likely if it is also unresponsive to your command, it tries to position itself to be in higher positions than you or it tries to get you to move from a certain position.
In this case, it would be important to give it lots of training so that it learns how to behave and to see you as its leader.
Rewarding the growling
It might also be the case that you have encouraged it to growl more by giving it things that it wants when it growls. If you tend to give it things such as treats, extra attention or toys when it growls then 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 wait for it to stop growling before giving it rewards.
How To Stop Your Labrador’s Growling
Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to growl less.
Fix any pain
Since it could be the case that being injured might be causing the growling, it would help to take it to a vet. This would be especially important if it has been showing other signs of injury or if it has started growling a lot suddenly. By taking it to the vet, you’ll be able to rule out injury and to get expert advice tailored to your particular Labrador.
Remove anything it doesn’t like
If it seems like the growling is being caused by something in its environment then it would help to take measures to get it to be more comfortable in its environment. This means that you should move any objects that it doesn’t like such as Christmas trees, noisy fans or whatever else it might be if possible.
The other option for you would be to remove your Labrador from the environment. This is hard to do if it’s your home but if your Labrador growls on walks at specific locations then you can try avoiding those areas when you can.
Train it to not growl
Another option would be to make sure of positive reinforcement training to get it to stop growling. Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding it when it does not growl and stopping rewarding it when it starts growling.
You can watch the video below to see how to train it not to growl using positive reinforcement training.
Redirect its focus
It would also help to try to recognize when it is likely to start growling and to redirect its focus onto something else. By doing so you should be able to get it out of the habit of growling.
Make sure to stop it when it’s still a puppy
If your Labrador is still a puppy it is important to make sure to give it lots of training now so that it learns to be better behaved as an adult. If you have not trained it yet, it would help to start with the basics and to build up from there.
Get the help from an animal behaviorist
If you cannot get it to stop growling or you can’t figure out why it has been doing it, consider getting the help of a dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see how to train it in a secure manner.
Things to consider
Keep your distance
If your Labrador is growling then you shouldn’t approach it since you’ll be risking it seeing you as a threat. Instead, wait for it to calm down and then try to rectify it. Alternatively, if you’re concerned, try and get help from a professional trainer who will be able to deal with it using a lot more experience.
Don’t punish the aggression
Instead of punishing it, try to use positive reinforcement training to get it to learn how to behave. If you punish it when it growls it might not know why it is being punished, it could cause it to develop feelings of resentment towards you and it might become aggressive in response.