If you have been having a hard time getting your Labrador under control you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you common causes of them being out of control and what you can do to stop it.

So, why is my Labrador out of control?

If you have not been giving it much exercise then it can cause it to become hyperactive and hard to control. It might also be that it hasn’t been given enough training.

Other possible reasons would be that it’s looking for attention, that you have accidentally been rewarding the behavior, command nagging, fear or being in a new location. 

And, how can I get my Labrador to calm down?

The first thing is to make sure that it gets enough exercise as this can influence its behavior.

Next, you’ll want to start giving it basic training in an environment where there are not many distractions and to build up from there.

You can also do positive reinforcement training, you can ignore its attention seeking behavior and you can give it lots of toys to be distracted with. 

It can actually be very beneficial to take the time to try and figure out why your Labrador might not be so easy to control since it will make it much easier to fix.

Possible reasons why your Labrador is out of control

Below are some common causes of Labradors being out of control and what would make them more likely.

Insufficient exercise

Labradors are a breed that is meant to get a lot of daily exercise. When Labradors do not get enough exercise, they will often become a lot more difficult to control. This would be more likely if your Labrador is normally harder to control when it is not able to get exercise. Generally, it is advised for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

Attention seeking

Another reason could be that it does it to get extra attention from you. This would be more likely if it tends to behave that way when you have not been giving it attention and you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.

Instead, it would help to give it attention when it is being well behaved, to wait for it to calm down before giving it attention and to give it lots of positive reinforcement training to change its behavior.

Punishment

If you typically punish your Labrador, when it misbehaves, then it could be the reason that it is hard to control. One of the reasons for that is that if you punish it then it might think that you are punishing it for something different.

For example, if your Labrador bolts out the door and you punish it when it comes back then it will likely think that you are punishing it for the last thing that it did which was to come back to you. This is why this method of training doesn’t normally work. It can also cause other problems such as fear, aggression, anxiety, distrust, and destruction.

An alternative strategy would be to do lots of positive reinforcement training instead. This is where you train your Labrador by rewarding it for doing the things that you want it to do or at least for making steps in the right direction.

Fear

The cause of your Labrador’s behavior could be because it is scared of what will happen. If your Labrador thinks that it will be punished by you then it will make it less likely to listen to you.

Training

The reason why your Labrador is out of control could be due to a lack of training. Labrador (and other dogs) do not understand language like we do. Just telling it to “come here” is not going to do much if it has not been taught what that means through specific training for that command.

This is why it is important to take the time to teach your Labrador to do the things that you want it to do. You should start with the basics in an easy environment and then work your way up to harder tasks and environments from there.

Location

If you can get your Labrador to listen to you in one location but you can’t in another then don’t be discouraged since it is not unusual. When you bring your Labrador into a new environment it will cause it to get distracted by the things going on around it and it will not be as mindful of your command. This is why it’s important to take the time to train your Labrador in multiple environments.

You’ve been rewarding it

It could be that you have been inadvertently encouraging the behavior by giving it things that it wants in order to get it to calm down. It would be better to save rewards for good behavior and signs of good behavior.

Command nagging

It could also be that you have been doing something called “command nagging” which is where you repeat a command multiple times despite it not working the first time. When this happens, take a step back and train it to do what you want again starting at an earlier step or even the beginning.

How to stop your Labrador being out of control

Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to be easier to control.

Training

In order to get it to behave the way you want it to, it will be necessary to give your Labrador lots of training.

Training your Labrador will have a number of benefits. It will make it more responsive to your command so you will be able to get it to stop misbehaving more easily. It will make things easier for you in social situations where you need your Labrador to behave. It will also help you to have a more rewarding relationship with your Labrador.

You should start by teaching it the basics such as to sit and stay in an environment where there are not many distractions. Then you can build up to teaching it harder things such as to come when you call it.

If your Labrador is quite energetic then giving it some exercise before you start training it should help to make it more focused on you when you try to train it.

You can watch the video below to see how to get started on teaching your dog the basics.

Exercise

As mentioned above, Labradors are meant to get a lot of daily exercise. Generally, they are meant to get at least an hour of exercise daily as healthy adults.

Positive reinforcement

An effective way to train your Labrador to do what you want it to do is to use positive reinforcement training. This is where you reward your Labrador. normally with treats, for making small steps towards what you want it to do.

For example, if you’re trying to teach it the “down” command then you would initially reward it for simply lowering its head towards the ground and then you would build up how much you require to get the treat until it goes down when you tell it to. You can see positive reinforcement training in the video above.

Don’t reward bad behavior

As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it behaves that way. Instead, it would help to reward it when it is behaving the way you want, to stop rewarding it when it misbehaves and to give it positive reinforcement training.

Distractions

You could get your Labrador to vent its excess energy onto things that you don’t mind it doing it with by giving it lots of toys to play with. But, make sure to use this in conjunction with giving it training and exercise.

Get help

If you can’t get your Labrador to listen to you when you tell it to then consider getting help from a dog behaviorist since they will be able to give you tailored advice on what to do.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider about your Labrador being out of control.

Patience

When you’re training your Labrador to be less out of control it’s important to have a lot of patience. Changing your Labrador’s behavior will be a gradual thing. You might not be able to make big changes over the course of days but over the course of months, you can. So, it will help you a lot to approach it with a long-term focus.

Consistency

It’s also important to be very consistent with your training. If you train it to do something but then neglect to follow up on that training in the weeks following then your progress will likely be slow.

Its age

If your Labrador is still young then it is likely that you will be able to get it to calm down a lot as it gets older. To maximize how well behaved it becomes as an adult it’s still important to take the time now to make sure that it gets lots of training.

If your Labrador has always been out of control

If your Labrador has not always behaved that way, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since an event might have occurred that caused it to start. For example, if it started doing it since you changed its diet, it would be more likely that it has been behaving that way due to an issue with its diet.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.