The Labrador Retriever is the world’s most popular family dog, but even a Labrador can develop unacceptable behavior. Some problems are rooted in natural instincts, while other may arise from inadequate attention. Most difficulties can be overcome through positive control.
Labradors will grab any chance of a snack. Prevent begging by never giving food while you are eating. Relenting occasionally will strongly reinforce this habit. If your dog begs, command it to lie down, and then look away.
Happily Occupied Alone:
Labradors tend to dislike being left alone, and separation anxiety or boredom can result in destructive behavior. Always leave and return without a fuss and exercise and feed your dog before you go out, to encourage rest. Provide a favorite toy for quiet entertainment.
Making New Canine Friends:
Most Labradors enjoy meeting other dogs. Females are rarely hostile, but may be slightly apprehensive. Socialize your pet through arranged meetings with dogs that are well controlled. Keep both dogs on a lead for the initial introduction. After they have sniffed each other acquainted, allow play if circumstances permit.
Dealing with a Willful Dog:
Willfulness can take many forms. Labradors may be territorial, fiercely protecting their homes and possessions. Some males are aggressive only towards fellow males, while others look for any opportunity to dominate and hence move up the pecking order towards leadership of the pack. With all aggressive antagonism your dog is showing before tackling the problem. In virtually all circumstances, you must firmly establish your own position of respect.
Deterrents for Chewing:
Bored Labradors are diligent chewers, but usually indulge in this when you are not around. Be creative, and plan for discipline to take place in your absence by spraying an article that is likely to be chewed with a safe but bitter – tasting aerosol. Trainers call this aversion therapy; it is highly effective because the dog teaches itself.
Accepting New Situations:
Labradors are generally curious about strange or unusual situations, but may react nervously to common yet unexpected objects such as baby strollers, umbrellas, or children’s toy like skateboards. If your dog is alarmed by a new sight or sound re-present the stimulus from a distance that does not provoke distress and reward composure. Over time, reduce the distance, always rewarding calm acceptance.
Learning Not to Lunge:
The typical Labrador is enthusiastic, particularly about the outdoors, and may pull on its lead with excitement. If this occurs, return to basic training. Reinforce the command “Sit” and “Down”, then retrain walking to heel, both on and off the lead. I your dog is particularly strong – willed, consider using a head halter.