Labrador retrievers are generally known for their sweet personalities and are usually easy to train.
However, like any other dog, your Labrador can behave badly, especially if you do not discipline them properly.
Here is everything you need to know about bad Labrador behavior and how to fix it.
Common Signs of Bad Behavior in Labrador Retrievers
While Labradors are usually easy to train, they can exhibit bad behavior, especially if their owner is new to owning dogs. Some common problems that Labrador owners have with their dogs include:
- Rough play
- Destructive behavior and chewing
- Not listening to you and ignoring you when called
- Pulling on their leash
- Excessive barking
The first two problems are more commonly seen when your Labrador is still young. The last two can happen at any age.
How to Deal with a Badly Behaving Labrador
Tip #1: Redirect their attention.
Your Labrador may be feeling bored or may want attention, that’s why they misbehave. If you get mad or yell, they may believe that it is your way of showering them with care. So, to correct their behavior without indulging them, you will need to redirect their attention.
For example, if your Labrador is chewing on something they should not, calmly stop them. Once they stop, give them a toy that they can play with instead and provide them with a treat afterward. This will help your Labrador understand that they do not need to misbehave to get your attention or to have fun.
If you need ideas on what toys you can have your Lab play with, you can refer to our post on the most popular dog toys here.
Tip #2: Have a schedule.
If your dog does not have a schedule, they are more likely to misbehave because they feel bored or anxious. Labradors like structure and schedule, so it would be best to create one.
Try to feed, walk, play with your Lab at the same time each day. You can also implement a routine for normal sleeping times. Since your Labrador will know what to do and when to do it, they will encourage them to misbehave less.
Tip #3: Give them obedience training.
Basic commands like “come” or “sit” may not seem like a good way to stop bad behavior. However, basic obedience training is actually a crucial part of stopping bad Labrador behavior.
As we mentioned earlier, Labradors like structure. If they know that they have to listen to you, they will recognize it as a structure that they will have to follow.
By giving them basic and regular obedience training, it will help you break their destructive habits. Plus, learning commands like “stop” and “no” will help them learn when to stop behaving badly.
Check out this post for a list of tips on how you can teach your dogs to sit and stay.
Tip #4: Engage them in physical exercise.
Labradors have tons of energy. When they do not use that energy, they are more likely to start chewing up your furniture to release it. You need to make sure your Labrador gets enough exercise to be less likely to misbehave.
When your Labrador is a puppy, they need five minutes of exercise for every month of age. For example, three-month-old Labs need 15 minutes of exercise, while four-month-old Labradors need 20 minutes.
When your Lab becomes an adult, the amount of exercise they will need will depend on their age. Healthy and normal Labradors usually need at least one hour of exercise every day. If your Labrador is relaxed, they probably need 45 minutes. If you have an energetic Labrador, they might want 1 ½ – 2 hours of exercise every day.
To give your dog some exercise, you can play fun games with them like fetch or tug of war. You can also give them regular walks several times a day. If you want to work out with your Labrador, you can go on a jog or a run together.
Tip #5: Prevent possible bad behavior.
Preventing bad behavior is just as important as correcting bad behavior. If you do not have time to watch your Labrador 24/7, you need to find ways to avoid coming home to a house full of your broken stuff.
If your dog likes to chew up the pillows, you can put them away while you are not home. You can put a fence around your garden to protect it. Doing small things like this will keep them from creating bad habits.
Tip #6: Engage them in mental exercise.
Labradors usually get bored because they are smart dogs that need to be mentally stimulated. Just like their other muscles, their brains need exercise, too.
You can use some ways to challenge your Labrador, including giving them a puzzle toy or teaching them new tricks. You can also play find-the-toy or hide-and-seek with them!
Tip #7: Keep them inside the house.
Labrador Retrievers are a social dog breed that wants to be near you and your family. Your Labrador will feel lonely if they spend too much time outside away from people.
When your Labrador feels lonely, they will be more likely to dig, howl, bark, or chew to try to catch your attention and cure their boredom. Therefore, you may want to keep them inside the house with you.
Tip #8: Reward properly.
You might be tempted to give your Labrador a treat to stop them from barking, chewing, etc. However, giving them treats will make your dog think that their bad behavior is acceptable.
Instead of giving them treats when they misbehave, you need to learn how to properly reward and discipline them. Drawing a clear line between good and bad will help you teach your dog how to behave well.
Only give your dog rewards whenever they listen to you. They will want to continue being good if they think that they will please you and get a reward for their good behavior.
Tip #9: Establish dominance.
If you let your Labrador do whatever they want whenever they want, they will think that they are the alpha of the pack. You need to establish your dominance to show them that you are the leader.
To establish dominance without yelling or harming your Lab, be firm with them to show them that you are in charge. You can also follow the other tips above, (e.g., basic obedience training) to show them that they need to obey you.
All in All
It is important to correct bad Labrador behavior as early as possible to keep it from getting out of hand. You can follow the tips that we have previously outlined to help you cope with your Lab’s naughty behaviors. You can also refer to this post if you need other tips on how to discipline a young dog.
Teaching your Labrador retriever proper behavior may take time. Still, the love and affection that you will receive, in turn, will be worth it.