Labrador Retrievers are the most popular dog breed in the United States. The lab has been the breed most often registered with the AKC for 27 years. Labs are used as family pets, service dogs and as hunting companions.
Some people that hope to open their home to a Labrador, especially in homes with children, worry if the breed is aggressive. Any dog has the potential to be aggressive based on their breeding, how they are treated and what type of training they receive.
However, the average labrador is a fun and loving creature, and good training and a healthy environment reduce the risk of aggressive tendencies.
Start with a good breeder
The popularity of labs makes them a profitable animal for breeders to raise. Sadly, this often means that irresponsible breeders can overbreed their animals and ignore genetic conditions. The results of bad breeding are dogs with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and behavioral issues.
There are two ways people can address the dilemma of breeding. The first is to adopt an adult Labrador from a rescue.
The new owners will already know of any health problems and behavioral issues the dog suffers from and can make an informed decision about whether they can manage these concerns.
The other choice is to find a breeder with a great reputation. Look for breeders that have only pedigree animals with a full list of family lineage.
The lineage ensures that no inbreeding takes place and that the puppies are raised with specific abilities like hunting skills or other desirable traits.
Reputable breeders allow people to visit their kennels, can supply vet and prior adopter references and place an immense value on health.
The parents of the litter should have clean bills of health from a veterinarian and all pups should have undergone wellness checks and vaccinations.
Verify any health certificates with the veterinarian and contact the references. Also, ask about how many litters the dog has produced.
According to The Guardian, Experts hope to avoid overbreeding and the Kennel Club in the UK has even restricted registering pups to those females who have had four or fewer litters.
Raise labs with excellent manners
Once the perfect breeder is found the owner must then move on to the responsibility of proper training. Labradors are rambunctious dogs and the average adult lab weighs between 70-80 pounds and may become larger.
A hyper, jumping Labrador can injure children and seniors and will not be a popular animal to have around.
Most lessons begin with housebreaking, learning to sit and stay and teaching the pup to walk on a leash. Labradors are prolific chewers, so they also must be taught to keep their sharp puppy teeth where they belong. The Internet offers a lot of step-by-step advice about training lab puppies to not bite.
Puppies that do not receive reprimands when they bite – even in play – can grow to become bolder in their attacks. Aggressive dogs are often those that were not corrected firmly by the owner while young.
Another problem with their biting and chewing is the destruction of property like shoes, children’s toys, and even furnishings.
The best way to control their potential destruction in the house is to redirect their need to chew on items that are made for that purpose.
Seek out exciting adventures
A way to prevent aggression in Labradors is to engage them in activities they love. Labs have tons of energy and are very smart animals as well. A bored lab will eventually get into some manner of trouble.
Labradors are the breed that has made it to the top of the list of the most talented escape artists. The Labrador loves scents, people, action, and adventure.
If left alone all day and not exercised properly by their owners, they will break out of nearly any enclosure and find the things they love for themselves.
The lab is a retriever, so it was initially bred to work with hunters and retrieve ducks. They can still take part in the activity with non-hunting owners and get time in the water they love.
Invest in some durable floating toys and spend time regularly at a pond or lake to let them show off their skills.
Labradors have very keen retrieving senses and it is possible to teach nearly any to retrieve on command.
As this video shows, any dedicated pet owner can work with their Labrador to help them perfect their hunting skills and have pride in their accomplishments.
The Labrador is also often called on to act as a service dog. Their energy, ability to take commands and their amazing sense of smell makes them a great candidate.
According to Sar Dogs, here are lists of search and rescue organizations in North America that owners can contact to engage their pets in this type of activity.
An alternative is to play games with the dog that allows them to use their senses. An easy method is to hide treats or toys in a fenced backyard and set the pet free to find the hidden items. Pet toys are also available to give them this opportunity inside as well.
Social skills help people and animals
Dogs, like people, are happier and healthier when they are experts at socializing. A socialized Labrador is one that can go anywhere with its owner or accept others in their home without conflict.
It is necessary to develop these social skills when the dog is a puppy because then it becomes second nature to them.
Good behavior around others will enable a dog to have plenty of animal and human friends. The lab is a very social creature, so this is important to their mental health.
According to Labrador Training HQ, Unsocialized dogs can become fearful of strangers or protective of their territory, and this can lead to aggressiveness.
The owners play a key role in the aggressiveness or kindness of their pets. A Labrador retriever has all the natural social skills, intelligence, and lighthearted nature to become the best companion possible.
Prepare fully for the responsibility before adopting and the worries of any potential aggression will disappear.