How to Stop a Labrador Puppy's Aggressive Behavior

By Heather Vecchioni

Labrador retriever puppies are typically playful, friendly dogs who are full of energy. However, some lab puppies can become aggressive. Behavior that is deemed aggressive includes biting that goes beyond normal puppy nipping, barking, growling and lunging. Lab puppies who are not corrected of this behavior will likely carry it on to adulthood, creating potentially dangerous conditions. Therefore, it is imperative to determine what is causing the behavior and to fix it as soon as possible.

Determine why your lab puppy is acting aggressive. Labrador retriever puppies require lots of exercise and lots of mental stimulation. A lab puppy who is not able to exert its energy or who is bored may become frustrated and turn that excess energy into aggression, states the website EarthRenewal.org. Walk with your lab puppy at least once a day and keep it occupied with interactive toys and games. In addition, if crate-training your lab puppy, only keep it inside when you are unable to provide supervision. Leaving it contained for too long will only add to the pent-up energy.

Establish yourself as the pack leader. Labs are generally social and mild-mannered dogs. However, just about any dog who lacks leadership will go awry and try to obtain the leadership position for itself. If you show your lab puppy that you are in charge, it will likely begin to respect you and follow your commands, which can prevent the aggressive behavior. Always walk your lab puppy on a leash and keep it next to you. Make your puppy wait for your permission before eating or playing. In addition, walk in doors ahead of your lab so that you are leading and it is following.

Correct the behavior as soon as it happens. When your lab puppy displays the aggressive behavior, whether its growling, biting, lunging or barking, loudly and firmly growl by saying “grrrr” and follow up with a “no,” states DogObedienceAdvice.com. Furthermore, encourage its proper behavior with treats. For example, if your lab puppy typically barks and lunges at people who walk by, give it treats when it stays quiet and still instead. The labrador puppy will begin to associate its good behavior with a treat, which in turn will reinforce the good behavior.

Socialize your lab puppy as soon as possible. Sometimes, all it takes is a good talking to from another dog to get your puppy in check. Take the puppy to play groups or dog parks if you feel it will not injure another animal. If your lab puppy begins to display the inappropriate behavior with another dog, the dog may correct the puppy and put it in its place. Your lab puppy may listen better to someone from its own species. Furthermore, the more interaction with other animals and people the puppy gets, the more it will become familiar and comfortable with these new experiences.

Avoid playing games in which aggressive behavior is encouraged, such as tug-of-war and wrestling, states DogObedienceAdvice.com. Play other games such as fetching and running. Many labs also enjoy water sports, such as swimming and retrieval games.