Labrador Behaviour

In this section we take a look at common Labrador behaviour problems.

You’ll find articles, tips and advice to help you understand Labrador behaviour and solve your dog’s problems fast, effectively and kindly.

Good Dog!

Everyone loves a well-behaved dog.

And Labradors that are well-behaved are welcomed everywhere they go.

But lots of dogs develop behavioural problems at some point in their lives.

Behaviour problems can be challenging.  So we have gathered together lots of information on labrador behaviour to help you with your dog.

Choose from:

Your vet

Sometimes there is an underlying health problem behind a Labrador’s bad behaviour.

Always check with your vet before attempting to modify your pet’s behaviour at home


  1. Hi, recently our 3.5 year old yellow lab Gus Gus has started baring teeth and sometimes quietly growling when we try to move him off of our bed or couch. Is this a sign that he could be too aggressive or dangerous? He used to just get down whenever we requested. Also why on this Labrador site are people calling yellow labs golden labs? There’s no such thing. There’s golden retrievers and then there’s yellow labs.

  2. Hi I have a black lab who is 3 years old I was just wondering if it’s normal he is so sensitive he won’t let me out of his site always behind me waits outside toilet bathroom and lays near my bed and if he’s outside he stands at the door looking in . He sulks a lot if u don’t pay attention to him we have given him so much love after loosing our last lab . I went away for a month and he hasn’t been the same since when me and my hubby go out my kids say he so sad . They reckon there’s something wrong with him this worries me does anyone have the same problem ?

    • Hi Sharon,
      From what I’m hearing it sounds like he loves you and you must be a good owner. My advise to you is to build trust and security with the dog and others in your family so he feels secure whoever he is with. This might make him feel less attached to you so he can be left with other people and still feel secure.
      Hope this helps, Lexie.

  3. Hi Pippa, I have a golden Lab (Buddy) who just turned 1. There are a few black spots that appeared on his stomach and chest area .. no wounds at all .. a couple of rough skin patches( about 3-5 mm ) were there which is not there anymore .. however i am concerned about those black spots on his body .. Kindly suggest what needs to be done .. Thanx, Deepak.

  4. i have a two year old yellow lab and i rescued him from a dog shelter and before i got him he was out on a farm. He is a very loveable dog and follows me all around, the thing is that i dont think that he had any one to pay attention to him and he knows commands like sit and lay,and sometimes he likes to run off but usually if i call him he comes by his name.. but he doesnt know what walk is or when he has to go outside he doesnt know how to let us know he has to go out to potty or to bark to let me know any one is around..and sometimes hell chase a ball or a squeeky toy but he dont know how to drop ball at command, I have a fenced in yard n i tied him up once to see how he would react and all he did was go in circles and wrapped his chain around his tie down until he couldnt twist no more,, but my questions are how can i teach him to let us know when he needs to go out to potty, and what can i do so he can let me know if someone knocks on door..n how i can teach him to stop taking food off counters and table n how to get him to take treats out of hand nicely he quickly snags it out of hand and sometimes forgets to watch for the hand feeding him.other then these little tasks he is a very sweet and lovable dog.

  5. We had a Border Coollie mix and then myn husband brought home a golden lab/beagle mix (3-4 years ago) and they did well. The Border Collie ( already about 13 ) has been gone a year. I brought a black lab mix from the Lab rescue and the older dog is not happy. he isn’t aggressive but refuses to have anything with her. The worst part is he refuses to have anything to do with my husband and just walks away whenever he goes near him. What can we do?

  6. My chocolate lab (1 1/2 yrs old) has these “spells/episodes” of uncontrollable energy bursts. She wil suddenly start running around the house slamming herself up on the furniture or against the wall. She’ll run in circles and she has a wild look of fear in her eyes like she can’t stop. I can’t stop her or calm her down. The episodes happen every couple of days and last 30 seconds to maybe a minute or so in length. Once it’s over , she goes back to herself and is fine. Does anyone know what these episodes are?

  7. We have a 2 ½ yr old male Chocolate lab. He has a great temperament but jumps up on visitors. We are correcting him by asking visitors to ignore him and walk past him when they arrive and this seems to be working but the problem is that he gets really excited by teenage girls. I’m sure it is to do with hormones but he jumps up and gets super excited. He has even tried to excuse the term ” hump on them” when they are standing still. Any suggestions ? He was neutered about a year ago.

  8. Hi, I have a 3 year old female Labrador and she has become agressive for no reason. We have recently introduced a family members puppy to her which she is fine with but it does pester her. I can’t think of any reason why this behaviour has happened all of a sudden but it is making walks very difficult and worrying

  9. Hi
    9 months ago I purchased a black lab at the age of 3 months. When i train him he is full of energy and decides to go off and pay attention to his sarroundings and not me. What can i do?

  10. We have a 9 month old Golden Labrador bitch, who we love to bits, she was spayed at 7 months everything went well, however she appears to want her own company and prefers her crate which is in the garage, which adjoins the house(No cars in there)
    She sleeps very well, and is very loving
    When she comes into the house of an evening, she only stays a short while.
    is this behaviour normal?

  11. We have a 9 month old Golden Labrador bitch, who we love to bits, she was spayed at 7 months everything went well, however she appears to want her own company and prefers her crate which is in the garage, which adjoins the house(No cars in there)
    She sleeps very well, and is very loving
    When she comes into the house of an evening, she only stays a short while.
    is this behaviour normal?

  12. Hi I have a 4 months old lebra peach colored I have two problems with his behavior he goes to every person feet and start licking on it and the second is that he jumps on everybody specially the outsiders and destroy the cloths

  13. Hi Pippa,
    I have a entire male labrador who is just turning one year old. In the last week he seems to have had a rush of hormones and for the first time ever he’s tried to get amorous with other dogs whilst we’ve been out on walks. The other dogs aren’t in season. Is there a way of training to discourage this behaviour. I know the simplest thing would be to get him neutered but I am keen to see if he would have potential as a stud so I’m reluctant to go down that route yet but I will if I have to. Any advice would be gratefully received.

    Thank you

  14. Hi my older brother has a golden lab that get very excited when people go outside and will often push aside the other dogs will getting him neutered work to calm the excited 4 yr old?

  15. Hi Pippa, my 18 month old lab, Poppy, has just started waking up 5 0r 6 times in the night and whining outside my bedroom door. As soon as I open it she wags her tail and goes back off to bed without me telling her to. She obviously just wants to reassurance that I’m there. She is being very needy generally and whining during the day and carrying around soft toys. Could it be a phantom pregnancy? Her last season was in December. Any tips on how to deal with the (hopefully temporary) night waking – she is pretty persistent! Thanks for your advice – the site is fab.

  16. Hi Pippa, I find your website, and your books, very useful training my Labrador puppy, now 6 month old. The only thing that I cannot find any helpful information about is how I can stop my dog from chasing our cat. The problem is that our cat is very gentle and doesn’t scratch or bite our dog. The cat is also very sociable so she wants to settle down with us in the evenings which often ends up in a chase where lampshades, books and ornaments are flying. Or dog is not aggressive in any way, she just want to play and often licks the cat when she gets the chance. I am using the clicker and the cue word ‘leave it’, which sometimes works, with emphasis on ‘sometimes’. But, it doesn’t stop her from chasing when I am not there or when we are outside! What can I do? Please help me, before the cat decide to move out? Your advice would be very helpful.
    Best wishes,

  17. Hi there, I have a 7 month old (female) lab called Bonnie.

    She is on one meal a day now, usually around 8am feed her and my other lab.
    Both walked twice a day, however the 7 month old Bonnie, is 8/10 still pooing and wetting through the night, plus she will eat her poo!!!!

    Is it something I’m doing? How can I stop it? It’s becoming frustrating.

  18. I have a 6 month old Male yellow lab. He was fixed a few weeks ago. We have been dealing with some serious obedience and dominance issues, mainly being peeing in the house. He goes out all the time, if not by us regularly letting him out, but also sitting at the door until one of us lets him out. He knows that he needs to go outside to pee. He will walk through the house and pee a trail through the room. He has been seen by a vet who clarified that he didnt have a bladder infection or UTI, or that it was a leakage issue. He does this frequently. We also deal with a lot of other issues beyond normal puppy things, as we have both raised and trained other dogs from puppy age in the past and have never dealt with these issues. If anyone knows of any tips or tricks to help with dominance and behavioral issues with labs, please let me know. We are also getting to the point where we are thinking of possibly needing a trainer to observe him and help us figure out the best plan of action to really get him well rounded, listening and behaving. We are in Canton, Ohio if anyone knows of any reputable trainers in that area, please let me know. Thank you!

  19. Hi Pippa,
    I had a 3 yr old black female labra whom i had taken from vet when she was 2 months old.Recently , I had given her,for some unavoidable reasons to a family who wanted a companion for their male labra 5yrs old.I am missing her a lot and keeps on regretting my decision.Family to whom we have given seems very good and keep us updating about her.DO you think she will adjust to new people.They live in the same kind of apartment set up as we used to live in.

  20. Hi there.
    We have an 8 year old chocolate lab who has always been a great family the last 6 months she has become aggressive to small dogs only. If we’re out walking without a lead, she will run towards a small dog as if on attack & when we call her to stop, she ignores us. She raises the hair on her back & today a man had to jump on top of her to stop her attacking his small dog. In the last year, we moved from the country to live in the suburbs & as we work, she has spent more time on her own in the back section. Could the boredom account for her change in behaviour?

  21. Hi. I have a 16 month old female lab. She has been to training and was excellent. For the month of November, she went to live at my dads because of the yard, but had to come back home because she was not getting proper attention. In the past few weeks, she has been misbehaving and we cannot figure out why. She peed on one rug three weeks ago and another last night. We take her out to go potty a lot and are very watchful, but it only takes a second. Three days ago, she chewed up the leg of a chair. She was sitting right next to my mom as she worked and her bone was right next to her. We send her to doggy day care 2-3 times a week. We play and love on her too. I’ve read this behavior is typical for her age. What is your experience? How long does this normally last? What can be done to put an end to this? My mother is at her wits end over this so we need a solution soon. Thanks

  22. I have a 9 month black lab boy he got neutered last week but hes still very energetic and when I take him out for a walk he sometimes wants to bite me I get afraid of him sometimes he is ok with my husband its just me he says im too soft with him its getting to the stage I don’t want to go out with him because it is quite frustrating for me

  23. i have a choc lab who is now 6 years old, he has started the last few months not being content being outsidde and barks straight away to be inside, he has also started weeing in the kitchen through the night where he sleeps. i think its because he isnt taking the time outside before bed to do his business and barks to come straight back in, any suggestions for help pls.

  24. Hi Pippa
    Can you please advise us on the best dry food for our Labrador, we have been giving her “pedigree Junior”
    and wish to know if this is the best particularly when she moves on to Adult dry food, as we want to give her the best balanced diet so that she gets all the nutriments she needs

  25. We have a 5 month old golden Labrador, for the first time she has been sick and what seems to be her last meal, can you help with a possible reason for this

  26. Hey there,
    I have a 6 year old black lab and I want to breed her with a 6 year old yellow lab.. But every time I take my black lab over to breed, she snaps an bites at the yellow labs face an some times makes him bleed. I was just wondering why my lab does this? If someone could help me out I’d really appreciate it.

  27. Hello i have a 10 months old lav and he is wonderful very lovley dog he is very hyper and we decided to get him done since then he won’t come back on recall if he see his lead and it is in possible to get him back on he is also running at people just to say hi he is so friendly he is wagging his butt so much u can tell but we don’t want this any ideas welcomed thanks x

  28. Why would an 8 year old chocolate lab suddenly start barking VERY early in the morning? She has never been a barker but for the last week or so she has barked until one of us gets up. This morning my husband got up at 3:30 and let her go outside. An hour later she was barking us awake again. Ugh! Any ideas?

  29. Please help! I have a 5 yr old Yellow and he used to be allowed on the furniture but about a year ago we started training him to stay off. He is a smart dog and everything was going great until about two months ago when all of a sudden he started tearing a hole in both corners of the couch cushions at night out when we weren’t home. He doesn’t go on the furniture at all when we are home which tells me that he knows he’s not allowed. It’s almost like he is mss about the new rule change and destroying the couch as retaliation. Is their as better explosion as to why her it’s doing this and what we can do other than crating him?

  30. My 10 month old lab tinkles sometimes when I first let him and and say hello. I guess this is over excitement from me talking in a high voice and getting him to strung up? I looked in random areas but did not find a specific location that relates to this. Thank you.

  31. “hi, my 8 month old lab is throwing up everytime he is eating something, otherwise there is no change in behaviour or voice. he is pooping normally but the colour of the urine is yellow. the puke is full of mucous. what should i be doing?”

  32. Hi :) I have a golden pure breed lab she is 6yrs. I am worried about her because she always looks so sad but we give her a lot of attention. I mean this in a loving way but she acts like she may be mentally challenged :( And when I take her on walks she poops every where!! and she just seems very mopey! And her ears always smell bad! I just love her to death but I just want to now what is wrong with her :( Please Help!!

  33. I have an 8 year old chocolate lab about three weeks ago she had allergic reaction to something and get gave her a shot. Every since then she is been very antsy, barks at every noise she hears, and she needs to go out and potty every ten minutes. Someone told me it was a sign that her kidneys are failing and she won’t live much longer I’m very concerned and don’t have a lot of money to spend in vet bills but don’t want my honey to suffer.

  34. Hi

    My labrador puppy is 6 month old and we have noticed she has become clingy! If you stand up to go into the kitchen, she follows. And if you go upstairs and leave her downstairs with a family member, she cries until I come down.

    Do you have any helpful tips?

    Thanks :)

  35. I’m new at having a lab and I have two blac labsk (which are brothers) and they both fight with me about getting a bath. Can anyone give me some advise on what I can do to have them not fight me over it.

  36. We have a black lab, her name is Dallas. We’ve had her almost 2 years now, she was a drop off or run away.. someone posted her online to find her home or to find her a good home or to the pound she went.. so we went and got her. I’d say she’s any where from 3-5 years old and we’re almost 100% sure she is full blooded lab. She was still in the chewing stage when we got her, already fixed, and already house broke.. The chewing was fixed with toys, bones, crate training, etc. It’s been well over a year since she has chewed on anything at all. And we started leaving her and our other dog out, so they could be comfy and relaxed and it made them more happy! She rarely was getting crated anymore.. If we go out of town for the night we have someone who our animals know and are comfortable with to come stay until we return the next day.. my husband and I are on different shifts, so they’re not alone more than 3-4 hours, at most. About a week ago we found a sock chewed up.. wasn’t completely sure it was Dallas or if an old, chewed up sock showed up randomly from her previous chewing/puppy stage. A few days later it was a pair of my shoes, which we knew was recent and it was her, because our pomeranian couldn’t have done that damage even in 24 hours time. Then yesterday, she was laying in her chair with her blanket draped over the side, with me on the couch pretty much in front of her across the living room.. and I hear this ripping sound.. she was chewing on her blanket.. now she’s doing it in front of me. We tried crating her again..chew toys..scolding..everything i feel like. and she knows it’s wrong, all I have to say is “what are you doing” and her reactions tell me she either knows better or she thinks it’s okay.. she knew she was doing something she shouldn’t have been. We play with her, all kinds of things, we don’t walk because she’s too much of a princess to get hot or be outside for more than 5 minutes unless it’s to play fetch, and she’s only good with fetch for about 10 minutes. We take her swimming and stuff she actually enjoys. I don’t know what to do nor do I know what’s causing this behavior from her.. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

  37. I just got a 8 month old black lab. Hes name is Milo the sweetest thing ever. Such a sweetheart. Ever since I got him he hardly eats and he drolls alot. . Is it normal? And he will not stop following me around . My husband really loves him but he will sleep with him but just me . Its not just him , Milo is scared of everyone but is only comfortable with me . . Is that normal for labs?

  38. Hello I own a 3 year old male lab he’s has been neutered. He is the best family dog ever! No food aggression what so ever but as I got him to help cure my fear of dogs (I’m not scared of him at all!) he has decided to start guarding me when I take him out on walks I also own a female dog but she shows no sighs of aggression he has never bit anybody, he will stand in front do me and bark very deeply and stare at the person! I got him as a 8 week old puppy he was very well socialised we made him experience a wide rang of different places! He also pulls on his lead but once you correct him he dose stop! I live in a large family and he has no problems with any of them but spends most of his time with me but he is submissive to me but not fearful! Sorry there is so much to read but I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong any help I would be very grateful!

    • Hi Robyn, it would be a good idea to have your dog assessed by a behaviourist, ask your vet to refer you. The behaviourist will need to visit you and assess your dog before offering advice.

  39. Hey pippa !
    I have a golden lab 4months we just got him a few weeks back from a dog centre its a male names max.
    The problem is that he is very hyper and keeps on barking whenever you put him in the dog house as if he feels very lonely there it’s like he never wants to be alone he throws away the water and when you open him up he comes out very hyper and jumps ln you and bites the main problem is when visitors come max starts bitting off there clothes and jumps. Need a bit of help.

  40. Hi recently our well tempered lab has started being snappy to other dogs and I can’t understand it at all I’m very worried that it could escalate she has never snapped at any o f the cares entering the home or at other dogs that come in the house please can you help me .

  41. Hi, your Puppy handbook came through yesterday thanks and thanks for your videos on youtube – they are brilliant. I have had my 3 month old Labrador for 2 weeks now and all is great, better than can be expected except for his penis becoming quite erect when I am training him. He’s not excited with or by it it just happens. So in the middle of training he has to lick it back into his foreskin at which point all concentration even on his favorite reward of cheese. If I then start training again he becomes submissive and shows me his belly. Any advice? Where am I going wrong? Jason

  42. Hi i have a 1 year old labrador who is normally very energetic, she is down in the dumps and always wants to sleep, ive also noticed she doesnt straighten her tail just points down to the ground, took her to vets but they didnt notice anything wrong and i just know this isnt my dog at all and know somethings is up, thi has just happend over night basically, any advice or anyone else had this with their lab?

  43. Hi I’m taking care of an 11 year old f lab and she has an ear infection and suffers from seizure disorders, lately she started barking a lot. I’m at a lose to what to do for her, anything you can help me with, would help. Family went away for five weeks. I was thinking maybe she is missing her family. I give her walks at 5:30am and again at night when it is cool out. Well I sure could use your help.

  44. I have a 13 month old male Dudley Lab AMOS MOSES . He is, far the most part well behaved. He spends most of his time out doors but is allowed in at night. The problem is he has a foot fetish. HE ALLWAYS WANTS TO PUT HIS MOUTH ON YOU FEET OR SHOES. He does not bite, but no correction method I have tried has worked. I play fetch with him every afternoon but this behavior is dangerous going up or down stairs.

  45. Dear Pippa,
    My 5+ yr old Choc Lab, starting having siezures 2 yrs ago and has been on pheonbarbitol. For the last 6 months, he has become very aggresive. He is growling and seriously threatening some household members. He growls at me if I have to correct him for anything, He has never been mistreated since I have him. He came to me a 9 mo.s old from an abuse background. He was a frightened puppy but grew out of that. He never seemed to be happy or behave like choc. lab. Now I am afraid he may bite someone. Any advise?

  46. My big Black Lab is not afraid of deer, fox or just about anything else. But once in a while he will sniff the air,get a scared look on his face and make a bee line into the house just about knocking down anything in his way. I live in the suburbs of NY. There are no bears around here. Does anybody know what it could be?

  47. Myself and even my neighbor have had our Labs do the “take off” thing when they decide to do so. We live on acreages. His came back riddled like a pin-cushion with porcupine quills, it was fatal. Mine did it when he thought we were going for a walk and then just took off like Speedy Gonzales. I live on a highway and had to track him down with my car. I was lucky. Since that time I have kept him on a leash (a 40 foot horse one to give him roaming room) when we’re out. I let him go (off leash) in safe areas and he comes back, but still all it takes is once. He’s 2.25 years old. I bought a electronic training collar for him and will try that to restrain his urges.
    I’ve had mostly GSDs/Rotties before and am new to Labs. He’s one hell of a hunter and his nose is like a heat-seeking missile. It completely takes over so I can understand he goes where it goes. He’s also (its quite humorous too) a piss-sniff-tracking machine and simply amazing in his scouting abilities. The only problem I’m having is to have him listen to me when he’s in this mode so if we encounter a porcupine or car he doesn’t end up being the loser (if you know what i mean).
    I’m hoping you can help or will he grow out of this OCD behavior as he gets older? Its really the porcupines I’m concerned about and his health in that regard.