It’s always a good idea to do research when you’re looking at potentially buying a new dog or even if you already have one and it’s behaving in an uncharacteristic manner – research is always a good thing. This is even more important if you have children and you want to ensure that you’re not putting them in harm by introducing a dangerous breed of dog.
However, some dogs are more likely to show signs of aggression than others – so is this behavior expected with the Labrador Retriever or is it unusual for this breed? In this article, we’re going to be looking at the Labrador and whether they bite so let’s get on with it!
The Labrador Retriever does not usually bite as it is typically a very friendly, sociable breed of dog. However, all dogs are individuals and occasionally it has been known. Therefore, read the information below to see why a Lab might bite and what you can do about it!
Is the Labrador Usually Aggressive?
There is a good reason why the Labrador Retriever is currently the most popular breed of dog in the United States, and it’s not because of its aggression! The Labrador is usually an incredibly friendly dog and is very popular with families. They are also very sociable and outgoing, so tend to be okay with strangers and other animals.
They are known to bond not just with one person but with the whole family. Actually, the Lab would happily just bond with everyone if it was up to them! They also have a lot of energy. They will happily go out for exercise and play whenever you’re ready and it won’t be them that gets tired first!
So, you can probably gather from this that no, the Labrador is not usually aggressive. In fact, you’d be doing well to find a dog that is less aggressive than the Labrador. Which would make it quite unusual if it did.
Lastly on this, you may be wondering if the Labrador is the right dog for you – check out my article if you like just about this (opens in a new tab).
When Do Dogs Bite?
Some dogs are more likely to bite than others but you knew that already, right? So, we’re not going to focus on the breeds of dog that are more well known for signs of aggression, such as the Rottweiller, Pit Bull Terrier, etc. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to look at the Labrador and other similar, usually sociable breeds of dog.
Typically, a dog will only bite for a reason. If it feels in danger, cornered, surprised, or if it is trying to protect something, it may bite. Also, if the dog is unwell and then provoked, its temper may be a lot shorter than it is typically as it just wants to be left alone.
Another time they might bite is through play. It is possible that if the dog was not properly socialized when younger they may not actually realize that what they are doing hurts. They usually learn this as a puppy. They would play with each other and during this time they might bite their brothers or sisters, who would let out a high-pitched yelp.
This would make them stop biting and they would learn, through association, that this is not a good thing to do. However, if the puppy was taken away from its mother and family too soon, they may lose out on this important part of their development.
Why Would the Labrador Bite?
So, we know why dogs, in general, might bite, but what about the Labrador? This is not a breed that is known for its aggression and is usually such a friendly, sociable breed it’s unusual for them to turn nasty. However, with that aside, the Labrador, despite being quite unique, is still an animal. Also, just because the breed is considered friendly, remember that each dog is unique and will have a different personality from other dogs in the same breed.
Also, socialization is still important with the Lab. It’s that important period during those first few weeks when they should be introduced to as many different people and as many different animals (especially cats) as possible. Going through this process really helps their acceptance of other people and animals later in life.
However, a Labrador may still bite for the same reasons that any dog would. So, the same rules apply. If it’s feeling unwell, has been treated badly or not well socialized then it is more likely to lash out than usual. Also, children who are running around, making a lot of noise and are a bit too rough with the Labrador can scare it – at which point it may bite.
However, it has to be said that the chances of a Labrador biting are much, much less than any other breed. It is capable of taking a lot more and has a much higher tolerance than other breeds. It just seems to be consistently more happy than others!
That said and regardless of how good the Labrador usually is, children need to be educated about how to act around dogs, so more on that next.
How to Stop a Dog From Biting
The best way to stop a dog from biting is through education! Educating yourself, educating your family (especially children) and educating your Labrador.
The training begins with your dog when they are young and through socialization. We’ve already spoken about this briefly but is very important. Of course, you may not have had any control over this if you acquired the dog later in life and if this is the case you may not have any idea if socialization actually took place. Fortunately, with the Labrador, this isn’t such a big deal as it could be with other breeds!
Formal training should be explored and if you don’t want to go down this route then make sure you perform the training yourself, at home. Regardless of when you got the dog, training should begin as soon as you get them and actually carries on throughout their lives.
This is where you are setting the boundaries, what is acceptable and what is not. You need to be firm and confident in all the commands you give. Your Lab will love you for this and is what they want, don’t be shy.
At the same time, if you have any children, sit them down (easier said than done) and talk to them about what’s okay and (more importantly) what’s not okay when it comes to dogs and playing.
Complacency can sometimes be a problem as after some time you (or your kids) get a false sense of security. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been together, a child should never run up to a dog and put their face close to theirs, for example. The dog will be able to bite a lot quicker than the child will be able to move their face away.
The child needs to show the dog respect and understand it is not a toy. It should not ‘manhandle’ it in any way and should not smother it by cuddling. In summary, the Lab should be treated as a living, breathing, animal and not like one of their dolls, action men or other toys.
What Should We Do When a Dog Bites?
I’m not going to talk about how to treat any wounds here as I’m not an expert and there’s plenty of places online who offer advice from people much more qualified than I.
However, I can help with what you should do with regard to your dog. Firstly, you should not hit it. This will not solve anything apart from satisfying the immediate urge that many of us have after being in pain. Just don’t do it. What you should do however is to make a lot of noise.
Remember earlier I spoke about socialization and how, as puppy’s, they would squeal when bitten? You’re going to duplicate that basically. You want to make a loud, unpleasant noise that replicates this. Alongside this, stand-up, look at him and tell him ‘No’. Turn around and walk away, don’t give them any attention.
Training can also be given during play as often they might do a friendly ‘nip’ during this time and if it gets a bit too firm then you need to make sure you make the same noise. Remember, most of the time your dog isn’t trying to hurt you – in fact, it doesn’t know it will hurt you when it bites.
So, although Labradors can and do occasionally bite, it is exceptionally unusual for them to do so. They are usually such a kind, gentle and sociable breed of dog these incidents are few and far between. Just remember that if they do bite, all is not lost and this is fixable!