Do Labradors bark at strangers? Whether your Lab is an excessive barker or overly quiet, this article will answer all your questions related to Labrador barking problems.
Are you concerned about your Labrador barking problems?
If your Labrador barks excessively, it could be due to excitement, boredom, excess energy, or any other reason.
And, if your Labrador doesn’t bark at all, it’s just that he needs some training.
Let me first answer your question: do Labradors bark at strangers?
The answer is NO! In most cases, Labs don’t bark at strangers. Labrador retriever is the most affectionate and playful dog breed you will ever find. Labs were bred to be gentle and sociable dogs. They gel well with everyone, including family members, kids, other dogs, and strangers.
Now I’m not saying all Labs are quiet and peaceful. Depending on the dog’s individual personality and genetics, you may find some Labs barking more than others.
Common Reasons Why Labrador Retrievers Bark
If you notice your Labrador barking more than usual, there must be a reason behind it. Just like we speak to communicate, dogs bark and use their body language to communicate. Here are the possible reasons why your Lab is barking excessively:
The chances are your Labrador is barking more than usual because he needs your attention. Labs are friendly and extroverted kinds of dogs. They love it when they get attention, especially from their favorite humans. The chances are you aren’t giving as much attention as you should be giving to your canine.
Labradors are sociable and active dogs; they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods. They were bred to work and to be active. They are happy when they have some tasks to do. If you leave your Labrador alone with little to no physical & mental stimulation, there are higher chances your canine will suffer from boredom.
Your Lab might be barking out of excitement. It can be easily recognizable from its body language and barking tone. You may notice your canine barking with excitement when he meets you after long hours and also when you take him for walking or playing.
As Labradors have higher energy levels, not providing adequate exercise leaves them with excess energy. To help a Lab burn off excess energy, you need to provide at least 1-2 hours of intense exercise every single day. When you don’t, your Lab will find the wrong ways to burn his energy. Besides too much barking, not providing enough exercise can also result in destructive behaviors like excess chewing.
Labrador Retrievers are protective of their loved ones. They bark to alert their owner about the potential threat. Barking might be a sign that your dog is protecting his territory and you from the potential threat.
Respond to other dogs
Just as we humans speak to communicate with others, dogs use their body language + barking to communicate. When they see other dogs, they bark to show dominance, respond to them, or simply just to grab their attention.
Your dog barking more than usual could be because he is going through something. He might be scared, fearful, anxious, or in pain. Barking is the way he is trying to communicate with you about his distress.
Also Read: Do Golden Retrievers Bark A Lot?
Why Your Labrador Barks At Strangers?
Now you know common reasons why Labs bark, let’s talk specifically about possible reasons why they bark at strangers:
Your Lab is not trained properly
Barking can be an issue when your canine is not trained properly. Due to a lack of proper training, your Lab wouldn’t know what’s good behavior and what’s bad. He’ll do what he feels is right. That’s why it is advisable to start training from puppyhood.
Positive reinforcement is the most effective type of dog training. This training method is basically about rewarding (with praise, treats, toys, or anything that’s rewarding for the dog) for desired behavior.
The good thing is that Labradors are easy to train. Reward-based training methods like positive reinforcement work really well.
Lack of socialization
Socialization needs to be provided from puppyhood itself. When the dog doesn’t get socialization at an early age, it is more likely to suffer from problems like fear, anxiety, body sensitivity, etc.
Early socialization teaches the dog how to react to the world in a healthy way. Positive experiences and socialization at an early age will make your Lab grow confident without any behavior problems.
Trying to protect you
Labradors are very loyal; they are protective of their loved ones. If your Lab barks excessively by seeing a stranger, it’s because he wants to protect you. Your pup sees strangers as a potential threat. He will bark to alert you of the potential threat and prevent strangers from approaching you.
The chances are your Labrador was mistreated in the past. Due to mistreatment by a stranger in the past, he started seeing strangers as a danger. Through barking, your pup tries to prevent the same thing to repeat again.
You encouraged this behavior, unknowingly
Labradors are obedient pups. They repeat things they get praised and rewarded for. It could be that you have encouraged this behavior, unknowingly. Your Lab might be getting rewards like treats, toys, or praise when he barks at strangers; He associates this with something positive and as a result, keeps on repeating this behavior.
How To Stop My Labrador From Barking At Strangers?
I know how awkward it can be when your dog barks at almost everyone. The same issue was with my Labrador. Then, I had to train him to stop barking at strangers.
Stopping a Lab from barking at strangers isn’t that hard. It just requires proper training and patience.
Ignore the barking
First of all, I would say stop rewarding your Lab for this behavior. Inadvertently, you might be encouraging this behavior.
Responding to the barking is also a kind of reward for your dog. So, ignore your dog when he’s barking. Once he stops, praise him & give him a treat.
Socialize your dog with other people
Your canine might be barking at strangers because he has never got exposed to other humans. Socialization training prevents the dog to be anxious, fearful, or aggressive in front of new people or in a new environment.
Rewarding for desired behavior
It’s simple! Reward your canine when he doesn’t bark in front of strangers and stop rewarding & responding when he does bark. Dogs are fond of treats. Make sure you always have a stock of your canine’s favorite treats.
Teach your dog “speak” and “quiet” commands. While you can use any cue word, I recommend you to use easy-to-remember words like speak, quiet, etc.
Start by teaching the “speak” command first; then the “quiet” command. Have some treats in your hand and say “speak.” By seeing treats in your hand, your pup will bark out of excitement. When he barks, praise him and give him a treat.
Once he understands the “speak” command, repeat the same process to teach the “quiet” command.
Let your canine bark for some time and say “quiet.” If he stops barking, praise him and give him a treat.
To make your pup remember your commands and listen to you every time you use the “speak” or “quiet” command, regular practice is important.
Hire a dog trainer
If your Lab doesn’t stop barking even after putting so much, it is good to hire a dog trainer. A professional dog trainer should be able to change your Lab’s barking habits through the right training method.
Why My Labrador is Not Barking?
Now that we have seen why Labs bark and what you can do about excessive barking, let’s talk about another problem, i.e., Labrador being overly quiet.
But before that, note that Labradors are not excessive barkers; they were bred to be calm and gentle. They come under the category of breeds that bark less.
However, it becomes a concern when the dog doesn’t bark at all. Well, here are some possible reasons why your Labrador is not barking:
The habits and behaviors of dogs can be changed through training. Labradors are obedient and eager to please. They remember and follow whatever training they get from their owners.
The chances are your Lab’s previous owner has trained him not to bark. If your Lab had previous owners, contact them and discuss it. Or, in the past, you might have inadvertently trained your canine not to bark.
It could be that being quiet is your dog’s personality. There’s an advantage of having a dog with this kind of personality. You already know that your canine barks only when something’s really wrong. When you notice barking, you are more likely to pay attention when he’s in an emergency.
Your Lab might be suffering from his past trauma. Getting treated badly by the previous owner could have made him the way he is. If you have a shelter or rescue dog, bad experiences in the past might be the reason why your Labrador is not barking.
Not yet comfortable
If you have recently brought a Lab to your home, your Labrador might not be comfortable yet. Your pup is still becoming familiar with you, your family members, and surroundings. It takes some time to get adjusted to a new place and new people.
If you notice a sudden change; from too much barking to no barking at all, vocal stress could be the reason. Too much barking or coughing could have caused vocal issues. At the worst, throat cancer can be the problem. Though throat cancer (Chondrosarcoma) is rare, mentioning it to make you aware of the possible reason.
A health problem might be the reason why your Labrador has stopped barking. If you notice sudden changes in your canine’s behaviors, appetite, and barking habits, that’s the sign your dog needs medical attention. Take your dog to the vet and get his health checked.
How To Make Labrador Bark At Strangers?
Once you figure out that vocal stress or medical issue isn’t the reason behind Labrador not barking, there are certain things you can do to make him bark at strangers.
Here’s what you can do about your Labrador Retriever not barking:
Give it some time
As we have seen, change in surroundings is one of the reasons, it might be that your dog is not adjusted to new surroundings yet. So, the best thing you can do is, give it some time to get comfortable.
Make him comfortable
If it’s been weeks and still your dog isn’t comfortable, there are certain things you can do. Start spending more time with your canine. Play with him, take him out for walks, give treats, and build a bond.
Labradors are intelligent and easy to train dogs. With the right training approach, it’s possible to make them bark at strangers.
Start by teaching the “speak” command first; then the “quiet” command. Have some treats in your hand and say “speak.” By seeing treats in your hand, your pup will bark out of excitement. When he barks, praise him and give him a treat. Once he understands the “speak” command, repeat the same process to teach the “quiet” command.
Using these commands, you can tell your Lab when to bark and when to stop.
Check if it’s a medical condition
Make sure the reason behind your canine not barking isn’t a health condition. If it seems that your dog is ill or suffering from any health condition, take him to the veterinarian.
When do Labrador puppies start barking?
Labrador puppies start to vocalize when they are 2-3 weeks old. At 7-8 weeks of age, they start small barks and yips.
Will a Lab protect its owner?
Labs are protective of their loved ones; however, they are not as protective as dog breeds like German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Rottweilers. The reason being is they were bred to be lovable, unaggressive, and slow to bite.
Are Labradors friendly with strangers?
Yes! Labradors are friendly and get along well with strangers. They are not aggressive and don’t usually bark at strangers.
Is it easy to train a Labrador?
Yes, Lab is one of the easiest breeds to train. Lab dogs are intelligent, loyal, and obedient. With these qualities, it’s easy to teach new commands to Labradors.
Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the United States. In the AKC’s “Most Popular Dog Breeds” list, it ranks first.
They were bred to be unaggressive, affectionate, and active. They get along with everyone, including families, kids, other dogs, and even strangers.
Labradors don’t usually bark at strangers. However, it may vary depending on the individual personality of the dog.
TRAIN YOUR CANINE! ⬇️