Everyone knows that the Labrador Retriever is a good-natured, obedient, and patient dog that’s great with adults and children alike. But are Labrador retrievers good with other dogs? Find out below:
Labradors are good-natured dogs, but they still need some training
Well, Labradors are notoriously obedient dogs, who listen great to human instruction. They are famously suited to being guide dogs.
But in order for a Labrador to become a guide dog, they need good, consistent training from a young age.
In the same vein as this, in order for a Labrador to become a good family dog who can get along well with other dogs and even other people, you need to train them to understand you and to understand other dogs from a very young age.
Socialization with other dogs
All dogs, including the Labrador retriever, need to be gradually socialized with new people and with other dogs from almost birth.
A well-socialized Labrador should be able to walk past fast cars without flinching walk off-leash among cows or horses safely and with ease!
Thankfully, socializing your Labrador Retriever is something that’s very simple to do. It just requires persistence.
The Socialization Window for a Lab Retriever
But did you know that there is only a narrow window in which to socialize your Labrador Retriever puppy?
This is usually 8 to 16 weeks. Why is this? Well, usually in the wild, the world is much more dangerous for a young dog.
So, they can’t go around investigating things willy nilly for their entire life in a safe way. Because of this, a puppy’s socialization window closes quite early.
Young Labrador Dogs and Socializing
If you have a younger Labrador Retriever puppy who you currently want to socialize, think about what you are going to do with your young furry friend for the rest of their life.
Are you going to travel in a car together? Perhaps you plan on taking your Labrador puppy to visit your friends’ dogs in their homes all the time? Or maybe you plan on bringing them to the park every day?
Do you live in the countryside? Think about the type of things your dog will have to get used to.
When should you start?
You may be hesitant about allowing a very young Labrador Retriever puppy to spend much time with other dogs when they are unvaccinated.
This is reasonable. If you take your puppy to a park at this stage, be sure to carry them in your arms when they are near many other dogs, to keep them safe. This is in case the other dogs carry certain diseases.
Pre-Vaccination socialization for your dog
You can still take them for short walks near busy roads or the beach though, for them to get used to these strange new environments.
Also, let them meet all sorts of different people – people in bright uniforms, men with beards, and even children, for example. Both of these things are safe for unvaccinated dogs.
But when your Labrador Retriever puppy has been vaccinated, letting them run around off-leash is now fine.
Now you can even take them to the same places you visited when you had to carry them and they can have more fun.
What about older dogs?
But if you think you have missed your Labrador Retriever’s socialization window don’t worry. Your pooch can still be trained to get along better with other dogs at any age.
Plus, a dog of the Labrador Retriever breed is typically a very well behaved dog that will respond well to your commands at any stage of their life.
A Mouthing and Biting Labrador Retriever
One problem in otherwise completely obedient younger Labrador Retrievers that prevents them from getting along well with other dogs is the tendency to “mouth” or bite people and other dogs out of boredom.
Thanks to centuries of breeding, many Labrador Retrievers still think that it’s their job to retrieve objects all the time, especially when they are bored. This does mean that they are practically born to play fetch.
But, this also means that they are going to use their mouth in a negative way if they are unoccupied.
If your Labrador Retriever has this problem, the main ways to solve it is to give them a toy or two to hold in their mouth when you introduce them to a new dog. Then the two of them might start a spontaneous game of tug of war, rather than fighting.
Did you know that a Golden Retriever currently holds the Guinness World Record for having the most tennis balls in their mouth? His name is Finlay. Finlay is able to hold six balls in his mouth simultaneously, which is quite impressive.
A Labrador has a Natural enthusiasm
Everyone knows about the Labrador Retriever’s naturally enthusiastic, perpetually excited personality.
It’s part of what makes the breed so popular and well-liked. But when your Labrador Retriever is playing in the park with other dogs, it’s important that this natural enthusiasm does not get out of hand.
For a young Labrador Retriever, try arranging a playdate with the owner of another dog who is calmer or older. This will work best after you have walked or played with your Labrador Retriever a bit previously, to burn off their excess energy.
Whether on or off the leash, begin by walking together besides this older or calmer dog. Don’t walk directly together, but stay at least 15 feet or 4 meters apart.
If your Labrador Retriever remains calm, praise them and give them a treat. Later, you can gradually decrease the distance between you all when you feel your pooch is ready. This is until, at last, the two are ready to meet each other.
If possible, now ask the owner of the calmer dog to get them to sit and stay. This is good behavior for your Labrador Retriever to see. Then, slowly approach the other dog together.
If your Labrador peacefully sniffs the other dog and peacefully allows the other dog to investigate them too, reward them for this successful and polite encounter.
If you like, the two dogs can now be set free to play with each other more boisterously. Or you can continue on your walk. But if you can, consider organizing some more similar playdates or meet-ups
like this, to allow your Labrador Retriever and other dogs the best chance to develop good doggy manners early on.
Now that you’ve completed this stage, your Labrador Retriever is free to bound around off lead in the park with you, greeting the other dogs they meet in this friendly but calm way.
So yes – Labrador Retrievers have a natural capacity to get along very well with other dogs. They just need to be trained not to get too excited.
By Michelle McDaid