Do Labradors Protect Their Owners?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

America’s most popular breed, Labradors, are known for their good nature. Their friendly personality is a notable trait, and it’s a perfect pick for a first-time dog owner.

The question, however, is, do these friendly labs protect their owners? The short answer is, yes. However, it really comes down to your lab’s temperament. Keeping the breed, age, and size aside, every dog has a different temperament.

So, while your lab will protect you, how far is it willing to go? This depends on its temperament. If you want to learn more about Labrador’s protective behavior, read ahead.

Labradors Protect Their Owners (Video)

The Friendly Guard Dog

Labradors are the friendliest breeds I know, and that is one of the reasons I love them so much. But that friendliness also makes me wonder, will it protect me if some intruder breaks into the house? Most dogs are over-protective of their owners, which is why they won’t hesitate to save them in the face of danger. What about Labradors?

A Labrador will come to the rescue, but to an extent. They may bark at the person or thing that threatens you, but this is as far it goes. Generally, a Labrador doesn’t have it in their nature to attack someone. It is a friendly and playful breed; not a threatening, protective one. A Labrador is the most loyal dog you can find, but don’t expect them to fight. it is just not in their personality.

Not all Labradors are like that though. As I mentioned earlier, each dog has a different temperament. There is a chance that you might end up with a Labrador with aggressive behavior. You could notice this aggression at the hint of fear because it is amongst the few things that can make a dog aggressive. But that is not the only thing that makes them angry; frustration could also force an aggressive Labrador to lash out.

On the other hand, you do have a loyal and friendly pet that will do anything for you. Some of the mellow protective behaviors in a Labrador suggest that it could become a guard dog. I had to dig into that part, a bit more. You can learn all about whether or not a Labrador can be a guard dog or not, later on in the article.

Personality of a Labrador

To get a better understanding of a Labrador’s aggressive and passive behavior, you got to learn more about their personality.

A Labrador is a good pet, if not the perfect. The family-friendly dog is eager to make new friends, whether it is a fellow animal or a child. You can let them roam freely around children, without any worry. In fact, some Labradors are known to be overprotective of children. Plus, upon receiving your attention, it could literally swoon.

Moreover, it loves to play around, which is good because it has a lot of energy to burn. In fact, you will need to engage the Labrador in more than one exercise. A walk around the block won’t be enough to tire it out. You will need to do something more, to keep it from using its energy elsewhere – aggressively chewing toys.

What you need to know is that it has a stable temperament and a good nature. It can be aggressive at times, but only if it is really pushed to the edge.

Can a Labrador be a Guard Dog?

A guard dog is trained to protect the property or the people. Unlike a watchdog, they are not always alert. A guard dog is expected to react aggressively, but this doesn’t mean attacking anything or anyone. However, if the dog can sense any threat, it will attack.

A guard dog is normally big in size, to appear more threatening to the attacker. A Labrador is a medium-sized dog, which is good. However, it doesn’t have required temperament to be a proper guard dog. Their friendly personality can prevent them from properly attaching the threat.

To answer the question, if Labradors can be guard dogs, my answer is, a no. It may fit the physical requirements, but it fails at the mental requirements. A guard dog is supposed to be threatening and aggressive, and a Labrador is far from that image. You may use them for hunting because Labradors were also bred to be hunting companions. It can sniff out the prey and flush it out to the open field.

Can a Labrador be a Watchdog?

No, I’m not referring to that watchdog. This is about a watchdog, which is also known as an alarm dog. Unlike a guard dog, a watchdog is only meant to keep an eye out for any dangers. It is not trained to attack the threat. A watchdog is expected to stay alert at all times, and to alarm you about any intruder. It will alarm you the best way it knows how to – barking, lots and lots of loud barking.

Though Labradors can’t become guard dogs, they do make an exceptional watchdog. Lucky for you, it is a quick learner. A Labrador is really easy to train because it can quickly learn all sorts of tricks. While training it to be a watchdog, simply give your lab a treat every time it barks at you after someone comes into the house. Over time, it will naturally begin barking after spotting anyone it doesn’t recognize.

Don’t worry; it will not hurt anyone, Labrador’s are too friendly to do that. It’s one of the reasons why I love them so much. But its past experience in hunting could help it become a vigilant watchdog. You can sleep at ease, knowing that the lab is on the lookout. Just keep a bat or something close, by since the lab will only alarm you, it won’t be attacking anybody.

What is a Lab Willing to Protect?

By now, I think you know that a Lab is willing to protect you. But you aren’t the only thing it’s going to protect. A Labrador will go the extra mile to protect a couple of other things. What are they?

  • Bed – The first thing you need to protect is your own property. In the dog’s case, it’s the bed.
  • Family – How could it not? Labradors love their family, possibly more than the love a family has for them. It will protect you if the need arises.
  • Food and water – As far as time can go back, it’s always been a survival of the fittest. Even the friendliest pets will fight to protect their food and water.
  • Other pets – The Labrador is loyal to its family, including the pets. It will protect the adopted brothers and sisters if it has to.
  • Property – The bed isn’t the only property they are willing to protect. If trained properly, a Labrador is willing to protect your property.
  • Seat in the car – Did you really expect it to give up the opportunity to stick its head out the window. Try to take their seat in the car, and be prepared to have your couches torn to shreds.

To be clear, when I say a lab is willing to protect, I mean that it will bark, or under some rare circumstances attack. But it’s mainly a loud and threatening bark.

Training the Labrador to Protect

Through the right training, a Labrador could even become a guard dog. It’s surprising, I know! To train a lab to become a guard dog, you can reach out to an expert. If you don’t want to go with an expert and plan to do it on your own, follow the steps below;

  • Get prepared – put on safety gear before you set out to train a dog to be aggressive. Cover your arms with something that will protect you if the dog ever bites.
  • The next step is obedience training, which will be a nice warm-up session for the actual training.
  • Then, every time a dog barks to inform you about someone coming near the house, give it a treat.
  • Now it is time to teach the dog to bark on command. To do this, you can use everyday situations like eating and walking to train them to respond to your command.
  • Step 5 is to take the dog out for a walk around the block. This will help it get familiar with the area you want it to protect.

What is step 6? There is no step 6; all you need are the 5 steps mentioned above. A friendly tip, you could also train a friend to disguise themselves as an intruder to test if the dog reacts the way you want it to react.

Understanding The Labrador’s Personality

To get a better understanding of how you can train the Labrador, you will need to dig deeper into their personality. More specifically, dig deep into their instincts and drives. Before I go into the details, let’s clarify the difference between instincts and drives.

What is instinct? Instinct is defined as a reaction to an event. When you’ve successfully trained the dog to bark on command, it becomes an instinct to bark, whenever you tell it to. How is it different from drive? A dog’s drive is described as a biological urge to achieve a goal or satisfy a need. In this context, a dog’s drive would be to eat food to stop feeling hungry.

What are a dog’s instincts and drives? Good question, you can read all about it in the section ahead. We found the 9 instincts and drives, in specific, that shape up a Labrador’s personality as we know it.

  1. Fight, Flight or Freeze
    If any dog ever feels threatened, it will defend itself by either fighting, fleeing, or freezing. A Labrador has a high flight drive, meaning it will run at the first sign of trouble. However, you can train it to either fight or freeze.
  2. Food
    It doesn’t matter if it’s a Labrador or a Beagle; all animals have a strong food drive. We all need to eat to survive. Some dog breeds can be picky eaters, but not your lab. No, no, a lab will lick the bowl clean, till it has no food left. As a result of this high food drive, your Labrador is in danger of becoming overweight. Be careful of how much you feed it.
  3. Guard
    Dogs with a high guard drive are very protective of their toys and bed. They are also very protective of their family. A Labrador has a low guard drive, and it is not aggressive in nature. The Labrador isn’t very protective by nature; it likes to share its toys. But if you want it to be high in this drive, you can train them. Simply follow the steps mentioned in the section above.
  4. Herding
    The herding drive refers to an animal’s urge to keep the pack together. A Labrador doesn’t have a high herding drive. It likes the pack, but it doesn’t have a strong sense of looking after the people in the herd. Don’t mistake this for disloyalty or insufficient love. A Labrador will still love you and remain loyal to you till its dying breath.
  5. Hunting
    Since Labradors are retrievers, they have a high hunting drive. A Labrador was bred to hunt and retrieve, which is why it has all the characteristics you need for a dog with a high hunting drive. They can use the smell and tracking senses to hunt. In addition, a Labrador really enjoys hunting and retrieving.
  6. Pack
    Labradors have a high pack drive; they like to socialize with other animals and humans. Due to the high pack drive, they feel a very close connection to their family. This is why, they are so eager to have your attention at all times. Having a strong pack drive also has some drawbacks. When you leave them alone, it could make them anxious and scared, leading to destructive behaviors like chewing out the sofa.
  7. Play
    A Labrador is willing to play, whether it is the middle of the night, or if you are in the middle of eating your dinner. Unlike other dogs, an adult Labrador will be as playful as it was in puppyhood.  A lab’s high play drive can let you use it as a reward too. I don’t see a downside to this, who doesn’t want a playful and loving dog that never matures?
  8. Prey
    Labradors aren’t aggressive, but they are an animal that preys. It has a good prey drive, which you can control with training. To counter the prey drive, you can take the Labrador to hunting activities. I do think, it is important to reduce this drive; otherwise, you’d risk the Labrador bringing a small animal back home.
  9. Sex
    All animals, including humans, have a sex drive because we need it to survive. Labradors also have a sex drive, which is very noticeable when it’s high. When the lab has a high sex drive, you will often find it humping or mounted on something. You could either let have it spayed/neutered or simply let it mate.

Conclusion

To conclude, I would say, it is clear that Labradors are just not cut out to be aggressive. All you need to know is that it will protect you as long as it doesn’t have to bite/fight anyone. But it can always be trained to be a good guard dog.

Labradors were bred to hunt, and they can be easily trained. So, even though, they are naturally good-natured, you can easily train them to be good guard dogs. You just need to follow the five steps listed in the article.

Labradors are quite possibly the most loving dog you can own, which is why it isn’t in their blood to attack. It would rather be petted by the intruder than to attack him/her. On the flip side, you do have the friendliest good-natured dog. It is a great companion and loyal pet.

Related Questions

Are Labs protective of their owners?

Are Labs protective? Well, yes, to a degree. But they are not as protective or territorial as other breeds. They are very friendly towards people and other fellow animals. It won’t jump out at an intruder or attacker, but it may bark at it to protect you. Aggression is just not in their personality.

Are black labs protective?

The color of your lab doesn’t indicate whether or not it’s protective. Your black lab will still be that same playful dog with no worries about the world. Though you don’t have the aggressive dog you want, it is still far more intelligent. It can learn commands much easily as compared to other dog breeds.

Do Labradors make good guard dogs?

Labradors are a great dog breed to keep in the family. Their strong and intimidating appearance may convince you that it is a good guard dog. On the contrary, a Labrador is gentle and loving. They are more likely to cuddle with the intruder as opposed to attacking them. Even though it’s not in their nature to be a guard dog, you can train it to be one.

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