While Labrador Retrievers are mostly an easy going breed, they can definitely have anxiety. In fact, their ability to sense our moods and even if we are healthy or not might make them more prone to stress because they are highly attuned to their environment. You can help your Lab relax in stressful situations through training and/or changing the environment. In order to do this, however, you need to be able to read your dog’s body language. The following are some of the big signs your Labrador Retriever is feeling stressed or anxious.
#1 – Whining
If your Lab is stressed, he may whine a lot. Many dogs whine when they are stressed or nervous and labs are no exception. Some may bark or even growl as well, though Labradors seem to be whiners more than barkers when they are anxious.
#2 – Tucked Tail
That big thick rudder of a tail is great for letting you know what kind of mood your Labrador Retriever is in. When stressed, your lab may tuck his tail completely under, often clamping the base down hard to where you couldn’t pick it up without using some force. They may also hunch their body over and even cower or try to hide.
#3 – Lip Licking
Lip licking is a common sign of stress. Your Lab may lip lick and yawn when he is stressed. It’s usually a slower lip lick than when they are tasting something good. It can also look like a “flick” where the tongue comes out and goes back in without actually licking their lips.
#4 – Taking Treats Hard
If you train using positive reinforcement (or just happen to be feeding him) and your Lab is taking the food harder than he normally does, this is a sign of stress. You may even get bit by accident as your dog takes his nervous tension out on the food. This is a definite sign you need to change the environment.
#5 – Whale Eye
This is something a lot of dogs will do when stressed. “Whale eye” is when your dog’s eye bulge and the white around the iris is visible. It’s one of the most visible and obvious signs of stress for a Lab, especially a black or chocolate one because the white makes such a stark contrast against their dark fur. This is a definite sign that your Labrador is stressed or anxious.
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