Labradors are well-known for their die-hard loyalty and affection for their owners. And you may be wondering why and what could possibly explain their unwavering devotion to you.
From waiting for your return home to protecting you at all costs, there are various reasons why your lab have pledged its allegiance to you for life.
Here’s why labradors are exceptionally loyal:
Labradors were bred for close companionship as well as a working dog breed for the fishermen. Their excellent water and hunting skills, coupled with their supreme intelligence have made it easy for bonding with humans. These traits have since then been passed down to modern day labradors where their natural proclivity for bonding inevitably leads to loyalty.
Let’s unpack the in-depth reasons and factors behind their faithfulness in order for you to understand your pooch better.
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The History of The Breed
The key to their innate loyalty can be traced back to its breeding origins back in early 1800s. European fishermen settlers used to bring along their companion dogs to Newfoundland and after mass commingling with dogs of other breeds, a new St John’s dog breed was formed, which was a direct ancestor to the modern day Newfoundland dogs.
The St John’s dog breed then became extinct in the 1980s.
Historically, the Newfoundland dogs varied in sizes and the smaller end of the scale happened to be the labrador retrievers. The Newfoundland fishermen were amazed by these labs’ extraordinary skills with water, including their diving skills.
These labradors’ remarkable skills were then put to good use as fishermen’s helpers where the labs would assist in hauling nets, retrieving slipped cods in the water and fetching ropes for their fishermen owners.
These working dog breed(labs) were reported to be extremely loyal to their fishermen companions as they were incredibly proficient with commands, and they were eager to please their owners on deck.
As a result of this, they formed strong bond with their owners and are very attached to them; coupled with their exceptional intelligence and water skills that have made these labs a necessary companion for work.
These traits were then passed down to the subsequent descendants which is why loyalty and friendliness are deeply ingrained in modern day labs.
Furthermore, labradors are aware that you provide for them and hence, they’re naturally predisposed to your sustanence for security and survival issues.
That doesn’t mean that they’ll monkey branch onto the next owner who has better treats but rather, their unwavering loyalty lies with those who have reliably raised them from scratch. And they’re very much well aware of it.
Also, their loyalty comes from an instinctual drive to incentivize our provisions and attention as a sign of their gratefulness.
How loyal are Labradors?
We’ve already known how prominent labradors are for their unwavering loyalty, but just how loyal are they? And to what extent will they go out their way to protect you? Let’s dive into it below.
Are labradors loyal to only one person?
Labradors are predisposed to be attached to the leader of the household or to whomever who gives attention the most to it. With that said, they are also extremely friendly and amiable with just about everybody in a casual manner.
This is because labs have been bred to socialize and they’re social butterflies by nature, driven by their instincts to seek the companion of humans and other dogs alike. And they can be so in the moment for the most part.
However, that doesn’t negate the fact that labradors do get extremely attached to their owners over time. Labs will only listen to their owners’ commands, and they will only casually interact with strangers for the sake of treats and out of curiosity and wonders of the world.
Nonetheless, labs will see their parent owners as part of their family and they’ll likely gravitate to at least one person who gives the most attention to it.
Incidents that proved Lab’s loyalty
There has been numerous incidents where labs have been exceptionally loyal to their owners. One of those occasions is when a lab named Max who stayed by its missing demented owner’s side in the woods for 3 days in a row amidst the heat and rain without food in its bid to save the owner. Its constant barking had alerted passersby and in the end, the owner was finally rescued thanks to the heroic Lab.
Also, another instance where loyalty is displayed is when a labrador wouldn’t leave his buddy’s side even in its time of need right in the middle of the road. A black labrador remained by his yellow labrador buddy as it laid unconscious on the road until animal control came and helped out. Unfortunately the yellow labrador past away from being hit by a car.
These events just to name a few have portrayed Labrador’s immense loyalty that knows no bounds and they will be by your side no matter what.
Are female or male labs more loyal?
While it’s hard to pin point a labrador’s level of loyalty solely on their genders as other factors such as personality, upbringing and genetics should be taken into consideration, there are biological differences between the two when it comes to loyalty.
Male labs are generally more prone to attention seeking behavior and they may pine for your presence and affection even more than female labs because they tend to mature slower than their female counterparts.
Male labs also generally more playful and goofier, and hence why male labradors are seen as more attached and loyal to their owners from the surface.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean male labradors are even more devoted to their owners. Both genders are equally as loyal, though male labradors would take a step further to protect their owners from harm’s way.
From my experience, labs are more affectionate with opposite gendered humans as female dogs have the instincts to protect the pack whereas male dogs are more inclined towards guarding the territory.
On the other hand, though male labradors may seem even more superficially loyal; female labs may generally be more affectionate and are more predisposed to having their personal down time.
In the end, it all depends on each of their personal temperament and from how they were bred.
Tips to maximizing a lab’s loyalty
Labradors, and dogs in particular have deeply ingrained instincts to please their owners in order to win our approval. So it’s important for us to reassure them of our approval to maximize their loyalty for us. Here’s 3 tips on how you could do so.
Constant positive reinforcements
Positive reinforcement goes a long way in training your lab to know that your attention is worth everything to them. Rewarding them of their good behavior will make your lab associate good feelings with you in the moment and this will lead them to obeying you even more till it eventually becomes a habit.
It’s crucial to note that you should only reward them with treats or with their favorite toy in moments where they’re on their best behavior or when you’re pleased with their response. Your lab would then know they’ve pleased you and will in turn, get a good feeling out of it.
Make your lab earn the treats and rewards or they’ll get complacent with this technique.
Be the ultimate source of joy to them
The other way on how you could instill loyalty is to let your lab know that you’re the leader and it will then naturally gravitate to you for the source of all the fun and good things. As they say, dogs are loyal to the hands that feed them.
And your lab will intuitively know that you sustain them and that you’re the key to its survival and joy. Your lab will in turn be naturally loyal to you so that the provisions will not be taken away. It’s survival mechanism at play.
You have to establish yourself as the controller of food, rewards and playtime in order to establish structure and discipline. Make your lab sit and wait for the food and let them eat on your command.
Apply this to the rest of its routines as well, and sooner or later it’ll realize that you are the leader and the sole sustainer. This will also encourage its utmost attention to you.
Consistency and predictability is crucial to letting your lab trust you as it wouldn’t end up getting wary of you. Being consistent in engaging with your lab would make it easier for it to bond with you because they’re natural pleasers. And spending more time with your lab will make them want to please you more, and hence the seed of loyalty will be planted in them.
It’s important to note that regularity breeds loyalty in dogs. Be sure to spare some time everyday for your pooch and engage in activities that have you focusing on them.
That way – they are mentally, and physically stimulated to please you and in turn be devoted to you.
What you shouldn’t do to break a lab’s trust & loyalty
A Labrador’s loyalty should never be taken for granted as they love us more than they love themselves and it’s incumbent upon us not to break their trust and loyalty. Here are 4 things you should NEVER do:
Direct or vent your anger at it
Though you may be tempted to take it out on your pooch after a bad day or after it had frustrated you, you should never vent your anger at it. Your pooch will never be able to comprehend your anger, and it will only drive your pooch away or worst, you’ll drown your lab in sadness.
Instead, acknowledge their presence by petting or caressing it whenever your lab makes an effort to greet you. Never ignore your pooch and do provide what it needs for the day.
As a matter of fact, Labs may actually soothe your feelings by their very mere presence if you’re having a bad day.
Recommended reading: Why Do Labradors Steal Things? (and Food!) What To Do About It?
Physical punishment and yelling
Also, it’s crucial to avoid physical punishment and yellings at your lab in case it misbehaves. It’s not only counterproductive to correcting their behavior, but it also promotes distress and mistrust.
It’s best to only use positive reinforcements to correct your lab’s behavior and to bear patience with their carelessness. Your pooch will always associate good feelings to winning your approval, and physical punishment will only break their spirits.
Check also on how a Labrador’s exceptional ability to sense can pick up on human vocal cues: Can Labradors Sense? (Illness, Emotions, Sadness, etc)
Defying your lab’s expectations by being unpredictable will only breed confusion in your pooch. And it’ll be hard for your Lab to bond with you if you’re not consistent with your actions around it.
If your lab is left alone for irregular periods of time or if you snap all of a sudden with it, then your lab may grow cautious of you and that will lead to distrust.
Not taking heed of their uncomfortability
Forcing your lab to engage in a particular activity that don’t interest them may create distress. Also, forcing them to be in a situation that’s uncomfortable will invoke fear and aggression, and that may lead to distrust.
Hence, it’s important to take heed of their emotional response in any given unfamiliar situations. It’s best to always stick to activities that appeal to their instincts such as hunting, fishing, retrieving, etc.
Coax them gently with a reassuring and soothing voice whenever they’re uncomfortable and be sure to retreat right away. This will make your pooch feel better and consequently build trust with you which then leads to loyalty.
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