Are Labradors Stubborn? How to Train a Stubborn Lab Step-by-Step

Labradors are the sweetest dogs ever, but all dogs have surprises, and one of the first surprises I found out early on in my life with my dogs was that they can also be strong-minded.

But, are Labradors stubborn? Labradors are not stubborn, they can be stubborn if they are bored due to a lack of exercise, also, if they start being stubborn suddenly then they are probably ill and need to go to the vet, however, a trained and socialized Labrador is not likely to be stubborn.

Handling and training a stubborn labrador, or any stubborn dog, can be quite tricky, and you must do it right as it will have long-lasting effects on their personality and behavior for the rest of their lives.

To know more about why your Labrador is stubborn and how to train a stubborn Labrador the right way, then just keep on reading.

Are Labrador Retrievers Normally stubborn?  

stubborn lab puppy to show why are labradors stubborn

Labradors are one of the people pleasers breed so they are not likely to be stubborn because they just want to.

They can be a little stubborn when they are puppies before being socialized or trained but once you train and socialize them they are going to be more obedient.

Labradors can also be stubborn out of pain so look for any signs of injuries or illness that may be the reason why they are behaving that way.

Lastly, make sure to give them enough training and exercise every day.

Why is your Labrador retriever stubborn?

Every dog has a unique personality and it can be formed by their genetics, environment, or their owner.

Some dogs can be stubborn due to their breed because their ancestors lived in the wild for too long and they still have that trait and the other dogs can be stubborn because of something we did.

So here are the most common reasons that could make your Labrador stubborn.

  • Illness 
  • Uncompleted training 
  • Boredom 
  • Rewarded the behavior 
  • Trained them wrong 


It’s more likely an illness if they start being stubborn all of the sudden, they are probably ill or injured.

So here are the most common signs of illness or injuries that they may show.

  • Change in their appetite 
  • Stiffness 
  • Limping 
  • Bad breath 
  • Cloudy eyes 
  • Sleeping more than usual 
  • Coughing 
  • Dry and itchy skin 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Change in their activity level 
  • Sneezing 
  • Sores 
  • Red eyes 
  • Excessive drinking 
  • Frequent digestive upsets 
  • Noticeable weight loss 
  • Excessive panting 

Incomplete training 

If you started to train them when they were young but then stopped for some reason then it’s more likely that your Labrador is going to be more stubborn as they grow older.

The best solution, in this case, is to continue training them and start where you left off and during the process keep reminding them of what you already trained them to do to keep their memory active.


Most dogs can misbehave when they are bored and it’s more likely if they started being stubborn on a day they didn’t get enough exercise or didn’t exercise at all.

You should exercise your dog at least an hour per day to make sure that your Labrador doesn’t show any stubbornness.

Here are some signs to help you know if your Labrador is bored.

  • Digging 
  • Pacing 
  • Chewing 
  • Excessive licking 
  • Panting without physical exertion 
  • Excessive scratching (without a reason)
  • Barking without a reason 
  • Pulling the stuffing from their toys 
  • Running away 
  • Over excitement 

Rewarded the behavior

It could be that you rewarded the behavior, for example, when your Labrador was being stubborn you petted them or gave them more attention so they can finally listen to you and now they connected that being stubborn is going to get them more attention and love so it must be a good thing and they will keep doing it.

So when they are being stubborn ignore them till they stop when they do, you can reward them and give them attention, and if they start being stubborn again stop and repeat till they understand that being stubborn ends all the fun. 

Trained them wrong 

Your Labrador may be stubborn because when you were training them, you rewarded them with the wrong things such as you may give them a treat they don’t like or a toy that they hate so they think that listening to you gets them things that they don’t like.

It can also be that you raised your voice at them or punished them when they were being stubborn so instead of being stubborn they stopped approaching at all.

How to train a stubborn Labrador retriever?

You can train a stubborn Labrador retriever with a few simple steps.

  • Use positive reinforcement to teach them the easiest and most basic commands, for example, if you want to train them to stop doing something, create the situation and say a firm no but in a gentle voice and to make a stubborn Labrador respond, you have to be consistent and patient so repeat it multiple times till they master it.
  • Avoid negative reinforcement, for example, don’t punish them or raise your voice at them because it can lead to them being aggressive and can make them more stubborn.
  • Make sure to give them enough exercise daily because most Labradors can misbehave when they don’t get enough exercise.
  • During the training period, make sure to make time for them every day because they won’t learn in one session and they can forget what you trained them if you forgot to remind them the next day.
  • Don’t forget that their diet has a great role in their life, so ensure that their diet is right for them and you can consult their vet about their diet.

It’s also worth mentioning that an easy solution to calm down a stubborn male labrador is to neuter them. You can learn how neutering a labrador calms him down here.

Mistakes to avoid when handling a stubborn Labrador?

When you are training a stubborn Labrador, there are a couple of mistakes you should avoid, so here are the most common ones.

  • Training them the commands should be at a really young age.
  • You need to set some rules and instructions for them as soon as they settle in the house.
  • Never punish or be aggressive with them because it will only make it worse.
  • Avoid making them do something that they hate.
  • Labradors can be stubborn out of fear, so make sure to comfort them if that stubbornness is out of fear.
  • Being impatient while handling a stubborn Labrador is the biggest mistake of them all.
  • When you are handling a stubborn Labrador, you need to be consistent.
  • If you have a stubborn Labrador then you probably shouldn’t miss any exercise because one of the reasons why Labradors can be stubborn is having too much pent-up energy.

Before you go, make sure to check out my guide to training and handling a stubborn golden retriever here as well as it has some extra tips and tricks that you will find helpful.

Related Questions 

Why are Labradors so stubborn?

Labradors can be really stubborn if they are not trained well or socialized when they are still young, they can also be stubborn if you rewarded that behavior, however, Labradors are people pleasers so if they started being stubborn all of the sudden then they are probably ill or depressed.

Are Labradors disobedient?

No, Labradors are not disobedient, they are really smart and like to make their owner happy by being obedient, however, there are a couple of things that could lead to disobedient such as lack of exercise, illness, anxiety, injury, depression, or they are misbehaving around certain people.

Why are Labrador puppies stubborn?

Labrador puppies are usually stubborn because they are not socialized or not trained yet. Also, you need to use the positive reinforcement method with puppies so they can learn faster. If your puppy doesn’t listen to you at all then maybe you should take them to the vet or a professional behaviorist.

Helpful Resources 

How to Train a Dog Who Won’t Listen

7 Strategies for Training a Stubborn Dog

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting and being part of our vibrant community.

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