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Why Does My Lab Bark So Much?

What would you say if your Labrador Retriever could talk to you? Surprisingly enough, Labs do actually
“speak” to you and others through body language and barking. But between these two types of canine communication, there’s one that most people don’t like to hear: dogs barking. 

It’s loud, excessive, and disruptive. And at times, it feels like the dog is barking just to make noise. These descriptions are all accurate, but there’s a reason for all the commotion — your Lab is talking to you.

The challenge of owning a Labrador Retriever is translating and curbing their barking. Continue reading this article to learn why your Labrador barks at seemingly random times and how you can teach them to bark less.

How Much Does a Labrador Retriever Bark?

Compared to other breeds, Labs are moderate barkers. Whereas some breeds have excessive barking habits, Labs are a little more reserved. However, they’re not like breeds that only bark to alert you of danger, so you’ll likely find your dog barking periodically throughout the day for various reasons.

It’s essential for you and your dog’s well-being that you learn to understand what they’re saying and why they think barking is a great way to get your attention.

It’s important to note that not all Labs bark the same amount. Some will “talk” more than others. How much your pet barks comes down to temperament and personality.

Your dog’s temperament is its underlying nature. You can determine their temperament by looking at:

  • How do they react to people? Are they playful, shy, or calm? A dog that gets excited around people will bark more than one who is comfortable in crowds.
  • How developed are their socialization skills? Dogs who were socialized properly at a young age are more accepting of new people/animals/situations from a young age and are less reactive around other animals and people.
  • What are their energy and activity levels? An energetic dog is less likely to exhibit quiet behavior than a docile dog.

How willing are they to be trained? Some Labs are natural people pleasers and are interested in learning commands and listening when told not to bark, while others are more independent and have to get the last word in.

Personality is how your pet’s character develops based on their experiences, environment, genetics, and socialization. So, you can influence their personality somewhat through proper training and socialization.

For example, if your Lab spends time around other dogs that bark a lot, they might think barking is fun and engage in it more than a dog that lives a quieter lifestyle. Likewise, if you train your dog to bark when someone comes to the door, they might associate barking with pleasing their owner and start doing so more frequently. 

Figuring out your dog’s temperament and personality is an excellent way to learn more about why they’re barking. Are they barking for attention? Do they start barking when they want to go outside? Are they vocal when they’re nervous?

Dogs that are protective or skittish will bark more since they’re easily bothered by external stressors and more territorial. On the contrary, your dog might be more laid back and passive. If this is the case, your dog may not bark much except to alert you of danger.

Personality and temperament play a pivotal role in your Labrador Retriever’s barking habit because they indicate what, if anything, would get your dog’s attention. If you can first figure out whether or not your dog likes to bark, that will help you determine why they’re barking in the future.

Additionally, your dog might bark more or less based on how much you encourage it to bark. Some people love to sing with their dogs, so they’ll encourage their Labs to bark and howl along.

Encouraging your dog to be more vocal is fine if it works for your lifestyle, but in most cases, people want to reserve barking for important communication, not for playtime.

If you’ve determined your dog’s temperament, personality, and training regimen, and you’re still unhappy with how much they bark, consider why your dog might be barking in the first place.

10 Reasons Your Lab Barks (And What It’s Trying to Tell You)

Barking is how your dog communicates with you. Translating Labrador barking into logical messages gives you, the owner, insight into what they’re trying to tell you.

In most cases, body language accompanies Lab barking, which can help you determine what your dog is trying to say. Learning how to read your Lab’s bark and body language — like shivering, snarling, a tucked or straight tail, or baring teeth — is essential for understanding what they’re trying to tell you.

Labradors bark for many reasons. Although they’re not inherently excessive barkers, it’s good to know why they might be vocal. The most common reasons for barking are:

  • Playing
  • Fear
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • New environment
  • Frustration
  • Boredom
  • Protection
  • Attention
  • Needing to use the bathroom

Reason #1: Playing

One of the biggest reasons your Labrador barks at you is because he wants you to play with him. Labs are excellent companions and loyal to their owners. One of the ways they develop a strong relationship with their owners is through playing.

Barking to play is the dog’s way of saying it wants your attention now. Tail wagging and a crouched stance often accompany the barking when they are in a playful mood.

If you keep your dog to a pretty strict play schedule, the dog will put that schedule to the test. When your dog senses that it’s playtime, they’ll fight for your attention, so prepare to stick to the schedule you’ve laid out for them to prevent barking problems.

Even though Labs are highly adaptable dogs, having a schedule helps them know when it’s playtime. A playing schedule is a great way to teach your dog when to use its boundless energy and when to be patient and quiet.

Reason #2: Fear

When a dog is afraid of something, they bark. It’s similar to how people cry or scream when they’re scared. This audible reaction is common, and you’ll find your dog will also tuck its tail and pin its ears back in fearful situations.

A dog can be fearful of people, other dogs, wild animals, situations, and environments. In these instances, you must protect your dog, even if the threat isn’t as scary as it seems, like meeting a new person. 

Your dog needs to know you’ll protect it from harm. Otherwise, it might become aggressive. Protect your dog by removing it from the situation and rewarding it for good behavior. When your dog learns that you will keep it safe, it will come to you for protection instead of resorting to barking.

Reason #3: Aggression

Sometimes dogs will bark out of aggression. Most aggression comes from the fear that was ignored/pushed, a scared dog can escalate into aggressiveness to protect itself, and barking is one of the tell-tale signs that this is happening.

During these moments, your dog is trying to protect itself. When barking, it’s warning the other person, dog, or animal to back away and leave it alone.

Aggressive barking is a deep bellow and often includes growling. The dog’s body is rigid and pointed, with the hair on its back standing up.

Reason #4: Anxiety

It’s common for dogs to miss their owners and suffer from separation anxiety. Although this is partly due to training and socialization, some dogs, just like people, suffer from anxiety more than others.

If you have an anxious Labrador Retriever, don’t fret. Your wonderful dog needs some extra help. If you think your Labrador’s barking stems from anxiety, look for these signs:

  • Nervous body language — constantly searching for you, pacing, and uneasiness
  • Whining
  • Crying
  • Whimpering
  • Lip licking
  • Shake off
  • Avoidance
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils

If you determine that your dog is barking because of anxiety, you’ll want to find ways to curb that barking when you leave.

A smart and effective option is to leave your dog with a mentally-stimulating treat, like a frozen toy with peanut butter. A treat like this will distract them while you leave and allow your dog to learn that your leaving isn’t a bad thing. 

Be sure you are not making a big deal out of your coming home or leaving as it can increase the anxiety. Simply just put them in or let them out and do not pet them excessively. Also crating while you are home so they are not associating the kennel with you leaving.

Reason #5: Different Environment

Whether you travel a lot or infrequently, your dog might not adjust to new environments easily. In these situations, your dog could bark because it’s unsure of different surroundings.

A new environment can instill fear, anxiety, and attention-seeking behavior in a dog. These emotions often show themselves in the form of barking because your dog wants your attention so you can help them out of the situation.

Depending on how long you’re in the specific location, your dog can acclimate to the new environment and eventually stop barking.

Reason #6: Frustration

Just like people, dogs can get frustrated. Your Lab might bark to express this frustration, whether they’re irritated with another dog or a person.

Labradors can get frustrated over many things, like a lack of attention, minimal playtime, a ball they can’t get to, or a squirrel or rabbit outside the window. 

Lab barking happens when the dog is frustrated because their primal instincts want to take over, but there’s no way for them to act on them.

For example, if your Lab sees a bird across the fence, they’ll naturally want to hunt it — after all, a history of Labrador puppies shows that Newfoundland natives bred them for bird hunting. But with a fence in the way, the Lab can’t act on instinct and is left frustrated knowing the bird is inaccessible.

Reason #7: Boredom

When a dog is bored, it will find something to fill its time. A dog can do several things like play or chew, but some dogs opt to bark when they’re bored.

Although most of the boredom barking might happen when you’re gone, your pet can bark out of boredom when you’re home, too.

A bored dog can lead to many other problems, but it’s a relatively simple fix — distract your Lab with engaging activities.

Some popular, engaging activities include going for a walk, playing tug, mentally stimulating games, training, and toys that require your Labrador to use its nose and brain to find treats.

Reason #8: Protection

Another reason why your Labrador Retriever might bark is to protect the family. Although these dogs are amiable and excellent for families, they have a pack mentality. Labs want to keep their family safe, so they will bark to warn you if they sense danger.

The perceived danger can be legitimate or nothing to worry about, depending on what has your dog’s attention. For example, dogs can be skittish around feathers or random objects they’ve never seen before. These probably don’t pose a risk to your family, but your Lab doesn’t know that.

In other instances, the protective ability of your Lab may come in handy. Labs are great waterdogs and spend a lot of time outdoors. Snakes, coyotes, and other animals that could threaten your family in the outdoors might get too close for comfort, and having a Lab as protection is a great way to recognize and address the threat.

If your protective Lab finds a threat, chances are it’s barking at it and directly facing the perceived enemy.

Reason #9: Attention

Labradors are excellent family dogs, which explains why they can be protective at times — they care about their pack. But the flipside to protection is that they want you to give them attention and recognize that they’re a part of the family.

If a Labrador feels like you’re not paying enough attention to them, it may bark. Typical attention-seeking behavior includes:

  • Barking
  • Staring at you
  • Sitting within reach
  • Trying to play when you pet them
  • Bringing you toys or a leash

As one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, a Lab will quickly learn what works to get your attention. If they find that barking works best, they will continue to do it until they learn otherwise.

If you don’t want your Lab to bark at you for attention, don’t react to their barking. Dogs can’t distinguish between negative and positive reactions if, in the end, they get what they want — your attention and some playtime.  

If you want your dog to get your attention in another manner, you need to train and reward them when they behave appropriately.

Reason #10: Needing to Use the Bathroom

Dogs age faster than humans, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop crying to go to the bathroom, especially if you reward the behavior with attention and give them what they need.

While not all dogs do this, some will bark to let you know they need to use the bathroom outside. Some owners may find this annoying and frustrating, while others may like that the dog uses an audible tool to get their attention for a potty break.

If you don’t want your Lab barking at you when it needs to use the bathroom, train it to use other methods, like ringing bells or bringing you the leash.

Teaching Your Lab When Barking Is Acceptable

Barking is a dog’s natural form of communication, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the only form. There are many other ways your dog can speak to you, like through body language, language boards, and bringing you toys or tools.

There are plenty of options available for dog training for those who want to minimize their dog’s barking.

You can opt to work on it yourself by watching YouTube dog training tutorials and accessing other online resources. While this method is often the most affordable, it may take longer since you’re not a certified trainer.

Another method is to work with a trainer specializing in reducing barking behaviors. This method is excellent because you and your dog learn how to rewire the connection between barking and stimuli.

Your trainer will encourage you to reward your Lab when the dog stops barking. Additionally, the trainer can answer your questions along the way and give you valuable feedback.

We recommend using our Snowy Pines Puppy University. With three different Wagology training programs, you can find the best method and teach your dog everything he needs to know.

Whichever option you decide to use, make sure you thoroughly research your training tools to ensure they’re safe, well-tested, and efficient.


A barking dog isn’t always a problem, but there are times when you don’t want your Lab to bark. To better understand your dog’s primary form of communication — barking — you need to learn why dogs bark in the first place.

A dog will bark while playing with you or out of fear, aggression, or anxiety. If it’s in a new environment and uncomfortable, it will bark. Dogs also bark when frustrated or bored, if they want your attention, or if they are protecting you. And lastly, Labrador Retrievers might bark when they need to use the bathroom.

Thankfully, the barking often comes with body language, so you can learn to quickly read the situation and understand what your dog is trying to tell you.

The most important thing to know about a barking dog is that he’s trying to talk to you and let you know how he’s feeling. Also, with training, you can help your Lab bark less. 

If you’re looking to bring a new Lab puppy home, Snowy Pines White Labs has Labrador puppies available. And before we send them to their forever homes, we teach them how to be well-behaved and ready to experience their new life in our puppy training program. Contact us to learn about our available puppies today!

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About the Author


Tom Massey

Tom Massey has owned and operated Snowy Pines Labradors for over a decade. They have become the leaders in English Labradors in the US. He and his team serve customers all over the US and Europe. They house their "dog family" in a state of the art facility on a large farm in the Ozark Mountains. With an obsession for genetics and temperament they raise and train dogs known across the globe for health and personality. Tom serves the pet industry in many forms campaigning for ethical breeding, training, and pet ownership.


Calm Tempered, AKC Purebred, and Certified Genetics.