How to Piss Off A Labrador Owner

I get comments like this:

“Oh, you’re so lucky. Labs are so easy to train.”

Or this:

“Ace is so easy. My dog won’t do that.”

These comments don’t piss me off, but they make me feel like all my hours of work (like, literally thousands of hours) with Ace mean nothing.

These comments imply my dog is obedient simply because he’s a Lab mix or an “easy” dog.

Have any of you experienced anything like this with the kind of dog you own?

For example, maybe you have a border collie, and someone said something like, “Oh, agility must be really easy for you.”

Ugh, frustrating, right?

My Lab mix Ace at the park

How to Piss Off A Golden Retriever Owner

The blog Something Wagging This Way Comes, written by Pamela and her dog Honey, had such an interesting post on this topic. You can read the whole post here.

From Something Wagging:

It happened again.

With a hand signal, I asked Honey to lie down on the ground quietly. The person I was talking to said the one thing guaranteed to piss off a golden retriever owner: “Aww, aren’t goldens great? My dog would never do that.”


Read the full post here.

Have any of you experienced anything like this?

As a Labrador owner, I am actually concerned for all the Labradors and golden retrievers out there faced with such high expectations. I’ve written about this here.

These breeds are spoken so highly of that people actually believe retrievers are automatically friendly, sociable, obedient and gentle.

They’re often recommended as first dogs or as good dogs for families with children because they’re “so great.”

But, as you all know, retrievers are far from perfect!

Retrievers are often high energy. They’re usually strong and exuberant.

They often like to jump on people, and to grab or carry things in their mouths.

They typically like to dive head first into open water.

They’re known as chewers, especially as puppies.

Ever had a golden jump up and slam into your chest? I have. It’s not fun.

My Lab mix knocked me flat on my back one time in pursuit of his ball. I think I even cried. My dog didn’t even notice he hit me!

And automatically friendly? Not necessarily so.

There’s this golden in our apartment complex, and for a lack of a better term, that dog is real A-hole! He’s walked on a retractable leash, and whenever he sees us, he lunges and growls at Ace. We actually joke about him sometimes, like, “Oh, God, here comes that asshole again.”

I’m sure he’s really sweet when he’s not around other pets, as most reactive dogs are. But the point is – gasp! – golden retrievers can be reactive too, just like any breed.

And one more thing … my dog IS easy!

In all honesty, my dog IS easy.

He IS easy to train. He picks up on new concepts almost immediately.

He’s treat, praise and toy motivated, almost in equal amounts.

If I ask him to sit, it doesn’t even cross his mind to ignore me. He sits, and then gazes up at me, like, “I’m a good boy, right?”

But Ace doesn’t act this way because he’s a Lab. He acts this way for all sorts of reasons like his individual personality, a good upbringing, lots of love and exercise and socialization and of course hours of training over many years.

He’s 9 years old now, and we still train every single day because it helps my dog and I be the best team we can be.

We communicate. We trust one another. We have fun!

That’s what dog training is all about for me. That’s what owning and loving any type of dog means to me. Breed has very little to do with anything.

How about you guys?

Have any of you ever received similar comments about your dog’s breed? What does training and working with your dog mean to you?

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47 thoughts on “How to Piss Off A Labrador Owner”

  1. Well you don’t need me to say, Amen. But I will anyway. Amen!

    There has got to be a t-shirt we can wear that shares the importance of bonding and training in creating our “perfect” dogs.

    It didn’t make it into my original post, but I also go nuts when people reach down to pet Honey or touch her face while we’re walking by. Or worse, letting their kids do it.

    I know they wouldn’t do that if she was a GSD or pittie. But what makes them think every dog, even a friendly dog, wants a stranger’s hands in their face?

    Ugh. See what you started?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I notice that with Ace, too. People see “black Lab” and they assume they can reach out and pet him. They also allow their kids to run right up to him. He is good with all people of all ages, but they should not assume this, obviously. Plenty of Labs have fear aggression or are not good with kids or strangers reaching for them.

  2. “Oh, God, here comes that asshole again.”
    Haha, this post cracked me up! But honestly, that must be frustrating. We have a-hole dogs in our complex, too that we avoid like the plague (looking at you, dude that runs his boxer on his skateboard with a retractable lead and jokes about his dog eating other people’s).
    Terriers aren’t known for their glowing personalities, so I’m lucky enough to get dismissive comments about my training efforts rarely. I think the only one I ever get is “terriers are so smart!” and I think about how at the dog park my terrier is the canine equivalent of the special needs kid that runs around hitting people and thinks he’s playing tag.
    I will be honest though; I sometimes judge a dog by his breed before I know him. Just the other day on a walk we were about to pass a family getting out of a car with their dog. Now, Hiccup is very reactive, but only if the other dog barks/lunges first. Normally in this situation I would cross the street, but the dog was a corgi. I have literally NEVER been barked at by a corgi, or anything negative by a corgi. So I just passed right by them (after making eye contact with the owner to check if they were making the “oh-no-here-comes-a-dog” face. They weren’t) and nothing happened. This was a stupid thing to do and I’m lucky the dog was as friendly as I assumed it to be.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Haha! So glad I could make you laugh! Your comment cracked me up as well! 🙂

      Funny about the corgis, too. The corgis I have seen at the beach are quite annoying, often running around barking and herding everyone. So, there I go judging …

  3. Finding this blog was an act of self preservation when a 2yo hound blend joined – or more accurately, took over -our menagerie. My Significant Otter, a dog owner (and recovering alcoholic) for DECADES, explained her complete lack of training or intetest in learning wirh “What do you expect? She’s a hound. That’s how they are.” To which i finally responded “And you’re an alcoholic. But YOU learned!”
    Thanks to this blog, my part-time helper Morgan, and Cesar Millan’s methods, Zu is making great strides and proving that breeding highlights characteristics but does not limit her potential.
    Update: Zu charged out the door 3 months after her last escape and subsequent vet visit, and CAME BACK ON COMMAND! Surely this is the best testimony on finding the right answers for individual dogs and not limiting their future by blaming breeding or their history. Thanks, Lindsay, for this forum..

  4. My sister had a lab and my mom got the dog based on the positive things most people hear about. This lab turned out to be the negative that most don’t hear about. The dog had severe seperation anxiety issues , hated the lake, and was generally pretty dim.

    I do highly agree with the point that people should have a healthier respect of strange dogs or even familiar dogs. I refuse to take me dog to the local park because parents don’t watch their children and I am still working with my dog. He is highly excited by children and just wants to play but he does get to jumpy and can easily hurt a child in his excitement. I have resorted to taking him to my parents house to gain exposure to small children via my baby brother and sister who are both special needs. So far he is doing very well. My next step is taking him pet friendly stores. There might less injuries if people approached dogs properly.

  5. Thanks Lindsay for this information. I think your saying of the following is a great regular practice: “… He [the dog] acts this way for all sorts of reasons like his individual personality, a good upbringing, lots of love and exercise and socialization and of course hours of training over many years.” The above mentioned is a great training package that I definitely follow.

    Seven, my 4-year old 80 lb. female Rottweiler, is learning a new routine of going to the water bowel to have some water before our going out (visiting or exercise); she starts developing this habit after I praise and/or hug her each time she drinks water.

    I learned recently that LOL is out and Haha is in.

  6. Boy or Girl, Lindsay nailed it when it comes to training ANY breed. To do it right takes a lot of hard work and both you and your dog have to ENJOY the training.. Just go to your local dog park (if you have one) and watch the frustrated owners who claim there dog is trained.
    Keep up the GREAT ARTICLE’S Lindsay! You have the total respect and admiration of a whole lot of dog lovers…

  7. I get the opposite. Bella is a Maremma sheepdog, a livestock guardian dog and, though gentle by nature, a very independent and stubborn breed. LGDs require A LOT of patience (not that other dogs don’t but this is a special kind of patience, one I didn’t think I was built with).

    She’s going on 17 months and still a defiant little bi*** when she wants to be. I have been told by some people “give her to me for a weekend and I’ll show her what’s what.”

    Um … no. From the way I’ve seen their dogs behave (cowering at the show of a hand), no dog of mine will ever be left alone with these jerks.

  8. Twisted and his four little Angels

    Dear Mutts one and all
    I am emailing from the other side of the universe / computer in good old GB.
    That’s Great Britain, not Good Boy, I would read it till the end first. I get condescending looks and comments as well as mothers dragging there little angel away as he is trying to kick or hit one of my babies regularly and I have to smile and explain to mother dearest that if little dumbo darling manged to kick one of the dogs and it yelps there is a good chance of the little darling being turned into dog chow. Another fav of mine is,
    AAAAAAAAAhhhhhhhh as they jump into the track of speeding cars because my lot looked at them and licked there lips. Oh My God, reality check. Get a Grip, my killers are always on leads and are under control all but on a very rare occasion and even then I make a noise or command loud enough and there back focusing on me.
    I know it must be scary for some people seeing me and four Staffies but be calm don’t stare them out or kick them and they don’t care about you at all.
    I am the centre of there universe and there too worried about me running off and leaving them to worry about you.
    I have even gone so far as wearing a sweatshirt with “you look after your kids and let me worry about the Staffies.”
    That’s how bad it can be in the dog loving UK. Yours waggingly,
    Ratch, Patch, Goldy and Tiny

  9. This is so true. On the other hand, I also get a lot of comments from lab/golden/retriever owners saying, “How come yours is so good?” or “How did you get her to do that?”

  10. We have the opposite problem. People want to know what is wrong with us that we don’t always behave as asked. They don’t get the independent breed types at all. One just has to forget most people and move on.

  11. I think that everybody takes offense at so many things these days … if somebody says something nice about my dog, I’m glad they like my dog. I don’t care why.

    You know how much work you put in, if they don’t understand how things work, they don’t. You can always explain in a positive manner how you arrived to where you are to the benefit of their dog.

    My bottom line is, if you like my dog and my dog likes you, I don’t care about anything else.

  12. Agreed! I’ve actually found that labs and goldens vary greatly in energy level, intelligence and temperament. When these dogs are high strung, untrained and dumb…yikes. Watch out. I almost got my hand taken off when 2 labs from the same family jumped on me, grabbed a bag of treats from my hand and then proceeded to get in a fight over them. I would never assume sainthood out of any breed.

    Though people are mostly open minded, I have on occasion found the opposite having pit mixes. People will be so surprised that they are well behaved and friendly. I’m thinking of course they are, they are just dogs who are loved, trained and inherently friendly.

  13. The only thing that I get, that both makes me laugh and roll my eyes are these statements when I’m out with our dogs…

    “Who’s walking whom???”
    “You should get a sled!!!”
    “Looks like they’re walking you???”
    “Are you a dog walker or something???”

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Ugh, yes. I hear the “Who’s walking who?” fairly often when walking large dogs, even when I have them under control at my side. I know people are just trying to be friendly when they say that, but I roll my eyes too.

  14. “I wish I had a German Shepherd when I was a kid. They are highly trainable.”
    “Well, yes, but you still have to train them.”
    “Yeah, it’s easy. That’s why police chooses the breed.”

    1. I work with my GSD nearly daily. We attend training classes weekly and will for her whole life if we are lucky – we love “school.”

      It’s not terribly difficult in the sense that she loves to learn and wants to please, and she’s bright. It’s challenging because she is bright and learns something with every interaction whether I intend it or not! If we didn’t have that structure, we would be lost. I think people don’t realize the work that went into making her a pretty nice dog.

  15. Stereotypes are everywhere – good and bad. I have a Lab who is not easy – Jack is or was anxious and unfriendly. It took hard work to get him to let all that baggage go and be accepting of strangers to the point where I can let him greet folks without worrying!

  16. It’s funny how some people have those preconceived notions about certain breeds or even dogs in general, but I’ll bet most people have come across a poorly behaved lab at some point in time. I always like hearing about the few in a breed type that defy the norms like the low-energy lab or the beagle that always comes when called.

  17. I think getting pissed off is an extreme reaction. I don’t see what’s wrong with someone saying, “Aww, aren’t [insert breed here] great? My dog would never do that.” When someone says something like this, I bask in the compliment. “My dogs ARE pretty great, thank you,” (smile). Depending on the situation, I might also take an opportunity to educate them on just how much training I’ve done with them, and how much training I continue to do.

    1. I feel very proud when someone praises my dog. 🙂 But I wouldn’t say that all German Shepherds are easy and you should totally get one, they come trained, ha ha. 😉

  18. Oh, one other thing: People wondering why your dog can lie down calmly at an outdoor cafe. Their dog would never do that. Why is that, they ask. Oh, yeah, my dog is neutered and theirs isn’t. That’s the conclusion. I have it so easy.

  19. What I have to add? I am a year into raising a German Shepherd. NOW I feel like maybe I could handle raising a Lab. Don’t get me wrong, I love Labs, but I hold no illusions about their energy and drive levels. I would not have been remotely prepared a year ago. Now I have confidence I wouldn’t totally mess it up.

  20. Misty and I just completed her first obedience class today. She got a scarf/bandanna and some treats. She did very well, but as you said the training goes on. People always tell me how cute, darling she is and what a good girl she is. We are both happy with the positive remarks. Misty enjoys the attention.

  21. Thank you so much for this; making broad generalizations is my biggest pet peeves when it comes to dogs. So many people assume so much just by the way a dog looks. I had more problems keeping my Lab out of trouble than I did my Aussie mix – go figure. Our Lab was by far the most active dog I’ve ever owned (worse than Laika) and unfortunately if he wasn’t kept busy enough he’d chew on furniture. He did not mature until he was 5 years old, it was like living with a puppy up until that point.

    The one thing that’s true is that each of my dogs has become pretty well behaved because of extensive training, it didn’t come naturally to any of them.

  22. Our pups are Boxer/Chow-Chow Mixes, and I suppose there are no preconceptions about their trainability, so I’ve never received those types of comments, but BOY, must it be annoying!! It takes a lot of time, effort, patience and consistency to train ANY breed, so people stating how lucky you are to have an easily trainable Lab obviously have no clue about dog training at all.

  23. Totally agree Lindsay! As you mentioned in your post, I have a border collie and keep being told how easy they are because they are thought to be the smartest dog! People don’t realise, you need to train your dog to use their brain!

    We have a friend staying with us for a month who has a 2 year old puggle! This dog has very little training – he can sit and that’s about it. In fact, he responds to “no” more than his own name so that would give you an idea as to how bad of a dog he is! The owner is constantly saying “oh I wish my dog was as calm as yours”, “I wish my dog was as well behaved as yours”. Doesn’t even think of the countless hours I spent training my dogs or the two walks they get on a daily basis to keep their energy down! He does no training, walks his dog once every couple of days and expects him to behave like my two….No, I worked hard to get my dogs the way they are!

    Great post!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I feel like the smarter the dog is, the harder it is to train, at least for some things.

      Your example with the puggle is such a good one! That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

  24. I learned rather young that a breed doesn’t ensure certain behavior. I’ve always loved animals and have trained MANY dogs since I’m the oldest child and the most responsible. Plus, my family ends up giving our dogs to family cause we move or they just don’t work out( lucky family members get my well trained dogs we spent tons of money on. Talk about lucky!). Well one day I was at the park behind our house walking Lucy our Pom mix. She was going to be fixed in a week because we didn’t know what the other half of the mix was. While walking along, a golden retriever started following us. I assumed he belonged to couple in front of me. The dog started to sniff Lucy and I guessed that she might have entered heat that weekend. So I nicely asked the couple to have their dog leave mine alone. They said ” what dog? “. I realized this wasn’t some ill cared for golden, it was a stray. So I headed home faster and tried to keep Lucy away from him. But this dog really wanted my baby girl! He started to nip at her so I picked Lucy up. Only then, the golden started biting and chasing me! I was only 10 years old. I screamed for help only to watch everyone in the park stare at me and do nothing. I even knew most of these people. Thankfully my uncle heard screams and came running with a large branch at the golden. I was bitten and scratched and crying. Lucy was slaking with fear in my arms. As my uncle called the cops and went to take me home, some kid came up and yelled at him for being so mean to that nice dog… ??? Really? I guess a golden retriever can do no wrong in people’s eyes… To this day, I don’t blame the dog. He was only following his instincts. But I do blame the people who stood by and watched, believing that I was fine just because it was a golden retriever.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh my, so scary. We have a nasty golden retriever that lives in our apartment complex. He growls and lunges at my dog and at my husband and at other men, delivery people, etc. It’s scary!

  25. Honey came to me as a 2 year old golden retriever. She was adopted out twice and brought back twice. So yep I took her. She’s beautiful and small and had so many behavioral problems! I worked with a professional trainer off and on for 3 years. Then we did some group classes, then group obedience and rally classes. Then we got into agility! By now she’s 7 and nobody thought she’d “make it”. At 11 1/2 we got out first championship and our second a year later! She’s 14 1/2 now and will still run a course in the yard perfectly! She will be featured in the rescues calendar as a golden oldie!

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