why does my labrador always have something in his mouth

Why Does My Labrador Always Have Something in His Mouth?

Does your Labrador seem to be tempted to put something in its mouth at all times? You may ask why your Labrador has often been putting objects in its mouth and what you can do to stop it. This article will outline the typical justifications for Labradors’ behavior and what you may do to stop it.

So why does my Labrador have something in its mouth at all times? Your Labrador may constantly carry something in its mouth for several reasons, including teething, nervousness, giving it to you as a gift, possessiveness, or appreciating the fragrance.

Your Labrador may act this way for various causes, some of which may be interrelated. However, there are several factors you may take into account when determining the primary reasons, and there are many things you can do to address them.

Why Labradors Often Enjoy Putting Things In Their Mouths

Because their genes are inclined to their natural retrieving talents, Labradors enjoy carrying objects in their jaws. Because of their exceptional retrieving skills with their jaws, they have been developed to be excellent hunting dogs and productive partners for the fisherman on deck.

And this characteristic has been handed down to current Labs, who are naturally obligated to constantly have something in their mouths. In addition, Labradors may consistently act in this manner as a means of attention-seeking by enticing their owners to play with them. In this post, we’ll go over the major causes of Labradors’ constant mouth-filling behavior and the preventative measures you may take if it gets out of hand. To better comprehend and manage their Labradors, owners of Labs must be aware of this unique trait. So let’s get started.

Reasons Why Labradors Always Carry Things In Their Mouths

why does my labrador always have something in his mouth

While it is clear that Labrador Retrievers, or “labs,” are often seen with items in their jaws, there are a few reasons why this behavior is more prevalent among them:

Natural Retrieving Instinct

The fundamental nature of Labradors has been nurtured in such a manner that retrieving is integral to its being. Since the breed’s inception a century ago, retrieving and serving as a fishing companion on deck in chilly seas have been two jobs in that Labradors have excelled at. The extraordinary natural retrieving talents of Labradors have been repeatedly lauded and used for rescuing dropped cods in the sea, dragging nets, and recovering lost hats in the water.

Additionally, there have reportedly been amazing divers who have entertained a group of fishermen after work by playing retrieving games with their lips. The tendency of Labradors to constantly have something in their mouths, in addition to their remarkable retrieving skills, may be linked to their exceptional hunting skills in the past. Due to their excellent retrieving abilities via their mouths, they make excellent hunting dogs for catching waterfowl, ducks, and any other birds shot down by hunters.

Labradors were developed to have soft jaws to carry and retrieve wildlife for hunters without harming it. Through careful breeding over the years, these innate retrieving instincts have been enhanced, resulting in the transfer of such genes and abilities in contemporary Labradors.

An Expression Of Joy 

Labradors also show this tendency due to their propensity for pleasing others. Labradors have been raised so that pleasing their human partners and appealing to their emotions allows them to be the happiest, with their inherent retrieving ability via their jaws. This is because they are gregarious creatures that like interaction and company from their owners.

And what better opportunity for a Labrador to do so than by inadvertently offering you some of your possessions as a “present” to show their love or as a “request” to play or chase to win your favor? Labradors may nudge you while holding the object in their mouth, cupping their ears, and waving their bodies. This indicates that they are ecstatic to see you and hope for interaction.

Seeking Attention

Labradors belong to the top dog breeds that tend to want attention since they are people-pleasers & social butterflies. Labradors often carry items containing your distinctive scent, like socks, handkerchiefs, or other items closely linked to you. And in doing so, they are aware that they are likely to elicit a positive response from you through love or a treatment exchange.

This is mostly because most Labradors, as part of their extroverted personalities, strongly desire to please and be close with their owners. Some Labradors may even go so far as to refuse to give you the object back despite presenting it to you in its mouth. This is often a symptom of hyperactivity brought on by overexcitement or an invitation to play, particularly if the dog attempts to flee when you attempt to take the object from it.

Suppose you must give your dog the proper amount of exercise or mental stimulation. In that case, it also suggests that your Labrador is potentially psychologically understimulated and attempting to provoke a reaction or pursuit from you.

Encouraged Favorably To Do That

Since then, it has been positively encouraged to have something in its mouth at all times to reestablish the good relationship it had in the past. But fear not—accidental positive reinforcements may always be corrected, as shown in the following paragraphs.


Its beginning of teething may be the reason. This is more probable if your dog is still a puppy if the behavior has just begun, and if it has also started chewing on other objects. Giving it additionally chewable, like bones or toys, and trying to conceal anything you don’t want to be picked up, can be helpful in this situation.


When dogs are worried, they often hold objects in their jaws. Your dog may have been acting this way out of anxiety. This would be more plausible if it does it more often when it is more likely to be concerned, such as when you are leaving home.


Possessiveness might be the root of the problem. This would be more probable if it has the propensity to carry objects like its toys & bones & becomes hostile toward you.

It Enjoys the Aroma

Its preference for the scent of the object it is taking up might be the root of the problem. This is more likely if it takes up smelly items like clothing or shoes.

How Do You Handle a Labrador That Has Something In His Mouth?

why does my labrador always have something in his mouth

When your Lab delivers something to you while carrying something in its mouth, you could be tempted to play with it. You may also feel the impulse to take the object out of its mouth, but I wouldn’t advise you to do anything since it won’t help you solve the problem.

Turn the Behavior Around

Instead, it would help if you tried to alter the behavior by rewarding it with toys or food. Because Labradors have a short attention span, it’s important to note that you should only use this strategy when you’re attempting to modify its behavior.

You may either call your dog’s name and use a high-quality, nutritious reward to entice it to come to you. You can be confident that your goodies will stimulate the olfactory receptors in your Lab’s nose, and when you call it, it will come running. When they ultimately drop the object from their mouth for the treats, praise them with ease so that they will learn to identify the drop with a good connotation. You may then exchange the object in its mouth with the sweets in your hand.

The Leave It or Drop It Approach to Dog Training

If the habit is out of control, you may train your dog to remove the object from its mouth. To express your disapproval, you may wish to employ a specific command like “drop” or “leave it” in a certain tone.

Even while it could seem like a kind gesture when they give you things as gifts, if this is not appropriately curbed early on, it will quickly develop into other behavioral issues. Make careful not to interact favorably with your Lab while it has an object in its mouth since this will encourage it to repeat the behavior—this time with even more objects.

Furthermore, it’s essential to stop this unneeded activity before it becomes a habit of carrying dangerous goods into the home. Since carrying or retrieving objects for no apparent reason is in their genetic makeup, as previously stated, Labradors also often don’t outgrow this tendency over time. Unfortunately, there have been many occasions when Labs had choking incidents with blankets, socks, or even little shoes. And if this benign practice is outlawed early, all of these may be avoided.

Things to Consider

Here are a few factors to consider while determining the primary cause of your Labrador’s behavior.

What Else Occurred When It First Began Doing It?

It may be helpful to consider what else occurred when your dog first began carrying objects, especially if this behavior was only sometimes present. If it began acting in this way all of a sudden, it was probably teething, discovering that the behavior is rewarded, or separation anxiety.

When Your Labrador Takes Objects in Its Mouth, What is Different?

It would also be beneficial to consider whether the timing is exceptional if it tends to carry things more so at a certain time. For instance, it would be more probable that it is worried if it tends to do it more just before you leave the house. It is more probable that it is delivering it to you as a gift if it tends to do it further when you get home.

How to Train Labrador to Stop Carrying Things with His Mouth

Consistent and rewarding training is the best way to teach a Labrador to quit carrying objects in its mouth. Here is a how-to manual for teaching your Labrador to stop this bad habit:

Teach the Phrase “Drop It”

Begin by training your Labrador to drop items when instructed to. Hold a favorite toy or object in your hand and let your dog take it in their mouth. Then, use a reward to catch their attention firmly and command them to “Drop It.” Move the reward just slightly away while holding it near their nose. Your dog should put down the item to concentrate on the reward. Praise them and give them the goodie once they drop the object. Up until your Labrador consistently complies with the order to “Drop It,” routinely repeat this practice.

Provide Suitable Alternatives

Ensure that your Labrador has access to acceptable toys or materials for carrying. Give them soft plush toys for dogs, balls, or chew toys. Redirect your Labrador’s attention to a suitable toy and encourage them to play with it if you see them picking up anything they shouldn’t be putting in their mouth.

Create the command “Leave It.”

By teaching your Labrador the Leave It command, you may stop them from picking up unnecessary stuff. Present a goodie to your dog while holding it in your closed fist. Say “Leave It” firmly when they attempt to inspect or lick your hand. Your dog will get a separate goodie from your other hand after you watch for a brief period of attention or indecision on their part. Repeat this practice progressively, putting more alluring objects on the floor or ground to make it more challenging. When your Labrador leaves the thing alone successfully, remember to praise them.

Use Positive Reinforcement

When your Labrador exhibits the desired behavior of not putting things in their mouth, reward them by giving them goodies, vocal praise, and patting them. Positive reinforcement encourages your Labrador to repeat the desired behavior by reinforcing it.

Management and Consistency

In training, consistency is crucial. When your Labrador starts to put things in their mouth, be alert and persistent in correcting them and rewarding the desired behavior. Manage your Labrador’s surroundings by removing or locking up anything that can attract them to carry it around.

If Necessary, Seek Expert Assistance

Consider seeking the advice of a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist if your Labrador dog struggles with this behavior or if you have any issues when training him. They may provide individualized advice and help to handle the problem properly.

Keep in mind that training requires patience, consistency, and time. Your Labrador may learn to stop carrying objects in their mouths with the right training and rewards.

Don’t encourage It

As noted, it may have come to understand that the conduct is rewarded. Instead, it would be beneficial to only treat it when it behaves as you like and to refrain from paying it when it carries objects in its mouth.

Limit the Possible Causes of its Anxiety

Additionally, something may have been making it uneasy. Allowing it to eat, drink, and exercise before leaving may reduce the number of potential causes for anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my Labrador always have objects in his mouth?

For some puppies, putting objects in their mouths nearly seems compelled. And depending on where they are in the teething process, pups go through different phases with this. It will be less likely that they will do so at other times if you can channel their want to smell, investigate, and chew.

How old must a puppy be before they stop putting anything in their mouth?

When a puppy’s adult teeth erupt at roughly 6 to 8 months. The teething phase that causes them to bite and gnaw on everything in sight should end. Though it may seem like a long time, hold on to hope!

How could mouthing habits be avoided?

If he mouths off to you again, ignore him for ten to twenty seconds or get up and walk away for 10 to 20 seconds. You may leave the room if you must. After the little timeout, please return to your dog, and invite him to play with you again. It’s crucial to instill in him the concept that playful activity that isn’t unpleasant continues.

Is it typical for my puppy to want to eat everything?

Puppy appetites are omnivorous. However, their unquenchable desire allowed them to devour strange things. Puppies lose the natural inclination to explore their mouths as puppies.

Final Thoughts

A combination of their innate impulses and distinctive personality features may be used to explain why Labrador Retrievers behave in such a way that they always have something in their mouth. It is common for Labradors to carry items about as if they were recovering prey or wildlife because of their strong hunting and retrieving instincts. Because they were first raised as hunting dogs, their genetic makeup profoundly establishes this trait.

I know it may be cute when dogs hold something in their mouths, particularly when they do it to express gratitude. But it’s also possible that this is a consequence of more grave worries like worry. Additionally, there are situations when it might ruin your property. I hope this won’t go that far. You may avoid this from occurring by being aware of the behavior’s origin.

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