So you’ve finally adopted your first dog - a Labrador Retriever!
You’ve covered all your bases, and braced yourself for a year of craziness, training, and puppyhood.
But then that year passes, and another, and maybe even another, and your lab is still, for all intents and purposes, bouncing off the wall.
So what gives? When do Labs Calm Down?!?!
Many people who adopt Labs do so because of their excellent disposition, personalities, trainability, and companionship.
What some may fail to realize is that the high energy behavior that they may link to the first year of a dog’s life may be as short term as they previously believed.
But fear not. Like all breeds, your lab will eventually calm down.
Read on to find out what to expect and how to manage and enjoy these high energy years with your pup...
Why Are Labradors High Energy?
This is a question with multiple answers. Labs are incredibly popular dogs for a reason...
They’re friendly, inquisitive, curious, and love to work.
However, it’s many of these same characteristics that may have your dog bouncing off the walls.
Because Labradors are so intelligent and eager to please, boredom in this breed can be a real concern.
A Lab that is not getting enough stimulation, both mentally and physically, can lead to a dog who becomes a tornado in the home.
Without regular exercise, toys, or even training, your pup will lack the outlet it needs to relieve the energy that is synonymous with the breed.
They are also prone to being excitable, affectionate, and enthusiastic. Generally speaking, this breed loves people and other animals.
Their social nature is part of what makes them so lovable.
But, if your pup is spending too much time alone, over excitement is likely when kids or spouses return home from school or work.
Walks may become difficult if your Labrador is desperate to be friends with every other dog in the neighborhood.
Long story short, Lab’s are naturally inclined to a long list of great traits, but “calm” is not one of them.
Thankfully, this won’t last forever, and there are many things you can do to manage your dog’s disposition in the first few years of life.
When Will My Lab Puppy Calm Down?
No two dogs are the same, but on average most Labradors can be expected to mellow out between the ages of 3-5 years old.
Like all dogs, Labs go through a few different stages of development before truly reaching adulthood where you may expect their energy levels to temper off.
However, unlike some other breeds, Lab’s have longer stages as a puppy and adolescent than you may expect.
Also known as the Juvenile Stage, this is the timeline most people associate with “having a puppy”, and lasts about the first 6 months of your dog’s life.
In this time, you can expect your dog to be incredibly high strung.
They will be growing rapidly, pushing boundaries, and looking to you for limits and guidance.
During this period, your Lab is the most moldable and trainable it will ever be.
It’s crucial that you take this time to put in place structure that will allow you to manage your dog as they continue to mature.
Habits and rules that are formed in this stage are likely to last a lifetime, and you will have a much easier time managing your Lab if good training is stressed from the beginning.
Related: When do Labs stop growing?
This stage is just what it sounds like- your dog is essentially a teenager.
This period of development lasts from 6 to 18 months, and may last up to the two year mark in some dogs.
During this time, you may feel as though your dog is an adult.
Typically, Labradors at this stage have reached their final size, and have filled out, although their outward appearance does little to truly reflect their internal and mental stage of development.
In adolescence you will begin to see whether or not your early training has been effective - fingers (and paws) crossed!
If it has paid off your pup - I mean teen - may be generally well behaved.
Keep in mind though that dogs in this stage are still mentally and emotionally very close to puppyhood.
This can result in chaotic moments from time to time.
Occasional bouts of craziness with your Lab, even up to two years, is normal, and is just a reflection of their stage of life.
Unfortunately, many owners are unaware of this lengthened stage of early development, and may become frustrated thinking that their dog is unruly, untrainable, or simply not worth the trouble.
It’s important to realize that your Lab is still growing, even if it is not physically.
Continued work and training is important, and the good news is that your dog will not be stuck in these early stages of development forever.
Young Adulthood - Adulthood
Past the ages of 18 months to two years, you can expect to see a notable reduction in chaos in your Lab.
Past 36 months, most dogs level off significantly.
Again, this is where you will see the highest payoff in your early investments in training your Lab.
Adult dogs are less impulsive, less high energy, and less likely to test established boundaries than they were when they were younger.
But this doesn’t mean you should expect a suddenly docile dog either.
Though likely to be calmer in the home, Labradors are still a breed with lifelong energy and physicality that requires regular exercise.
You can expect your pup to race around the dog park long after the age of three.
This is part of what makes the breed great for families on the go, or individuals who enjoy hiking, running, or other activities that require good stamina and a love to move.
How To Manage a High Energy Dog?
It’s one thing to know that your Lab will eventually calm down. But it’s another task figuring out how to handle all the chaos while you’re waiting for that day to come.
Luckily, there are a handful of incredibly effective things you can do to manage your dog’s disposition.
I'm sure you know this but it is worth mentioning again...
Your Lab is a working dog with high intelligence and a desire to please.
Left unstimulated, your pup is likely to tear through your home, possibly doing some damage in the process.
In order to prevent this, you shouldn’t allow a young Labrador to get bored.
Plenty of exercise, toys, and socialization will help keep your dog occupied and happy.
If your family goes to the lake, bring him/her along.
If you love to hike, your pup will make a great companion.
If you’re a hunting aficionado, consider training your Lab to help out.
All of these activities will appeal to the breed’s natural instincts to run and learn, and will allow you to keep your home largely intact.
Make Sure to Read: Do Labs Get Cold?
Train Them Early AND Often!
Training is important in all breeds, but is especially crucial in larger dogs with a lot of energy and a high intelligence.
Physical exercise is only one part of the equation when it comes to a happy Lab.
Training is exercise for the mind, and will help calm and satisfy your Lab’s curious mind.
The earlier you begin training with your Lab, the better.
Ideally you should begin training exercises as soon as you bring your new family member home.
It’s also important to be consistent with your training. Set aside some time every day to work on commands.
Training done in the first few months of your dog’s life will set the tone for the years to come, and will make calming your dog far more manageable.
Curb Bad Habits
Every dog is different, but every dog is likely to present unwanted behaviors early in their lives.
Chewing, barking, and jumping are all common to high energy breeds such as Labs, and should be addressed as soon as the behavior is observed.
If not addressed, it is likely that behavior will worsen over time, and carry over in adolescent and adult years where they will be much harder to prevent and reverse.
If you see your pup chewing, invest in safe alternatives like bones or other safe chew toys.
If you observe excessive barking, try not to reinforce or reward the behavior.
Rewarding your Lab when encouraged traits are demonstrated is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your dog will present desired behaviors as they grow up.
Because Labrador Retrievers are so intelligent and eager to please, they are incredibly receptive to positive reinforcement and affirmation.
Don't Meet Chaos With Chaos
When you bring home a new puppy, it can be easy to meet the energy if your new furry friend where they’re at.
However, meeting excitement with excitement, especially in areas like the home, or public settings, can reaffirm hectic behavior in situations where it is not appropriate.
Instead, try to ignore or discourage over excitement in areas where it could later be a problem.
Labs, and all dogs, are very receptive to the moods and behaviors of their owners.
Getting worked up and encouraging rough housing with your puppy will send the wrong message, and once this message is received, it can be a hard thing for your pup to unlearn.
No Puppy Is Perfect
It’s important to show patience with your lab, especially in the first few years of their life.
They experience longer periods of early development than some other breeds of their size, and are learning continuously.
A dog that may be perfectly behaved one day could be jumping and racing around the next.
Frustration is common, but allowing that frustration to get in the way of enjoying time with your Lab is silly.
Instead of expressing anger or punishing your young Lab for acting out, continue to reinforce good behavior, and reward your dog when they demonstrate favorable behaviors.
These episodes of chaos will continue to lessen as they age, and will eventually become rare occurrences.
The Good News? The Craziness Won't Last Forever!!
If you’re worried your Lab may never calm down, you can take some relief from knowing this isn’t true.
An extended period of early development, paired with a naturally high energy temperament can make the first few years of life with your new pup a little crazy.
Hang in there though, this will begin to wane over time.
In the meantime, it’s important to do what you can to prevent boredom, and provide the mental and physically stimulation your Lab craves.
Regular exercise, early and consistent training, and an early start on curbing bad behaviors is a great recipe for a dog will become a calm and reliable presence in your home.
Life with your Lab can be crazy and occasionally challenging, but also incredibly rewarding.
The love, loyalty, and companionship provided by this breed is incredible, and makes every chaotic moment ultimately worth it!
About Drew & Gunnar
As you can see, Gunnar makes Drew do all the work but heading outdoors with your best friend is never really work! Drew buys the products and Gunnar does the testing so you can rest assured you are reading the most up to date information to make the best decision for your dog's health and well-being!
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