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I think one thing that we all expect when we decide to get a puppy is that there will of course be a period of time of extreme hyperactivity. Anyone who is a parent knows that this is not only limited to pets! This rang true with Molly, as well. After a couple of weeks I started to ask myself: Do Labradors calm down with age?
Yes, Labradors will usually begin to transition out of the puppy phase around two years old. They still do remain very active when it is time to play outside, but you should notice a much calmer temperament indoors. Regular, daily exercise will help with the excessive hyperactivity.
Always remember that there will be exceptions to the norm. Each Lab has its own personality, and the hyperactivity can last much longer in some cases. Given that, I thought it would be helpful to understand why this may occur, and what owners can do to help calm excessively hyper Labs down.
Are Labs high energy dogs?
Yes, I have found (as you also have probably already discovered) that Labradors are in fact high energy dogs. They will remain high energy throughout their entire life even though the excessive hyper-activity will likely subside. The reason for their high energy links back to their DNA and the way in which they have been bred over the past century.
My research helped to uncover that originally Labradors were used as hunting companions out in the trenches assisting their masters. Their specialty is in retrieving hence the name Labrador Retriever. I found that this was usually for the retrieval of game during bird hunting.
I also found it interesting to learn that their usage started back when using nets to catch the birds was a primary method. This did evolve over time to shooting the game out of the air.
Duck Hunt, anyone? But wait – was the dog in Duck Hunt a Lab? Hmm..
This often resulted in the need for retrieval several feet out into a body of water. If inland, then they were likely retrieving in a marshy area. As a result, Labradors developed to have a ton of energy. This was needed so that they could last during these days of hunting for running, swimming, and carrying back game.
Why is my Labrador so hyper?
Considering what I learned above about the labs DNA and how they were bred over time, it is easy to understand what contributes to the hyperactivity. However, if we are speaking directly about hyperactivity while they are in the puppy phase then that is different.
I have found that you will naturally have elevated levels of energy with any breed in the early years. Keep in mind that this is also true for children, so we shouldn’t be surprised by this. What this causes for Labs specifically is an above average excess!
These are simply just physiological truths that we have to accept and manage appropriately.
Now, I found that if you are dealing with a Lab that is beyond the puppy phase this may be very different. If you are finding intermittent behaviors of hyperactivity this could possibly be linked to lack of activity that allows your Lab to exert its energy.
It is important when noticing this to consider whether or not the recent environment has produced challenges in allowing your Lab to get regular exercise. I have found that this can happen from time to time, because as much as we would love to be able to shape our lives around spending time with our furry companions it’s just not always feasible.
Fortunately they are not shy about reminding us when this has occurred, similar to children, so we should be thankful for their ability to alert us!
How do I get my Labrador to calm down?
Exercise is by far the best solution when trying to reduce the excess energy levels that Labradors have. This breed was bred to be active. Through their own natural instinct they will be sure to find a way to exert energy in some form or fashion. Therefore, it would be best if you can remain in control of the process in which they do that.
I found that a minimum of 30 minutes of walking per day is not a best practice, but a requirement. This helps toward the goal of calming your Lab down, but it is also very important for their long term health. You can be creative in the way that you execute on those 30 minutes. However, if you find yourself unlikely to be able to dedicate at least this much time then you should strongly reconsider the breed you are after.
However, I think it is important to remember that this is a minimum. It would be best if you could incorporate a higher-level activity at least 3 times per week for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour. Ideally, your Lab can get this much in every day – even if broken up throughout the day.
For owners that are in a home and have a yard, this can simply be running around outside or playing games like fetch and frisbee. If you have children, they can help here, too!
For those that are apartment bound, there’s some ideas I wrote about in this post: Just How Much Exercise Does A Lab Need?
How often do Labs need to be walked?
One thing that I am absolutely adamant on is that Labs must be walked EVERY DAY. It is not enough to simply let the dog out the back door to go potty 5-6 times a day and let that be the end of it. If you are struggling to find the time, then get up earlier! If you can’t do that, then multi-task while on the walk.
Check your emails, call your mom, whatever you need to do!
We are already aware of the fact that Labs have a higher risk of joint-related health issues. Given that, we cannot allow ourselves to neglect the benefits of allowing our Labs to walk daily.
Do Labs calm down after being neutered/spayed?
I have found that temperament can be impacted after the spaying/neutering process. With that in mind, I’m not sold that the impact is as significant as many think. I found that most owners saw the biggest reductions from increased play and exercise.
I do think it is important for those that are considering spaying/neutering to understand some things. I’ve found there’s some confusion around when the best timing is. Also, it’s important to know what to expect as a result of the surgery. I have covered many of these details in this article: Getting Your Lab Spayed Or Neutered
When do Lab puppies stop biting?
Lastly, I think one of the biggest reasons owners are desperate to calm down their puppy Labs is because of the painful biting! Yes, I had to deal with this myself. I know your pain!
Lab puppies have extremely sharp teeth! I know that it is much easier said than done to recognize that they are only playing. However, I would recommend that if this is the main driver of your frustrations that you work to correct that behavior.
In the article: Lab Puppy Biting: Simple Tips To Stop It Early we cover some ideas. Following these techniques should help immensely.
I believe as owners we have a great challenge with our young Labs. We get them as puppies for a number of reasons. Maybe because of how cute they are. Or possibly because we want to train them a certain way. I find that in the challenging times, it’s best to remind yourself of what your reason was.
At the end of the day, these days won’t last forever. Try your best to embrace the hyperactivity and do your best to reduce it. Follow many of the steps discussed above and more often then not you’ll get the results you are looking for!