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Tips for Labrador Owners to Calm Down a Hyper Dog
Dogs make wonderful, lively companions that bring so much joy to our lives. But when is too much excitement a problem?
Hyperactivity in dogs can cause disruptions for both the pup and their owners – creating an unsustainable situation with some seriously less-than-optimal quality of life all around!
Are Labs Hyperactive Dogs?
Yes, Labs are known as energetic but loving.
Labradors possess an abundance of energy—surely unsurprising to those of us who are familiar with their beloved reputation.
The breed was bred to serve as working dogs and intended for rugged outdoor activities and retrieval; all that natural vigor is no coincidence! It was by design.
Unfortunately, a Lab's hyperactivity can be a sign of inadequate playtime, exercise, and attention.
Before you decide your dog is too active, consider the lifestyle you provide them.
How To Calm a Labrador (and Other Dogs)
Keeping your Labrador calm and happy isn't complicated.
Giving your Lab a loving home and healthy lifestyle is usually all you need!
The most important factors to a calm dog are:
- Frequent exercise
- Mental stimulation
- A consistent routine
- Positive reinforcement training methods
- Calming supplements (Optional)
- Calming music
Manage Your Labrador's Excess Energy With Regular Exercise
This may sound like a no-brainer, but it's true that many Lab owners underestimate the intensity and amount of physical activity larger dogs like Labrador Retrievers need!
Labradors are a very active breed, and they need plenty of exercise time to burn off excess energy.
Keep one thing in mind: boredom is the mortal enemy of a calm dog.
Getting your dog out and active shouldn't be a chore! We recommend finding ways that are a great time for you and your dog!
- Walks and Runs: Walks or light jogs are underrated when it comes to calming a Lab. You won't notice any change from one or two days, but keep it up for a couple of weeks, and you'll notice walks as short as a mile or two each day will see your dog chilling out. These will be good for you, too.
- Play Games: Mentally engaging games like fetch, tug of war, chase, or hide the treat put your dog's mind and body to work at the same time. Puzzle toys are a great way to challenge your dog's problem-solving, which goes a long way in keeping Labs calm.
- Tired dogs are friendly, happy, and calm dogs!
Maintain a Consistent Schedule
Dogs thrive on consistency. This often-overlooked detail can contribute to anxiety and hyperactivity in your Lab.
Set a regular routine for your pup, and stick to it! It's the best way to keep them feeling secure and relaxed.
Make sure you remember breaks, too.
Giving them some time off is key in maintaining their natural energy cycle so they never feel overwhelmed or over-excited.
When your dog has a feel for when playtime, meals, and bedtime are coming, they won't get hyper or anxious when they want those things.
Cute tools like this dog feeding and walk reminder board can be a decorative and functional addition to your home that helps you stay on track. Pick times, and stick to them.
Positive Reinforcement Training For Calming Your Dog
An amazing way to help your Lab learn how to control their energy levels is through positive reinforcement training.
This method focuses on rewards rather than punishments.
When they do something that's not acceptable, instead of punishing them, distract them with an alternate behavior you want them to focus on.
When your dog is calm, and exhibiting behavior you like, reward them!
Over time, this teaches your dog that calm behavior yields rewards, and they will try to repeat it.
Clicker tools are very popular amount for dog trainers and owners alike when it comes to positive reinforcement training.
They help you strengthen the behavior cue by pairing a sound with another reward like a treat, praise, or some pets.
Note that, in our experience, some dogs don't respond to the clicker.
We've had dogs that love treats and praise, and the addition of the click did nothing.
Don't be discouraged if your dog doesn't care about the click when you try to uncouple treats; it might just not be their thing.
Every dog is different.
Don’t be afraid to consult a local dog trainer. These professionals deal with high-energy dogs and obedience training on a daily basis!
A pro can make keeping Labs calm a walk in the dog park, if you will.
Why You Shouldn't Punish Your Dog
Negative reinforcement is tempting, especially when your hyper Lab is driving you up the wall.
It's crucial to avoid this impulse.
Research shows that dogs actually respond quite poorly to punishment or negative reinforcement.
This includes verbal abuse and fear-based techniques, and definitely physical harm. Never strike a dog.
Not only does punishment for your dog not work in any sustainable, healthy way, but it will cause more behavioral issues down the road.
In essence, punishment can trade one bad behavior for another, and the original will come back eventually.
Don't forget that dogs are not people. They act and learn differently.
Your dog won't understand that it is being punished; they understand that you hurt them when they do something that comes naturally to them.
Positive reinforcement works so much better because it uses your dog's natural impulses towards a reward to encourage them to choose good behaviors on their own.
Dogs lack the capacity to learn that natural impulses are bad; they can only learn when certain impulses are good.
Calming Supplements and Other Tools
There are many calming dietary supplements for dogs on the market.
Their claims and effectiveness vary, but some are a great addition to a calming wellness plan that includes exercise and training.
Before you seek out a supplement for your dog, remember that no supplement will solve a problem entirely.
There's no getting around the training and exercise aspects of calming your hyper Lab.
Here is a list of our favorite calming products to enhance any behavioral routine:
- Zesty Paws Calming Bites: We love this brand's joint supplements, and their calming bites are just as high-quality. With ingredients like chamomile, valerian root, tryptophan, and magnesium to support energy metabolism and calmness.
- ThunderShirt Anxiety Jacket: Anxiety jackets have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and we get the hype. Hyperactivity is a common way dogs cope with anxiety. These coats are like a constant hug that can calm an overactive dog. We do not recommend trying to save money on these; it remains in contact with your dog's skin for hours and hours. You want good material.
- Soft Calming Dog Blanket: Giving your dog a cozy blanket in a spot that is just for them can go a long way to calming them down. Dogs like having a soft place that is all their own and that smells like them. Resist the urge to wash this blanket more often than every two weeks; your dog will thank you.
Calming Music for Dogs
Yes, we said it. Music really can calm a dog down, as long as you pick the right kind!
The type of music your pup responds to best is likely different from what you enjoy personally.
We suggest trying out some calming classical or nature sounds tailored specifically for dogs.
YouTube, Amazon, and Spotify are packed with calming dog-centric music.
One of our favorites is this video. Or should we say our dogs' favorite?
Are There Any Medical Reasons for Hyperactivity?
Yes! There are a few medical conditions that can cause hyperactivity in Labradors and other dogs.
- Thyroid Imbalance: Known as hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, and excessive panting in dogs.
- Adrenal Gland Disorders: A common adrenal gland disorder called Cushing's disease can cause hyperactivity and behavioral changes.
- Neurological Disorders: Certain neurological conditions, such as epilepsy.
- Pain or Discomfort: Dogs that are in pain or discomfort may exhibit hyperactive behavior as a way of coping. Dogs with arthritis may become restless and irritable.
- Medication Side Effects: Some medications, including certain steroids and stimulants, can cause hyperactivity as a side effect.
There's no reason to suspect a medical cause for hyperactivity unless your dog isn't responding to any of the lifestyle techniques we've laid out above.
If you notice your dog's hyperactive behavior won't improve at all, it's important to take them to the vet for a checkup.
The vet will help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the behavior and recommend the appropriate treatment.
What Age is a Lab Puppy the Naughtiest?
Lab puppies are at their most mischievous between the ages of eight weeks and six months.
This period is a time of intense learning and exploration. The whole world is new to them!
Intense curiosity and youthful energy lead to behaviors like barking, chewing, and speed running.
This stage of life is actually the best time to establish healthy, calming lifestyle practices with your Lab!
As we said, including plenty of exercise time, playtime, and positive reinforcement training will set you up for Lab puppy success.
It's also crucial to puppy-proof your home to prevent damage to your belongings and keep your Labrador puppy safe as they put their mouth on absolutely everything.
What Is the Calmest Breed of Lab?
Yellow Labs are widely considered to be the calmest type of Labrador Retriever.
That said, there is no true difference between Labs and their energy levels. You can help any color Lab grow into a happy, calm adult dog.
We hate this question because even though slight temperament differences may exist, they're absolutely not big enough to make having one color significantly easier over the other.
Just like how no one supplement will do the job, one color of Lab won't train itself.
People that find fur color to be a significant concern when it comes to behavior and the attention needs of a Labrador Retriever may want to consider a different breed or a cat.
Tips for Dog Owners To Calm Down Dogs in Stressful Situations
Many dogs are calm at home, but certain situations trigger their hyperactivity.
Calming Down Your Dog in the Car
Traveling in the car is the most stressful situation in the world for a lot of dogs, particularly those that don't need to leave their homes much.
Here are some tips to help calm down your dog in the car:
- Get Them Used to The Car: Start the desensitization process early. The earlier, the better. Take your puppy on little trips several times a week until the car doesn't stress them out. Whether you're just going around the neighborhood or stopping for a pup cup, excursions are good for them!
- Use a Comfortable Carrier: If your dog feels safe and secure in a carrier, this can help reduce their anxiety in the car.
- Keep the Car Cool and Comfortable: Make sure the car is cool and comfortable for your dog. Use air conditioning or open windows to keep the temperature comfortable, and bring a blanket or cushion for them to lie on.
- Use Positive Reinforcement Training: Use positive reinforcement training to help your dog associate car rides with positive experiences. Offer treats, praise, and affection when they are calm in the car, and avoid scolding or punishing them for anxious or hyperactive behavior.
How to Calm a Dog Down for Nail Clipping
Nail clipping can be a stressful and uncomfortable experience for our furry friends.
They don't like having their paws grabbed, and the loud crack of the clippers can be alarming.
The tips for a chill nail clipping experience are similar to the ones for a nice car ride:
- Start early
- Make sure they're comfortable
- Offer treats and praise to reinforce good behavior
- Desensitize them by holding their paws for short periods every so often
Do Labs Calm Down After Being Spayed or Neutered?
Spaying or neutering your Lab can cause some minor behavior changes, but there will not be a significant change in their energy levels.
The hard truth is that most of the spay/neuter claims about behavior are correlation-based, not causation.
Whether or not you train your dog properly early in life is what determines how they act; early training happens to coincide with the spaying and neutering procedures on the dog ownership timeline.
Spaying or neutering can help reduce hormone-driven behaviors in Labs, such as territorial marking and roaming, but won't necessarily eliminate them.
Consider every funny internet video of a dog being a little too intimate with a chew toy; most of those dogs are spayed and neutered.
It does definitely help prevent certain health problems, including cancer.
Spaying or neutering is not a guarantee that your Lab will become calmer and more well-behaved.
Other factors, such as their age, individual personality, lifestyle, and training, play the most significant role in their behavior.
Recognizing an Anxious Dog Vs. a Hyper Dog
It's hard to tell the difference between a hyper dog and an anxious dog.
Many of the signs overlap, so it's important to keep a close eye on their body language and behavior throughout the day.
Keep an eye on these factors to determine if your dog is a happy dog:
- Energy Level: A hyper dog will be hyper most of the time, while an anxious dog will alternate between nervous, overactive states and depressed, lethargic states.
- Specific Behaviors: Anxious dogs tend to shake, pant, and pace excessively. A hyper dog won't exhibit these signs in the same way and certainly doesn't shake.
- Different Triggers: Pay attention to what sets off your dog's hyperactivity. If it's things like playtime, food, or their loved ones coming home, it's probably not an anxious energy. If loud noises, being alone, or strangers set them off, it could be anxiety.
- Training Response: This is a much lesser-known red flag. A hyper dog should respond well to training since their excess energy is coming from a healthy place. An anxious dog will be agonizing to train.