Last Updated on January 25, 2022 by Marco C.
One thing almost every first-time lab owner has wondered is when do lab puppies calm down and become easy to handle? One of the more hyperactive breeds out there, Labrador Retrievers are incredibly cute but also quite a handful when they are young. Nibbling, biting, barking, running around, destroying furniture – those are just some of the highlights you can expect if you let a young lab get bored. So, when can you expect a change in these dogs’ behavior and what can you do in the meantime?
When Do Lab Puppies Calm Down?
The short answer? When they stop being puppies. The more truthful answer – even then they “calm down” only a little bit. As retrievers and gun dogs, labs are just very active and physical – it’s an intended part of the breed.
Labrador Retriever Behavior By Age
The simple breakdown goes something like this:
- 0 to 2 years – puppy and “teenage” years when the dog is very hyperactive
- 2 to 4 years – early adulthood when the dog starts to calm down but is still pretty lively
- 4 to 6 years – middle age and beyond, the lab is now “a normal dog”
- 6+ years – the lab is in his or her senior years and is quite easy to handle
Of course, all that is relatively speaking and dogs do have their own individual personalities. Some dogs are calmer and more well-behaved even when they are young and others keep on keeping on even in their golden years.
Learn more about: How To Train A Labradoodle Puppy – All The Basics To Get You Started
When Do Lab Puppies Calm Down Based On Their Sub-breed
Like many other breeds, Labrador Retrievers come in several different types. This prompts a lot of people to wonder whether some lab colors behave differently than others. After all, we know that different lab colors are bred for different tasks – black for hunting, yellow as guide dogs, and brown as pets. Does this mean that some colors are “calmer” than others?
As intuitive as it is to think that yellow labs will be calmer than black ones, that’s just not the case, at least not on a genetic level. All lab colors have the same hyperactive behavior at first – from there, it’s just a matter of training.
Additionally, most people think that labs are only distinguished by their color but that’s not the case. The more important distinction is the one between American Labrador Retrievers vs English Labrador Retrievers. We’ve talked about them before but the gist is that English labs are bred to be slightly shorter, bulkier, and to have a calmer and more obedient personality. American labs, on the other hand, have a more athletic physique and a more hyperactive temperament.
The reason for this difference lies in the preferences of breeders from both sides of the Atlantic. Whereas American hunters like their gun dogs active and lively, English hunters prefer calmer and more easily controlled dogs. So, if you’re afraid that your future lab will be too much to handle, consider getting an English lab.
Do Labs Calm Down After Neutering/Spaying?
When wondering when do lab puppies calm down, the conventional wisdom dictates that all animals become calmer and more well-behaved after spaying or neutering. This is far from a given, however, as not all dogs go through such a behavioral change. And, of the ones that do, it’s not 100% clear whether it’s because of the spaying/neutering itself or because they are transitioning from the puppy stage into young adulthood.
So, the research we have on that at the moment is inconclusive. Still, neutering/spaying is 100% recommended for its many health benefits. As for the dog’s personality – just make sure you train your lab well and keep the dog from getting bored.
Are Separation Anxiety and Boredom That Much Of A Problem?
As we’re talking about when do lab puppies calm down, we can’t ignore the effect boredom and separation anxiety have on these dogs’ behavior. Like other overly smart and social dog breeds, Labrador Retrievers just can’t handle being left home alone and/or bored for too long. These dogs just need social interaction and mental stimulation or they become even more restless, disobedient, and outright destructive.
What does this mean for you? It means that you need to make sure your lab always received enough exercise and playtime, and always has the company or something to keep it occupied. Here are the basics you need to cover:
- Make sure someone is always home with your dog
- Hire a dog walker or a dog sitter
- Give your dog at least 2x 1-hour outdoor exercise sessions every day
- Get your dog properly tired before going out
- Make sure your lab has plenty of dog toys with at least a few new ones
- Get a second dog to keep your lab company
If arranging for at least several (most) of these isn’t an option, then the Labrador Retriever may not be the right breed for you.
Are Labrador Retrievers Really That Hyperactive Compared To Other Breeds?
Labs certainly are one of the most physically active and overly excitable dog breeds out there. Most experts place them at the top of the charts together with Dalmatians, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Golden Retrievers, and Border Collies. We would put certain breeds like the German Shorthaired Pointer even higher than those, but we’re talking about fine margins here.
How to calm a lab puppy down?
Regular and extensive exercise is really the best solution. Remember that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Other than that, obedience training is an obvious must as are no-bark and no-bite training. But it really comes down to keeping your dog properly exercised and entertained at all times.
At what age do labs calm down?
Most labs will start calming down gradually and in steps – first at around the year mark and after the spaying/neutering, then after the second year and start of adulthood, and then somewhere between the 4th and 6th year. Individuality matters a lot here as some labs are uncharacteristically calmer while others remain wild even into their olden days.