Young Labradors are not generally calm dogs. They’re simply too excited about discovering the world around them! Mature Labradors have lots of stamina and a strong work ethic. But with plenty of exercise, including tasks to challenge their brains as well as their body, they can be stately and calm back at home at the end of the day.
Are Labradors Calm Dogs?
Are Labradors calm dogs? That’s what we intend to find out! Sweet natured, loyal and friendly — it’s no surprise the adorable Lab consistently ranks number one dog breed in the USA. And around the world. But despite the statistics, they are not the right pet for everyone.
If you are thinking of owning a Labrador, there are some vital points you need to consider first. Because although this beautiful breed has many endearing features, they can be a challenge. So, are Labradors calm dogs? Read on to find out more!
History of the Labrador
To understand the Labrador better, we should look at their history. Labradors originated as working dogs. They were first used by fishermen in Newfoundland to haul heavy nets of fish from icy waters. After that, they became popular with hunters and used for retrieving shot game. Potential owners should understand that Labradors have been selectively bred for their intelligence and stamina. So, they are intensely eager to work all day. As a result, they have high energy levels requiring plenty of exercise time as well as mental stimulation.
Are Labradors Calm Dogs?
If you’re looking to own a Lab, then be prepared for the ever-changing energy levels that occur throughout the different stages of their life. When they’re newborn, a Labrador puppy mostly wants to eat and sleep and will do very little else.
Between the ages of 8 weeks and five months old, they resemble a toddler. At this time, they’re earning about the world and have relatively high energy levels. Plus, owners will have to deal with teething and potty training.
The next stage, between 6 and 12 months old, is the toughest as this is the equivalent to having a teenager in the house! Young Labradors are often exuberant and excitable. Barging into people or jumping up on them and everything you may have taught will go entirely out the window! They will definitely test your boundaries, so it is vital to continuously reinforce their training. Many young Labradors often end up in shelters as some owners cannot cope.
The breed is well known for having an extended puppyhood that could go on until they are between three and five years old. During this phase, their extremely high energy levels can be quite exasperating! But are Labradors calm dogs when they finally reach maturity? The good news is that after the age of five, Labs do become more settled. So, hang in there! However, there are ways you can help your Labrador be calmer.
How To Keep Your Labrador Calm
You may think that a nice Labrador would be an easy dog to have around your home. After all, they tick many boxes with their sweet nature and friendly personality. But, are Labradors calm dogs without training and exercise? Certainly not! As an energetic dog, they require more than just a quick walk around the block! You should only consider owning a Lab if you have the time to commit to training and exercising them. Otherwise, they can become unruly and destructive.
On average, a healthy Labrador requires at least one hour of daily exercise. Many Labs are described as “hyper” but are often just under-exercised and bored. If they have a job to do, they’ll simply direct all their energy there. Labradors make excellent partners for owners who run, hike, or cycle. These can be a fun way to burn up their excess energy levels. Plus, what better motivation for keeping you fit!
Labradors love the water, so swimming is another good option, as well as going to the dog park and letting them off the leash to run around and play. Labs do best in a home that has access to a backyard but you should always be careful about leaving them unattended. This breed loves to dig!
As a working dog, Labradors thrive when they have a job to do so you may consider sports like dog agility or field trials. Remember, a tired Labrador is a calm Labrador, but young Labs need to increase the amount of exercise they do gradually over time to protect their joints. But also remember, young Labs are also just as prone to hyperactivity due to overtiredness! With time, you’ll learn your dog’s rhythms and notice them change as they grow.
As a relatively large dog, it is essential to train your Lab from puppyhood, teaching them basic manners with plenty of positive reinforcement. They must learn that behaviors like jumping up at people are unacceptable. But luckily, the Labrador is an intelligent dog and eager to please, so training is usually straightforward.
Labs are better when they have some structure such as insisting, they “sit” when putting them on the leash or before receiving their meal. Taking your Labrador for dog training classes will help you establish control around other dogs and people.
Labradors not only need plenty of exercise time but these intelligent dogs also require something to occupy their mind. Chew toys and dog puzzles can keep their brain busy. Also, you want to try hiding treats around the home for them to find, playing games like tug of war or fetch, and teaching them new tricks. These mental workouts are just as important as physical ones for meeting all your dog’s needs as they grow.
Is The Labrador Retriever Good With Kids?
Labradors love people, including children. Their patient and tolerant nature make them the ideal pet for families. However, because of their size and exuberant nature, they are not always a suitable dog to have around toddlers. There is a risk of your pup knocking them over, so adult supervision is advised.
Can Labradors be Left Alone?
If you and your family are out most the time, you cannot leave your Labrador alone as they suffer from separation anxiety. As we know, they require plenty of physical and mental stimulation. If unmet, your Lab will display destructive behaviors such as chewing, which is common in this breed.
Final Thoughts: Are Labradors Calm Dogs?
Labradors are high energy dogs and can be challenging to handle especially when they’re young. However, if you have the time to train this adorable dog and can meet their intense requirements for exercise and mental stimulation, they’ll be much calmer, and could make an ideal pet. Alternately, if you would like a Lab but don’t want to go through the boisterous stage, consider adopting an older dog from a shelter or rescue center.
Do you have a Labrador? What did you do to keep them calm? Share your stories in the comments below.
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References and Further Reading
Lofgren SE et al. 2014. Management and Personality in Labrador Retriever dogs. Applied Animal Behavior Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2014.04.006
Dolmans M. 2014. Separation related behaviors and physiological measurements in dogs. Utrecht Univerity Thesis.
Gerrard Flannigan et al. 2001. Risk factors and behaviors associated with separation anxiety in dogs Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.2001.219.460
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website