I need some help! My husband and I adopted Vader, a field black lab, over one year ago. Vader will be 2 in May. We still have yet to see him calm down (even just a little bit). We provide him plenty of exercise, discipline, and attention and it seems he dominates so much of our life. Maybe I am writing this out of frustration but has anyone ever felt this way about their dog? Will he ever calm down? Everyone tells us that they have never seen a dog with so much energy. I know field labs have a lot of energy but I swear this one tops them all. It is almost like he doesn't know how to be calm (although right now he is laying here like he is exhausted but I promise you that he is not). Are we just bad dog owners? I just took him out for a long fetch session at a field nearby and when we returned and I took him off the leash to get him inside he took off running all around the neighborhood and had a grand ol' time running to all the houses that had cats (he remembers this when we go on our walks). I ran around like a lunatic yelling his name and he completely ignored me. We did obedience training for the first couple of months and he was the best dog in the class doing anything and everything for a treat. We are really good about not having him "dominate" us but he only listens to us when he decides to....he doesn't seem to respect our word. Lately, he is also not going into his crate and so we leave him in the backyard because we can't leave him in the house because he will eat the whole house up. Any help/suggestions or just anything to help us cope would be much appreciated. My husband mentioned that maybe we just aren't cut out to be his owners and that we should consider giving him up...but we have put in a long year with the hopes of having a calm submissive dog. Having Vader has definitely added stress in our lives.
Some labs don't calm down right at two. Does he have the opportunity to interact with other dogs? Honestly..nothing tires a lab out like another lab. I felt this way with Autumn, I read the books, I took the classes, I practiced obedience at home, walked in the AM, walked in the PM, fetched (which she promptly found stupid it's the beagle in her), new toys every few days..yet nothing worked. I started taking her to doggie daycare...wah lah..calm easy to live with Autumn. Then I started to foster and she got even better. Now at about 3 1/2 she is lazy..no kidding. To the point where my younger lab Gunny is too much for her..NEVER thought I'd say these words. We still walk, practice obedience etc but I no longer feel like my entire life revolves around keeping Autumn occupied. See if you can find a play date and hang in there!!
Dryf did not calm down until age FORcED him to calm down (around 11) And even at that, he still hip hop all teh time and is always in your face. So do not count on age taking the edge off.
Sounds like he may need some intellectual challenges. Can you do anything like agility, flyball, rally-o? Or fun obedience classes that teach "fun tricks"?
If he doesn't listen when you call he should not be offleash (Rocky's recall has just gone out the door so we're starting from scratch - he's not even off leash at the park).
I'd definately stick to obedience classes. It's not something that usually works forever from one class. They need constant reminders and practice.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
I felt the way you do right now at times with Lexi. Lexi is a rescue so I often wondered if it was something that happened to her before she came to me & her "fur"ever home.
I heard all the different comments about how long until they'll calm down. Lexi is between 2 1/2 and 3 years old & I am just starting to see glimpses of her settling down.
The best I can suggest is don't give up hope, some are just slower to reach that point.
My pretty girl, Lexi!
Our dog Sam was the same way. I took him to doggie day care a few times and noticed how completely exhausted (in a good way) he was from playing with the other dogs. When he was 1 year old, we decided to get a second lab. Our two dogs play so much together that the two of them combined need MUCH less play time and attention than Sam did alone. Maybe you could find a doggie day care in your area to take Vader to once or twice a week?
Brenda, Sam & Bodie
My Maggie turned 3 on 9-15-06 and is FAR from calm!!! Dakota my black lab who will be one year old this month can be more calm than Maggie some days. Copper my light chocolate that has lived with us for the last 10 years has her days too. She can be off the walk like a 2yo child on sugar : (go figure).
I would recommend NOT running after him if he runs off. Hes finding it to be a game. I would not let him off a leash until you are in the house or in the backyard.
Maybe look into finding a trainer who will come to your house and work on the personal issues that you are having with him.
Vader sounds a lot like my two boys who are also both field bred. The difference is I LOVE those kind of qualities in a dog. As an active person I appreciate active dogs -- our personalities "click". I am, however, well aware that these qualities certainly don't suit every owner and it sounds as though you are one of them.
I will come right out and say that you can never physically tire some dogs. This is especially true of a well bred field dog. These dogs are bred to work and that can mean 8-9+ hours out in the field. If field dogs had no energy or stamina they would be useless for working.While you would think a game of fetch would have a calming effect, often it can have quite the opposite. It can make a dog more fired up.I just took him out for a long fetch session at a field nearby
Do you have anywhere you can go for off leash walks? mental stimulation combined with running off leash is usually what works. Also, forget standard retrieves with a ball. Make your dog work for them. Take him to a field, tie him up, walk a fair distance away and chuck a training dummy high into the air. Your dog should "mark" the fall with his eyes. Walk back, untie him, wait another 30 seconds and release him for the retrieve. Set up a number of different retrieving situations to stimulate him -- he will really appreciate it.
I have to do some sort of activity with my dogs for around 2 hours a day to keep them sane. I can get away with 1 1/2 hours. This keeps them calm and happy in the house. They are active outside but fantastic house dogs with this amount of activity.
Did nobody warn you that the first two years of Labrador ownership are usually the hardest ?
It can improve after that although it works differently from dog to dog.
The pay back is worth all the grief for most people.
Trickster is right that mental agility can tire them out more than the physical