Labrador retrievers make excellent and friendly family pet dogs. If you intend to adopt one, you need to learn what behaviors to expect as the dog grows up.
Do you wonder what the typical behavior of a Labrador retriever should be at different stages of their life? Understanding how your pet should behave at a certain age is a great way to prepare and notice any unexpected behaviors. Some pet owners without this knowledge may look at their Labrador and think they have bad behavior, leading to them being intolerant towards their furry friend.
Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: 9 Key Differences
A Labrador retriever’s behavior changes by age, and this is a great way to gauge whether your dog is growing and maturing correctly and behaving as expected. Some of the things to look out for are playfulness, socializing, mating, and reaction to their surroundings.
At different stages of development, your Lab will interact with family members and other pets, and the factors that dictate how they react to their surroundings differ.
When this happens, you should not worry because it is part of their development. However, a better understanding of your dog’s behavior at various stages of their growth will help you manage them and raise them properly.
If you are a pet parent with a Labrador retriever, there are differences your dog will go through at various stages of life. Keep reading below to learn what to expect and the changes of Labrador retriever behavior by age.
Before we get into the different behaviors you should expect from your Labrador as they grow up, you need to understand that this dog breed matures relatively slowly compared to others. This is primarily because they are a large dog breed.
Typically, your Labrador retriever should mature (in both personalities and their body) between 18 to 24 months.
However, remember that this is just a general expectation, and your pet may mature when they get to a different age; it is okay if this happens.
1. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: The First 2 Weeks After Birth
You should never expect much from your Labrador pup for the first two weeks of life. The puppy is not active, nor does they show any behaviors. Puppies need to spend most of their time with their mother.
Furthermore, they cannot see or hear anything during this period because they are both deaf and blind.
For this reason, do not expect them to react to your voice or any other visual and auditory stimuli from their environment. At this stage, the only thing that they do a lot is sleep and feed.
2. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 2 Weeks to 1 Month
After the initial two weeks, your Labrador puppy will be able to open their eyes. From this point onwards, you will notice that they will start to respond to light, movement, and sounds in their environment.
Like the first two weeks, they will continue to spend most of their time sleeping and feeding.
You will also notice they are a bit more curious about the environment and will slowly start exploring their surroundings.
You will notice the puppy crawling around and trying to stand during this stage. Furthermore, it is normal for your Labrador retriever to stumble now and then. During this development stage, your puppy will start to recognize their mother and siblings.
Your Labrador retriever is learning to be a puppy, and most of their senses are developing rapidly. One of the things that you should avoid doing at this point of their growth cycle is exposing them to loud sounds.
Curiosity is something that comes naturally at this age for Labrador retriever puppies. They tend to listen and look at everything within their surroundings.
At this stage, the puppy may start to recognize you. You may notice they frequently wave their tail and yelp when they see you.
Still, we do not recommend separating the puppy from their mother because they need to spend time with the mother and siblings to learn to be a puppy.
3. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 4 weeks to 7 weeks
This is a very crucial time in the development of a Labrador retriever. At this juncture, they have learnt all the basics of being a puppy and are ready to move to the next step—developing their socializing skills.
You will notice that your puppy will exhibit playful behavior. The pup will play with their mother and siblings. Furthermore, you may see them biting the ears of their siblings or mother. This is a way for them to play and have fun.
At around 5 to 7 weeks, you should regularly socialize with the puppy. Doing this will help the dog learn how to react and behave around humans.
However, do not separate the puppy from their siblings and mother.
When separated from their sibling and mother at an early age, a Labrador retriever puppy may get nervous. They may also exhibit unwanted behaviors such as separation anxiety, biting, and barking.
4. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 8 weeks to 12 weeks
Most puppies undergo a period where they tend to be fearful at this stage. It is important to note that some pups may go through this phase, but not all of them do. During this time, the puppy might seem afraid of everything in the environment, including everyday items.
While going through this phase, we recommend that you do not scare or harshly discipline the puppy. Also, avoid creating any loud noises or sounds in the dog’s surroundings.
5. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 3 to 4 months
This is another critical point in the development of your Labrador retriever puppy. It is the point where you will start to notice that the party will begin challenging your authority. At this stage, they are like juveniles.
Your Labrador retriever puppy will start testing and pushing the boundaries to find out what they can get away with. It is most likely that they will engage in some naughty behaviors to see what you do about it.
For example, the puppy may come back and cry as a way to make you give them more treats.
Some will bite you if you do not give them what they want. You should start training your dog to be disciplined by using positive reinforcement during this stage of life.
6. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 3 to 6 months
Labrador retriever puppies will be more independent by this stage in their development. Additionally, it is not uncommon for them to develop bratty behavior.
If you want your puppy to behave well and have the proper discipline, you must let them know you are the Alpha. Ensure that you establish your dominance over them.
At this stage, they also tend to engage in behavior that may be destructive. The hormonal changes that puppies go through during this age may cause them to dig, tear, and chew at things they should not.
Apart from ensuring they have the proper discipline, they may benefit from enough exercise and dog toys.
7. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 6 to 18 months
From around six months onwards, you will start to see rapid development in the body stature of your Labrador retriever. The dog will look a lot bigger and begin to depict mature behavior. It would be best to remember that they are still puppies even though they look like adults.
Some of the behaviors common at this stage include being exuberant, hyper, and curious. The dog will still test boundaries even though you have established you are dominant over them.
It is common for them to display destructive behavior even if you have been training them regularly.
To properly navigate your dog through this stage of their life, it is essential to establish firm and regular disciplinary training.
8. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 18 months to 7 years
Your dog has been through both the puppy and adolescent stages of their development. Going by most Labrador retriever dogs, around 18 to 24 months is when they fully mature.
At around this time, your dog will be a lot calmer.
The dog will display maturity in both body and behavior in most cases. They will also exhibit the friendly nature and behavior you expect from a Labrador retriever. They tend to be easygoing and behave the way you expect them to.
We do not recommend that you stop training and exercising them even though they behave when at this point in their life. Continue training, exercising, and giving them your attention to ensure they retain their behavior.
If you cut their training too quickly or early, they may revert to destructive behavior.
9. Labrador Retriever Behavior by Age: From 7 to 10 years
One of the things many large dog breeds have in common is that they do not live for a long time. Your dog is in their senior years from the age of seven and above
Even though they are in their senior years, your Labrador will still be friendly and loving, particularly towards your family members. They won’t be as active as they were, and you may even notice that they like cuddling next to you.
Generally, Labrador retrievers will be slower during their senior years and behave almost like elderly humans will do.
Furthermore, the dog will not exhibit the same joy and jump around as they used to whenever they see their leash or a ball. They also tend to be more afraid of threats, loud noises, etc.
Things You Should Consider Before Choosing a Labrador Retriever
Adopting or buying a Labrador retriever can be very exciting for you and your family. This dog breed is amiable and warm, which means they can easily fit into any family.
The dog’s loving nature is why they are regarded as the number one pet dog breed in the US and other countries.
It is essential that those looking to adopt or buy a Labrador or any other dog breed or pet animal carefully consider the subject. This is mainly because adopting a pet, especially a Labrador retriever, requires a long-term commitment.
You should consider several factors based on the dog’s behaviors by age. Due to the dog’s behavior changes, you can opt to adopt or buy a puppy or teenage or mature dog. The dog needs changes with age and behavior.
Are you looking to adopt or buy a Lab? If so, there are a few things that you should take into consideration before doing so. Below are some of the main factors:
Do You Have the Time?
Labrador retrievers make for fantastic and friendly dogs. However, Labs require a lot of attention
and time. They are perfect for pet parents and families that will dedicate time to them.
If you are busy and do not have much time on your hands, you should opt for a breed that does not require much attention and time.
If you go with a Labrador retriever, you must provide them with the attention, engagement, and training they require. Your Labrador will never feel loved if you do not dedicate time to spend with them, no matter what else you do for the dog.
Do You Have Space?
The amount of space you have is considered, especially if you intend to adopt a large dog like a Labrador retriever.
Even though Labradors may vary in size, they are primarily medium to large dogs.
Additionally, this breed tends to have a lot of energy. When you put these two things together, anyone looking to adopt this breed should have enough room in their home and a large yard.
This is not to say you cannot adopt a Labrador if you live in a smaller space. However, you will require to walk your dog regularly, at least twice each day.
Also, you will have to come up with creative ways to keep your dog entertained, engaged, and exercising within your space.
Can You Afford to Feed Them for The Long Haul?
One of the things to consider is whether or not you will be able to provide the food your Labrador will require. You should carefully consider this, mainly because these dogs have an appetite, as with many large and medium dog breeds.
Ensure you separate the budget for your Labrador’s food and needs. This will help you to better provide for them and meet all their dietary requirements. Doing so will ensure your dog is grown up healthy, but they are also happy and feel loved.
Do You Want a Puppy or an Adult Dog?
Yes, when it comes to adopting a Labrador, the difference matters. You need to understand that the puppy can be very destructive for Labs and tend to display behaviors such as chewing shoes, chair cushions, plants, and other things. Adult dogs do not show such behavior, except in cases where they have not been appropriately trained or deprived of attention.
Also, the time, attention, and training requirements are different for both adults and puppies. As you would expect, a puppy requires more time, attention, and exercise.
If you think you will not be able to manage a puppy, then you may consider going for an adult Labrador retriever.
Can You Commit to a Long-Term Relationship with Your Dog?
Something fundamental to look at is if you can commit to a long-term relationship with your Labrador.
You have to be willing to take care of them for more than a decade since the breed has a life expectancy of about 12 years.
Do You Know that Separation Anxiety Is a Thing?
There are different breeds, and each has their requirements, personalities, and characteristics. A Labrador requires love and attention. The more you interact with your Lab, the more they will get used to you and love you.
The result is a dog that bonds with you and will always be there for you. However, because this dog breed is very affectionate, your Lab can get too attached to you. This is not a bad thing; it only means that when you get a Labrador, you should never plan any extended trips away from home and leave your dog alone.
If you are a family with a few members, one of the best ways to deal with this issue is by ensuring the dog gets used to a few people in the family
If you leave, they do not feel lonely and will have someone to take care of them and keep them engaged the same way you would.
Can You Afford the Cost of Adopting a Lab?
Adopting a Labrador can be a relatively costly commitment, unlike other dog breeds. You must look at your finances to figure out if you can afford to get one.
Ensure you factor in the cost of their food, healthcare, insurance, toys and treats, and adoption cost requirements.
While things like the cost of adoption are only a one-time cost, some like food and treats are recurring costs. Also, you should only buy quality food, treats, and toys for your dog. Never skimp and go for low-quality products because they may harm your furry friend.
Things such as healthcare costs and insurance are crucial. They will give you peace of mind knowing that if a medical emergency happens for your retriever, you can easily take them to the vet and get the best care.
Have You Considered Their Training and Grooming Needs?
Training and grooming are vital to the well-being of any dog. You can adopt an untrained or trained Labrador. A trained Lab is a lot easier to manage than an untrained one.
However, if you would love to adopt a dog that is not trained, you should be willing and ready to meet training requirements.
One of the best things is that you do not have to do the training yourself; you may opt for training classes. These are classes conducted by expert trainers which your dog will attend and be taught how to behave.
The same is the case with exercises. You can hire a helper to walk and exercise your dog if you cannot do so regularly.
Even though paying for experts to train and walk your dog is a good option, ensure you do not overdo it. Whenever possible, you should do it yourself.
Grooming is critical if you want your Lab to look sharp and healthy. You have to ensure every aspect of their grooming needs (from dental, nail, shedding, and nails) is well thought out before you adopt one.
Do You Know the History of the Dog?
Perhaps one of the most important things most pet parents overlook whenever they adopt or buy a Labrador retriever is finding out the dog’s history. Here you need to look at the medical history of the dog’s parents.
This way, you can find out any health risks the dog may have as they grow up.
By looking into any health issues your dog might be at risk of, you can better plan for your pet’s future. Planning is vital since you will have to live with your Labrador for a long time. Another crucial step is to find out as much as you can about the dog’s history, especially if you are adopting or buying an adult dog.
Do You Intend On Having Other Pets?
Some people would love to adopt more than one pet and feel they can provide every requirement they will need. Adopting or buying a Labrador retriever is a good idea if this is the case. Labs can get along with other pets.
However, it would be best to be careful when choosing what the other pet should be. Ensure you select one that will be friendly with your Lab and share the same home.
Doing this is an excellent way of choosing which one you should keep if a case arises where they cannot live together and are aggressive towards each other.