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If you have a young Golden Retriever, you might be wondering when your dog is going to calm down.
Perhaps you’d like to sleep in a bit, but your energetic pup is ready to go at the crack of dawn.
Maybe you’re hoping they’ll stop trying to drag you across the street to say hi to every person they see.
Or you just want some more downtime at home where your dog is able to relax.
While Golden Retrievers aren’t a couch potato breed, they do tend to calm down as they reach a certain age.
However, there are several factors, beyond age, that influence when and if your Golden can start chilling out.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- At what age most Golden Retrievers tend to calm down
- How genetics can impact calmness
- The role of exercise in helping your dog be calm
- Why sleep is so important if you want a calm Golden
- Why your pup may struggle with calming down
At What Age Do Golden Retrievers Calm Down?
Most Golden Retrievers will start to calm down between two to three years of age. This is when they reach adulthood.
To understand the reason behind this, it’s useful to take a look at dog development stages.
Plus, this can help you keep your expectations in line with your dog’s physical and psychological capabilities.
Golden Retriever puppies under 12 weeks old tend to be bundles of energy, but will tire quickly because they don’t have much physical stamina.
They need a lot of playtime to run around and burn all their puppy energy.
Before your puppy came to live with you, they spent much of their waking time playing with their littermates.
So it’s up to you as their human to fulfill their need for play and exercise now that they don’t have their siblings around.
Young puppies usually wear out pretty quickly and will crash for naptime.
As puppies get a bit older, usually around the 12-week mark, they start to have more endurance.
What used to fully tire them out is no longer enough to satisfy their need for play and exercise.
Older puppies often need more activity before they feel able to settle down for a snooze.
Energy levels and exercise needs continue to increase as your pup hits canine adolescence.
Adolescence typically begins at 6 months old and lasts until 2 to 3 years old.
Because Golden Retrievers are a larger breed of dog, their adolescent phase is longer than smaller breeds.
Dogs become teenagers just like humans, and go through different changes as they mature into adults.
So while a Golden puppy has a lot of energy, a teenage Golden Retriever will have even more.
This is often the most challenging developmental stage for owners because of how rambunctious adolescent dogs can be.
Adolescence is the development stage where your dog will have the highest exercise needs.
If they aren’t given appropriate outlets for their energy, they will find their own activities, which are often things humans find obnoxious like digging, barking, counter surfing, and chewing.
They need to move their bodies, and sometimes a leashed walk isn’t enough to scratch that itch.
We’ll talk more about the best way to exercise your Golden to help them be calm, but first let’s talk about Golden Retriever adulthood.
Around 2 to 3 years old is when most Golden Retrievers will finish both physical and social maturity.
Many people think that their Golden is an adult after one year of age, but they still have quite a bit of developing to do.
Energy levels tend to drop and stabilize at this stage.
This isn’t to say that your dog will no longer be energetic, after all Goldens are a very athletic breed, but they won’t be as intense as adolescence.
Adult dogs are often better at settling themselves around the house for a good snooze, and can cope better with short periods of inactivity, such as if you’re sick for a day or two.
A calmer dog is your reward for making it through the puppy and adolescent stages.
At eight years old, Golden Retrievers are considered seniors.
It’s normal to see a decrease in energy levels and an increase in downtime and rest for senior dogs.
Of course, lower energy can also be due to health issues, so it’s good to communicate with your vet to make sure that it is normal aging and not a treatable condition.
Golden Retriever Energy Levels Can Vary Due to Genetics
Even though Golden Retrievers are all from the same breed, there is a lot of variety including energy levels.
How energetic or chill an individual dog is can be influenced by genetics.
If a breeder pairs two calm therapy dogs together, the puppies are also likely to be calm and have lower energy levels.
Contrast that with a breeder who is breeding for excellent hunting dogs.
Known as field Golden Retrievers, this type of Golden is going to have much higher energy levels and need more exercise.
Even as an adult, that type of dog will have more energy than a dog bred with therapy work in mind.
And of course, there’s a whole spectrum of energy levels between these two examples.
So how much your Golden will calm down is in part a result of their genetics.
Exercise is Essential for Calmness
While Goldens do calm down when they become adults, owners shouldn’t rely on maturity alone to get a nice, calm Golden Retriever.
Both physical and mental exercise are key to helping your dog be able to chill out around the house.
A dog who has opportunities to move their body and work their brain is much more able to settle down and be a pleasant housemate, no matter what developmental stage they are in.
It’s unfair to expect a Golden Retriever to be a calm, well-mannered pup without first meeting their needs.
This breed was originally created to be a hunting companion, running through fields and marshes on all-day hunts.
But even though you and your dog may not hunt, that need for exercise and mental stimulation is still there.
Most adult Goldens need 60 to 90 minutes of exercise per day.
Off-leash exercise is the best way to burn your dog’s energy.
If you don’t have access to places where your dog can be off-leash, or you don’t feel they will be reliable when unclipped, there are some alternatives.
You could use a friend or family member’s yard, or check out Sniffspot, where you can rent a yard or property for your dog to run around.
You can also hit up a local trail or field with your dog on a harness and a 20-foot longline, which allows them to move around and sniff much more than if they were on a 6-foot leash.
Allowing your dog to sniff also provides excellent mental stimulation, as their brain works to process all the information they receive through their nose.
Puzzle toys are also a great way to provide mental exercise, as your dog has to interact with the toy to get food out of it.
Here are a few favorites:
Additionally, games like hide and seek, or finding a hidden toy, can be great ways to engage your dog’s brain, so they feel content and relaxed.
If you want a calm dog, make sure they are getting sufficient exercise at all stages of life.
Getting a Golden Retriever puppy? Get the 30-day game plan to raise them into the dog you’ve always dream of with the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook here
Sleep Is the Secret Ingredient to a Calm Dog
This may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but sleep is also a key factor to helping your dog be calm.
It’s common to feel like you need to wear your dog out in order for them to be able to relax, especially if you have a puppy, adolescent or young adult.
And while Goldens certainly do need exercise, too much activity and not enough rest can actually backfire.
Puppies and dogs that are overly tired often become kind of crazy.
Biting, jumping, barking, ricocheting off the couch, zooming around the living room.
It’s easy to see that and think that they need more exercise to calm down, but that’s just throwing more fuel on the fire.
On the other hand, puppies and dogs who get sufficient, quality sleep are more level-headed and less likely to engage in behaviors we find annoying.
Honestly, it’s completely relatable.
You’re probably not at your best when you’re sleep-deprived too!
Read this article to learn all about how much sleep your Golden Retriever needs and how to ensure they get good sleep.
The right balance of exercise, activity and sleep can help your dog be calm.
Help! My Golden Retriever Has No Chill!
Every Golden Retriever is an individual.
Some will naturally settle themselves down for naps around the house, especially once they reach adulthood.
Others seem to be incapable of chilling out, which can be really frustrating for owners.
Let’s explore some reasons why a Golden may struggle with calming down.
Assessing whether or not your dog’s needs are being met is a great place to start if you’ve got an Energizer Bunny on your hands.
Try to be honest with yourself as you consider your dog’s needs and how well they are being met.
Sometimes lots of energy is a sign that your dog’s needs aren’t quite being met. (And, pinky promise, this isn’t about shaming or guilt tripping you as an owner!)
- Physical exercise
- Mental stimulation
- Social time (both with humans and other dogs, if they enjoy it)
- Chewing opportunities
You might find that adding in a fun hike once or twice a week makes all the difference in your dog’s ability to relax at home.
Perhaps hiring a dog walker while you’re at work is the missing piece.
Test out feeding your dog’s meals in puzzle toys rather than a bowl and see what effect it has on their overall energy levels.
Golden Retrievers can suffer from anxiety, which can sometimes look like excess energy and an inability to calm down.
Chronic anxiety, known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, can affect dogs at any age, and can range from mild to severe.
You may notice signs like whining, pacing, and panting (even if not hot or thirsty), as well as vigilant or scanning behavior inside or outside of the home.
Read this article to learn more about anxiety in Golden Retrievers.
If you suspect your dog may have anxiety, consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist.
Medication can be an effective tool in managing anxiety, so your dog is able to chill out.
Lack of Routine
Some dogs thrive on a consistent routine and without it, they can become a little crazy.
Dogs, like humans, appreciate predictability, and without some level of it, they can feel unstable.
They might be wondering if you’re going to walk them, or when playtime will be, and this confusion may lead them to be antsy.
For some Golden Retrievers, a routine can help put them at ease and assure them that you will meet their needs, making it easier for them to calm down.
Lack of Training
Training can also help your dog learn how to calm down, whether it’s around the house, or out in public.
Maturity alone is sometimes not enough to help your dog tone down their energy and enthusiasm, and this is where training comes in.
With training, even puppies and adolescent dogs can start learning about calmness, which will set you up for even more success as they mature.
Golden Retrievers thrive with positive reinforcement training.
One situation where even adult Golden Retrievers can struggle to calm down is around other people.
Whether you’re having guests over, or you’re passing someone when out on a walk, it’s common for Goldens to get super excited, jumpy and wiggly.
Teaching your dog how to greet people and receive petting while keeping all of their feet on the ground will help them be calmer in these moments.
Mat training, where your dog learns to settle on a bed, rug, or cot, can also be helpful in teaching your dog to chill out.
This can be used at home while you’re eating meals, cooking or trying to get some work done.
It’s also useful if you want your dog to be calm at a dog-friendly restaurant, kid’s sports game, or any other potentially exciting environment.
A great resource for teaching calmness on a mat is Dr. Karen Overall’s Relaxation Protocol.
Additionally, tools like crates, pens and tethers can also help your dog learn how to be calm, as some dogs struggle to settle if given total freedom around the house.
You can think of them like training wheels, helping your dog experience calmness by offering some structure and eliminating other options that may prevent them from chilling out.
If you’d like some help with instilling more calmness in your dog through training, find a certified, professional trainer.
Calming Down Your Golden Retriever
There is good news and bad news when it comes to your Golden Retriever calming down.
The good news is that the vast majority of Golden Retrievers will calm down when they reach adulthood at around 2 or 3 years of age.
And the bad news is that you have to wait until your dog is 2 or 3 years old until they are adults.
But don’t despair!
Remember that exercise and mental stimulation will help your dog be able to settle down and chill out, at any developmental stage.
It just may be that the developmental stage they are currently in comes with more energy, requiring more of your own time and energy.
Training is also an excellent way of shaping more calm behavior, both at home and when you’re out and about.
Maturity is a wonderful thing when it comes to your dog calming down, but you don’t have to wait for it to arrive before your dog begins learning how to chill out.
Plus, I know this might sound crazy right now, but you’ll miss the wild Golden Retriever puppyhood days.
If you liked this article, check out the Golden Retriever puppy milestone timeline.
- When Do Golden Retriever Puppies Stop Teething?
- Golden Retriever Weight Calculator: Estimate Your Puppy’s Adult Weight
- 10 Best Treats For Golden Retrievers (For Training & Puppies)
P.S. Getting a Golden Retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook here.
About the author:
Alisa Healy is a professional dog trainer in the Chicago suburbs, with a wide range of training experience from shelters to in-home training to dog sports. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and is passionate about helping people and dogs live fulfilling, harmonious lives together.