Golden Retriever Puppies: Are They Crazy?


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As a long-time dog owner, I’ve known that puppies can be crazy at times. However, when I got my Golden Retriever puppy, I was surprised at how crazy he was. My puppy’s hyperactivity was overwhelming at times, so I wondered, are all Golden Retriever puppies crazy? 

Golden Retrievers are a highly active and playful dog breed. As puppies, these qualities are intensified due to their fast metabolisms, youthful exuberance, and curiosity about the world around them. As a result, their boundless energy can border on hyperactivity, making them seem crazy to us. 

As a breed, the Golden Retriever is part of the sporting group of dogs, and they require a high level of activity. While there are differences among dogs (they are individuals, of course), a high activity level is a common trait in the Golden Retriever breed. 

In puppies, that activity level is on steroids. In other words, they can (and probably will) act crazy. This article will look at why that is, how long it lasts, and why it seems to get significantly worse at night (or what I call the witching hour). 

Why Are Golden Retriever Puppies Crazy? 

If I was a mad scientist in a lab and I had to make a crazy puppy, I would go about it in this way. I would make a highly active dog that requires a lot of physical exercise. The dog would be eager to please and learn, enjoy being with its owners, and bond closely with them.

I would give it a high level of intelligence, requiring the dog to need a lot of mental stimulation. If the dog didn’t get enough physical and mental stimulation, it would use those smarts to redirect any excess energy into diabolically mischievous activities.

Additionally, I’d add a high degree of playfulness, curiosity, and enthusiasm about life and its world. Of course, the dog would also be eager to please and learn and require a lot of attention.

Finally, I’d give them a highly developed drive to chase and retrieve things. As sporting dogs, they would require lots of endurance to assist their human companions for hours on end, retrieving and chasing game birds.

Then, as puppies, I’d put all of those qualities into a hyperactive state, multiplying each trait’s intensity by many factors depending on the individual dog.  

Tada, that puppy already exists. It is the Golden Retriever puppy, and it is why their dizzying hyperactivity is often seen as crazy! 

So, in essence, the qualities of the Golden Retriever puppy are the same qualities they have in adulthood, just magnified, which is not all that surprising. Comparatively speaking, a dog bred to be active as an adult will be more active as a puppy. It is very proportionate. 

Why is this? 

As a whole most puppies are generally more active than when they are adults – this is because puppies, as growing dogs, have faster metabolisms

And a fast metabolism means you get alternating bouts of insane energy and hyperactivity that abruptly stops, followed by a nap to recuperate. 

This puppyhood is not unlike a young and growing human child. How often have you heard a parent or adult say about a child, “wow, I wish I could get some of their energy.” 

Fast metabolisms and a growing body (and mind) mean a lot of energy. 

Both toddlers and Golden Retriever puppies have lots of energy owed to fast metabolisms and growing minds and bodies

How Long Are Golden Retriever Puppies Crazy?

So, as the owner of a Golden Retriever puppy, you have accepted that craziness is part of their puppyhood. However, after months of crazy hyperactivity, you may naturally wonder (I did), how long are Golden Retriever puppies crazy for?

The crazy period for Golden Retriever puppies, defined by a hyper level of activity, playfulness, and mischievousness, lasts approximately two to three years. After that time, they typically calm down somewhat. However, most will retain a high level of activity and playfulness well into adulthood. 

So, it can be good news and bad news for many pet owners. The good news is this peak crazy period lasts only two to three years, then moderates after that. 

Now, two to three years can be a long time for many pet owners, and as far as dog breeds go, that is a long puppyhood. Longer than most dog breeds.

But, while the craziness of puppyhood may moderate after two to three years, most Golden Retrievers retain a high level of puppyhood well into adulthood, much more so than most breeds of dogs. 

As well, Golden Retrievers were bred to be highly active dogs. Their sporting dogs, after all.

And that means even in adulthood; the Golden Retriever will still require a high level of physical activity. They are also one of the most intelligent dogs, requiring a high level of mental stimulation throughout their lives. 

What does all of this mean, then?

The good news is that if you enjoy being active and can meet your Golden Retriever’s need for physical and mental stimulation, you will have a great companion, especially if you enjoy hiking, walking, running, and playing.

Now the bad. Suppose you are ill-equipped or prepared to give your Golden Retriever adequate amounts of physical exercise and mental stimulation. In that case, you may have a crazy Golden Retriever puppy and adult on your hands for many years. 

Golden Retrievers need high activity and mental stimulation to satisfy their physical and mental needs, whether puppies or adults. Not doing so will typically cause a bored dog to direct that excess mental and physical energy into undesirable behaviors.

Bailey’s favorite activities when bored include stealing, making a mess, digging, and shredding toilet paper rolls

Undesirable behaviors include hyperactivity, chewing, puppy play biting, digging, and other naughty behaviors. 

So the key takeaway is this, it is critical always to ensure that the dog you get fits your lifestyle, especially with active dogs like the Golden Retriever.

If you do not have a Golden Retriever and are considering the breed, be sure to check out these posts first:

Why Are Golden Retriever Puppies Crazy at Night?

To this day, my 1.5-year-old Golden Retriever still goes crazy at certain times of the day. That time is the early evening or night, and during this time, his energy peaks, and he often goes crazy. 

It is something to behold, and many guests have asked me why Golden Retriever puppies go crazy at night.  

Golden Retriever puppies often go crazy at night because dogs are naturally most active during the morning and early evening. Lack of physical and mental stimulation during the day may intensify this excess evening energy. Either way, the puppy is expending its energy reserves before settling down for the night. 

Most Golden Retriever puppies will have an additional burst of energy during the early evening from about 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. We fondly refer to that time as the “puppy witching hours.” 

During this time, you may find your Golden Retriever puppy stealing items and then trying to goad you into chasing him. Outside (or inside), the puppy may get infected with the zoomies and sprint at top speed, with his ears down, and do circles around the yard or house. 

If you’re old enough, you might remember the Peanuts cartoons. Remember when Snoopy would sprint at top speed, grabbing Linus’s blanket and running crazily – the zoomies. 

If you have other pets, such as a cat, this may be the time it also pesters it to play. If the puppy is teething, be prepared to have your hands chewed on, or it may attack your furniture.

Sometimes they will find makeshift toys and drop them in our laps, trying to elicit a game of tug. 

And, the cause of this often hilarious, often exhausting, crazy energy? A few reasons. 

The first reason we discussed earlier. Golden Retrievers were bred to be highly active dogs. As sporting dogs, they would assist hunters for hours by retrieving downed waterfowl. 

Additionally, dogs are more active in puppyhood. They have faster metabolisms, youthful exuberance, and are curious.

If a dog was bred to be active as an adult, as in the case of the Golden Retriever, then expect them to be even more active as puppies. Golden Retriever adults are very active. So, as puppies, they are insanely vibrant. 

Dogs are naturally more active in the morning and early evenings. So, the night and afternoons are usually sleep and nap times, and the puppy wakes with plenty of energy – this is normal.

Next is a common reason and probably the biggest reason for their craziness at night – not enough play, exercise, and training throughout the day. 

Yup, if not exercised and stimulated enough during the day, your Golden Retriever puppy will still have massive energy reserves. To make matters worse, if the puppy napped a lot during the day because you were gone, it may be rested, bored, lonely, and even more full of zest come evening. 

Before settling down to sleep at night, it needs to rid itself of that energy. So cue the zoomies and craziness. 

Lastly, your Golden Retriever puppy may want attention. Of course, seeking your attention is expected if you work all day because your little furball missed you.

And, now your Golden Retriever puppy will try to make up for all that lost time of play and attention by engaging you while you’re trying to watch TV. 

What Can I Do To Make My Golden Retriever Puppy Less Crazy?

Suppose you have a crazy Golden Retriever puppy. In that case, I guarantee the next question will be, what can I do to make my Golden Retriever puppy less crazy? 

To make a Golden Retriever puppy less crazy and calmer, you need to burn off its excess energy and mentally stimulate the puppy. This can be done through physical exercise, playing games with the puppy, and short but formal training sessions. 

Because Golden Retrievers, by nature and breeding, are highly active, super-intelligent, and very playful, they need their minds and bodies stimulated. Golden Retrievers were also bred to work closely with people, so they are social animals. Physical exercise, play, training, and mental stimulation help satisfy those needs. 

Physical Exercise

Golden Retriever puppies need to be exercised daily. Walking is an excellent exercise, and training them to walk politely on a leash can never start too young. 

If your puppy has not had its final vaccinations yet, you can still walk it in the backyard or house. 

So, how much exercise should your Golden Retriever puppy have daily? It should be five minutes x its age in months x twice per day. 

So, for example, if your Golden Retriever puppy is three months old, it would need 15 minutes of exercise twice a day (5 minutes of exercise x 3 (age in months) = 15 minutes x twice per day or 30 minutes total).

However, beware that it may be on the low side, and your Golden Retriever may need more.

At three months of age, 30 minutes of exercise was not nearly enough for our Golden Retriever Bailey. Typically, 60 minutes is what he needed, plus multiple play sessions, training, and mental games.

If you need some activities that are an excellent fit for a Golden Retriever, then check out these posts:

Play

Play not only exercises your puppy’s body but also stimulates its mind. As a result, play is an excellent form of mental stimulation for your puppy and provides a bonding opportunity.

Remember, Golden Retrievers are social dogs, and play helps give them the attention they need from their owners. 

For Golden Retriever puppies, fetch and tug of war are great games. Golden Retrievers were bred to bring or “retrieve” things, so this game aligns with their nature. It is what they were born to do. 

Bailey loves fetch and tug of war

Tug of war is also a great game and provides the dog with physical and mental stimulation. Tug also offers excellent training opportunities to teach impulse control skills such as “let go” and starting and stopping a game. 

Chase is fun for your puppy, as is hide and seek. Or you can start training your puppy to use its nose for tracking.

Training

Training your Golden Retriever puppy can start early. In fact, it should.

Training provides mental stimulation, attention, and social interaction. Training also lays the foundation for impulse control and good manners. 

Training is like a formal education for your puppy. Similar to how studying can tax your brain and tire you out, the same is true for puppies. 

Training requires your puppy to problem solve and work on impulse control. Those mental feats take mental energy. And invoking that mental energy through training helps expel more energy. 

Moreover, you can teach your puppy to calm down and “settle” during the evening with training. Or when you are engaged in activities that require it to be calm and out of the way, such as cooking. 

Bailey is working on his down-stay skill at distance and duration.

Golden Retrievers love training. They enjoy interacting and pleasing you, it is fun for them, and they want to earn rewards. 

And, training does not need to take up a big part of your day. Two five-minute sessions will work wonders. 

Mental Stimulation

While training is mentally stimulating to your Golden Retriever, you should also include activities that are specifically geared towards brainwork. Brainwork can consist of games such as puzzles, scent work, or teaching your dog tricks.

Although some of these activities require training, their purpose is to stimulate the dog mentally. Whereas training is usually done to get the desired action from our dogs to make them well-behaved canine citizens, mental activities are meant to make them problem solve and use the grey matter between their floppy ears.

Here’s a great tip. Include some scent work for your dog.

The more intelligent the dog, the more mental stimulation it needs for it to tire. Often a hyper dog that has been adequately exercised and played with will finally become tired when given a 15+ minutes session of mental stimulation such as scent work.

To learn more about the fantastic scent work abilities of the Golden Retriever check out these posts:

Seriously, mental activities tire a dog more than physical alone. Consider what this dog trainer says about her dog Maggie in an article she wrote for the American Kennel Club,

While I do make sure Maggie has the right amount of exercise every day, she’ll be more tired after 15 minutes of scent games than after a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Yes, seriously. Mental fatigue makes dogs (and humans) feel more physically tired than a physical effort alone.

Source

For example, when Bailey is incredibly hyper, I include at least 15 minutes of “sniff time” on our walks. As a result, he is much more tired on those days than if I just walked him for the entire hour.

If you’re looking for some products to help with mental stimulation and alleviate boredom my recommendations include:

  • Chew toys are a must for calming a dog. I love Kongs for stuffing food, freezing it, and then giving Bailey one in the evening to help him settle down (this is my go-to)
Stuffed Kongs are a must to calm Bailey in the evenings
  • A Nosework Kit is highly effective at stimulating a dog’s brain, as is a snuffle mat for foraging
  • Teaching new tricks and games to your dog is an excellent way to stimulate them mentally. Bailey is currently working on the leg “weave” game from the great dog training course Brain Training For Dogs.

If you are interested in any of the products mentioned here, then I recommend you check out my Gold BAR Approved Products and Gear.

Final Thoughts

Golden Retriever puppies can be quite hyper and, yes, even crazy. But unfortunately, that boundless energy can be exhausting and overwhelming at times. 

Take heart that craziness won’t last forever. 

And with proper exercise and play, you efficiently manage that excess energy. Moreover, with short but consistent training sessions daily, you can teach your dog to be calmer and more settled. 

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