We have a female chocolate lab that is 3.5 years old. She is boisterous. Taking her for walks does help calm her down. We found early on that we needed to use the gentle leader halter on her. Her head is smaller than her neck and she'd pull right out of the leash collar and all if she saw a squirrel and decided to chase after her.
Our dog is the same way, she follows me everywhere and if the cats are getting attention, she's right there ready to share the love. The cats have learned to tolerate her. Max will even tolerate a few pokes in the face with her big ole nose before swatting her (claws sheathed) away.
I have to confess, I too much prefer cats to dogs. We got the dog for my daughter. The dog loves it when she goes out in the back yard and runs around with her. We started when she was a puppy tossing a small ball to her in the family room. She's gotten so that she can catch it in her mouth about 99% of the time. Usually it's a pop fly that she catches. The room isn't that big so she can't run far, but she loves the game so much, she'll bring the ball to you to throw.
If you don't have a variety of toys for her to play with, then I highly recommend you check out Kingswholesale.com. They've got good prices on everything. We keep Willow stocked up with several squeeky plush, balls and tug toys, and bones. Kong toys stuffed with treats are good too.
Even though I'm a cat person, that goofy dog has grown on me. But, when she's in doggy heaven, I don't think I want another dog. It's like having a toddler again. But she's a good girl. We crate trained her and now that she's older she's calming down a bit faster when we have company. She still gets excited and wants to jump on you, but we just put up the gate in another room or put her outside until she calms down and then we bring her back inside and she settles down.
We ended up having to get an electric fence, 'cause she'd bolt out the front door and take off. The back yard is fenced but she'd still bolt out the front door whenever she'd get the chance. On one escape, she cut her foot and severed a tendon and a vein. The other times, she either ran across the busy 4 lane we live near or came close to it. We were unable to catch her until she had completely exhausted herself and was unable to run any more.
Oh and she's got a delicate tummy and a recurring cryptosoridium infection that happens like clock work every 3-4 months. We wake up in the morning and find diarrhea on the carpet in the family room. This is in spite of the fact that she gets thrown out in the back yard one last time every night around 11pm. We've been trying to find a natural cure for that, so far we've tried sacromycees boulardi probiotics and humaworm. I'm set for round 2 of the humaworm for her.