Every Labrador owner gets very excited after bringing home a Labrador. Even you too. You might want to take great care regarding his diet and exercise. Actually, then comes a question, how much exercise does a Lab need? What is the best exercise for Labs? What are your Labrador exercise requirements?
As a loving owner, you must have an idea regarding your Labrador exercise needs. You will find answers to all the above questions clearly in this article.
Every Labrador irrespective of its age whether young or old, irrespective of his colour, whether yellow, chocolate or black and irrespective of its type, whether working or show needs exercise. Because exercise is the most thing important for its physical and mental well being.
Exercising your Lab keeps his muscles strong, organs healthy and his mind active. As i mentioned above exercise is important, even if your Labrador is a puppy, adult or a senior dog. The only thing we need to consider is “How much exercise do Labs need?”, how much for a puppy, how much for an adult one and an elderly Labrador.
How much exercise does a Lab need?
Coming straight to the point, a healthy adult Labrador needs roughly 1 hour of exercise every day. But is this a thumb rule? No. Hence, considering this 1-hour rule for every Labrador can lead to a disproportionate amount of exercise for your dog which further can cause various problems related to its health and behaviour.
The amount of exercise a Labrador needs depends on certain factors such as its age, health condition and type of exercise. Before going deep regarding Labrador exercise, it is important to know, why Labs need daily exercise and whether they need a lot of exercises or not.
Do Labradors need a lot of exercise?
All dogs are not the same in terms of their essential physical activity. Some dog breeds need a lot of physical activity, whereas, for some other breeds, a simple walk may be sufficient. Here, Labradors come under the category of dogs that need the most exercise.
The reason for this can be traced to its origins and purposes why they were bred for. Labradors are highly energetic dogs initially bred for physically demanding works. They were bred for retrieving purposes. This can sometimes include an all-day activity. They used to involve in running, jumping and swimming for long hours and sometimes even the whole day.
What does this mean?
The body of a Labrador retriever was genetically designed for performing a lot of physical activity. Even though in the present world, Labradors became family pets sitting on the sofa along with us, they have the genetics to perform their original roles.
5 Reasons why Labradors need exercise?
1. Labrador is a high energy working breed.
2. A Labrador’s body craves for a lot of physical activity.
3. Labs don’t like sitting in the home. They are not couch potatoes.
4. Lack of exercise can cause weight gain and other health and behaviour related problems.
5. Their bodies are designed in that way.
How much exercise does a Lab puppy need?
A puppy is new to this world, and i seriously think if any form of exercise is really necessary for his cute little legs. But many Labrador owners ask me about their Labrador puppy walking and other forms of exercise.
But is it a good idea to strain his little legs at such a tender age? No, not at all. Hence i do not recommend any form of exercise pattern for your little one until he is at least 3 months old.
Let him play, let him explore the world. The little exercise in the form of play is more than enough for your little Labrador until 3 months of age.
Then what after 3 months? Remember this “Five-minute rule”. This is called the “Labrador exercise 5 minute rule”. 5 minutes for every month of age, which means 15 minutes for a 3-month puppy, 20 minutes for a 4-month puppy.
Even though this is not a strict timing, this Five-minute rule can be followed until your Lab attains an age of 1 year. Always remember that your puppy should not be over-exercised which can cause skeletal developmental issues. These issues can lead to various skeletal problems in the later stages of your Lab’s life.
How much exercise does a Labrador need? (adult Lab)
Is your Lab an adult one? Got ready for exercising your Lab? Remember that you might get tired but your Lab won’t. As i already told you, Labradors are high energy breeds that were initially bred for physically demanding works such as hunting and retrieving nets and fish. They carry the genes that crave for high physical activity. Hence if you don’t provide ways for physical activity, they vent out their energy in destructive ways.
A minimum exercise for 45 minutes is very essential to your Labrador. For example, for highly energetic dogs like mine, you can extend the exercise for more than 1 hour.
Generally, Labradors from the working line will require more exercise than the show lines. Exercise doesn’t mean simple walking, it must include various forms of exercises such as playing fetch, jogging, running along with you and also swimming. You can divide the exercise period into schedules such as the morning and evening schedule.
One point you should consider. Always observe your dog during the exercise. Observe whether it is tired, Observe whether it is able to walk or not and Observe whether it is panting heavily.
Sometimes my dog gets tired easily after a 20 min brisk walk. Then in such cases, i prefer to stop his exercise and take him home for rest. Always remember not to over-exercise your dog.
How much exercise does an elderly Labrador need?
Your Lab might slow down when it reaches 7-8 years of age. Even though some Labs stay active until 10 years of age, 7 years of age reminds us that our Lab is a senior one.
You keep noticing signs such a slowing down, inability to stay active for long hours, unable to perform long walks. Some dogs even develop various health problems such as hip dysplasia and arthritis. Observe the symptoms carefully and design the exercise regime.
Even though your Lab becomes a senior it does not mean it should not exercise. A moderate form of exercise is very beneficial for your elderly dog, especially at that age. Observe if there are any Labrador walking problems.
If your Lab cannot take long walks, take him for a short distant walk for short periods. Take your dog for a swimming exercise which can be relaxing as it does not cause huge pressure on the joints. Treatments such as Hydrotherapy will be beneficial as it eases joint pains in your dog.
Labrador walking- Is it enough?
One of the main reasons Labs does not get the required amount of exercise is due to the busy schedule of their owners. Many dog owners might have not thought of it while bringing home a Labrador puppy. Sometimes it is even difficult to find a nearby park or play area for your dog, this happens in busy cities sometimes.
In such cases, the only exercise most of the owners conduct for their Labradors is simple walking.
But, is walking enough for your Labrador?
Actually, walking is one of the best exercises especially if your Labrador is either a puppy or a senior one. Even for healthy adult Labs, steady walking is a good form of exercise. It improves your Lab’s physical and mental health simultaneously.
But just walking has some limitations too.
Walking just exercises your dog’s joints, muscles, heart and lungs moderately. Only at a moderate level. Especially for a breed like Labrador retriever, it would not be sufficient at all. But if you are doing only walking with your dog, it means that your dog is not getting enough workout for its body.
But what if you are not able to provide any form of exercise other than walking? In such a case, you need to take care that your dog gets the maximum amount of benefit just out of walking itself.
How much walking does a Labrador need?
The exact amount of walking a Lab needs depends upon various factors. Along with major factors such as its age and its health condition, minor factors such as the temperature outside and time of its last meal also play an important role.
But if your Lab is a healthy adult one, it needs at least 1 hour of walking daily. Even this time duration is not a fixed duration, it varies between dogs.
For example, my 2-year-old Labrador gets tired sometimes within half an hour of its walking. Hence i prefer to divide the 1-hour duration of walking between morning and evening. Some times 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening would be enough.
Walking your dog can also be made different by including variations in walking. Such as speeding up for a few minutes and again walking at a moderate pace depending upon your dog’s needs and interests.
You can also try different routes and allow your dog to explore different smells to make the walk interesting and exciting for him.
There is no fixed amount of walking required for your dog, the amount of walking required varies and should be done by taking into consideration your dog’s body language while doing it.
How often should you walk a Labrador?
Exercise should not be a weekend affair. I have heard some people saying that they take their dog for a walk on Sundays. This kind of weekend walking may not be sufficient for your Labrador at all.
As walking is a simple exercise, it should be done daily.
If you are not able to spend an hour for walking your Lab or if your Lab is not able to walk continuously, conduct a 30 minutes walk- one in the morning and one in the evening.
You can also take your dog for a walk in the night as nights as less noisy and your dog can feel more relaxed.
Share the duty of walking your dog between your family members, so that the workload can be reduced.
Check if your Lab is getting enough exercise
Your Labrador generally exhibits some symptoms if he is not getting enough amount of exercise. Check for these symptomatic behaviours in your Lab
1. Weight gain and your Lab starts looking chubby.
2. Destructive behaviour, he behaves like a tornado.
3. Playing roughly with others.
4. Hyperactive while going out on a walk.
5. Barking and whining sometimes. Your dog might be asking for freedom.
6. Laziness and Depression.
If you find any unwanted behaviour or any of the above symptoms, it might be a case that your dog is not getting enough exercise. Always remember that a tired dog is a happy dog.
Best ways of exercise for Labs
Even though walking is a good and simple exercise for your Labrador, it might not be enough. There are other types of exercises that can exercise your Lab well and are beneficial for its well being. Including these different exercises can keep your Lab healthy both physically and mentally.
Have a look at the list of best exercises for your Labrador.
1. Jogging or cycling
Jogging or cycling with your Lab can be one of the best exercises for him. Breeds like Labradors are well suited for long and steady runs. They even enjoy these kinds of exercises. My dog loves to jog along with me.
But you need to take some things into consideration before beginning a jogging or cycling routine for your Lab.
Do not prefer these exercises if your Labrador is a very young puppy or a senior one, as it causes excessive strain on their joints.
A young healthy Lab can usually do this exercise. But he should start jogging or cycling only after he gets habituated to the pace. Hence it is always better to start with walking and increase the speed slowly to allow his body to gear up for the exercise session.
Swimming can be another best exercise for your Labrador and trust me, most of the Labs love swimming. They have a natural affinity with water, and their webbed paws and the double coat makes them natural swimmers.
A swimming exercise for 20 minutes swim could be sufficient for your dog and could be a good form of exercise.
Although Labradors are good swimmers, you should take some necessary precautions while taking him for swimming. Things such as using a jacket, checking the currents if the swim is on a beach, and the age of your dog is essential to consider.
If you want to go hiking, Labradors can be your best hiking companions. Hiking can be a good exercise for Labrador retrievers. Labradors have good stamina and strength and this makes them perfect for hiking.
The outdoor activity like hiking stimulates your dog both physically and mentally. Your dog would love the outdoor exercise. Take your hiking equipment along with necessary precautions and start hiking.
4. Playing Fetch
The word retrieving exists in the name itself. The behaviour of retrieving things is very much present in their genetic behaviour. Hence playing fetch is one game that most of the Labradors love instinctively.
You can also train your Lab to play the perfect fetch game and also make it more interesting by changing the fetch objects. You can use a high impact ball, or a stick or a frisbee to make the game more interesting for your dog.
This fetch game can exercise your dog well. It is a kind of exercise that activates your dog’s body totally while playing it.
Keep the play session short as it can exhaust your dog sometimes. A 5 to 10-minute training session a few times a day can exercise your dog well.
What about mental exercises?
Giving your dog some mental exercise is equally important along with the physical exercise you provide him. Labs were genetically trained to retrieve things using their intelligence. Imagine how would they feel sitting at home all day without any work for its mind.
Providing mental stimulation in the form of games and exercises will keep your dog mentally alert, active and happy. It is truly beneficial for the overall well being of your dog.
Have a look at some mental exercises you can provide your Lab.
1. Obedience training
Performing obedience training is one of the best ways to stimulate your dog mentally. Obedience training is simply to train your dog to obey your commands accurately. The way we learn obedience and good habits in our school, the same way this obedience training works for your dog.
This provides the necessary mental stimulation to your dog. This obedience training also asserts your position as a leader and it is also fun to perform.
Start reinforcing all the basic commands such as sit, stay, come etc. Repeating these commands and reinforcing them keeps your dog’s mind active and alert and it responds to these commands effectively.
2. Hide the treat game
This is one more game to stimulate and enhance sensory capabilities of your dog. As your Labrador is a born sniffer, it would always try to find out the hidden treat.
Hide some treats that your dog likes and that have a strong smell. Hide the treat and ask your dog to find it with a command like, “Go”. Initially hide the treats nearby and in easy places so that your dog could find them easily. Do not make the game too difficult in the initial stages itself. As your dog understands the game, you could increase the difficulty in later stages.
It is a great game to ignite your Lab’s sniffing ability.
3. Interactive toys to play
Sometimes there is no need for you to involve in your dog’s mental exercise. All you need is to provide him with the best interactive, mind-stimulating toys and let him play by himself.
I have observed my dog playing with its favourite ball, all on its own during the night time. I have observed this a lot many times.
Give your dog some special toy like the Kong toy or some special toy that can be filled with treats. Now your dog uses all its brain and energy to get those treats. It would be a great mental exercise for him.
Sometimes your dog’s mind might get conditioned or bored using the same toys again and again. Hence it is good to replace the old toys with new ones.
4. Provide a new environment
Take your dog to a dog park. New environments give your dog a chance to meet new dogs and new people. Let your dog use it senses to sniff new people, new dogs and allow him to interact with them.
Allow others to pet your dog, allow other friendly dogs to come near your dog. Allow your dog to investigate new places.
All these activities are a good form of mental exercises that activate your dog’s mind.
As a loving Labrador owner, you might be conducting some exercises for your Lab. But sometimes they are not fully sufficient.
Mental exercises are very important along with physical exercises to get rid of many doggy behavioural problems.
A dog without proper mental stimulation can exhibit a bundle of behavioural problems that can cause immense trouble and pain for your dog and your self.
Here is the ultimate solution to exercise your dog mentally.