Labrador Retrievers are active, high-energy animals. They love to get exercise and be in the outdoors. Exercise is an important part of living a healthy life, along with a proper diet and veterinary care, so how much exercise exactly should a British Lab get in a day?
It should come as no surprise that there is not one set answer and it depends on your Lab’s circumstances. When someone thinks of exercise for dogs the first thing that comes to mind is taking the dog for a walk but exercise is more than just that. In fact some dogs can do without being walked as long as they receive their exercise and stimulation in other ways. Walking is of course good exercise for both the dog and their human and many Lab owners spend upwards of one hour or more walking them every day. It benefits the heart and lungs and since it is a natural motion it is easy on the joints as well but to fully benefit from a walk a Lab has to move faster than the normal human pace which means letting them off of their leash which may not always be practical.
Remember though that not all walks are equal. A short walk with a more strenuous route can provide just as much exercise as a longer walk on even terrain. If your Lab’s walk is their only exercise experts recommend two walks per day along with some time off of the leash and if they get that they will be able to stay reasonably healthy. If your dog does have access to other means of exercise like a backyard that they can move around in or another dog to play with then they may not even need to be walked.
There are other ways for a Lab to get exercise. Their own name, Labrador Retriever, has a great way right there. These dogs are great at retrieving things and when doing so they can get themselves quite the workout. This takes some planning on their human’s part but any owner can do it. You do not have to be a hunter or sportsman for this to work.
Labrador Retrievers also love to play. It can be something simple like a game of fetch or tug-of-war or with the frisbee. This can be done in the local dog park, your back yard or just about anywhere that dogs can go. This gives the Lab a good workout and will use some muscles that are not used when simply going for a walk as well as allowing them to sprint. These activities can last as long as both the human and the Lab are into it.
Labrador Retriever puppies have different needs. Many owners will turn to a walk as a way to get exercise for their Lab pup but they should not over-exert the animal. Experts recommend that the walk last five minutes for every month of age of the puppy. That would be a fifteen minute walk for a 3 month old puppy and a twenty minute walk for a four month old pup. Puppies should not be walked until they are three months old AND have received all of their vaccinations and overexerting a puppy can lead to serious joint issues especially with larger breeds of dogs like your Lab.
That does not mean that puppies should not exercise. Free running is recommended and may even lessen the chance of developing bone and joint issues. Puppies should also be discouraged from climbing stairs until they are older as this puts them at an increased risk of joint issues. Strenuous exercise should also be avoided as it can cause joint issues and many trainers avoid letting Labs even jump for their first year to avoid causing joint damage.
There is another component to exercise that is important but is sometimes overlooked and that is rest. All dogs, and in particular puppies, need rest to help rejuvenate and heal themselves. When the dog is outside be on the lookout for signs of fatigue and at that point it is a good idea to stop and rest. Also if playing with other dogs it would be a good idea to keep and eye on your Lab to make sure that they are not tiring, especially if they are a puppy. Some dogs will play all day if you let them so managing their play time can reduce the risk of overexertion.
Like with humans exercise is an important component to a healthy life. Your British Lab is a natural athlete and they will want to exercise and spend time outside. Take advantage of that and you might even get some exercise yourself!
To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.