Labrador retrievers are high-energy dogs. And they need to be exercised regularly. If you don’t exercise them regularly then they can start behaving aggressively and can lead to some health issues. So, it is very important to keep them exercising regularly. But if you are a new dog owner you can find difficulties with this.
The new dog owners don’t know what to do with their dogs to keep them healthy and how much exercise they need to give them? What are the exercises your dog needs to perform because their exercises are different from we humans, right? They can’t pick dumbells and start using them. 🙂
You need to exercise your Labrador retriever for almost 1 hour daily to keep them fit. To exercise your Labrador there are many exercises that are very beneficial for them. Some of them are swimming, walking, tug of war, retrieve a ball, etc. You need to change your dog’s exercise routine as they start getting older mostly after 7 years old.
There are many things that you need to know before starting with your Lab’s exercise. That is why I have made this Labrador exercise 101. In this blog, I will try to cover every basic thing you must know about your lab’s exercises. Which exercises you need to perform and how? How you need to start with that and many more. So, keep reading because every paragraph will have some valuable information.
- How to get started with your Labrador exercises:
- 1. Fix a proper time for daily exercise
- 2. Decide which exercises you are about to perform
- 3. Pay attention to your dog’s signals
- 4. Do not feed your dog just before or just after the exercise
- 5. Look for the weather condition before going outside for the exercise
- 6. Enjoy your time with your furry friend
- Best exercises for your Labrador retriever
- 1. Swimming
- 2. Playing with other dogs
- 3. Fetch
- 4. Walking or running
- 5. Visiting to a dog park
- 6. Tricky Training
- 7. Agility training
- 8. Hide and seek
- 9. Tug of war
- 10. Hiking
- How much exercise does your Labrador retriever need?
How to get started with your Labrador exercises:
Now you have made your mind to get into your Lab’s exercise but what you need to do can still be a mystery. To get started with your Labrador exercise, below are the things you should follow. You need to take care of all these points so, read carefully.
1. Fix a proper time for daily exercise
The very first thing you need to do is to fix a proper time for your dog to exercise from your busy schedule. You can’t do it when you will get time. Labradors are high-energy dogs and exercise is mandatory for them. If you do not give them proper exercise daily then they will not lose their energy and then after it will be a loss for both of you. Your dog can suffer from many prone diseases like hip dysplasia, etc, and he can get overweight.
To spend his energy he will start doing some aggressive activities like chewing the curtains, sofas, furniture, etc. Your lab will start running in your home and as you know that a Labrador is a big dog then it can break many precious things in your house. So, for you and your dog’s self-being, please fix a proper time for your Lab’s exercise. This time can be a good quality time for you and your dog’s relationship.
2. Decide which exercises you are about to perform
The other thing just after deciding the time you need to do is to clarify the exercises. Choose out the exercises that you are going to perform day by day. It will be better if you make a fixed schedule for your exercise. By that, you can cover many different types of exercises and will not miss any. The benefit of using many different types of exercises is that you can keep each body part healthy.
For example, swimming is an exercise that makes the joints strong but the tug of war will work on the jaws and pulling capacity. And there are many other exercises that you must perform with him to keep them fully fit. Don’t think that these exercises will be boring. I know that exercise word is boring and no one likes to do this. But trust me, it will be more fun with your dog.
It is important to make a schedule for your exercises because when you are ready to exercise with them then you will waste much time thinking that what you should do today and in that case, you can miss many important exercises. So, prepare your list (Don’t worry I myself have picked 10 best for you below 😉 ) and get ready for great fun.
3. Pay attention to your dog’s signals
Exercising is all about your dog. And they do not talk like us that they can tell us their mood about it. So, be it is important to pay attention to your dog’s signals. Those signals will tell you about their condition for exercise. Sometimes if your dog is not feeling well then they will try to skip those exercise periods. You need to take care of it that they are healthy enough for their exercise.
4. Do not feed your dog just before or just after the exercise
This point is very important. I mean really important. Do not feed your dog just before or just after the exercise. Keep a gap of at least 1 hour between the feeding and exercise. If you feed them between one hour then this can be damaging for them. Labradors are large breed dogs and deep-chested, So, they are prone to some belly issues if you feed them just before or just after the exercise.
This can lead to some digestion problems. This can predispose your Lab’s stomach to twist or bloat. So, keep extra care of your dog while feeding them. There are some signs that show that your dog is suffering from these health issues. You can read about these signs in this article.
5. Look for the weather condition before going outside for the exercise
If you are going for a walk or hiking with your dog then it is important to look for the weather condition. Labradors are very prone to these weathers and so you need to take care of that. Especially when your dog always plays in your room or grass. If the weather is too hot then do not go outside with your dog because this can cause the issue of overheating.
If the weather is too cold then this can also be an issue, your Lab’s paws can frostbite. In bad weather conditions, it is better to perform some indoor exercises. You can’t run in your house (If you have a palace then sorry for my words 😉 ) but still, there is some exercise that is complete enough to keep their heart pumping.
6. Enjoy your time with your furry friend
The exercise periods are very important for you and your Lab’s health. This time is not only about the health but it is about your relationship, your bonding with your dog. Dogs are always ready to please their master. And when you play with them then they start loving you more. So, don’t take this time as exercise time but take it as entertainment time for you. You can be your dog’s best friend by just spending some of these time with him.
Trust me, spending one hour with your dog daily and eat all your stress of the whole day. There are many proofs that show that dogs are stress busters and your Lab is one of them. They can enhance your mood and freshen it up. There are many other benefits of having a Labrador in your home. So, enjoy your time with your furry friend. He needs you and you need them. 🙂
Do not exercise your Labrador if :
1. She is pregnant
2. Just had Spaying or Neutering
3. Got injured somewhere
4. Just had any surgery
5. After illness
Best exercises for your Labrador retriever
Swimming is one of the best exercises for your Labrador. They come from a watery background. I mean the ancestors of Labrador retrievers are generally used by the fishermen. Their job was to put the net back in the boat and if any fish jump out then retrieve it back. So, swimming is in their blood. Lab’s jaws and tails are specially made for swimming that helps them to swim better.
They have a thick dense water-resistant coat that shows that they are made for it. Swimming is an exercise that works on their hips and joints. It is a great exercise that provides both muscle strengthening and cardiovascular workouts. This protects them from some health issues like hip dysplasia, etc. So, you must include this exercise in your list.
What to do:
- Choose a suitable place for swimming and if you have a swimming pool then that is the best place for the swimming exercise.
- Choose the most suitable life jacket for your lab if he having difficulty in swimming or he has never tried swimming.
- Either you can play with your dog in water or put some toys or balls in the water for your dog to play with them.
- If you have another dog who is friendly with your Lab then let them play together in the water. The other dog should know how to swim so he will encourage your furry friend to swim together.
- If you are playing with your dog then wear a life jacket because he is new to swimming then he can panic and will jump on you. This can lead to your safety risk.
- Keep your swimming sessions short, maximum 10 minutes.
- Do not throw a large toy in the water for your dog. A flat small toy like a soft flying disk is the best. The spongy balls are also a good option.
- When your dog comes out of the water then you can feed your dog some dehydrated or freeze-dried food to help absorb the excess water from the stomach.
2. Playing with other dogs
Labradors are very friendly in nature. They are even friendly with other dog breeds. Labradors come in the top 10 friendly dog breeds in the world. So, you can let your dog play with other dogs. This will help your dog to burn some energy and it will have a full-body workout. Another benefit of this is that they start being socialized with the other dogs. But be alert when they are playing with the other dogs because sometimes dogs start fighting with each other. And this can be damaging to your dog or the other dog. Whoever gets hurt but it will be surely bad.
What to do:
- Look for a friendly dog in your neighbor or if you already have another dog who is friendly with your lab then that’s great. Let them play together.
- Be present where they are playing because sometimes they are fighting. Dogs are like children, they can fight anytime.
- Do not choose a very open area otherwise you can lose control over them.
- Now, enjoy watching them play together or you can play with them too. 🙂
There is a reason why Labradors are caller Labrador retrievers. Labradors are from the retriever group of dogs. That means it was their job to retrieve the things for their masters. So, you can use this tendency to exercise them. They love to retrieve things. And they love it when someone asks them to retrieve something.
Fetch is one of the best exercises that they love to play. This exercise is a great opportunity for you to build that special connection with your Lab. They love this game and if you are playing this with them then they will love you too. but before that, you need to teach them how to play this game.
What to do:
- First, choose some toys to play fetch. A fetch ball and a frisbee is a good option.
- If you are playing fetch for the first time then you need to teach your dog how to play it. He is a Labrador retriever that does not mean that he know everything from the birth. Yes, they can learn it very fast.
- Dogs love to chase so, first teach him to chase the ball. Throw it and tell him to chase it.
- When you Lab chase the ball and pick it then show some excitement and tell him to bring it back to you.
- Remember that at the start you need to be very excited to keep your dog’s excitement running. Once he learns the fetch game then he will be always ready for it.
- Once he learned to fetch the ball then try frisbee.
- A frisbee is a flying object so this will help him to jump and that is a great exercise. But do not start with flying your frisbee from start, first roll it so your Lab can learn how to pick it.
- Once your lab understands the mechanism of fetching the frisbee then you can make it fly and tell him to catch it.
- Do not throw your frisbee very high because your Lab will try to catch it every time and if it is very high then they can damage themselves.
- Once your dog understands how to play fetch, then you can have fun with him any time you want. You will love this game too.
4. Walking or running
Walking/running is an awesome exercise for your Labrador as well as you. Just put a harness in your dog and you are ready to go. You can say that walking is a physical as well as a mental exercise. When your dog goes outside of your home then they start exploring things and start sniffing the other things. This stimulates his mind and smelling power.
While walking just be extra careful because your dog will get into other’s touch and if they are no socialized well then they can get aggressive. The chances are low because Labrador is a very friendly breed but yet safety is better than precaution. Daily 15 to 20 minutes walking can be enough for their health benefits. As they get old you need to decrease their walking time. If they are more than 7 years old then make your walking in intervals.
What to do:
- Put a front clip harness in his neck if your dog pulls you.
- Put some water, a poop bag, tissues and if possible then a spare leash with you.
- Check the weather if it is appropriate to go.
- Now you can go for a walk.
- Let your dog sniff around because it stimulates his nose senses. And by they enjoy the walking by exploring new things.
- If your dog poop somewhere then pick it. Keep the environment clean.
- Keep your water ready because your dog will need it after some walk.
- Try to avoid the hot weather because it can do a serious injury to your dog’s paws. Just put your palm or barefoot on the road for 5 sec, if it feels uncomfortable then it is too hot 🥵 for your dog. The grass is a better option that day.
- Ask before approaching other dogs because your Lab is friendly but we do not know about the other dog.
- Keep your walking sessions in intervals if your Lab is 7 to 10 years old.
5. Visiting to a dog park
Visiting a dog park can be a great option but you need to be extra careful there. Because there is not one or two but many other dogs. And if your dog doesn’t fit between them then you need to bring him back home. But if your Lab is good with the other dogs then congratulation now your dog can have a great fun time. The dog parks are specially made for the dogs to have fun, socialize and burn some spare energy there. But it comes with some responsibility and you need to follow some dos and don’ts.
Some points to keep in mind in dog parks:
- Before going to the dog park first visit yourself if it is fenced.
- Be ready to pick the poops from the ground if your dog has done his business.
- Make sure he is vaccinated.
- If it is hot time then do not bring your female dog there. It could be a dog distraction for the other dogs.
- Don’t bring food into the dog park. If your dog does some good work then appreciate him verbally. If you give him treats in the park then other dogs can get distracted by it.
- Do not bring a puppy who is less than 4 months old to a dog park. They are not properly vaccinated and can get hurt by the other big dogs.
- Keep your dog’s leash with you if your Lab is new to the park. You can get an unpleasant or aggressive situation where you need to quickly remove him from that.
- On your first visit first, try to introduce your dog to other dogs. For that, you do not need to announce like please welcome…. something. Just go to the other dog’s parents and ask if your dog can play with their dog. Not all dogs can be friendly in the park, so, it is better to consult their parents.
- while in the park do not be on call all the time. Be present there because he can need you anytime.
6. Tricky Training
Tricky training is great. With these, you can burn your dog’s extra fuel and can teach them some useful commands. Teaching these commands will make your special bond with them and will make them more obedient. If you teach them some of these tricky commands then this works on their mental stimulation too.
With these commands, you can exercise your dog even in your home a little. There is much tricky training to teach to your dog, the sky is the limit but there are some basics that you must teach your dog. Tricky exercises like jump, fetch, sniffing out specific items, etc will keep their hearts pumping.
7. Agility training
Agility training is something that you may have seen police or military training their dogs on Tv. Or, if you are lucky enough then you may have seen it live. Agility training is great for building obedience, working on their mental health, and burning their body fuel. So, in short, it is great for everything your dog can benefit from an exercise.
Before getting into obedience training first you need to teach your dog the basic commands like sit, come, jump, stay, run, etc. These all are the commands you will need for your dog’s agility training. To agility train your dog you just need to put some obstacles in the way and train him to pass those obstacles.
Do not try to teach your dog this training from the start. Wait until your dog becomes one year old to start the agility training. Because before that he is a kid and still growing, as a result, he can hurt himself and can have some health issues.
What to do:
- Choose a good place for your agility training. It can be an empty room or your park.
- Pick some of the obstacles to train him on.
- Teach your dog some of the basic training first.
- Now make some of the hurdles that you can teach him to pass on.
- Now start teaching him from the start.
- Agility training is something that can be great fun for you as well as your dog too. They are such canine exercises that are getting day by day popular. So, stick with it and have fun. 😋
8. Hide and seek
Hide and seek is an exercise that works on your Lab’s mental health and its smelling power. Your dog tries to smell the hidden thing to find it. Police search dogs have trained this exercise so that they can search the thieves by their smell. And do you know that Labrador retrievers are often used as police dogs due to their good smelling power? So, play hide and seek with your Labrador because it is a fun activity as well as great for your dogs’ mental health.
What to do:
Version 1: Hide some Item.
- To play hide and seek you need something to hide. It can be food or one of his favorite toys. Start with food so they get appreciated to find the thing at first.
- Let him smell first that what you are hiding so, he can get familiar with the smell. He needs to know that what he has to search for.
- Now say the search command so start searching for the hidden thing. You should train him for the search command so he gets the idea that he has to find something as you say the word search.
- If you are starting with hiding some food then as he finds it he can eat it. This will give the idea that as he searches for the thing he gets a reward. And this motivates him to keep going.
- Once he gets the idea of this game then you can play it with him. Just hide something and tell him to search.
Version 2: Hide Yourself.
- In this version of ‘hide and seek,’ you are not hiding any object but you are hiding yourself.
- Keep some treats with you to appreciate him on his every progress.
- Before starting to teach this game your dog must know sit, stay and come command.
- At first, warmup him with come command and appreciating him with treats on every come.
- Now tell your dog to stay, and hide somewhere that is very easy to find; then say the command come. As he comes to you appreciate him with a treat.
- Now make it a little more difficult to find keep progressing with the difficulty.
- Don’t forget to give him a treat every time he finds you. This condition him to search you.
- While you are hiding don’t just say the come command one time and be silent as we play with our friends. At first, you need to keep repeating it to constantly push him to find you.
- Once he learned it then you can play it whenever you want with him. It is really a fun exercise.
9. Tug of war
Tug of war is a pretty fun exercise. It makes your dog’s jaws strong. The basic idea of tug of war is to give your dog a tug toy and try to snatch it from your dog. This exercise is pretty simple and there are many variants of it. But the basic one is what I just said above. If you want to learn about its other variants then you can read it here. While playing tug of war with your dog do not apply a lot of force because it can hurt your dog. Make it entertaining, here your motto is not to hurt him but it is to exercise the dog.
What to do:
- First, find a tug toy that suits your dog. Choose a tug toy that is made of fleece or soft rope.
- Rule 1: Your dog can’t grab the tug toy till you give her permission to do so.
- Rule 2: Your dog must let the toy do as you say her to do so.
- Rule 3: Your dog can’t put his teeth on your skin or your clothes. If he does so then immediately end the game. This will give him the idea that this is not allowed in the game.
- Say your dog to sit and train him to only catch the toy when you say “get it”.
- When he is in sit position then say the word get it. As he grabs the toy verbally encourage him to play. Keep the session for 10 to 20 sec.
- Use the command “drop it” to tell him to leave the toy.
- Keep appreciating him with treats as he follows your commands.
Hiking can be a treat for your dog. You do not need to take them for hiking daily but you should go for it once a month. If it is possible to go daily (If you are in a hilly area) then go for it like a walk. Search for a location in your locality that looks like a hiking place and you can go there once a month with your dog. Hiking is something that your dog enjoys the most. They get time to explore new things. They sniff the things and enjoy them. Hiking is also such an exercise that strengthens their muscles, joints, and bones. So, go for it if possible. You and your dog will have some fun and it will make your bonding strong.
How much exercise does your Labrador retriever need?
So, we have talked about what you need to get started with the exercise. We have talked about which exercise you need to perform with your dog. But the next question that comes to mind is, How much? How much exercise does your Labrador retriever need to do? This question is dependable. It depends on many factors so you can’t fix a specific time for your Labrador. You need to find it with time and experience with your dog’s behaviors. But still, I will give you some ideas that can help you at the start.
How much exercise time you spend with your dog is directly related to your dog’s age. It is also related to your dog’s health, its breed, etc. But we have a Labrador who is a pretty high-energy dog. So, we don’t have any confusion about the breed. When it comes to age then it is very important to decide the exercise timing.
- If your dog is less than 3 months old then you do not need to exercise them. The time they spend playing and running here and there is enough for them. You do not need any extra time to spend on them.
- When your dog is older than 3 months then this is the time to start the exercise period. There is a 5 minute per month rule that will help you here. Just 5x your dog’s age in months and then exercise your dog to the resulted minutes. For example, suppose your Lab is 4 months old then you need to exercise him for 20 minutes. If your Lab is 6 months old then you need to exercise him for 30 minutes. Use this 5-minute rule till your dog gets 12 months old.
- If your dog’s age is between 1 year and 7 years then he is in his most active age group. At this age, his energy will be at the top so he can perform exercises for a long period of time. You can exercise your dog for 1 hour to 1.5 hours. This is enough time for your labrador to be healthy.
- If your dog is older than 7 years then he is getting old now. Now his energy level will start decreasing. So, you need to decrease your exercise period time. I am not saying that this is a hardcore rule that they will get old by 7 years. Some Labradors stay energetic till they become 10 years old. It totally depends on the diet and how they have been taken care of from the start. But you need to keep checking whether their energy level is getting down. And if it is then decrease your exercise timing.
Below table shows the exercise timing as per the age group of your dog:
|Age Group||Exercise Time|
|Below 3 Month||No exercise required|
|3 Months – 12 Months||(Age in Month*5) minutes|
Eg. If the puppy is 5 months old then the exercise time is 5*5=25 minutes
|1 Year – 7 Years||1 hours to 1.5 hours|
|After 7 Years||You need to decrease the exercise time as the dog gets older.|
How much exercise does a 12 years old Labrador should have?
At this age of your Labrador, he is now a senior dog. You can compare him to your grandpa. He is at his last stage. So, the question arises that should you exercise him or not? At this age, the senior dogs need rest more than the exercise. But this does not mean that you do not have to exercise them. If you are exercising them regularly then it will be pretty beneficial for them.
But you need to keep in mind that you can’t exercise them like a young dog. If you try to do so then they never say no. They will do anything just to please you, even it hurts them. So, you need to understand your responsibility while exercising a senior dog.
You can go for a short distance walk with your senior Labrador. It will exercise them without putting much effort into them. But keep one thing in mind that don’t go too fast. Keep your steps slow. Swimming is also a great exercise for senior dogs. It works on their joints and benefits them.
Swimming is also recommended in many therapies of a senior dog to keep them healthy. At this age of your dog, it is better to consult your veteran if you should exercise them or not. Your vet will tell you what you should do by checking your dog’s health.
Woof 😵, pretty long article, Right? But after reading the whole article I bet that you know many things about dog exercises. Now you can start building a special bond with your Labrador because exercises are something that helps a lot in this. And these exercises will also socialize your Lab.
But this is not what you can do with your labrador. There are many things that you can do with your dog to make him smart, calm, and obedient. There are many things that you can teach your dog to make him smart. If want to make your dog even more smarter and obedient then you must visit the below link.