How Much Exercise Should a British Lab Get?
Your Labrador Retriever is an active and high-energy animal. They love to exercise and spend as much time as they can in the outdoors. Exercise is an important part of living a happy healthy life and along with a proper diet and good veterinary care will lead to a dramatic increase in their quality of life just the same as with people.
"If you fail to exercise your Labrador sufficiently, they’ll become bored and absolutely bursting at the seams with pent-up energy. In this state they will often resort to destructive behaviors such as digging and chewing…and will often be very restless, may bark excessively and try to escape your home and garden at every opportunity." - Labrador Training HQ
But just how much exercise should your British Lab get in the course of a day? As with everything in life the answer is that it depends. For most people the first thing people think of with exercise and a dog is taking them for a walk. That is a good first step but exercise for your Lab is more than that. Some dogs can even do without being walked as long as they receive their exercise and other stimulation in other ways.
Walking is of course good exercise for both the dog and their human and if a Lab does not receive their exercise in other ways it is a good idea to spend at least an hour or more walking them every day. The simple act of walking benefits their hearts and lungs and it is easy on their joints since walking is a natural motion. For the full benefits of a walk a Lab will need to walk faster than a human so they will need to be let off their leash and that may not always be practical.
Not all walks are equal. A short walk over a more strenuous route can provide as much exercise as a longer walk over an easier route. If this is your Lab’s only exercise or stimulation for the day experts recommend two walks per day with some time off their leash. If your dog is able to exercise in other ways, like in a fenced in backyard, or has another dog to play with this can be lessened and they may not need to be walked at all.
Of course there are other ways to get your Lab the exercise it needs. That can start with their own name. Your Lab is great at retrieving things and doing so can get them a good workout. You do not need to be a hunter or sportsman to do this but it may take some planning and a good location.
Your Lab also will love to play. This can be stereotypical canine activities like a game of fetch, catching a Frisbee or playing tug-of-war with someone. Much of this should be done off of their leash so it can be done in a backyard or at a local dog park. These activities will give your Lab a great workout and exercise muscles that a walk simply will not and can last as long as both the human and canine are interested.
For those of you with Labrador puppies they have different needs. Puppies should not be over-exerted so walks should be kept to a minimum and should not be stressful. Experts recommend walks last about 5 minutes for every month of age of the puppy, so a four month old puppy should be walked for 20 minutes. Puppies should not be walked until they are at least three months old and they should be vaccinated before they are taken out. Also overexerting a puppy can bring serious joint issues in larger breeds of dogs.
There are other ways than a walk for a puppy to get exercise. They will probably love free running around a house and this will lower the chance of developing bone and joint issues. Your puppy should not climb stairs until they are older as climbing the steps creates an increased risk of joint issues. Strenuous issues should also be avoided as it can also lead to joint issues. Many trainers do not let Labs jump for their first year of life to avoid joint damage.
As with humans there is another very important component of exercise that is very important but can be easily overlooked and that is rest. All dogs need rest to help rejuvenate and heal themselves and this is particularly important with puppies. When outside with your dog it is important to look for signs of fatigue or overheating and to know when to stop and rest. If you dog is playing with other dogs it is also a good idea to keep an eye on them for fatigue as your dog will not want to stop even if they are tiring. Your Lab loves the stimulation that comes with exercising and being outside and will not want it to end so human management is important to prevent them from over exerting themselves.
"Experts stress the importance of working with your dog’s vet to create an individualized exercise plan—especially if your dog has health conditions, is old or young, or is a breed that doesn’t tolerate intense exercise very well."
As with us humans exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Your British Lab puppies and adult Labrador Retrievers are naturally gifted athletes and they will want to spend as much time as they can exercising and spending time in the outdoors. If you take advantage of that you can get some exercise too and that is a good thing, but know when to stop.