Labradors are naturally energetic dogs. And just like us, their cardiovascular system becomes more efficient the more its used. The benefits of exercising your dog are many. Exercise helps your Labrador grow more blood vessels and effectively oxygenate his body, as well as build muscle and strengthen his bones. It also helps with weight control to a certain extent.
What happens if your labrador doesn’t exercise enough? Firstly, he will tend to get bored and will be bursting with pent up energy. You know what that means, don’t you? Your lab will expend all that energy by resorting to destructive behaviors like chewing and digging, and barking excessively. Many people think this means the dog is misbehaving and being disobedient, but all that’s needed is exercise. Your dog could also put on weight if he isn’t getting enough workouts.
So, how much exercise does a Labrador need? There’s no fixed answer, as it will depend on how old your dog is. Generally speaking, however, a healthy, adult Labrador needs an hour of exercise every day. If your dog is the relaxed kind, 45 minutes will do, while a really energetic dog could work out up to 1.5 hours without tiring. Labradors, like all dogs, love to explore. Even a quick hike or walk around a nature trail will be great exercise. Just make sure you have the right hiking gear for your labrador.
However, if your dog is still a puppy, he won’t need any kind of structured exercise for the first 3 months. Just their normal playtime will tire him and give him enough of a workout. After 3 months, you can use the ‘Five Minute Rule’. This is five minutes of structured exercise per month of age, until your puppy is grown. And that should be enough to keep him fit and burn off excess energy.
Exercises For Your Labrador
You already know your Labrador loves to play. There are plenty of games you can play with your dog which double as exercising. It doesn’t just have to be walks.
Tug-of-War is a great form of play and exercise. This can be played indoors—as long as you have enough space—or outdoors. A couple of tips to keep it safe. Don’t let your dog grab the toy before you give the signal it’s okay. And if your Lab (especially a puppy) grabs any part of you or your clothes, stop the game for a time before trying again. And of course, if you notice any aggressive behavior, stop at once, so your dog realizes it’s not acceptable.
Another good idea is upgrading a rubber ball to a Frisbee. Balls tend to sink and roll away, but Frisbees hold air much longer, making them a very fun toy for your Labrador. See if you can teach your Lab to jump and grab the Frisbee midair for even more of a workout.
A low impact game which is a great brain teaser for your Lab is finding the treat under the cup. Start by having your dog sit and show them a piece of their favorite treat. Hide it under a plastic or Styrofoam cup right in front of them. After you’ve placed the treat under the cup, give your dog the command to grab it. Once your Labrador has gotten the idea of how it works, rub a piece of treat over three cups to keep your dog from cheating with his nose. Then place the treat under one of the three cup and ask your dog to find it. You’ll find it’s a great activity for rainy days when you can’t take your dog outside.
Labradors were bred to be full of energy and want to work. They need lots of regular exercise. If they don’t get it, then you, your shoes, furniture and flower beds will soon know about it! If your Lab can relax around the home, isn’t destructive and follows your commands, looks athletic and not overweight, then it’s fairly safe to say they’re being exercised enough.