Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds to own. They are sweet, fun-loving, and mild-tempered. But, they also have a huge tendency to overweight and gain weight.
Unfortunately, they also have a tough time losing weight once they have put it on.
One of the best ways to help keep your lab at a healthy weight is to give him enough exercise. But, how much exercise does a lab need?
We have broken down everything that you need to know about exercise and calories when it comes to a lab and what you can do to keep him healthy.
How Much Exercise Does An Adult Lab Need?
Let’s start with the biggest question: how much exercise does a lab need? To give you a short answer, an adult lab needs around 80 minutes of serious exercise a day.
Now, this is exercise that goes beyond their own running around and playing. This is exercise that is engaging.
It is also important to know that while 80 minutes is the average, your dog’s needs will depend on him. Some labs are more energetic and need more exercise in order to be happy.
Other labs are less excited and are happy just to rest. Those are the dogs that need the most engagement from you.
Also, remember that if your dog has health concerns, you might not be able to give him the same level of energy. You should work with your vet for some realistic exercise goals to help your dog stay healthy in a good way.
The Best Exercises For Your Labrador
It is also a good idea to look at what kinds of exercises are the best choices for your lab. Dog walking is the go-to for most dog owners, but it is not the only option out there.
It is a good idea to add in some other exercises as well to help keep your dog busy and healthy.
Labradors are huge swimmers. The breed, in general, loves water and they will happily swim. It is not the best option for all owners, since you will need water access and will have a wet dog afterward.
There are dog-friendly lakes and beaches in many locations, so you should see what’s near you.
Labrador Retrievers also love retrieving. It’s even in their name. If you are into hunting at all, you can combine your dog’s exercise with retriever training exercises. They burn a lot of calories and the dogs have fun.
If you can get your dog to play with another dog, it is a great way for them to burn calories. If you can get two young dogs together, for even just half an hour, they will get most of their exercise in. Older dogs might not enjoy the activity, however.
Sprints and Running
Labs can also be excellent running companions. If you are already a runner, your dog will likely need to build up the endurance to keep up the whole run.
You can also work them through sprints with fetching, allowing them to chase an object at high speed.
How Many Calories Does A Labrador Burn A Day?
The amount of calories that your lab burns a day will depend on the size of your lab. If we consider that your lab is an inactive dog, on average, a lab will need to consume around 1,000 calories a day.
The more active the lab, the more calories that your dog is going to burn throughout the day.
The calculation is that you take your dog’s weight and multiply it by 25. So if your lab weighs 65 pounds, then he will need about 1,600 calories of food every day in order to maintain his weight.
If you are trying to get your dog to lose weight, you will need to shave off a little bit of the calories that he needs in order to build a calorie deficit. Do not shave off a ton, because calories are still energy, so without the calories, your dog will not feel great.
How Much Exercise Does A Lab Puppy Need?
Despite their mischief and playfulness, puppies cannot be pushed as hard as adult dogs are. The youngest lab puppies should not be exercised at all, because they are babies and too much exercise can really harm them.
Over-exercising a puppy can cause developmental damage to his bones and joints while putting him at risk of exhaustion.
During the first three months of your lab’s life, he will get enough exercise from running about and playing. You do not need to exercise him more than that. He is burning a lot of calories and even a quick romp around the yard can tire him out.
Once your puppy has received all of his vaccinations, you can take him on brief walks away from the house.
You should not aim for a lot of actual walking as most of it will just be leash training at first. But slowly, you can build up your puppy’s stamina so he can handle long walks.
How Much Exercise Does A Senior Labrador Need?
Even though your dog slows down with age, it is still really important that you give the dogs some nice exercise. Senior labs have much less energy and they might also begin to develop age-related conditions that will also inhibit their ability to exercise.
You will want to slow down on strenuous exercise as your dog ages, which means staying away from high-intensity things like running and intense hiking.
Instead, stick with walking and swimming. Swimming is incredibly easy on aging joints and your dog should feel good doing it.
Don’t push an elderly dog. If your dog is sleeping more, you might be over-exhausting him.
Labs have a tendency to be stoic about injury and pain, so you might not even know that your dog has pushed himself too far until more physical signs appear, such as limping and excessive sleeping. Always check with your vet, but take cues from your dog as well.
What Happens If You Don’t Exercise Your Lab Enough?
Thinking about how much you are able to play with and exercise your lab every day, you might start to wonder whether you are not exercising your lab enough.
There are definitely consequences to not exercising your lab. The two primary consequences that you are likely to see are destructive behavior and health issues.
One side effect of an under-exercised lab is boredom. When dogs get bored, they look for trouble. Digging is one of the biggest destructive behaviors you will see in a dog that has been left outside. Chewing is the other, especially for a dog locked inside.
Beyond bad behavior, not exercising your lab means that he has a bigger risk of developing obesity as well as weight-related problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and even diabetes.
Labs are big eaters, which means that it is not unusual to see overweight labs, and you don’t want that.
How To Exercise An Overweight Lab?
It can be incredibly discouraging to see your furry friend as overweight and unhealthy. It isn’t a big surprise for lab owners, but they already know that labs will devour any food that is set in front of them, so you need to be cautious with the food to prevent your dog from becoming overweight.
This will not work for everyone, so if your dog has become overweight, there are some exercises that you can try to help him lose weight.
In order to help your overweight lab lose some weight, one place to start would be to take him somewhere different to exercise. It could be that you usually take him for walks around the block, but maybe you haven’t taken him swimming.
You can increase the intensity of the exercise but do so very slowly. Dogs that are overweight will have a lot more pressure on their knees and joints so too much exercise too quickly can cause a lot of problems.
You can also change the stakes of the exercise. Taking your dog for simple walks around the block is not that fun or exciting. Why not play a sport with your dog? Dogs live Frisbee, soccer, and tennis. They could exercise and enjoy themselves while doing it.
Can You Over Exercise A Labrador?
You might be wondering whether it is possible to over-exercise a lab since they are not all incredibly interested in exercise. While we definitely promote exercising your lab, there are always risks involved that you should know about.
A lab that is not used to intense exercise cannot just start exercising intensively. They have to build up to long runs or hikes. They are not going to be naturally inclined to do heavy workouts, especially if they aren’t used to it.
If you are upping the amount of exercise that your lab gets, you need to bump up the exercise gradually over time. That way, you will not run into exhaustion and injury.
There have been many reports on the news about dog owners who took their dogs on hikes, only to find out that the dog couldn’t make it, resulting in them calling in for emergency help to get the dog down. Don’t do that to your lab.
What To Do If Your Lab Is Always Lazy?
Your lab might be laying around a lot throughout the day and perhaps is unwilling to get up and exercise. It is hard to know what you can do with a dog to him back up, moving around. Here are some things to do if you think your dog is lazy:
- Consider that he isn’t lazy. There is a chance that your dog is not lazy at all, but that there is something else going on. Your dog might be injured and unwilling to move. You can also consider that your dog is ill. A vet visit would be a good idea.
- The weather is too hot. When a dog gets too hot, he is far more likely to be interested in sleep than get up and play. Make sure that he has enough water and has shade.
- He isn’t getting enough exercise. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s not. Dogs that are not used to moving are not going to willingly move. Make the exercise fun to play and your dog will engage.
Signs That Your Lab Is Not Getting Enough Exercise
If you are worried that your lab isn’t getting enough exercise, there are some signs that you can look for to give you a clue. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to tell if your lab is not getting enough exercise, as long as you follow the signs.
- Destructive Behaviour: Remember that we mentioned that labs are a high-energy kind of breed. That means that if they have not spent their energy in a constructive manner, they will spend their energy in a destructive manner. Destructive behavior includes chewing things that aren’t dog toys as well as digging up your yard.
- Weight Gain: If your lab is suddenly packing on the pounds, then he might not be getting enough exercise. This might be that you have slowed down the amount of time that you are dedicating to him getting his exercise a day and you just need to pick it back up.
- Unable to follow commands: If your lab has been trained to follow basic commands, but cannot manage to follow them, he likely has more energy that needs to be burned.
If you see any of these signs, try upping your lab’s activity level and see if it stops.
When it comes down to it, labs are a high-energy breed that requires a lot of good, healthy exercise to keep their weight down while still managing to burn out a lot of their energy.
If you do not succeed in getting your dog to exercise well, you will likely see a lot of destructive behaviors as well as weight gain, neither of which any dog owner wants.
While you don’t want to push puppies or senior labs, remember that adolescent and adult labs need a lot of exercise in order to really burn out the energy that they have built up.