How Much Exercise Does a Golden Retriever Need?

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Our goldens are such high-energy dogs. In order to stay mentally and physically healthy, they require exercise.

They need more exercise than many dogs. What’s enough exercise for a Yorkie is just an appetizer for a golden.

Of course, the amount and type of exercise will vary based on their age, genetics, health, and overall health and fitness.

If a golden doesn’t receive a sufficient amount of exercise, you’ll know it. He may become destructive or he may gain weight.

Golden Exercise

So, to keep him healthy and happy, he should be well-exercised. On the other hand, you don’t want to over-exercise him.

In this article, I’ll provide some guidelines regarding how much and types of exercise he should receive.

Why You Should Exercise Your Golden Retriever

Like us, goldens need exercise to stay fit and healthy. 

Goldens who don’t receive enough exercise may become bored and destructive. 

Even adult goldens may chew the wrong items like your furniture and dig in your garden when under-exercised. 

Or they may bark excessively, jump on counters or people even when trained not to, or be mouthy.

Also, he may gain too much weight. This can lead to heart disease, risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and damage to hips and elbows.

A dog who receives enough exercise has toned muscles. Exercise also keeps his body and metabolic system functioning properly and engages his mind.

According to the ASPCA, one out of four dogs in the USA is obese!

What Specific Amounts and Types of Exercise Should a Golden Receive?

Of course, puppies, adult goldens, and seniors will require various amounts and types of exercise.

But generally golden retrievers, being sporting dogs meant to work, need more exercise than many breeds.

Genetics enter into the equation. Goldens from working/hunting lines will generally need more exercise than those bred for conformation/show lines.

Prior to starting any exercise program, it’s advisable for your dog to have a physical at the vet. This can also help you determine what type of exercises to include in his regimen.

Golden Puppies’ Exercise Needs

Up until three months’ old, it’s important not to over-exercise your puppy.

Don’t overdo it. Puppies’ joints and bones are still growing and can’t take too much. So, jumping and running aren’t good choices.

For growing puppies, the “five-minute rule” is generally applied. It means that a golden puppy needs no more than five minutes of exercise for each month that he’s alive. 

So a three-month-old puppy should receive no more than 15 minutes of exercise up to two times a day.

Of course, you shouldn’t have the puppy engage in any kind of grueling routine. And break up the time he plays. 

For example, have a short 10-minute walk and, after a break, a three-minute fetch session. Then, after another break, a two-minute training session. Vary the activities.

Doing all these activities will not only help your pup exercise, but it will also help further your bond.

My rescued golden retriever Riley came to me when he was about six months old. 

To say that he was energetic would be an understatement. 

He would jump on us, be mouthy, and generally destructive when he arrived. Of course, he needed training. 

But I also had to meet his exercise needs so that we could have a great relationship.

So I took him on long walks, played fetch with his Kong ball, played tug and release, and played with puzzle toys. 

He also played with my other dogs. And he went to daycare two or three days or half-days per week.

Between mental and physical exercise, he became the great dog he was meant to be. 

He enjoys life, loves everyone, and is very well-behaved wherever he goes. It wasn’t always easy. But he was worth it.

Adult Goldens’ Exercise Needs

A healthy adult golden needs about an hour of exercise per day. Of course a young adult or one from hunting lines may need more. They may even need an hour-and-a-half or two hours per day. 

Of course, you never want to over-stress a dog’s body, so you should separate this total amount into smaller exercise sections.

Just like us, goldens are individuals. Some may slow down by the time they’re seven. But others may still be very active at 10 years old.

Senior and Goldens With Disabilities’ Exercise Needs

Goldens may be considered seniors around eight years of age.

Of course, some goldens are still very active at that age and beyond. But how much and the type of exercise they should engage in depends on their general health. 

If he has any problems such as arthritis or joint problems, you don’t want to over-exercise your senior golden and make things worse.

The same is true of goldens with disabilities. They still require a sufficient amount of exercise according to their needs.

Types of Exercise for Your Golden

Of course both physical and mental exercise are required to have a healthy dog. 

There are many choices that will help your dog be fit and happy. Also, you should vary your pup’s exercises so that he doesn’t become bored. 

And it’s important to exercise his entire body and mind.

If he’s always doing the same exercise, he risks repetitive injuries.

Always monitor your dog to see if he seems too tired or appears to be injured. Stop and seek veterinary advice.

It’s advisable to start any exercise program slowly. Don’t start off with a 40-minute walk if your dog’s only used to walking 10 minutes. 

Start out slowly and add time over many sessions as your pup can handle it.

Vary the exercises. But be consistent in doing certain ones regularly so that your dog’s body adjusts to them and he learns what’s expected of him.

Some can be performed inside as well as outside. So even on a rainy day, you can sufficiently exercise your dog and meet his needs.

Walking or Running

Of course, you should first teach your dog to walk on a loose leash before exercising him on a leash.

Walks at a natural pace are best for most goldens. Start with short walks, increasing them over time.

Avoid walks on the hottest or coldest part of the day. And don’t walk if the temperature is too extreme, such as when a dog can get heat exhaustion.

Always walk on safe footing and avoid slippery or sharp surfaces.

Of course, running is another matter. 

Running on hard surfaces like concrete can potentially damage a dog’s joints. The pounding may be too much. 

Running on soft running paths or level grass can be alright for some dogs. 

Of course, a full vet checkup should occur before starting any running program with your beloved golden retriever. 

Some people jog with a dog. Others may skate or ride a bike with their golden alongside. 

But before beginning such a vigorous exercise program, check with your dog’s vet. And make sure that the surface isn’t too much for his joints.

Also, the equipment that he’s wearing should be meant for that purpose. For example, don’t put him on a collar when engaging in such endeavors or it may injure his neck and spine.

Of course, some dogs enjoy hiking with their people. There are many sights and smells for a dog to enjoy.

And if you aren’t able to walk your golden, you can always hire a reputable dog walker to meet his needs.

Play Groups

Your puppy or dog can also get a lot of varied exercise playing with appropriate dog playmates.

Just make sure that the dogs are friendly, have similar play styles and don’t overwhelm each other. Dogs romp and wrestle together.

You can set up your own or join in to well-run dog playgroups or even dog daycares.

Playing With Your Dog

You can play fetch with your dog if he knows how to retrieve and give up the toy on cue. He may even fetch a favorite ball.

Or play tug with a toy like a rope or fleece toy if your dog will take it and release it on cue.

The options are limitless. You can play hide and seek with your golden while inside.

Training

Obedience training–including tricks–can exercise your dog’s mind and body. 

You can heel with him, have him come on cue, or teach him to wave! And it’s fun!

Mentally Stimulating Toys

There are many activity toys you can buy or you can make your own. 

Some are puzzle toys where your golden seeks out kibble or treats. Or treat-dispensing balls.

Swimming

Many goldens LOVE being in water. 

If you or a friend has a swimming pool, you can teach your dog to swim. They make life vests for safety. 

Start him in shallow water and build from there, with you accompanying him. 

Always make sure that he knows where the steps are and how to get out of the water. 

For safety’s sake, never leave him alone. 

My golden Spencer used to like to swim in the bay when we vacationed at the shore. 

He was a great swimmer, but he wore a doggy life vest and I had him on a long-line for safety.

There are also dog facilities like boarding and daycares and vet hospitals that have facilities where your pup may swim.

Swimming provides a great cardio workout as well as being easier on joints than many land exercises. This can be good for dogs with joint problems and arthritis. 

In fact, aqua therapy is often used for dogs who need physical rehabilitation from injuries or surgery.

Canine Sports

Of course, you want to be sure that the activity is appropriate for your dog’s health, age, and ability. 

The following suggestions can be performed in competitions or just for fun and exercise. 

You can even join a dog training club or take courses to learn how to perform these activities. 

There are so many choices, including: 

  • Lure coursing, where a dog  chases after a plastic bag attached to a lure that whizzes by on a specially designed course. Sight hounds often participate in this sport.
  • Scent work, in which a dog finds something by scent.
  • Agility, where a dog learns to run a designated course with tunnels, weave poles, dog walks, and teeter totters.
  • Flyball, where a dog learns to jump over a course of jumps and retrieve a ball. Goldens often excel at this–especially if they’re ball-driven.
  • Rally obedience, in which you train your dog to walk through a course accompanied by you. He performs certain tasks at each sign on the ground that you encounter. You cue him regarding what’s expected at each physical sign you encounter on the course. He may have to sit and lie down and perform other obedience exercises throughout the course.
  • Dock diving is a sport in which goldens and labs excel–usually being water-loving dogs. In this sport, you throw your dog’s favorite toy into a pool. He stays on the dock, awaiting your command. You throw your dog’s favorite toy into a pool while he waits on a dock about 40 feet long. He then runs along the dock and flings his body into the water to retrieve the toy. In competition, the goal is to have the longest jump possible. 

How Do I Know If He Has Enough Exercise?

After checking out your pup’s exercise program with his vet, his behavior and appearance will help you determine whether he has enough exercise.

If your golden appears healthy, athletic, and strong, that’s a good sign. 

He shouldn’t be overweight, and you should be able to see a defined waist. You should be able to feel his ribs without seeing them. 

If he also is able to relax and isn’t “bouncing off the walls,” that can help determine that his needs are being met. 

Some occasional zoomies are natural. But he shouldn’t be doing them all the time.

And he should also be able to listen and pay attention to you and to perform known commands, 

Too much exercise can be as bad as not enough.

Final Thoughts

Just like us, goldens need physical and mental exercise to remain healthy. 

But there is no “one size fits all.” 

Before beginning any exercise program, make sure your exercise plan is appropriate for your golden. 

The exercises will not only benefit your golden’s well-being. It will also further the bond with your four-legged best friend.

How much exercise does your golden receive?

What activities have you tried?

Please leave your comments in the section below.

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How Much Exercise Does A Golden Retriever Need? - Golden running towards the camera

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