How much exercise does a Lab need

How much exercise a Lab needs depends on his age, his overall health and his temperament. As a rule, a healthy adult Lab needs about two hours of vigorous exercise every day. Examples of suitable exercise include running, jogging, retrieving and swimming.

Lab puppies three months of age or less usually don't need any sort of structured exercise program—they usually get plenty of exercise during their normal playtime. If your Lab puppy is four to six months of age, he'll probably play vigorously for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day, especially if he lives with another dog or children. Still, to make sure he's getting enough exercise (and to get in the habit of daily exercise with your

Lab), you should engage him in some sort of physical activity for 20 to 30 minutes at least twice a day. You might take him for a walk or jog, play ball or go swimming. As your puppy gets older, he'll need less free play and more structured exercise time. He'll also be able to handle longer exercise sessions.

Senior Labs—those older than seven or eight—generally require less exercise than younger or middle-aged adults, but this varies considerably. Some seniors continue to be very active into their 10th year and even beyond. Others slow down a bit but still enjoy one to two hours of less strenuous exercise a day. For these Labs, walking is an excellent form of exercise. Some seniors aren't able to exercise very much because of elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia or other health problems. If your senior Lab is less active due to a physical problem, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe medication or other therapy for these conditions.

Obviously, there's no one-size-fits-all exercise formula for Labs. So how do you know if your Lab is getting enough exercise? The best way to determine that is to evaluate his behavior. If he's wild and ill-mannered— crashing through the house like a runaway freight train—it's a safe bet that he's probably not getting enough exercise. If, on the other hand, he's attentive and obedient and doing more cruising than crashing, his exercise program is probably fine. You can also tell whether your Lab's getting enough exercise by checking his weight. If he's putting on a few pounds, he may need more activity in his life (but check the behavior index too, because you might just be feeding him too much).

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