Labradors were bred to accompany the hunters and fishermen. That accounts for their naturally super active nature. They have all this energy which if not used leads to destructive behaviour. They might start chewing and/or digging everything and anything. They might even bark excessively. Treat these as signs that it is not getting sufficient exercise.
Not just the behaviour, but even their health suffers. Since they love eating, no/little exercise makes them overweight, and problems such as damage to their joints (hips and elbows), heart disease, increased blood pressure, and risk of diabetes increases. This is where the role of exercise becomes prominent.
Till three months, you don’t need to indulge them in any exercise routine. Whatever little play they have, is good enough for them. In fact, you must keep an eye that they don’t over-exert themselves, as it hampers their development, and ill-affects their joints.
After three months, and till they turn one year old, you should follow a ‘five-minute’ rule. Make them exercise for five minutes every day, apart from the natural free play. After they hit four months, gradually keep increasing these 5 minutes till they turn one year old. This will put your puppy in the habit of following an exercise routine.
Once they hit the one year mark, it is important to make them exercise for one hour every day. But then again, if your dog is hyperactive, you will need to increase the timing to 1.5 hours, and if you feel it is getting uneasy with the one hour timing, you can keep it to 45 mins also.
In the outdoor activities, you can include:
-Walking: If it’s just walking that you are looking at, the duration should be at least 1.5 hours, not necessarily in one go though. And your dog must be left off-leash for at least 15 mins during these walks.
-Fetching: To make it interesting, keep varying what they fetch. It can be a toy, frisbee, ball etc.
If you can’t devote an hour for outdoor activities, you can also consider some indoor exercises for your Labrador:
-Games with a flirt pole with a toy/ball at the end
-A game of tug: Snatch whatever it is playing with, and run so it runs after you
-Hide the treat: Make it smell the treat, and keep the treat somewhere that the dog will have to make an effort to reach. Avoid potentially risky places.
-Obstacle course: Make one using pipes, bags, or other regular household material. It might be confusing for your Lab initially, but once you train it using treats, it will get a hang of it
-Run between partners: Show it a treat or a toy, pass it to your partner. When the dog reaches the first partner, they can throw it back to the first one, and so on.
This exercise regime should continue till they are seven years old. Although, some dogs stay active till they are ten years of age. So, it will completely depend on your dog. Hereafter, you can take them for walks, and swimming. You can also consult your vet after this age to provide your dog the best exercise.
What now? Get. Set. Go!