How Much Exercise Does a Labrador Need?

How much exercise does a Labrador need? Chocolate Lab

Labrador Retrievers are a breed known for being sweet, intelligent, loyal, and rarely aggressive – merely big lovers. While they are all of these things, they are also very energetic dogs. Bringing a Labrador Retriever into your family means being aware and committed to getting your dog some much needed exercise that they both love and deserve. In this article we break down the amount of exercise our veterinarians suggest for your Labrador based on their age. We’ve also included some creative ideas for you and your family to better meet those needs.

How Much Exercise Does a Labrador Need?

How much exercise a Labrador Retriever needs in a day will vary depending on their age. An adult Labrador will need anywhere from 40-120 minutes of exercise each day, while a puppy really only needs about 15-25 minutes a day.

We think of our Labrador Retrievers as house and/or family pets, however it’s important to remember they have the genetic makeup of a working dog. This makes exercise mandatory for your Labrador Retriever, as without it, dogs can become bored and start engaging in undesirable behavior. Regular exercise keeps furry friends happy, healthy, and calm.

How much exercise is needed to keep your Labrador healthy and happy depends on their age. An adult Labrador Retriever will need significantly more exercise than a little puppy who is still growing and developing. Puppies will typically require more sleep than exercise.

How Much Exercise Does a Labrador Need? Puppies

How much exercise does a Labrador Retriever Puppy need? A simple formula can be used to determine this. A Labrador puppy typically needs 5 minutes of exercise per month they’ve been alive.

So, if your puppy is three months old they will need about 15 minutes of daily exercise, at four months about 20 minutes of daily exercise, at five months, they will require roughly 25 minutes of daily exercise, and so on. This rule is encouraged until your pup reaches one year old.

Keep in mind that puppies still have tender bones that are still developing and little bodies that are still growing. Over-exercising as a puppy can lead to early bone and joint issues.

We highly encourage starting an exercise routine with your Labrador Retriever at a young age. Meeting this need creates a strong bond between you and your puppy while encouraging a happy, healthy lifestyle.

How Much Exercise Does a Labrador Need? Adults and Seniors

Exercise for adult Labrador Retrievers is crucial for maintaining good health and keeping muscles and joints functioning while also managing their weight.

Getting 20 – 30 minutes of exercise twice daily is the recommended amount for Labrador Retrievers. Since Labrador Retrievers are active by nature, you often won’t have to worry about giving them too much exercise. They are usually happy to take on any physical activity you throw at them.

As Labrador Retrievers age, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of aches and pains or signs that they are slowing down. Labrador Retrievers are known for wanting to make their owners happy, with that it’s not uncommon for them to overexert themselves even as they age. This can lead to bone or joint issues as well as soreness.

A good way to ensure your Labrador Retriever will get the right amount of exercise is to consider your own lifestyle and tailor your needs. If you’re an active person that goes on daily walks or runs, take your dog with you. If you’re more laid back, consider other exercises for your pet, such as playing fetch or dock diving.

As long as your Lab is spending time with you while they are active, they’ll stay happy and healthy.

Best Ways to Exercise a Labrador Retriever

Rain or shine, there are a lot of ways to make sure your Labrador is getting enough exercise. Get creative with it as Labs tend to go with the flow, and be sure to check with your vet before taking your Lab on a high impact or strenuous activity.

Exercise Ideas for Puppies

How much exercise does a Labrador need? Puppies

Exercise for your Labrador Retriever puppy is essential. Exercise at an early age helps set healthy habits from the start. It also helps them burn off some excess energy allowing for more calm training time.

Exercises for Puppies

  1. Walking. Walks are a great way to both get your puppy some fresh air, and get a few minutes of exercise for both you and your dog. When taking your puppy on a walk, be sure to walk at a normal pace, stopping when your puppy sits and continuing once your puppy stands up again. Don’t stray too far from home to avoid over-exercising and putting a strain on developing bones and joints.
  2. Running free. If you have a fenced-in backyard or access to a fenced-in dog park, letting your new furry friend run free is a wonderful form of exercise for energetic pups. 
  3. Swimming. At around three months, you can introduce your Labrador Retriever puppy to swimming by allowing him or her to wade in and play in low water. This is a great form of exercise for little ones because this type of exercise is low impact on tender joints.
  4. Interactive Dog Toys. Interactive dog toys are great for rainy days, or anytime you find yourself stuck inside and need to exercise your puppy. Check out these recommendations:
    1. Starmark Bob-A-Lot Interactive Dog Toy. This interactive dog toy will keep your pup busy, on the move, and comes with the added benefit of dispensing treats.
    2. Hyper Pet Doggie Tail. This plush toy wiggles vibrates, and barks and is sure to keep your pup moving and entertained. 
    3. Woodland Friends Burrow Hide and Seek Toy. This large interactive toy puzzle includes three squeaky chipmunks that will keep your pup occupied. 
    4. Wobble Wag Giggle Ball. This is our dogs favorite toy. He plays for hours with this thing. It does make noise, for the crazy rolling feature is what our Labrador loves!
  5. Fetch. Labrador Retrievers are natural retrievers, so this game will come naturally to them. An added benefit of fetch is this can be played indoors or outdoors. Remember to keep toys lightweight for small mouths.

Exercise Ideas for Adult Labrador Retrievers

How much exercise does a Labrador need? Swimming

Some of our favorite ways to exercise with Adult Labrador Retrievers are listed below. Make sure you mix it up giving your dog a variety of exercises. This will keep him from getting bored and works out different parts of the body.


Hiking is a great way to shake up a traditional walk. Make sure you check before a hike to make sure it’s a dog friendly location and check rules regarding leashes. Remember to bring a bowl for water or your dog may get dehydrated. After a long hike, it’s great to give your hiking buddy a warm relaxing bath for recovery.

We love the COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl for hiking trips. It’s very durable, reusable and has a clip to go on your backpack, purse or leash.

Dog Parks

Labrador Retrievers are naturally friendly dogs, so taking your dog to a dog park is a great way for your dog to run around free and get social. Be sure to check your local dog park rules before you visit.

If you’re unsure of where a dog park is in your city, there are a number of apps that can help with that. Here are a few apps that can help you find the perfect spot to take your furry friend.

  • Dog Park Finder Plus – this app not only lists dog parks, but also includes a list of dog-friendly restaurants.
  • Bark Happy – this app lists local dog parks, as well as, dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, and amenities offered at each one.
  • Off Leash – Off-leash is a great app for not only finding nearby dog parks, but it also gives you all the details/rules of each dog park.
  • PlayPal Dog Park Buddy – Another great app for locating dog parks, and PlayPal allows you to set up puppy play dates with your friends.


For the hot summer months, swimming is a great exercise for your Labrador Retrievers both for fun and as a way to cool off. Labrador Retrievers are natural swimmers, and their coat allows them to dry quickly. If you don’t have a pool at home, you can take your dog to a dog-friendly lake or fill up a kiddy pool for them.

For Labs that are new to swimming, take baby steps by starting them in shallow waters. Even if your dog is a seasoned swimmer, it’s important to take their collar off and watch them at all times. Accidents can always happen!

After a day of swimming, be sure to give your dog a bath to remove any dirt and/or chlorine from their coat.


Fetch is a super fun game for you and your Labrador . Grab his or her favorite small, lightweight toy and head outside to your favorite park, or if the weather isn’t ideal for spending time outdoors, stay inside.

Due to their “retriever” instincts, Labrador Retrievers usually LOVE playing fetch. You can spend and hour straight with some Labradors and they never tire of this game.

Agility Training

Agility training help bond with your pet, and is also a lot of fun. Agility training can be done anywhere, in your backyard, favorite local park, or even inside on a bad weather day. A lot of areas have local agility groups you can join to make it a group activity for you and your dog.

You can DIY your own agility course with tunnels, hula hoops, and/or PVC pipes. There are a lot of tips and ideas on YouTube to show you how to build your own for under $50.

Walking or Running

The classic walk or run is still a top pick for your Labrador Retriever. If you’re a runner, don’t worry about your Labrador Retriever not being able to keep up with you, they typically don’t have a problem keeping up with their owners.


Labrador Retrievers are hunters at heart making a it the perfect exercise activity for them. Keep in mind there will need to be training before your Lab is ready to go hunting, once they’re ready, they’ll fall in love with this version of exercise.

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a great way to keep your Labrador Retriever active on a rainy day. It’s just as entertaining for you as it if for them. Find a distraction for them, maybe throw their toy, then hide. Your dog will love the challenge of finding you.

Dock Diving

If your Labrador Retriever loves the water, take them dock diving. This is basically a water version of fetch. Just take your dogs favorite you that will float, chuck it in the water and watch the show. Dock diving can be a tiring activity, so make sure you’re looking out for signs of your dog wearing out.

Laser Pointer

Another idea for some inside exercising is shining a laser around the house and allowing your dog to chase it. Just be sure not to point the laser in your dog’s eyes as this can cause damage to eyes.

Tug of War

Tug of war is a great game to play indoors or outdoors, and can be played with a variety of toys. The Goughnuts Tug Toy is a safe and tough option for a tug of war rope for your dog. Tug of war can trigger aggression in some dogs, so if you notice this type of behavior, discontinue this activity and choose another form of exercise.

Hiding Treats

A great way to entertain your dog indoors is to hide some treats around the house. This will keep your dog actively entertained while they track down each one.

Signs Your Labrador Retriever Isn’t Getting Enough Exercise

How much exercise does a Labrador need? Signs

Labrador Retrievers are active dogs which means they need daily exercise. As a dog owner, you may be asking if your pet is getting the required amount they need. Here are some ways you can tell if your dog is not getting enough exercise.

  1. Weight Gain. Weight gain will occur if your dog is eating too much and not exercising enough. If you notice a significant change in your dog’s weight, consider how much food your dog is consuming versus how much exercise they’re getting. Consider increasing the amount of exercise your dog is getting, and also consult with your vet regarding a diet and exercise plan.
  1. Depression/Becoming Withdrawn. If your dog was once social but has become more withdrawn, they may not be receiving enough physical activity. Like humans, dogs require physical activity to maintain good physical and emotional health.
  1. Destructive Behavior. Suddenly engaging in destructive behavior such as chewing, getting into the trash, and/or increased aggression toward people or other dogs are all telltale signs of your Labrador Retriever not getting enough exercise. 
  1. Excessive Barking or Whining. Dogs that aren’t receiving enough exercise will often begin to bark or whine to gain their owner’s attention.
  1. Hyperactivity. If you notice your Labrador Retriever becoming a little too excited when going outside and engaging in activities such as leash pulling or becoming difficult to control while on a walk, it may be time to increase how much exercise he or she is getting.
  1. Stiffness or Lack of Endurance. If your dog isn’t getting enough physical activity, they may become stiff, sore, and their endurance may plummet. It’s important to consult with your vet to address any underlying health conditions.


We want to keep our dogs mentally and physically healthy by keeping up with their exercise needs. Labrador Retrievers require daily exercise to maintain a healthy, happy life.

Labrador Retriever puppies don’t require as much daily exercise as adults, but making sure puppies and adults are getting enough physical activity will strengthen your bond with your dog, keep muscles and joints functioning, and aid in maintaining their weight.

As we covered, there are a variety of ways to keep your Labrador Retriever active both inside and outside such as hiking, swimming, hide and seek, dock diving, and agility training. Examining your own interests and lifestyles and tailoring in your dog’s needs will help ensure they are getting the right amount of exercise.

If you’re concerned your dog may not be getting enough exercise, there are signs you can look for, such as excessive barking, weight gain, or depression. Always consult with your vet just in case there are underlying health conditions.

Now that you know how much exercise your Labrador needs and different ways you and your dog can get active, it’s time to get up and get out with your best furry friend. If you are interested in training your dog, be sure to read our Guide to Training a Labrador Retriever!

Dr. Anne Traas

Anne Traas, DVM, MS, DACT is a veterinarian and the President of Labrador Retriever Society. She is a specialist in canine reproduction. In her day job, she is a leader in a small biotech where she and a team of vets and scientists are working to develop new medications for pets.

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