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How Much Exercise Does a Golden Retriever Need? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

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Golden Retrievers are considered to be one of the best family dogs. A lot of people think that Golden Retrievers only love to sit around all day and be lazy. However, this is not the case at all. They are playful, loyal, and very active. Golden Retrievers need a lot of exercise— a general rule of thumb is 2 hours of exercise per day—and if they don’t get it they can become overweight and lazy or restless, destructive, and even aggressive.1

If you want your Golden Retriever to be healthy, happy, and physically fit, then you need to make sure they get plenty of movement. Exercise not only keeps dogs healthy now but also helps them develop strong muscle and bone mass, which can reduce the risk of developing physical problems in later life.

Golden Retrievers reap additional benefits from exercising with their owners because it can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and create a bond between you and your best friend.

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General Recommendations

In general, adult Golden retrievers should aim to get a minimum of 2 hours of exercise per day. This is best broken up into chunks of 20–30 minutes each.  Taking your golden retriever for a walk is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air yourself! However, when planning an exercise routine for your golden retriever, you need to take into account a variety of factors which we’ll take a look at below.

English Cream Golden Retriever walking on a street
Image Credit: Heinsdorff Jularlak, Shutterstock

Planning an Exercise Routine

If you’re considering starting an exercise routine with your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, be sure to consult your veterinarian before starting any new activity. Dogs of all ages and sizes benefit from regular physical activity, but they may not be able to handle too much strain or too many sudden changes in intensity.

Second, always use caution when introducing new exercises to your dog. Build up slowly and don’t overwhelm your dog with too much too soon. It is important to make sure that dogs are properly exercised, as too much or too little can be harmful.

Frequency

Dogs should be exercised at least once a day. The frequency of walking your dog is important for their overall health and well-being. Daily walks help to keep your dog physically fit and healthy, as well as mentally stimulated. Additionally, regular walks provide an opportunity for you and your dog to spend quality time together. Two or three shorter daily exercise sessions are preferable to one longer workout. Exercising your dog regularly can help keep them healthy and happy.

american golden retriever standing on a riverbank
Image Credit: Cams, Pixabay

Kinds of Exercise

It’s likely that you are going to need a variety of activities spread out over the day to meet that 2-hour minimum for Goldens. Golden retrievers should have a mix of exercise types: walking, games and training. For your dog, this could look like a mix of running or water activities, a game of hide and seek or rope tugging and a session learning new skills. There are a variety of exercises that can be beneficial for the health of Goldens.

Walking, jogging, hiking, and swimming are all great exercises that can help keep them healthy and fit. Playing fetch or Frisbee is also a great way to get your Golden moving and provide them with some exercise. We don’t recommend ball launchers. Remember that Golden Retrievers have been bred to be working dogs, and these intelligent animals love to learn new tricks. Training should also make up a significant portion of your dog’s daily activities. Whatever you do, it is important to find something that your dog enjoys and to make sure they are always supervised when playing or exercising outdoors.

Climate

In extreme weather conditions, it is important to take measures to ensure that your Golden stays safe and healthy. For them to avoid becoming overheated or cold, you will need to break up their 2 hours of exercise into smaller chunks.

american golden retriever sittingh on patio
Image Credit: rustyc, Pixabay

Hot Climate

Walking a Golden Retriever in a hot climate can be dangerous, especially if your dog is not used to the heat. Short walks are best! Goldens can suffer from heatstroke if they are not given enough water and shade. Remember that dogs can’t sweat and they can overheat if they are forced to exercise in hot weather. It is therefore important to take precautions when walking your Golden Retriever in a hot climate, such as always carrying water and making sure that your furry friend has plenty of shade to rest in. Goldens also love to cool off in the water, so consider walking your dog to a water source and back. Avoid pavement walking as tarmac can be unbearably hot and even cause burns in hot weather.

Cold Climate

Walking your Golden Retriever in a cold climate can be an equally difficult task. Keep your walks short during cold weather. The risks associated with walking your dog in cold climates are numerous and serious. The most obvious risk is that of hypothermia, which can occur when the body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other risks include frostbite, which can damage the skin and underlying tissue. It is important to take precautions and make sure to dress warmly. If it is very cold outside, consider using a doggy coat or boots to keep your Goldie warm enough.

things to do with your dog indoor outdoor
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Puppies

There are a variety of factors to consider when making the decision to start exercising a Golden Retriever puppy. One important factor is the age of the puppy; puppies do not need to be started on an exercise routine per se. Once they are fully vaccinated they can start going out for short lead walks- 5-10 minutes will be enough. Gradually increase the walks as your pup ages with an hour being suitable by 18 months. It is always important to follow their lead, if they are tired they will try and lie down.  Let them rest then take them home.

Puppies who begin exercising too early may develop joint and bone problems, as their bodies are still growing. Puppies should be gradually introduced to exercise, with short walks at first and then gradually increasing the time and distance of the walks.

Health Issues & Old Age

If your Golden has health issues or is slowing down due to old age, then you should speak to your veterinarian for advice about how much exercise they need. Generally speaking, sick or senior Golden Retrievers don’t need as much exercise as healthy or younger dogs, but they still need some exercise to stay healthy and mentally stimulated.

A good rule of thumb is to walk your dog for at least 20 minutes a day, but you need to confer with your veterinarian about that amount if your dog is elderly or has health problems.

golden retriever
Image By: Lunja, Shutterstock

Safety

Before we finish, a word about safety. Goldens need a lot of exercise and that means plenty of time spent outdoors. Make sure your Golden is always on a leash when outside and that you are aware of your surroundings. If you live in a rural area, be particularly careful not to let your dog run off-leash into the woods, as they may become lost or injured.

In an urban area, be careful not to let your dog run into traffic. When taking your dog for a walk, it is important to make sure they are wearing a collar and ID tag. Although Golden Retrievers are not generally aggressive dogs, if yours is inclined to bark or nip at strangers or other dogs, use a muzzle if necessary. It is also important to be aware of your surroundings and other people and animals who may be around.

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your furry friend safe and sound.

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In conclusion, Golden Retrievers need at least 120 minutes of exercise per day. This can be accomplished with a combination of mini-workouts such as a brisk walk, jog, or game of fetch in the backyard and training. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are often overweight and can develop health problems. So, make sure to give your Golden Retriever plenty of exercise and they will be sure to return the favor with lots of love and a wagging tail!


Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

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