Pet Talk

Labradors – Five ways to help them spend all that energy!


Five ways to ensure your Lab doesn’t spend his energy digging up your garden.

As many of us know, the Labrador Retriever is a high-energy dog.They are wonderful pets, a joy to have in the home, and incredibly affectionate.However, the Labrador was originally bred as a working dog, intended for very physically demanding work, often retrieving game for hunters.This would involve all day hiking, running and swimming in sometimes difficult conditions.

Therefore, although their main role in life today is as a family pet, they still have the same genes they were initially bred for…genes conducive to much activity.So if these dogs don’t get exercised by their owners, they’ll find a way to release their pent up energy themselves…often in a destructive manner.

Here are five ways to ensure your Lab doesn’t spend his energy digging up your garden.

1. Running along side your bicycle

Labs love any exercise that is beyond a mild walk.Challenge your dog by going for a bike ride and have him run beside you to keep up!

2. Swimming

This is one of the Labradors favourite exercises.Take him for a swim the next time you jump in the water at the lake or beach.Or play fetch with him from the shore.Just be careful to not throw too far into the water.He will want to please you, even if that means going into danger to retrieve the stick.

3. Playing fetch

Whether in the water or on land, this is one of the easiest (on you) ways of working out your high energy dog.There are many great dog parks in and around Vancouver.Find the one nearest you and take your Lab out for a fun hour of fetch…maybe bring a book for yourself, but be sure to reward him with affection for retrieving the ball so he knows you’re happy and engaged.

4. Jogging with you

Having a Lab can be a great way to ensure YOU stay active.Put on your running shoes and get out into the beautiful world for a jog with your dog.Just make sure to keep him on leash while you run or see that he’s well trained to stay at your side on an off leash trail.

5. Hike a beautiful BC uphill trail

With so many incomparable hiking trails in BC, there’s no excuse to not take your Lab for a hike.He will love the environment and challenge.Just be sure to stay safe.

As a general rule of thumb, the average healthy adult Labrador Retriever will need one hour of exercise every day. However, during the first 3 months, it’s more important not to ‘over-exercise’ your pup.If you have older dogs or children, the puppy may well try to keep up with them and over-exert themselves, playing to exhaustion and damage their developing joints. So keep an eye on them and interrupt play if need be, to give them plenty of rest.

From 3 months and older, there’s a great rule of thumb called the ‘five minute rule’ mentioned on several dog centric sites:

“A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown, i.e. 15 minutes when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer.” - The UK Kennel Club

As your Lab ages though, he may need to slow down, possibly struggling with stiffening joints.At this point gentle walking and swimming (taking the weight off their limbs) are the best forms of exercise.They will work hard to please you, so be careful to not let them over exert themselves.

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