How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?
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Thread: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

  1. #1
    sandgrubber is offline Member
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    DefaultHow much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    I've encountered a wide variety of opinions about how old a pup should be before going on walks . . . and about what things are ok and what risky at what age. Eg, one of my vets says that unforced (off line, with the option to take a break or turn around and go home, no strong urging from the pack) walking is basically ok at any age, but running with twisting can do damage until bones are well formed. Other people say no long walks until six months. Some people think a long walk is half a mile. Some think it's three miles.

    I'm sure there's no one answer. A pup that is genetically predisposed to excellent bones may be better able to take walking than one who is genetically in trouble. An excitable pup may be more vulnerable than a calm one.

    But has anyone seen any good guidelines about exercise . . . preferably backed by evidence?


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    Trickster's Avatar
    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    The '5 minute rule' is a sensible guideline -- 5 minutes of exercise per month of age.

    It is best to avoid forced exercise until the dog has physically matured. For this breed, that is around 2 years old. Forced exercise is exercise that you and not the dog control, so leash running, biking, etc., fall under that category. Long bouts of exercise (hiking, etc.) should also ideally be avoided. Forced exercise won't cause joint problems but it certainly could and probably would aggravate any underlying problems. Also, common sense says that young dogs don't have the stamina or fitness to endure long bouts of exercise.

    A pup that is genetically predisposed to excellent bones may be better able to take walking than one who is genetically in trouble.
    Even pups from certified good or excellent parents can get joint problems (although admittedly the odds are stacked in your favour), so there are no guarantees.

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    LexiLuLu is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trickster
    The '5 minute rule' is a sensible guideline -- 5 minutes of exercise per month of age.

    It is best to avoid forced exercise until the dog has physically matured. For this breed, that is around 2 years old. Forced exercise is exercise that you and not the dog control, so leash running, biking, etc., fall under that category. Long bouts of exercise (hiking, etc.) should also ideally be avoided. Forced exercise won't cause joint problems but it certainly could and probably would aggravate any underlying problems. Also, common sense says that young dogs don't have the stamina or fitness to endure long bouts of exercise.

    A pup that is genetically predisposed to excellent bones may be better able to take walking than one who is genetically in trouble.
    Even pups from certified good or excellent parents can get joint problems (although admittedly the odds are stacked in your favour), so there are no guarantees.

    great advice.

    I also like to read the dog. She/He will let you know when they are tired (you have to learn your dog to be able to read them)

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    Trickster's Avatar
    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    great advice.
    Thanks.

    I also made a longish post about exercise in the 'Our Best Advice' thread in the training section. But that was a while ago and it could probably use some updating.

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    sandgrubber is offline Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    The exercise question started to bug me with a pup I sold at 6 months. Lovely boy. The owners, against my advice, took him along horseback riding, including fairly long (an hour or two) rides. I was not happy, but held my tongue. He x-rayed with 2:1 (=excellent) hips and 0:0 (= no measurable fault = excellent) elbows. This left me scratching my head.

    Biggest concern is what guidance to give puppy buyers.

    Is it reasonable to take the 'watch the dog' advice to mean . . . if the pup is still goofy and looking for fun after the walk -- of whatever duration -- the walk was below the worry threshold? Ie, basic advice that could be given to puppy buyers is 'Don't walk the pup to the point where it is tired', 'Keep an eye on the pup . . . if the pup ie eager to go it's ok to go . . . if it begins to droop, limp, pant, or show other signs of lagging energy, time to stop'.

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    Tanya is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    I'd be cautious at using the "watch the dog" approach.

    We need to be careful not because they are unable to run for long periods of time, but because it isn't good for them LONG TERM. And you may not see the results until the dog is old. We need to be careful because it is putting undo stress on their growing joints. It's not something the pup will "realize" suddenly and stop. Therefore saying the dog "isn't tired" after a run DOES NOT MEAN it did not cause problems to their joints. It is not an immediate effect.

    For more details on what to tell puppy buyers you can see what the other breeders are saying (conformation section)
    Charlie (foster) and Rocky

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    2labs2crazy is offline Junior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    Just remember a tired labrador is a good labrador, and walks off the leash is a good thing if you are able to do it. I am fortunate enough to live next to a huge grape farm with a beautiful HUGE and clean pond. i`ve always had both of them down there walking, running, and swimming. No problems so far, my chocolate is 15 months and my yellow is 3 years. Excercise them, they`ll love you forever.

  10. #8
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    Labs differ a GREAT deal one from another.

    They differ in susceptibility to have joint problems.

    They differ in energy levels and the need to discharge it. A few are couch potatoes while some are high energy, high demand dogs.

    I think the rule of "daily 5 minutes of vigorous exercise for each month of age" (up to a year old) is a good rule of thumb. But it's a rule of thumb and I see nothing wrong with perceptive "reading the individual Lab."

    I followed the 5 minute rule while Puff was a pup less than a year old but Puff is from a field line and was much more "wired" as a puppy than my Bess was; two periods of 5 minutes/age in months exercise fit her much better (I spaced them about 12 hours apart).

    I do find that while Puff's need for exercise was much above that of Bess at a young age, it rapidly declined after about 3 years. (Bess's demands didn't noticeably decline until she was about 8 years old and then just slightly.)

    On our morning offleash walks in the nature preserve, Puff (at 1 through 2 years old) needed about 40 retrieves, some quite long (660 feet/ 100 m.) to be docile through the rest of the day and not always pestering to play. Now at 6 years age, she needs less than half that amount.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    Trickster's Avatar
    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    The exercise question started to bug me with a pup I sold at 6 months. Lovely boy. The owners, against my advice, took him along horseback riding, including fairly long (an hour or two) rides. I was not happy, but held my tongue. He x-rayed with 2:1 (=excellent) hips and 0:0 (= no measurable fault = excellent) elbows. This left me scratching my head.
    Over exercising them at a young age won't necessarily mean that they will suffer from problems further down the line. Anecdotal evidence says that some pups which are over exercised from a young age will go through life without a single problem. Same as dogs that live to 18 years of age eating a mediocre brand of grocery store feed. The odds are in your favour if you purchase a pup from health tested parents but it's no guarantee.

    Unfortunately, some people are so set in their own ways they will disregard every sensible piece of advice given to them. Tell them why they should not to run with their dog and they will go ahead and do it anyway. Then when the pup is diagnosed with joint problems, or tears a ligament, they go looking to place the blame elsewhere.

    You have to find a happy medium. Overexercising is not healthy for the mind or body. Most of us are aware of the physical practicalities of overexercising but the mental aspect is also important to consider. Dogs who are exercised for several hours per day will eventually begin to rely on that amount to stay sane. If a dog is still bouncing off the walls after being physically exercised, the chances are that the dog needs a mental outlet and NOT more physical outlet. I'm sure so many owners mistake the two.

    Caution and common sense is all that is required when exercising a young dog. If you want to go for a run, bike ride or horse trekking, go, but leave the dog at home. And I personally would not go with the idea of 'reading' the dog. If you have a dog which will visibly show signs of tiring, yes, you probably can 'read' the dog. But some dogs, particularly high energy, high drive dogs, will push through fatigue and exhaustion, and even physical injury, to keep up with their owners WITOUT showing any (or many) signs that they are suffering. So reading the dog is a two edged sword.

    I am not saying that you need to time every walk using a stop watch. If you take a 6 month old puppy out for a one hour off leash walk one day, that puppy is not going to suddenly drop dead. You would just be sure to take it easy the following days.

  12. #10
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: How much exercise / what sort of exercise at what age?

    Trickster/Ann said:
    And I personally would not go with the idea of 'reading' the dog. If you have a dog which will visibly show signs of tiring, yes, you probably can 'read' the dog. But some dogs, particularly high energy, high drive dogs, will push through fatigue and exhaustion, and even physical injury, to keep up with their owners WITHOUT showing any (or many) signs that they are suffering. So reading the dog is a two edged sword.
    My beloved Bess was insatiable about several things, fetching being one. Too much was never enough. I soon found she'd retrieve to the point of being wobbly on her legs but still beg for more. I quickly learned to limit her on that as well as on how much food she ate (and being petted).

    As with Bess, I agree that they can push through fatigue and exhaustion.

    But "reading the dog" doesn't have to be done at only the time of exercise.

    What's the Lab's behavior the rest of the day?

    When Puff has the proper amount of daily exercise, she's usually dozing on "ready alert" status -- seemingly asleep but instantly by my side if she hears car keys or rubbing up against me pleading "take me, too" if she hears me changing shoes. Or barking and charging to the front door if she hears the mail box on the side of the house having something deposited in it. But she sleeps through my loading and running the dishwasher or putting a load of clothes in the dryer or making another pot of tea.

    When she hasn't had enough exercise (seldom, but sometimes we do get weather too bad for even us to go out in) then I can count on frequent nose nudgies, ears perked with head tilted, tail wagging, obviously meaning, "I've got a great idea -- let's do SOMETHING!!" Telling her to lie down lasts only a few minutes until another bout of begging takes place.

    So it's not just at the time of exercise. E.g., at our weekly LabFests, whenever our Labs have done a lot of running, their peeps usually mention how soundly their Labs have slept the rest of the day afterwards.

    So for me, "reading my dog" doesn't mean just one quick read -- it means at the time of the exercise and through the rest of the day.


    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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