How Much Exercise Does a Golden Retriever Need?

Golden retrievers are a very active dog breed. If you’re getting a golden retriever then you should be prepared to allocate between 1-2 hours of exercise per day – plus extra playtime on top of this. This is an average though and you may find that their age and lineage play a big part in how energetic they are too. 

If your Golden Retriever is bred from a working line you may find they need a lot more exercise to tire them out. This could be over 2 hours per day. However, if your dog comes from a line bred for showing, you may get by with 45 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day.

Puppies are super energetic but don’t require as much exercise initially (more about this in a moment). Once your Golden is fully grown up until around 2-3 (maybe 4) years old you should expect a high-energy dog which will need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. 

Once they reach their 3rd year (and onwards) they tend to slow down a little bit. Read on to learn more about exercise at each stage of development for your Golden Retriever.

How Much Exercise Will a Golden Retriever Puppy Need?

Golden Retriever puppies are wonderful little creatures, they can go from sprawled out on their backs dreaming about squirrels to wide awake with the zoomies around the living room in 5 seconds flat. 

They’re learning so much about their new world all the time which tires them out pretty quickly. Pups can sleep upwards of 12-18 hours per day – which is normal. They’re similar to babies in this regard. 

It’s important not to over-exercise your pup while they’re still growing because their growth plates and joints aren’t fully developed yet and are more prone to damage. 

It’s also wise to try not to let your pup jump from high places (like beds or sofas) until they’re a bit more mature. 

Between 4 and 8 months of age is when the growth plates are doing most of the work. Between 8 and 12 months, the weight-bearing bones (in their legs) are nearly done growing and by 1-year-old they should be finished growing and the growth plates are adequately fused/closed. 

Exercise Guidelines for Golden Retriever Puppies

To make sure that you don’t over-exercise your pup you can use the ‘5-minute rule’ – allow 5 mins of exercise per 1 month of age per day. 

If you bring your pup home at 2 months (8-10 weeks) of age you should exercise them for 10 minutes. Once they’re 3 months old you can increase this to 15 minutes per day.

You can use the chart below for a general guideline:

Puppy’s ageAmount of exercise needed (per day)Puppy’s ageAmount of exercise needed (per day)
2 months10 mins8 months40 mins
3 months15 mins9 months45 mins
4 months20 mins10 months50 mins
5 months25 mins11 months55 mins
6 months30 mins12 months60 mins

How Much Exercise Does an Adolescent/Adult Golden Retriever Need?

From the age of one year old onwards you should be able to experiment with more rigorous forms of exercise with your Goldie such as hiking and jogging together. This should be for 1-2 hours per day.

Adolescent dogs will likely have more energy than older dogs but you’ll learn to gauge your own Golden Retriever’s needs and capabilities. You might need to increase their exercise level as they become adults, and after a few years decrease it again as they start getting older.

How Much Exercise Does a Senior Golden Retriever Need?

Once a Golden Retrievers gets older (past seven) they’ll show signs of age – white or gray fur around their face, stiffer movement, and less energy. 

At this stage, they won’t need nearly as much exercise as they used to. They’d be perfectly happy spending most of the day snoozing with just a short daily walk.

It’s hard to put a figure on this one, some dogs might struggle more than others, while some could still be full of energy. You should judge it based on your Golden Retriever, and be prepared to increase or decrease daily exercise depending on them.

Keep in mind that Golden Retrievers are notorious people pleasers. Even if they have aches and pains, they’d go for a walk and potentially over-exert themself because they’re trying to please you. Over time, this can cause issues and soreness with their joints and bones.

Why It’s Important to Exercise Your Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are a smart breed of dog. They need physical as well as mental stimulation to avoid them becoming bored or restless. Exercise is a great way to entertain their mind and keep their body healthy.

Keeping them entertained with stimulating toys and exercise is great for:

  • Avoiding behavioural issues.
  • Strengthening muscles and cardiovascular health.
  • Promoting a strong bond with you.
  • Helping with training and concentration levels.
  • Preventing obesity.
  • Helping with socialising.
  • Releasing pent-up energy.

To learn more about toys that you can get to help with exercise and boredom, check out this article.

What if a Golden Retriever Doesn’t Get Enough Exercise?

A Golden Retriever who doesn’t get as much exercise as they need will suffer in a variety of ways. This will reflect in their behavior and mental state as well as physically.

Without exercise, Golden Retrievers will:

  • Pace around the house because they’re full of energy.
  • Be destructive like chewing and digging at home.
  • Become obese and develop health issues.
  • Be likely to develop depression and have low mental health.

Signs a Golden Retriever isn’t getting enough exercise:

  • Weight gain (from eating a lot and not burning it off).
  • Becoming withdrawn (poor mental health).
  • Excessive barking (or crying/ whining for attention).
  • Aggressive behavior (towards you or other dogs).
  • Hyperactivity (pulling on their leash and not listening to commands).
  • Stiffness (not moving so much will cause their body to become stiff).
  • Low endurance (they won’t be able to walk very much).

If you need to increase your Golden Retriever’s exercise, start slowly and gradually increase it every day to build up their stamina and muscles. If you’re worried about their health or if they’re acting out of character, the best thing to do is to see a vet.

Great Forms of Exercise for Your Golden Retriever

Goldens are hardy dogs which is great news if you like hikes or lots of strenuous exercises. You’ll have the perfect companion to go on adventures and work out with!

Here are some ideas to help keep your Golden Retriever exercised and happy:

  • Daily walk: Ideally for at least 45 mins to an hour per day. You can do this on a field, beach, the woods, around town – anywhere you fancy!
  • Swimming: A lot of Goldens enjoy a good swim and it’s a great way to burn energy – just remember the towels for afterward. Take a look at this post for more information.
  • Hide and seek: You can do this around the house and garden. Our golden loved this game. It’s as easy as telling them to stay, hiding somewhere, and calling them to you. 
  • Fetch in the garden: Or in a park or field. Goldens are bred to retrieve so this game can be really fun for your dog and uses their natural instincts. You can throw balls, sticks, or just about anything that’s dog friendly.
  • Obstacle course: This can be as simple or as complicated as you like. You can DIY with furniture and boxes (or whatever you have laying around) or invest in some agility equipment.
  • Tug game: Goldens adore playing tug-of-war. You can pick up a dog-friendly and super strong rope from any toy store. Offer one end to your Golden and hold on tight. They’ll happily spend hours playing this.
  • Playing with toys: As well as using energy, this is also a great training tactic for give/drop/leave commands. It’ll also prevent boredom if you’re busy or out of the house as toys can keep dogs entertained for hours. For more details, check out this post.
  • Doggy playdates: Nothing will get your Golden excited and running around as much as a play date with other dogs. They can run for hours (as long as it’s a safe location) and tire themselves out while you relax and watch.

Related Questions

Why Are Golden Retrievers So Energetic?

Golden Retrievers were originally bred as robust, energetic dogs with a strong swimming ability to retrieve game in the Scottish Highlands. They are great dogs equipped with high stamina, and have retained this trait even now they’re mainly household pets. This is why they can make good working dogs (and they’re so friendly and easy to train).

Why Doesn’t My Golden Retriever Want to Exercise Any More?

If your Golden Retriever doesn’t want to exercise as much as they used to, it could be because they’re getting older. It could also be because they have an injury or underlying illness preventing them. If they suddenly change their behavior and there’s no clear explanation, speak to your vet and make an appointment for a check-up.

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