Keeping Older Golden Retrievers Active: Innovative Exercise Ideas

Sep 20, 2023by Suzie Cyrenne

While this may sound surprising, Golden Retrievers need regular exercise the most during their senior years. And you should definitely follow along if you think that your much older furry friend is not getting the workout he really needs.

In this blog post, we won't just give you the lowdown on the pros and cons of giving aging Golden Retrievers enough exercise. We'll also get you in on the crucial things you need to keep in mind when it comes to pulling the whole thing off successfully.

How about we start things off by having a quick overview of why your aging dog needs a regular dose of the right Golden Retriever exercise routine?


Why Senior Golden Retrievers Still Need Regular Exercise

Making sure that you're giving your aging Golden Retriever enough exercise has three (3) key benefits. First, it helps keep your pet's overall physical health in shape. Second, regular workouts also provide him with much needed mental stimulation. Third, having a great exercise for beyond adult Golden Retrievers on your checklist helps ensure that their quality of life stays ideal during their senior years.

However, we'd just like to emphasize as early as now that there are crucial guidelines much older Golden Retriever owners should follow with regard to exercising their beyond adult pets. These include the recommended length of your pet's exercise routine, the activities that you can go for as well as other useful and practical information. We'll look into them in just a bit.

Now we've got that covered, let's check out the possible risks that senior Golden Retrievers can be in if they're not given the proper mental and physical exercise on a regular basis...


The Risks of Not Regularly Exercising Your Older Golden Retriever

senior Golden Retriever on a walk in the forest

One of the biggest misconceptions about much older Golden Retrievers is that they don't need as much exercise compared to when they were still younger. Sure a Golden puppy may tend to be more responsive and energetic compared to a senior member of the breed, but it doesn't automatically mean that the latter should skip the whole thing altogether.

Interestingly, Golden Retrievers will stay as high-energy dogs even when they've already become canine senior citizens. For this part of our discussion, we will go over the possible risks that your aging pooch can be prone to without proper and regular exercise:


Your senior dog's weight will be significantly affected.

One of the most prominent effects of the lack of daily exercise in senior Golden Retrievers is either sudden weight gain or unexpected weight loss. Just like other dogs, they need physical activity to get particular physiological functions going like metabolism and the absorption of nutrients.

A much older Golden Retriever who has a sedentary lifestyle is highly at risk of obesity, which can set off a lot of health concerns sooner or later. On the other hand, his ability to take in essential nutrients may also be affected in the same scenario, pushing his weight below what's healthy for these senior dogs.


Joint health concerns will get in the picture.

A senior Goldie's joints have the tendency to deteriorate much faster if they're not utilized regularly. What's even more alarming is that besides being prone to a drastic drop in synovial fluid levels, the joints will also become less flexible as time goes by. This can trigger the onset of health problems like arthritis and osteoarthritis in an aging Golden Retriever.

Alternatively, excessive exercise can also bring about issues with your pet's health. Being a naturally active dog, an older Golden Retriever won't say no to a game or activity like playing fetch with a tennis ball or dock diving. This is the biggest reason why it's important to determine how much exercise your pooch needs to stay well and happy.


Your furry friend will lose a considerable amount of lean muscle mass.

Muscle atrophy takes place when the muscles experience a very long period of inactivity and shrink over time. This typically affects the muscles of the limbs. Research shows that your senior furry friend can lose as much as 20% of this lean muscle mass when this health issue gets in the picture.

Besides making one limb appear smaller compared to the others, an aging Golden Retriever may also be vulnerable to bouts of sudden weakness in the affected areas. It is also not uncommon for much older dogs with muscle atrophy to suffer from paralysis if this is not dealt with immediately.


His risk of developing heart problems will increase.

Akin to other dogs that are already in their senior years, aging Golden Retrievers who do not get enough exercise can be at risk of obesity. One of the most devastating effects of this problem on your dog's health is being prone to heart problems.

While it is possible that issues with the heart can be hereditary or caused by some other factors like in the case of some Golden puppies and juveniles, the risk of cardiovascular issues will rise as Golden Retrievers age, especially among those that are obese. It's crucial to remember that the consequences of cardiovascular problems in most Golden Retrievers in their senior years can be fatal.


Your older Golden Retriever will suffer from gastrointestinal issues.

A much older Golden Retriever without a regular exercise routine can be vulnerable to gastrointestinal problems. These can include bloating, diarrhea, bowel obstruction, excessive flatulence, constipation as well and colitis, among others. Some senior dogs may even require surgery and similar invasive procedures to deal with them.

Although this may sound surprising, giving your aging pooch enough exercise actually helps promote a much better blood flow in his gastrointestinal system. Apart from speeding up the repair and rejuvenation of cells, improved circulation also encourages the ideal absorption of nutrients during digestion.


He will be highly prone to anxiety and destructive behavior.

A senior Golden Retriever can be highly prone to destructive behaviors and mental health issues when he isn't getting the appropriate amount of exercise regularly. Examples of these unwanted behaviors are excessive barking, chewing and biting on pieces of furniture, sudden aggression, and even deliberate urination and defecation in the oddest of places like the living room.

It's important to keep in mind that the term "daily exercise" is not just about the physical side of things. It also involves mental stimulation. Simply hiding treats and telling your aging pooch to find them is already a form of mental exercise.


How Much Exercise Does an Aging Golden Retriever Need?

senior Golden Retriever after a bit of swimming

Compared to a Golden Retriever puppy, a senior member of the breed can be severely affected when engaged in too much exercise. Whether you're going to have agility training or playing hide and seek, determining how much exercise your aging Golden retriever needs is definitely a must.


The length of your senior pet's exercise routine is key.

When it comes to giving your aging Golden Retriever a workout, the recommended length of your daily exercise should be at least thirty (30) minutes to about an hour. Being aware of your pet's body language is also important since he may be already giving you cues that he needs a break.

Regardless of the activity you're going to engage him in, like obedience training, agility training or simply dropping by the local dog park for a bit of walking, it is crucial to take this time limit into consideration to keep clear from possible problems. Remember, too much exercise will already be counterproductive in this scenario.


The type of physical activity is crucial, too.

In relation to how much exercise you're going to give your senior Golden Retriever, the kind of activity you should go for must also be appropriate for your aging pet's age, energy level as well and overall health and wellness.

Unlike a young puppy of the breed that won't have a problem getting in on whatever game or activity you've got on your checklist, exercising a senior Golden Retriever is more than just knowing what to engage him in.

It is also important to factor in how exhausting the said activity or game will be to your senior dog's body. A simple example you can use for this one is observing his responsiveness when playing tug of war and doing some basic commands for mental stimulation. The best choice is to go with the one he's really fascinated with.


The Top Benefits of Giving Your Beyond Adult Golden Retriever A Regular Workout

senior Golden Retriever getting ready to play fetch

For this part of our blog post, we'll give you a rundown of the best benefits that your senior Golden Retriever will be in for if he's getting the right amount of exercise regularly. Moreover, we also recommend having a regular exercise routine when your pooch is still at a young age since these benefits will be really helpful when he becomes much older.


Healthy weight

As we've stressed earlier, the lack of exercise can either make your aging Golden Retriever prone to sudden weight gain or unexpected weight loss. And given the changes that are taking place in your beyond adult dog's body, working out on a regular basis helps promote a steady metabolism and ideal absorption of nutrients.


Ideal muscle tone

The muscles of your senior Golden Retriever need to be utilized routinely to protect them from atrophy or wasting away. Contrary to popular notion, it's not that complicated to pull this off. A lot of people mistakenly believe that aging Golden Retrievers need constant access to agility courses and the service of a professional dog trainer to achieve this.

Even engaging your much older Golden Retriever in simple activities like playing hide and seek or swimming in a dog-friendly lake will already get the job done. So long as you're able to harness their high energy, then you're on the right track.


Strong bones and joints

A senior Golden Retriever with a regular exercise routine won't be that easily vulnerable to joint and bone issues. This is because they will remain strong and sturdy as they get older. Besides retaining high flexibility, his joints won't also have a problem with decreasing synovial fluid levels in the process, which is usually the culprit for arthritis.


Prevention of disease and illness

One of the biggest reasons why regular workouts are necessary for senior Golden Retrievers as regards having a healthy lifestyle is because it helps improve their overall immune system. The stronger your older dog's immune system is, the more resilient he will become against health concerns.

We recommended starting a regular exercise routine when your Goldie is still at a young age because this will prove to be very helpful during his senior years. Besides helping restrain allergies and gastrointestinal disorders, researchers also point out that a strong immune system can also keep cancer in dogs at bay.


Curbing restlessness and boredom

Regardless of the age of your Golden Retriever, you can expect that he will have lots of excess energy on a daily basis. You need to harness this energy level through physical activity and mental stimulation to avoid making him feel bored, restless, and even deprived.

This can eventually lead to bad behavior like excessive barking and sudden aggression sooner or later. While you can go for training classes and agility courses as some of your options, simple activities like hiding his favorite tennis ball or chew toys and asking him to find them will already do the trick.


Tighter bond

Did you know that regularly exercising your much older Golden Retriever can help improve the production and release of certain hormones like serotonin and endorphins? Besides making your aging pet feel relaxed and safe, these hormones will also help your pooch establish a closer relationship with you. This is definitely a win-win situation in our book.


The Difference Between Exercising A Golden Retriever Puppy and A Senior One

senior and puppy Golden Retriever

As we've highlighted previously, giving a Golden Retriever puppy a workout is rather different when you're doing the same to a senior member of the breed. Apart from taking into consideration the length of your activity, you should also keep an eye on the type and intensity of the game you're having.

We're reiterating this part since things can easily go haywire if you don't include these pointers in your checklist. Just to repeat, it is crucial to determine how much exercise your aging dog needs to avoid unexpected issues as you go along.


Must-Know Exercise Ideas for Older Golden Retrievers (Can Also Be Applicable to Golden Retriever Puppies)

senior Golden Retriever taking a break from playing fetch

Now we've got that out of the way, let's check out the exercise ideas you should keep in mind when giving senior Golden Retrievers a workout. You'll be surprised by how easily you can pull the whole thing off, too!


Have a quick yet gentle stretch first!

Before you even start with your game or activity, it is very important to give your aging Golden Retriever a quick stretching session. Sure this sounds a bit technical, but it basically means making his limbs and other parts of the body ready for movement.

Whether you're planning to go dock diving, play fetch, or engage your old pooch in training exercises, here's a very straightforward way to get your dog stretching. First, get your pet in a lying position where his legs and paws have maximum movement.

Second, gently move each one of his limbs in a circular motion as if he is riding a bike. Do this as slowly as you can, making each "revolution" about thirty seconds or so. Third, do the same gentle movement to his knees and paws. All of this will just take five minutes more or less.


Beyond adult Golden Retrievers enjoy obedience training.

A much older Golden Retriever will always be an enthusiastic participant in training exercises where his mind will be stimulated a lot. Whether you're teaching your pet to become more patient or training him to walk without a leash, you can expect him to be as responsive and cooperative as possible.

However, it is crucial to remember that you should conduct these trainings in places where he won't easily get distracted. You'll be surprised to know that training your old pooch with fun tricks is quite easy! While the backyard is already a nice option, you can also go to your local fenced dog park.

Don't worry if you are still not that familiar with the dog parks in your area. There are actually mobile apps like Dog Park Finder available these days to help you with this. A quick push of a button and you're good to go.


Go for a different low-impact exercise routine each time.

It is crucial that you only choose low-impact exercises when you give your senior Golden Retriever a workout. However, you shouldn't stick to one activity or game every time. Here's a quick list of the activities you can go for to make things as exciting and interesting as possible:

  • Walking is perhaps the most straightforward low-impact workout that you can engage your pooch in. You can also do this in a number of places like dog parks, your very own neighborhood, and similar dog-friendly areas.
  • Swimming is a very good choice because senior Golden Retrievers are natural swimmers. You can also integrate this with other activities like when you're going on a hike or dock diving. Just remember to keep your pet at a safe distance so you can easily monitor him all the while.
  • Playing fetch is a cool option since you can combine mental stimulation and physical exercise in one fun game. Besides using your older Golden retriever's favorite toy for this activity, you can also go for other things like an old tennis ball or even a stick.
  • Tug of war is akin to fetch since it can be also a combination of physical stimulation and mental exercise. You just have to remember to be careful with the force you're using when you play tug of war with your old pooch since it is possible that he can get carried away.

Set up an indoor agility or obstacle course for your senior Golden Retriever.

Aging Golden Retrievers won't say no to agility or obstacle courses! So long as they're set up in a safe and controlled environment, your old dog can display his mental and physical prowess without being prone to injury and similar issues while at it. You simply have to get your hands on pillows, blankets, old boxes, and other things you normally find around the house to set one up, too.


Puzzle toys will fascinate our much older furry friends.

If your much older dog is anything like most Golden Retrievers, he is sure to enjoy having a go with puzzle toys. Just remember to choose ones that are durable and do not have sharp edges since they won't unexpectedly splinter and hurt your dog's mouth, tongue, and cheeks. It is also smart to take note of your old dog's favorite toy since you can use this as your "go-to toy" when giving your pet a workout.


Have regular breaks in between workout sessions.

Much older Golden Retrievers need regular breaks when they are engaged in physical and mental activity. Always remember to have a rest period every thirty (30) minutes or so, or when you notice that your aging pooch seems to be moving at a much slower pace.

Apart from giving him easy access to lots of fresh water, your old dog will also appreciate it if you've got all the treats, he loves during your workout routine.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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