What Are The Best Exercises For A Senior Golden Retriever? [6 Beneficial Types!]

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If you’re like me, you’re the proud owner of a senior Golden Retriever, and your dog means the world to you! Plus, you’re wondering where the heck all the time went!!

As your loving companion gets older, their exercise needs change, and it’s essential to provide your Golden with the right type and amount of physical activity.

Exercise plays a critical role in keeping your Golden Retriever happy and healthy in his senior years. It helps prevent weight gain, provides mental stimulation, and helps avoid age-related issues.

But, what are the best exercises for a senior Golden Retriever?

Keep reading as we discuss some safe and enjoyable activities based on your senior Golden’s age, health, and energy level.

What Are The Best Exercises For A Senior Golden Retriever?

Some of the best exercises for a senior Golden Retriever include walking, swimming, gentle games of fetch, nose work, stretching exercises, hydrotherapy, and obedience training. These activities will help keep their minds sharp, help maintain their weight, and won’t put too much strain on their joints, muscles, and bones. It is always best to consult with your vet to determine the right exercise for your senior Golden, based on your dog’s health condition and physical limitations.

It’s no secret that exercise helps us feel better and keeps us healthy, and the same is true for your beloved Golden Retriever!

You’ve probably already taken notice that your Golden Retriever has started to slow down. Your once-exuberant Golden just doesn’t play as much as before, walks a bit slower, and tends to sleep more.

Regular daily exercise is still critical, you just need to modify it accordingly.

In this section, we’ll discuss the best exercises for senior Golden Retrievers in further detail.

1. Low-Impact Exercises For Senior Golden Retrievers

A Golden Retriever walking freely on a field of grass.

Low-impact exercises are a great way to keep your senior Golden Retriever active and healthy and avoid putting too much strain on their bones and joints.

This is especially important for senior dogs who suffer from arthritis or mobility issues.

Chances are your Golden Retriever is already enjoying a few low-impact exercises, which include the following:


Walking at a leisurely pace gets your dog’s joints moving and keeps them flexible. It’s a safe exercise that doesn’t put too much pressure on your dog’s joints.

We’ll discuss walking in further detail below.


Most Golden Retrievers have a natural love for the water, so getting your Golden to go swimming shouldn’t be too difficult!

Swimming offers your senior Golden a full-body workout without putting too much strain on your dog’s bones and joints.

The buoyancy of the water helps to support your dog’s weight, taking the pressure off the joints, and making it a great low-impact exercise.

Your dog uses all of his muscles to swim through the water, which helps to improve his overall strength and endurance.

Swimming is great for all senior Golden Retrievers, but especially those suffering from arthritis and mobility issues, as it allows them to exercise without pain and discomfort.

Gentle Stretching

Gentle stretches help to improve your senior Golden’s flexibility and range of motion, which in turn can reduce the risk of injury and improve overall mobility.

Most senior dogs lose strength in their back legs, and it’s important to do gentle stretches to help strengthen the joints and muscles and keep them healthy.

One of the easiest stretches is putting your dog in a sitting position and then having them stand. This allows your dog to stretch and strengthen their hips and knees.

For further examples of gentle stretching exercises, check out this article from petMD.

Gentle Games Of Fetch

You’ve probably heard many fellow Golden Retriever owners mention that their senior Golden has remained puppy-like well into their old age.

It’s great to hear, and very endearing to know that Golden Retrievers love to play and keep up with their puppy antics as they age.

By that I mean, they still love to steal your socks and play tug-of-war and fetch.

You just need to modify their playtime and keep play sessions short and gentle.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Use softer toys that are gentle on their teeth and gums.
  • Throw a tennis ball or frisbee lower to the ground, so your senior Golden doesn’t have to jump for it.
  • Throw at shorter distances so your Golden doesn’t over-exert himself.
  • Be gentle when playing tug-of-war, and use softer toys like an old t-shirt or plush toy.
  • Play on soft surfaces like grass, or gravel.

2. Mental Stimulation Exercises To Keep Your Senior Golden’s Mind Sharp

A Golden Retriever sniffing the ground while walking on a dirt path.  A black Labrador is shown standing behind.

All Golden Retrievers require daily mental stimulation to keep them from becoming bored or anxious.

But, it’s even more important to keep up with mental exercises as your Golden Retriever ages.

Mental stimulation exercises keep your senior dog’s mind sharp and active!

Great examples include:

  • Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys or food puzzles challenge your dog’s mind by putting his problem-solving skills into action.
  • Hide & Seek: A game of hide and seek is a great way to stimulate your Golden and keep him engaged. You could hide toys or treats and have your dog hunt and sniff for them.
  • Nose Work: Let your dog stop and smell the roses, so to speak! Allowing your dog to sniff on walks is super important as it’s very stimulating. Plus, it’s how your dog gathers information about the world around him.
  • Interactive Toys: Interactive toys include puzzle toys, food puzzles, tug toys, fetch toys, and squeaky toys. These types of toys engage and stimulate your dog’s mind. Make sure you join in on the fun too!
  • Obedience Training: Senior dogs can learn new tricks too! Training doesn’t stop once your Golden becomes an adult, it’s an ongoing thing. Keep up with your dog’s obedience training, and throw a few new tricks in there too.
  • Agility Courses: If your senior Golden is still very active and physically able, agility courses offer great mental stimulation. There are agility courses designed just for senior dogs. They are modified with lower jumps and shorter distances.
  • Walking: Just getting outside for a daily walk or two is very stimulating for your senior Golden. All of the sights, sounds, and smells keep your dog’s mind active.

3. Supervised Exercises To Keep Your Senior Golden Safe & Healthy

A Golden Retriever carrying a large stick in its mouth while walking along a beach.

Supervised exercises are a great way to ensure that your senior Golden Retriever is kept safe while getting the most out of the exercise.

This is especially important if your senior has arthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or other mobility issues.

Supervision is needed to ensure your dog doesn’t get injured or worsen any existing condition.

You can monitor your dog’s exercises or work closely with a professional dog trainer.

Supervised exercises are tailored to your senior dog’s individual needs and abilities, based on their health conditions.

A professional trainer or your vet can help you modify the type, duration, and intensity of the exercise to suit your dog.

Some examples include:

  • Swimming
  • Treadmill Training
  • Short Walks
  • Gentle Games of Fetch
  • Agility Training

4. Water-Based Exercises To Please Your Water-Loving Senior Golden Retriever

A wet Golden Retriever with an orange ball in its mouth making a splash in the water.

We’ve already discussed how swimming is a great workout for your senior Golden Retriever, but there are many more water-based exercises that your senior can enjoy!

Here are some examples:

  • Water Treadmill: A water treadmill is a large tank or pool filled with water, and a treadmill submerged in it. Your dog walks or runs on the treadmill, while the water provides resistance and buoyancy to help strengthen and build endurance while being gentle on the joints.
  • Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy is essentially any form of water exercise. Exercises can be done in a pool, lake, or other body of water. The water provides resistance and buoyancy to help build strength and reduce pressure on the joints. Dogs recovering from injuries or surgery, as well as senior dogs with joint issues, benefit from hydrotherapy.
  • Water-Based Fetch: Playing a game of fetch in the water is a great way for your senior to have fun and be active while reducing pressure on his bones and joints. Just be sure to use a buoyant toy that is highly visible, and monitor your senior closely.

Water-based exercises are a fantastic way for your water-loving Golden to get a full-body workout while minimizing the risk of pain or injury.

Dogs with joint issues and arthritis will find relief while doing water-based exercises, as the buoyancy of the water reduces the pressure on their bones and joints.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can consult with a professional dog trainer or your vet for guidance on the best water-based exercises for your dog.

5. Regular Walking For Senior Golden Retrievers

A senior Golden Retriever shown walking on a lead beside a woman.  Only the woman's red handbag and legs are shown.

We’ve already briefly discussed how walking is a great exercise for your senior Golden Retriever, because it is low-impact, mentally stimulating, and also a supervised exercise.

Daily walks with your senior Golden Retriever are so important, as they keep your Golden active, fit, and healthy!

Walking helps keep your Golden’s muscles toned, and his joints flexible and will help maintain a healthy weight.

Aside from the physical benefits, walking helps strengthen your bond, provides mental stimulation through exposure to different environments and smells, and gives your Golden plenty of opportunities to socialize.

We all know how much Golden Retrievers love to meet people!

Walking is easy to do, and the pace and duration can be adjusted to suit your Golden.

A 20-30 minute walk each day can be enough to provide health benefits to your senior Golden.

Remember to start slow, you can always gradually increase the duration based on your dog’s health and ability, and be sure to monitor your dog for any signs of slowing down, or overexertion.

6. Proprioception Exercises To Keep Your Senior Golden Fit And Healthy

Proprioception exercises are designed to help improve your dog’s balance and coordination by challenging their sense of body awareness.

These exercises are typically performed on uneven surfaces such as wobble boards or balance pads, to challenge your dog’s muscles and joints in new ways.

Benefits include improved strength, coordination, and overall mobility.

This short video provides some examples of proprioception exercises:

Helpful Tips When Exercising Your Senior Golden Retriever

When it comes to exercising your senior Golden Retriever, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Exercise Regularly But Keep It Gentle: Regular exercise will keep your Golden active and prevent joints from stiffening. Choose shorter walks rather than long walks.
  • Go At Your Dog’s Pace: Your dog will still enjoy walking as it is a great way to stretch, get some fresh air, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells. Don’t be in a hurry, allow your dog to go at his own pace.
  • Stick To Familiar Routes & Places: Senior dogs experiencing vision or hearing loss, may become anxious and confused by going to unfamiliar places. Stick to the same walking route to keep your dog from becoming anxious.
  • Be Mindful Of The Weather: Senior dogs have a weaker immune system and tend to get colder faster than younger dogs. A jacket might be needed for colder weather. When it gets too hot outside, you need to limit their activity and walk during cooler times of the day.
  • Watch For Signs Of Discomfort: When exercising your senior, if you notice any signs of discomfort such as limping, panting, or slowing down, stop exercising and take a break. Don’t push your Golden to continue, you may need to consult your vet.
  • Make It Fun: Exercise should be fun for you and your Golden. Keep it fun by doing what your Golden loves to do. Perhaps a new toy for a game of fetch, or a nice leisurely walk to enjoy the sights and smells.
  • Consult Your Vet: Before starting any new exercise routine, consult your vet to determine the best exercises for your senior based on their health, age, and physical abilities.

FAQ About Senior Golden Retriever Exercise

A happy senior Golden Retriever laying on top of a large rock holding a red and green tennis ball between its paws.

The following are some of the most commonly asked questions that owners have when it comes to exercising their senior Golden Retrievers.

If you have any additional questions, please leave them in the comments section below.

1. How Much Exercise Does A Senior Golden Retriever Need?

Most senior Golden Retrievers will benefit from 30 minutes of exercise per day. This, of course, is dependent on their age, overall health, energy level, and of course the weather.

The amount of daily exercise can be broken up throughout the day and can be adjusted accordingly to your Golden Retriever’s individual needs.

2. How Can I Tell If My Senior Golden Retriever Is Getting Enough Exercise?

You can tell if your senior Golden Retriever is getting enough exercise by monitoring their behaviour, energy level, appetite, and physical condition.

  • Behaviour: A senior Golden that’s getting enough exercise will be happy and relaxed, not anxious or restless.
  • Energy Level: If your Golden has consistent energy throughout the day, it’s a good sign that they are getting enough exercise. Feeling overly tired or lethargic (without medical issues) indicates your dog isn’t getting enough exercise.
  • Appetite: Regular exercise should stimulate your dog’s appetite, making him eat his meals.
  • Physical Condition: A senior Golden getting enough exercise will be able to maintain their weight, have good muscle tone, and have better joint mobility. Regular exercise keeps their joints flexible and healthy.

3. What Are The Benefits Of Exercise For A Senior Golden Retriever?

Regular exercise benefits a senior Golden Retriever in many ways including:

  • Keeping their heart healthy.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and body condition.
  • Improved muscle strength and joint flexibility.
  • Helps with digestion and bowel function.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes and arthritis.
  • Keeps their mind stimulated and improves cognitive function.
  • Increased socialization opportunities with other dogs and people.
  • Improves their overall mood, and keeps them content!

4. What Exercises Should A Senior Golden Retriever Avoid?

As your senior Golden Retriever ages, they may no longer be able to partake in high-impact activities such as jumping, running on hard surfaces, and intense games of fetch.

These high-impact exercises put too much pressure on their bones and joints and may cause injuries or worsen existing conditions such as arthritis.

5. Can A Senior Golden Retriever Go Running Or Jogging With Me?

You can still enjoy running or jogging with your senior Golden Retriever. But, you will need to adjust the pace, duration, and surface on which you are running.

Your senior Golden Retriever will not have the same stamina as when they were younger.

Be sure to go slow, avoid long-distance runs, choose softer surfaces like grass or gravel, monitor your dog’s behaviour, and stop if you notice your dog panting or slowing down.

Shorter walks and light jogs might be more appropriate for your senior Golden Retriever, rather than a long-distance run.

Final Thoughts

Regular exercise is super important for maintaining your senior Golden Retriever’s health and well-being.

By incorporating the best exercises for a senior Golden Retriever such as walking, swimming, puzzle games, and gentle stretches, you can help keep your furry best friend active and engaged as they age.

Always be sure to consult with your vet before starting a new exercise routine for your dog. This will ensure that your dog’s fitness routine is tailored to his age, health, and physical abilities.

What are some exercises that your senior Golden Retriever enjoys? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “What Are The Best Exercises For A Senior Golden Retriever? [6 Beneficial Types!]”

  1. My Golden Retriever just turned 10, and he is still pretty active and healthy.  Although he has really started to slow down on our walks and tires out quickly while playing, he still enjoys those things.

    I realize the importance of regular exercise and will keep it up.  He really loves the water and will swim any chance he can get.  I’m so happy to learn that swimming is a great low-impact activity that is better for his joints and bones.

    Thanks for sharing all of these exercises targeted at senior dogs.

    • Hi Leticia,

      That’s great to hear that your senior Golden is enjoying his daily walks and playtime.  Regular exercise does wonders for your dog’s health and well-being.

      Swimming is a great low-impact activity that exercises your dog’s joints and muscles.  The best part is that swimming is what most Golden Retrievers enjoy the most.

      Take care, and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.



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