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So here's the story, I have 3 dogs: 11 year old labrador, and TWO 1.5 year old lab/border collie mixes.

Thank the LORD my Lab is in excellent health! He has very little stiffness in his joints (give him Cosequin daily and oil in his food) and tons of energy. He can play fetch in cool weather seemingly non-stop with only a few short breaks. I take him swimming and he will just swim until I make him leave. With that said..

I've been taking the dogs on TWO 2 mile walks per day for a number of months. My lab has always done fine. He is a tad slower than the pups but really able to keep up just fine. So maybe a month or two ago I needed to cut a walk short and I took a different route that was maybe only 3/4 of a mile rather than 2. Ever since then whenever we get to that intersection my Lab tries to pull us home. I'd imagine that walking is not really that interesting to him and he's mostly just being lazy. He'd rather play fetch or swim than anything, but he's happier to just lay down than to go on a long walk.

Then I started wondering what if two 2 mile walks per day is too much for him?

It's never seemed too much for him.. until he learned there was a shorter route, which he apparently prefers to the longer route. I think the exercise is good for him, I'm trying to keep this dog around for a long time, but how do I know whether it's a good workout and he's just lazy or if it's too much and I need to cut him back?
 

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I run 2.5 miles with my three Labs every day. My old girl is 11 yrs. She was scored as a youngster and has excellent hips and normal elbows, so there's reason to think she's free of arthritis in the most-advertized trouble spots. Other hints suggest she's pretty much pain free, eg., she often lies on the hard tile floor when she has rug, sofa, and bed available as alternatives. She has definately gotten lazier with age . . . much more time sleeping and when she sleeps she really melts into the sofa rather than maintaining some muscle tone.

My opinion -- and it's only an opinion -- I've looked for and not found any research to substantiate it -- is that keeping older dogs active is important to their health. Muscle wastage in older dogs is awful. I'm 66 myself, and the docs all tell me that it's critical to keep active. My BP dropped from the marginal to the 'safe' range when I started running. I wish I could find any scientific work on the benefits (or lack thereof) of exercise in older dogs. But if this were my dog, I'd ignore his apparent preferance for the short cut.

Labs don't do well in hot weather, and do remember routes where they have found some particularly choice tidbit to eat or roll in. Are you sure that the short cut's appeal is its shortness . . . and not something else?
 

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I think taking the different route is just novelty. Your dog realizes there's a whole other walking route there with new sights and smells and wants to experience more. I used to have Clyde try and cross the street at a particular corner every time we came up to it because there is a huge park and hiking trails on the other side. He actually wanted the longer route because of those (Mainly the hiking trails because we almost never went there because of the length), even when it was too hot to keep him walking for more than a 1/2 mile.
 
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