How Much Space Does a Golden Retriever Need? (Explained!)

Because golden retrievers are easy to train, easy to please, affectionate, playful, and gentle with children, they make wonderful pets! But because a golden retriever is such an energetic dog, they need plenty of space to run and play, which may leave you wondering if your home is big enough for a golden retriever?

So, just how much space does a golden retriever need?

While a golden retriever requires a lot of room to run and play, that room doesn’t have to be in your house. Having a large home and yard makes it easier for you as the owner to exercise your golden, but it is not required if you are willing to take your golden retriever out daily to meet its activity requirements.

The rest of this article will discuss in detail topics related to this question, including why golden retrievers need enough room, why they make wonderful pets, how to exercise them, and the best ways to train them.

Golden retriever in a house.

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Why Do Golden Retrievers Need A Lot of Room?

Retrievers are large dogs. An adult male is about 23–24 inches in height and weighs between 60-75 lbs. While an adult female is about 20-22 inches tall and weighs 55-70 lbs.

The good news is that golden retrievers can live almost anywhere, but they’ll need some space in your home to move around freely. Fortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a yard.

Because golden retrievers are so social, they often prefer to stay indoors and hang out with their families as opposed to spending time outdoors alone. So whether your home is large or small your going to have to make sure there is plenty of room for your golden to move around.

Tips on How to Create Enough Space for Your Golden Retriever

Your golden retriever needs love and attention, but it also needs enough space to play. Because dogs are territorial animals, it’s important that they have areas in your home for them to play, hide, and sleep. Below are some creative ways on how to create more space for your golden:

Give Your Dog Their Own Room

You may have heard of people crating their dogs and how great crates are? If you don’t have experience with crates and dogs you may think it sounds mean or cruel to crate your dog. Dogs have a natural denning instinct, and they prefer a safe and enclosed place for their naps. Therefore, it’s important to crate train your pup.

However, before you crate your dog, you need to first exercise them and take them potty. This is why dogs need some room to play and exercise before you can crate them. Parents often have a playroom in the house for their kids, so why not have a play area for your dog?

As an example, maybe you live in a small house with a basement? You can turn your basement into a dog room. Put your dogs’ crate and toys down there so that they can have a space to feel safe and comfortable when you’re not available.

Using your basement as a doggie playroom will keep your dog stimulated enough, and they won’t destroy your home when left alone. This can come in handy to keep your dog occupied even when you’re at home, but you’re unable to give your golden your full attention.

If you allow your dog to play and exercise in the house, it means that they’ll be running around. If you have hardwood floors, you may want to install non-slip mats, so your dog won’t skid and injure themselves.  

Get a dog exercise pen or playpen

While having a dedicated room like a basement for your dog to play would be ideal, not all people have that kind of space. To create a dedicated space for your golden to play, you may need to get a dog playpen. Just like a crate, it will help contain your golden. However, your dog will have enough space to roam around and play.

Exercise pens like this one on Amazon, may also come in handy when traveling with your dog or staying in a hotel. Additionally, you can use it when you want to separate your golden retriever from children, guests, or pets. 

Consider the outdoors

According to a recent survey, most millennials these days are purchasing homes with their pets in mind. This explains why most people are transforming their yards into pet-friendly spaces. To create a pet-friendly space, you won’t need to spend a lot of money to overhaul your yard. You can start by simply fencing and making your landscaping pet-safe. 

By having a fenced yard, your golden can roam freely outside, and you won’t have to watch them 24/7. What’s more, you can add a dog door in your home to allow your dog to easily access the outdoors.  

Create more open space if your home is small

Golden retrievers are high-energy dogs, and they hate being confined to small spaces. To create more room for your dog, you may want to get rid of unnecessary belongings. You can also rearrange your large and bulky furniture so that your home has a more open feel. 

Golden retriever on the couch.

You might also consider moving some of your belongings into a storage unit. For instance, you can store away all your winter clothes and sell your bulky dresser or that armoire you haven’t been using. In the case of a small home, try as much as possible to live a minimalist life so that your golden has ample space to play. 

Use wall shelves

To create more space to accommodate your golden retriever, you’ll need to utilize every square foot. In a small apartment, you can use wall shelves instead of cabinets or bookcases that take up more floor space. This will help free up more space for your dog and their toys.  

Why Exercising a Golden Retriever Is Important

Contrary to common belief, exercising your dog isn’t just to keep them healthy. While regular exercises will keep your golden healthy and prevent him from getting too heavy due to inactivity, exercise and play time also allow you to create a bond with your dog. 

According to PetMD, an adult retriever should get at least one hour of exercise per day. Exercising your dog could make the difference between having a good companion and a destructive dog.

Keep in mind that golden retrievers were originally bred to be working dogs and partners for hunters. This means that they were used to hiking, swimming, and running long distances to hunt and fetch prey. It’s important to remember that as a more sedentary pet, rather than a hunting dog, they still possess the same abundant resources of energy they were bred for.

For these reasons, you’ll need to vigorously exercise your retriever to keep them happy and healthy, this true no matter how big or small your home is.

Outdoor Exercises for Golden Retrievers

There are many different ways to exercise your golden retriever and some require you to get moving as well! Below are a few of the best ways to exercise your pup outdoors:

Go on Walks

Walking your retriever on a daily basis is important, not only to help release its excess energy but to help stimulate its mind with sight, sounds, and smells. Golden retrievers like routine, so ensure that you schedule the walks at the same time each day. Remember, shorter walks on a daily basis is better than taking one or two long walks over the weekend.

The duration of the walk will depend on your available time and energy. However, the walks should last between 45 and 60 minutes once or twice a day, depending on your schedule. If your dog is well-trained, comes when called and stays close by your side, you can let them of the leash to walk at the park if allowed. 

Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash to allow your dog more freedom and still maintain control. But you’ll need to make sure that your retractable leash is strong enough for a medium to large golden retriever. The Cleebourg Retractable Leash at Amazon is a good choice for goldens up to 88lbs and has a long 16ft distance.


Apart from daily walks, you may want to engage your golden retriever in some high-intensive activities to tire them further and maintain their muscle tone. Your dog needs to maintain strong muscles that can support their joints and tendons, and help prevent injury.

Swimming is one of the best exercises around for a golden retriever, and it can help your dog burn energy quickly. Swimming also helps to maintain their muscle tone. Moreover, swimming won’t strain your dog’s joints and tendons, and it’s also a good form of treatment for a retriever recovering from injury or surgery.

Playing Fetch

For a golden retriever, this is possibly the best form of exercise there is! Goldens were born to fetch, which makes throwing a tennis ball a form of exercise that matches exactly what they were bred for.

My golden retriever, Jackson, would NEVER tire of playing fetch. Even when I got tired, I could sit down and keep throwing the ball for him. This is, in my opinion, the best kind of daily exercise for your golden because it will absolutely wear him out without having to wear yourself out.

To play long games of fetch without hurting your arm I recommend picking up the Chuckit Ball Launcher (Amazon). They’re inexpensive and allow you to throw the ball much further, with less strain on your shoulder.

Indoor Activities for Golden Retrievers

Indoor activities for your golden are just as important and are more about exercising their minds than physically wearing them out. Here are a few indoor activities:

Use Puzzle Toys

This type of exercise will provide your golden retriever with mental stimulation, which will help improve their training. Retrievers love toys, and you can use a toy that dispenses treats once they solve a puzzle.

However, you should always remember to use sensible treats. Giving your dog too many treats may make them sick or you could end up with a golden retriever shaped like a tootsie roll, so use the treat dispensers in moderation.

One idea is to use a treat dispenser like the StarMark Bob-A-Lot (Amazon) for feeding time. You can on occasion put a normal meal amount of kibble inside and let your dog figure out how to get his meal piece by piece. It allows your dog to use his mind and practice his foraging skills without giving him a bunch of extra food!

Tucker the golden is using the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound (Amazon) puzzle toy.

Discover how to train your Golden Retriever by playing games: 21 games to play with your Golden that will make them smarter and better behaved!

Play tug

Does your dog enjoy playing tug? Maybe your golden retriever pulls a little and then loses interest. Don’t worry; you can easily get your dog to have more interest in the game and be more tired after this exercise. 

One of the best ways to engage your dog in a tug game is to let them win. Pick a toy and shake it to grab your dog’s attention, let your dog bite on one end, and let go as soon as they try to tug. 

Let go of the toy while your dog is still pulling and not after, so that your dog feels like it has won. Then repeat the game again by jiggling the toy until your dog bites on it and drop it again once they tug. Once your dog feels like a champ, wait until they tug again before you let go of the toy. 

After playing tug for a few times, you will discover what your dog’s powerful tug feels like, and learn when to release the toy. To encourage your golden to play tug, play regularly and soon the time you spend playing will increase. 

Play hide and seek

If you have kids or share your home with other people, a game of hide-and-seek will stimulate both them and your dog. Hide-and-seek is a fun game that the whole family can enjoy!

Everyone hides and one by one each person calls the dog. It’s great fun for your pup to seek everyone out. This game is also an effective way to start training your dog to come to you when called.

What Happens if Your Retriever Doesn’t Get Enough Exercise?

If your golden isn’t getting enough exercise, they’ll let you know. Below are some of the signs that your retriever needs more exercise:

  • Running around the house
  • Barking
  • Getting bitey or snippy
  • Pacing and jumping
  • Chewing destructively on things like furniture or shoes

The fact is, a tired dog is a good dog, and if you want your retriever to stop the bad behaviors listed above, then you should exercise them.

Apart from the undesired behavior, retrievers are also prone to obesity, and this can be a problem if you don’t exercise them. Obesity leads to joint issues and even heart problems.

What Is the Right Weight for Your Golden Retriever?

It’s difficult to tell the right weight for your golden retriever as it will depend on various factors like gender and size. Additionally, muscle often weighs more than fat. Therefore, a well-muscled golden retriever may weigh more than an overweight dog. 

The best way to determine whether your golden is overweight is to keep a record of their weight and frequently check for any changes. This is one of the benefits of regular vet visits as they will keep track of your goldens weight over time. This will help you give you a warning if your dog starts gaining weight.

You can also check if your dog has put on too much weight at home. To determine whether your dog is getting obese, check whether you can see the ribs. If you give them a light touch, you’ll feel the fat layer but still be able to feel the ribs. On the other extreme, if your dogs ribs are visible, then your golden may be too skinny.

How Much Exercise Does an Adult Golden Retriever Need?

An adult retriever requires at least one hour of exercise every day. However, younger adults may need more than an hour and if you don’t exercise your dog regularly, they may be hard to manage. 

How much exercise your retriever will need will depend on your specific dog and the type of exercise. Some retrievers tend to be more energetic than others, and they’ll need more exercise. Also, an hour of playing fetch isn’t the same as an hour of leisurely walking through the park.

How Much Exercise Does a Golden Retriever Puppy Need?

A one-month-old golden retriever puppy will require at least 5 minutes of exercise twice a day. On the other hand, a two-month-old retriever puppy should exercise for about 10 minutes twice a day. However, this is just a general rule. In the case you find your puppy nibbling everyone and pacing around your house, then she probably needs more exercise.

Although exercise is important, you shouldn’t overtire your pup. If your golden retriever gets overtired, they may bite more than usual or be more destructive. Because golden retriever puppies grow into relatively large dogs, you need to be mindful of their growing bones.

For example, a three-mile hike would be unsuitable for a golden retriever that’s only a few months old as their bones are still growing and developing.

Tips on How to Train Your Golden Retriever

A well-trained golden retriever is one of the best dogs in the world! However, it’s up to you to do the training.

Therefore, if you have a new golden retriever (puppy or adult), the next most important step is to start training her. Here are a few ways on how to train your golden retriever:

Make Training Sessions Fun

Just like other dog breeds, retrievers learn best through games. However, you need to make the training sessions fun to keep your pup engaged. You can do this by using a happy tone rather than a stern one. Also, avoid yelling, and be patient with your dog. 

Here’s a video showing how you can teach your new pup 3 easy things in a fun relaxing way:

Watch Bruno, a goldendoodle, in this very first training session.

Make It Safe

As a dog owner, some of the things you’ll need are a collar and leash. Ideally, you’ll want a 5 to 6 ft long leash for day-to-day training and walking.

Additionally, because retrievers are large, energetic, and strong dogs, consider getting a Gentle Leader Headcollar (Amazon) as it will give you more control when walking your pet.

Make It Age and Skill-Appropriate

Just like you wouldn’t ask a young child to do algebra, you shouldn’t have unreasonable expectations from your dog. Retriever puppies need shorter training sessions that last between 3 to 5 minutes. 

This is because their bodies and brains aren’t well-developed yet. However, even if you get an adult retriever that is new to your home, you shouldn’t start with high-level training. This is because the dog is still adjusting to its new home.

Make It Regular

Most people don’t master skills without regularly practicing, and the same goes for your furry friend. You can help your pup learn something new by including training in your daily activities. For instance, during dinner time, train your dog to “sit” before you can put down the bowl of food.

Bottom Line

Golden retrievers were originally bred for hunting, which means that they’re highly active. Although, they’re capable of living outdoors, retrievers enjoy being close to their owners. Because of their large bodies and loyalty to their owners, you need a home with enough space for your dog to roam freely.

Having said that, you don’t have to live in a huge home with a yard to have a golden retriever but you will have to make the commitment to exercise them daily.

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Bryan Mullennix

Bryan's a freelance travel photographer and happy dog dad. He currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife, his son, and two dogs Nom Nom & Speck.

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