Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

How to Tell If Your Dog Needs More Exercise

Individual dogs need different amounts of exercise.

Do You Know How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs?

It can be difficult to determine how much exercise an individual dog needs. It can vary quite dramatically between breeds as well as individual dogs. For example, members of working breeds such as Australian shepherds usually require more exercise than toy breeds such as Pugs. But regardless of your dog's breed, there are some individual signs that can tell you that he needs more activity.

Check with your veterinarian before beginning exercise.

When Beginning New Exercise, Keep This in Mind

Note: Don't begin or drastically increase your dog's exercise regimen without speaking with your veterinarian first to ensure that he is medically capable of handling it. Be sure to provide your dog with lots of fresh water during exercise, and don't overdo it in hot temperatures.

Continue reading to learn six ways to tell if your dog needs more exercise and to find great ideas for how to get it for him.

An overweight dog might need a diet and/or more exercise.

Your Dog Is Overweight

If your dog is overweight, he is taking in more calories than he is burning. This might mean that he needs to go on a diet, but exercise can certainly improve the situation as well. There are many reasons for keeping your dog at a good weight. Your veterinarian is best suited to tell you whether your individual dog is overweight and to advise you on a diet and exercise plan for him, but you can learn more in these articles: "Hands-On Guide to Checking If Your Dog Is a Good Weight," and "Obesity in Dogs: Overview of Causes and Dangers."

Increased activity can decrease destructive habits.

Your Dog Is Destructive

It's important to remember that dogs will sometimes destroy belongings or property accidentally, especially curious puppies. However, if your dog's destructive habits are excessive, it may indicate that he is bored. Boredom in dogs is resolved through play and exercise. Playing with, walking, and exercising your dog can tire him out, making him less likely to take out his boredom on your property.

A dog that barks incessantly may need more exercise.

Your Dog Barks Excessively

Dogs that have a habit of barking for little or no reason may need more exercise. The barking may be the result of boredom or anxiety, both of which can be improved by allowing the dog to blow off steam through walking and playing. Barking excessively can also be a sign of separation anxiety or simply a part of the dog's personality, but a dog that is tired from having had lots of exercise will be less likely to bark too much, regardless of the reason.

A healthy dog that doesn't sleep well at night and probably use more exercise.

Your Dog Doesn't Sleep Well

A dog that doesn't get enough exercise is less likely to sleep well at night. Making sure that your dog is tired out is a great way to ensure that he won't be up all night pacing around, causing trouble, and looking for someone to play with him. Note: if your dog is suddenly having trouble sleeping when he never did before, check with your veterinarian to rule out a medical problem.

A dog incessantly seeking attention may need more activity.

Your Dog Demands Attention Constantly

While each dog's personality is different and some of them will want more attention from their humans than others, a dog that incessantly brings you a ball, nudges you, or whines or stares at you all day may need more exercise. These behaviors can indicate boredom, so try increasing your dog's exercise schedule (with your veterinarian's consent) if your dog is engaging in them a lot.

Constant leash-pulling may indicate a dog needs more exercise.

Your Dog Pulls on the Leash Excessively

If your dog consistently pulls hard on the leash whenever you walk him, even though he's been properly trained to heel, it may indicate that he has too much pent-up energy and not enough exercise. Unfortunately, a dog that pulls on the leash excessively may receive less exercise because the owner is reluctant to subject him or herself to the experience. If possible, tire your dog out a bit with a game of fetch or tug-of-war before walking; your dog will be less likely to pull exuberantly if he's tuckered out.

Fetch and walking are good dog exercises.

Good Dog Exercises

So you've decided that your dog needs more exercise. What types of things can you do with him? With your veterinarian's approval, you can try walking, playing fetch, and playing tug of war. If your dog is a member of a working breed that needs even more exercise than other dogs, consider agility training. And if you get worn-out before your dog does, you can even take a rest and supervise while your dog plays with a Tether Tug Dog Toy. If your dog is well-trained and good with other dogs, a dog park is a great place for canine socialization and exercise. Keep in mind that some exercises aren't suitable for all dogs. Dogs with short faces can't do the same intensity of exercising as other dogs, and those with short legs and long backs are more vulnerable to spinal injuries from jumping/twisting forms of activity. Check with your veterinarian if you aren't sure whether a certain type of exercise is appropriate for your dog.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.