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7 Ways to Tell Your Dog Isn’t Getting Enough Exercise | Pupford

February 20th, 2024

Filed under Pet Parenting

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It’s a universal truth among all dogs that exercise is a key component to maintaining good health. But what’s not universal, however, is how much exercise each dog needs to achieve that.

That (paired with other lifestyle factors that can limit opportunities for exercise) leads to a lot of dogs not getting enough exercise.

Believe it or not, our dogs give us a variety of signals to let us know they need more activity in their routine – you just have to know what to look for.

Today we’ll cover 7 ways to tell your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, and tips for increasing activity even with a busy schedule or limited space.

And keep in mind, all dogs need exercise. Puppies, dogs in the teenage phase, and even senior dogs.


While sometimes it's obvious, at other times it can be hard to know if your dog is getting enough exercise.

Here are 7 common ways to tell your dog needs more exercise:

  1. Weight gain
  2. Sluggish or withdrawn mood
  3. Hyperactivity
  4. Destructive behaviors
  5. Excessive barking and/or whining
  6. Stiff muscles or joints
  7. Lack of endurance

Let's look at each one below. 👇


When dogs aren’t getting enough exercise, they can end up taking in more calories than they burn, causing weight gain over time.

Overweight dogs are at risk of a myriad of health issues including arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart failure.

Annual well-visits and at-home weigh-ins will help you catch any weight gain trends over time, so you can adjust their activity levels as needed. It's also best practice to check your dog's body condition score every so often.


There’s a fine line between a dog who is tired from proper exercise and one that’s sluggish. If you notice your dog sleeping more than usual, shying away from their favorite games or activities, or not wanting to spend their time with you, it may be a sign that they aren’t getting the physical and mental stimulation they need.

Just be sure to rule out any medical conditions first, as withdrawing can also be a sign of physical pain or even mental health conditions in dogs.


On the other hand, if your dog is bouncing off the walls with zoomies and constantly trying to engage you in toys/games, that could also be a sign they haven’t gotten proper exercise.

If they don’t have anywhere to displace their pent-up energy, your dog could end up hyperactive as a result.


Is your dog digging, chewing furniture, or getting themselves into all sorts of trouble while you’re gone?

Destructive behaviors are an indication that your dog needs more stimulation, whether it be physical or mental. Exercise can provide both, giving your dog the outlet they need and potentially saving your favorite pair of shoes!


If your dog is suddenly barking at everything or crying more than usual, inactivity could be to blame.

Again, this can be tied back to the need to release pent-up energy and get more stimulation. Try adding more exercise to your dog’s routine to see if that helps.

Otherwise, you may need to see if something like separation anxiety is at play – but more often than not, additional activity will do the trick.


Think of how your joints and muscles feel after sitting all day in a car or on an airplane. Not great, right?

If your dog isn’t getting the opportunity to use key muscles and joints, they can stiffen up and even become painful. The right joint supplement and exercise routine can definitely help, just be sure to get the green light from your vet to make sure you don’t unintentionally cause injury.

🐶 Do your pup's hips & joints need some extra love? Shop the Super Pup supplement here!


Just like with people, if dogs don’t exercise, they can lose stamina.

Of course, not every dog needs to be able to handle an all-day hike or vigorous run, but you’ll want them to be able to keep up with the activities they love.

Once your dog’s “puppy energy” fades, if you continue to notice a slow-down in their endurance, you should consider increasing activity levels to keep it up.


dog is bored because they are not getting enough exercise

The most common reasons people’s dogs don’t get enough exercise are because their busy schedules prevent them from making the time, or their living situation doesn’t offer the right exercise space.

You owe it to your dog to give them the exercise they need to be happy and healthy.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to sneak in exercise throughout your dog’s day, even if you are short on space or time.

Here are some ways to give your dog more exercise:

  1. Find a local dog walker or a willing friend. You don’t have to be the only one to exercise your dog! Walks are an essential part of a dog’s routine for multiple reasons, so having someone come by and walk your dog when you can’t is a great way to keep up their activity.
  2. Play short games like fetch or tug of war a couple of times a day. Exercise doesn’t have to be in one long chunk. Initiating a few games of fetch daily is easy because most dogs love fetch, and it gets them moving. Using a flirt pole is also a great idea if you are limited in space.
  3. Have a doggy play date. Get your dog together with their best pup pals for a doggy plate date. They’ll play and run around together while you get to socialize with the humans – win-win!
  4. Set up an indoor game. You don’t have to let limited yard space or bad weather stop you from offering exercise to your dog. Exercise your dog indoors with games, obstacle courses, treat hide-and-seek, training sessions, and more. Get inspired here!
  5. Park in farther parking spots when you bring your dog somewhere. We give this advice to people all the time, so why not your dog too? If you’re taking them out to a grooming appointment, a dog-friendly restaurant, or a check-up at the vet, park in the farthest reasonable spot so your dog (and you!) gets some extra steps throughout the day.
  6. Try a new activity like teaching your dog to run next to your bike. Activities like this can help your pup get extra exercise in a shot amount of time!
  7. Have your dog work for their food. Did you know that dogs prefer to work for their food? The concept is called contrafreeloading. Take advantage by having your dog’s meal come in the form of a training session or food puzzle to add in activity and boost mental stimulation.
Give your pup the exercise they deserve with a flirt pole. Get one here! 👈

Working just a couple of these ideas into your dog’s routine can really add up and make a big difference in their total exercise.

It's important your dog's exercise needs are met every day! If not... 👇


beagle that is not getting enough exercise | Pupford

As you saw from some of the signs above, if our dogs don't get enough exercise it can lead to lots of problems.

Here are two of the main things that happen if your dog doesn't get enough exercise:

  1. Unwanted behaviors
  2. Poor health

Let's look at each one below. ⤵️


This category of problems is wide, but when our dogs don't get enough exercise it often leads to acting out, not listening during training, and even more destructive behaviors.

Some of the poorest decisions I made as a teenager were when I was super bored. Our dogs aren't that much different than a teenager!

A bored dog will often look for outlets for their energy that you don't want, which may include:

  • Biting
  • Barking
  • Digging
  • Jumping on guests
  • Destroying things
  • Yanking on the leash once they do get a walk
  • Whining and demanding attention
  • Poor dog-to-dog behaviors
  • Potty accidents

And the list truly does go on.

Exercise doesn't equate to good behavior, but it certainly helps!

PS- If you need help training your dog, be sure to sign up for the 100% free online class 30 Day Perfect Pup taught by Zak George. Sign up here!


While unwanted behaviors aren't fun, your dog's health should be the #1 reason you ensure they exercise enough.

Breed plays a role in how much exercise your dog will need. A border collie will need to run and play more than a bulldog, but every dog needs proper physical and mental stimulation.

When a dog, similar to a human, doesn't get enough exercise loads of negative things can happen. Here are some common dog health problems associated with too little exercise:

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Heart problems
  • Joint issues
  • Poor mental health, which can lead to physical effects
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

And, again, the list goes on.

Ultimately, poor dog health leads to two things.

#1- Increased cost in vet bills, medicines, etc.

#2- Decreased lifespan

Personally, I want to avoid both. 😀

Head here to learn even more about what happens if you don't play with your dog.


border collie dog playing fetch for exercise | Pupford

While dogs can sometimes be complicated, a dog needing proper exercise is a relatively simple part of being a pup parent.

Our pups rely on us to get them out of the house, running around, and getting the physical enrichment they need every day.

When you give your dog more exercise you’ll likely see improvements to your dog’s health, mood, and behavior – and maybe even yours too!

Want to know our secret weapon for exercise, both physical and mental? A flirt pole!

This fun toy works your dog's desire to chase, gives the opportunity to train impulse control, and is fun for you and your dog.

Shop 2 sizes of flirt poles here!

How can you tell when your dog isn't getting enough exercise? Tell us in the comments.

Give your pup the exercise they deserve with a flirt pole. Get one here! 👈


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