4 Signs Your Dog Isn’t Getting Enough Exercise

Author Icon from Hannah Fitchett

If you’ve noticed your dog is looking a little extra “fluffy” these days you may be wondering if they have gained a few extra pounds. Just like us humans, our dogs can gain excess weight if they don’t get enough exercise.

About the author: Hannah is the proud dog mom of Makai, a Wolfdog with a penchant for naps and snacks. Hannah has a strong love for all animals but a special fondness of dogs. With a Masters degree in Chemistry and a love for writing, Hannah aims to share the latest scientific studies and expert knowledge with dog lovers worldwide through her blog Howling Wolf Pack.

If you’ve noticed your dog is looking a little extra “fluffy” these days you may be wondering if they have gained a few extra pounds. Just like us humans, our dogs can gain excess weight if they don’t get enough exercise.

According to a recent study, about 56% of dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese and the numbers keep rising. Luckily, there are signs that let you know your dog needs more exercise.

It’s important to note that a lot of these signs overlap with signs your dog has a health concern. It’s always best to check with your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance.

Signs your dog needs more exercise

1. Weight gain

The most obvious sign that your dog needs more exercise is if they’ve started to gain weight. It’s hard to resist giving your dog a delicious treat when they look so sweet! But excess weight can eventually lead to more serious health problems such as diabetes and joint pain; especially in senior dogs.

If you are worried you may be overfeeding your dog, you can check the back of their food packaging for a general feeding guideline. You can also ask your veterinarian for your dog’s ideal weight to make sure they are within this range.

For ways to determine if your dog is gaining weight, you can try weighing them each month to make sure their weight is stable and not slowly increasing (or decreasing).

If it’s not possible to weigh your dog, you can use a dog body chart to check their rib coverage to ensure they are in a healthy weight range.

If your dog is gaining weight or is not within the body chart healthy range, they may not be getting enough daily exercise.

Staffordshire terrier sits among a torn fluffy toy, funny guilty look

2. Destructive behavior

If you come home from a long day at work and see your dog has chewed through your sofa, they could be telling you they need more exercise!

A recent study showed that dogs who had more enriching activities in their lives had a reduction in destructive behaviors such as chewing furniture. By increasing your dog’s daily exercise you can increase the amount of mental and physical stimulation they receive which can reduce these types of destructive behaviors.

3. Pent up energy

Having excess energy or pent-up energy is another good sign that your dog needs more exercise. If there is nowhere for this excess energy to go, it will be released into other activities. These can include:

  • Rough playing
  • Excessive barking
  • Attention seeking
  • Pulling on the leash
  • Pacing back and forth

If your dog is still walking around at the end of the day instead of curling up on their bed to fall asleep – they likely aren’t tired enough and need more activities that tire them out.

4. Loss of interest

Another sign your dog is not getting enough exercise is if they lose interest in their usual daily activities such as playing with you or going for their walks. This withdrawn behavior can indicate your dog is depressed.

Dogs can experience depression if they are not getting enough mental and physical stimulation through activities such as exercise.

In some dogs, this can actually lead to emotional eating. This is when a dog will overeat as a way to combat their negative emotions, just as we humans do. This can eventually lead to weight gain which, as shown above, is another sign your dog isn’t getting enough exercise.

Ways to increase your dog’s daily exercise

The first obvious answer is to take your dog on another walk or increase the duration of their walks. But you may be scratching your head wondering how you will fit this into your busy schedule.

Luckily, you can increase your dog’s exercise with minimal effort on your part. There are plenty of dog exercise ideas to explore which can really tire out your dog without tiring yourself out too!


dog playing tug of war outside with a red KONG dog toy with rope.

A great way for your dog to burn some extra calories is by playing fetch. If you’re tired after a long day at work, you can buy the Wavz Bunji Ball. This ball comes with a bungee rope attached which means you can throw the ball further with less effort!


Most dogs love a good ol’ fashioned game of tug-of-war. This game taps into their natural instincts to tug and pull at their “prey.” Dogs can burn a lot of excess energy with this game and you don’t even need to move from the sofa to play!

Want to brush your dog’s teeth at the same time? No problem! The KONG Dental with Rope toy combines exercising your dog through tug-of-war with cleaning their teeth! This toy includes ridged rubber for teeth cleaning and cotton rope for gum cleaning. Perfect for busy pet parents!

Treat dispensers

Treat dispensers are great for tiring your dog out because they provide mental exercise. From holding the toy in their paws to angling it in the right position to get the treat, there are lots of ways these toys use your dog’s mental energy.

The KONG Classic is perfect for this because the treats are easy to put in, great for us! But, are hard for our dogs to get out. This means dogs will spend plenty of time and energy trying to get their treats out.

You can also try freezing the KONG toy (with treats inside) for a longer engagement time. It is harder for your dog to get their treats out if they are frozen but just as fun because they can still taste the delicious treats inside.

Final thoughts

Sometimes what we think is enough exercise for our dogs just simply isn’t. Luckily for us though, our dogs will tell us when they need more exercise. We just need to look out for the signs and be sure to rule out any health concerns with our vet.

Increasing your dog’s exercise also doesn’t mean you have to increase your own exercise! With the right toys, you can provide mental and physical exercise. Fetch games, tug-of-war, and treat dispensing toys are all great ways to keep your dog entertained whilst burning off some excess energy.

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