How to Tire out a Puppy: 4 Exercises That’ll Have Him Behaving in No Time

puppy training exercisesIn this article we are going to learn how to tire out a puppy. I have noticed lately, a gamut of people having trouble meeting the exercise needs of their dogs. This is pretty darn normal! We, as humans, are just too busy!

We are pulled in by work (often taking several jobs just to make ends meet), family, social media, hobbies and many times we just don’t make time for our dogs. Even I work full time with a few jobs lately! And, I have high drive dogs that need a lot of exercise.


What are my favorite tricks?

In no particular order, except the last!

#4 Mental Stimulation

Solving puzzles and using your mind is exhausting. Don’t believe me? Take a college class or go to a continuing education class for a day or two.

Learn some new information. And, try and tell me you are not tired when you are done! Unless of course you are used to constant learning every day.

The thing is that learning is exhausting.puppy training treats

If you want a tired dog, teach him something new, or at least put a spin on the things that he knows by engaging his mind.

Don’t stick to the same exact training regimen with your pup each day, in the same boring order.  

Mix things up, make him perform faster and make it a game. Mental stimulation is also crucial to his happiness. Dr. Ian Dunbar (one of my favorite behaviorists) says that mental exercise tires a dog physically more than physical exercise does!

That is impressive stuff! Dogs need obedience training. They need sports. They need puzzles and games. And, even things to chew on can sometimes stimulate them mentally.

Remember in past articles, me alluding not allowing your toddler to exercise? Now imagine not allowing your toddler to play or learn or stimulate his mind. Can you imagine? No books, no toys, very little verbal interaction or teaching.

That would be cruel. Dogs, too, need to be stimulated mentally.

If we don’t provide it for them through physical and verbal interaction and learning and rewarding good behavior, our dog will provide it to themselves through chewing and shredding and barking and digging and jumping and acting a fool. Hyper dog or high energy dogs are often mentally more intelligent than their counterparts. They are not fulfilled sitting and playing fetch with a few toys or chewies.

They should be taught mental exercises and games! The truth is it doesn’t matter what you teach them:

Basic Obedience

Intermediate Obediencedog games

Advanced Obedience


Impulse Control Games


Service Commands

Or even a hand stand up the wall…

The important thing is that you are teaching and providing that mental stimulation that will make them happy!

#3 HIIT Exercise

Have you ever done H.I.I.T or High Intensity Interval Training? Those are four of my worst dreaded words when they are strung together in a sentence. I am currently getting back into shape and learning to deadlift, squat, and bench press safely.

My personal trainer believes in HIIT training and engages me both with weight training and cardio several times a month. I HATE it!  But I also love it, because as difficult as it is at the time, it is worth it throughout the rest of the day.puppy physical exercise

  • I sleep better.
  • I think better.
  • And, I feel better about myself!

Your dog can benefit too! I like to take my dogs for high intensity runs. I sit in a lateral recumbent trike and let them pull for several miles. 

Most of the time, as long as it is safe, I also allow them to set the pace. Your dog is an athlete and he needs the ability to enjoy exercise, REAL exercise! Exercise is also good for his heart and body condition and joints.

Please do your dog a favor and provide him with some real exercise each day! His body, his waistline, his blood pressure and his mind needs it! The following tips for starting HIIT with your dog are courtesy of SnootyPests.Com

Start Gently

If you would like to start HIIT with your dog then it is important to begin with gentle sessions, particularly if your dog isn’t used to getting a lot of exercise. The best way to do this is to make the bursts of intensity shorter, say 10 seconds, and the rest periods longer, for example 40 seconds. As you complete more HIIT sessions you will be able to alter the ratios so that eventually the intense periods are longer and the rests are shorter.

Don’t Overdo It

Just like someone who works out at a gym, it is important to let your dog have rest days to recover from the intense exercise. Rest days are just as important as workout days as they let the muscles build and recover.

Start with one HIIT session a week and build up to two or three per week.exercise with your puppy

Keep it Short

The great thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t take much time to complete a workout.

Keep the sessions short, around 10 minutes is enough, and remember to warm up and cool down with some walking or tug games first.

Make it Fun

You don’t have to stick to running and walking for your HIIT session. Choose activities your dog will love.

If they love chasing balls then throw a ball up a steep incline for them for a minute, then walk them for 30 seconds and repeat.

Get creative!

If you would like to improve your own and your dog’s fitness levels then high intensity interval training is a must.

#2 Regular Physical Exercise

I can’t say it enough, your dog is not outside plotting his exercise regimen and planning to get fit. A stroll around the block or a stroll for a few miles is not enough to tire your dog. Occasionally I like to enjoy a several mile hike.

I also like encouraging my dogs to swim.

I find that swimming will exhaust my dogs fairly quickly, whereas walking and hiking takes many hours of consistently rigorous exercise; swimming is fairly physically exhausting.

playing fetchMy dogs absolutely LOVE dock diving.

You can also teach your dog to pull weights, pull a cart, and pull a scooter or yourself in inline skates (as well as skijoring in the snow).

Lure coursing is also another fun physical sport.

But if walking is all you’re able to do, don’t be discouraged.

The good news is that adequate mental stimulation is all you need in order to keep your dog’s attention on you!

You can make things exciting for him with these mentally stimulating games to play while walking him.


  1. The Recall Game

Coming when called is probably THE MOST important skill that you will ever teach your dog. But people rarely take the opportunity to work on this while they are on a walk with their dog on leash next to them! Why not condition the dog, often, that coming when called is a wonderful thing?

So while I am walking, with my dog in heel position or even at the end of the leash (I don’t allow any pulling) I begin to run backward while calling my dog to “come”. I make it fun! I prance, I praise and I reward handsomely if he responds quickly and in an animated fashion.

If I want to add more (and I always do!)  I get him to sit directly in front of me and then find heel again!


  1. Push Ups

Ahhhhhh push-ups are one of my favorite exercises to entertain my dog’s mind and exhaust his body!

These don’t have to be done just at home in between my four walls! I love adding push-ups to a walk.puppy mental stimulation

First, let me explain: when I say push-ups I am talking about having my dog “sit”, and then “down”, and then “sit” in rapid succession.

And for a great video series on how to teach these basic commands, click here.

To sharpen my dog’s listening skills and obedience while I am walking, I command my dog to “down” (hopefully while we are still in motion) and then I ask for multiple “sits” and “downs” before finally rewarding him with a tasty treat or his favorite toy.


  1. Hide & Seek

Hide and seek is another great game to play on a walk or at the park, but you need two people! One person should dart away and find a good hiding spot, while the other person distracts the dog (or lets him watch in the beginning). Then the hiding person calls the dog to “COME” all while praising him as he tries to find his owner.

“Fury, COME!!!!  Good girl, Good girl, Good girl, COME” You can’t call once and then hope that he is motivated to find you. You must praise and motivate him until he finds you!

This is also a fun way to solidify that recall or come command that we talked about earlier!

“COME” should be FUN! If you consistently work both of the recall games you will see your dog’s recall vastly improve! Your dog doesn’t have to be a scholar to play games while walking.

Even the youngest dogs and puppies can benefit from simply changing your pace from moderate to fast or to slow. go running with your puppy

Changing pace keeps your dog stimulated and his focus on you! Circles are also fun!  

Throw in a circle to the left to keep your dog looking up at you and to teach him to get out of your way. Throw in a circle to the right to motivate him to keep up with a faster pace.

Most people barely work on obedience while they have their dogs out for a walk.

Their intention is only to go from point A to point B and back while they think they are giving their dog exercise. However, walking is not the best way to exercise your dog. And, ironically this is one of the reasons dogs don’t listen to their owners while they are out of the house!

In order for your dog to listen to you while walking, you must work on training him while you are walking. Forget just getting from point A to point B – work on leash training and play games!


The #1 Way to Physically Exhaust Your Dog?

Put all of these things together for fast and complete exhaustion.

My favorite go-to when I want a tired dog is getting them to perform obedience commands in a fast paced manner and then I throw their ball to chase as a reward.

For instance, I grab my chuck-it and ball (I often use these because I can throw farther) and my dog and ask for numerous commands; watch me, heel, sit, down, return to heel, down in motion and then I mark the completed series of commands with a click or a word and throw the ball as far as I can for them to retrieve.

dogs love to fetchAs they rapidly return with the ball (or tug or whatever toy I am using), I decide whether I am going to ask for them to drop the toy and then throw it again, or if I am going to ask for more obedience before I throw.

I mix it up!

I don’t always ask for the same behaviors in a row.

And, sometimes I will throw the ball or toy multiple times before returning to obedience. The running after the toy and retrieving is great exercise for my dogs, physically. They are chasing and fast and returning as fast as they can.

I also sometimes bounce the ball hard, or toss it so they can catch it to give them variety with their play. If I take them out for HIIT I throw in some changes of direction, some downs in motion or sits in motion and some heel. And, when my dogs are hiking or come back from swimming I also ask for downs from a distance, or some quick eye contact and focus and heeling so that I engage their mind.

The best stimulation comes when you engage all parts of your dog!


How Much Exercise is Too Much for Your Puppy?


don't use tennis balls in puppy training

Can you exercise your puppy too much? According to this article from the AKC, the answer is more than a simple yes. “We may not have exact measurements, but there are a few common sense considerations that can help you come up with a plan to keep your puppy active and healthy.

For starters, consider your dog’s breed. A Bulldog puppy and a Border Collie puppy will both love playtime, but a Border Collie will probably have a higher exercise tolerance than a Bulldog, not to mention a higher heat tolerance for outdoor play.

Breed size matters, too. There have been studies that show potential links between too much exercise and orthopedic disease in large-breed dogs. Forcing your 8-week-old Great Dane for a two-mile walk every day, for instance, is probably not a great idea, even if he could keep up. Most people would not consider taking a smaller-breed puppy for a hike that long, but with higher energy levels, larger breeds can fool us into thinking they need longer walks than is good for them.

Learning as much as you can about your breed is a good place to start.

Large and giant breeds grow quickly and mature slowly, which may mean you have to put off certain activities, like jumping in agility, until they are fully grown. puppy tug o war is good for their teeth and gums

Toy breeds, on the other hand, mature more quickly but require small, frequent feedings throughout the day as puppies, which can mean you may need to adjust their exercise accordingly.

All breeds require mental stimulation, but high-drive, working breeds, such as Belgian MalinoisBorder Collies, and German Shepherd Dogs need more mental stimulation than other breeds.

Working training sessions into their exercise routine is just as important as exercise itself.

Your puppy’s exercise needs will change as she grows.

When your puppy is very young, veterinarians recommend keeping exercise limited to short walks and multiple play sessions throughout the day, with plenty of time for naps.

Older puppies will require more exercise. A six-month-old dog might be capable of taking longer walks or even short jogs (if your vet helps you determine he’s in good overall health and up for it), for example, but long walks over rough terrain or strenuous agility classes are still potentially dangerous.

You can slowly build your puppy up to longer walks with time, taking plenty of breaks to keep him from tiring out or hurting himself, but how long is too long? And what about puppies that never seem to get tired, no matter how much they run around?


Puppy Exercise Safety Tips

Regardless of your dog’s age, there are a few safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association that can help keep your puppy safe during exercise.


  • Begin with short walks, taking frequent breaks.
  • Increase the length of the walk gradually.
  • Avoid walks during the hottest and coldest parts of the day.
  • Walk on safe footing, avoiding slippery or sharp surfaces.
  • Call your veterinarian if your puppy shows any signs of lameness.”








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  1. Karen Garofalo says:

    Wow, an impressive list of mental, physical, and loving agility training! I am going on this myself!! LOL Thinking is probably the last thing we exercise. Love your ideas and power techniques to improve the mind, body and spirit of our dogs!


  2. Darlene says:

    I have to use a scooter to exercise my dog. I set it on as fast as it will go. When he wants to slow down to investigate something (like who scented this bush last), I will put him through some obedience commands or tricks. He loves it. Next is teaching him to bring his leash.


  3. Carol says:

    So what else can I do. I’m 75, husband is 85. We live in Minnesota (cold, snow, ice) We can’t walk him enough due to the weather. I throw the ball inside. He runs after it but won’t bring it back no matter what so I have to go get it. I get more exerise than he does. He plays tug but WE get tired. We live on a lake but it’s frozen or it’s too green to let him swim. His only real exercise is barking and barking and barking whether it’s for attention, because he’s bored or wants something that I haven’t figured out yet. The rest of the time he hides from us in his crate or under the bed.


    Minette Reply:

    doggy day care, obedience classes, agility classes, trick classes, weight pull, lure course, flyball, indoor swimming pools.

    and running outside on plowed roads.


  4. Donna Villers says:

    I had lurched a ball in order to give my Sissy some exercise,when I am not able to take her out weather permitting..
    I do have issue with her not bring it back and wanting to take it off and chewing on it..
    I now am using a Kong calling it a treat ball when she dose bring it back to me I put a treat in it and give it to her and see if she dose get the idea ..what do you think?.


    Minette Reply:

    I prefer two toys and not using food as a motivator for play.


  5. Rachel Bair says:

    I would love to know your response to Carol from Minnesota. We, too, are older and our 9 year old new rescue doesn’t chase balls or play with toys.


    Minette Reply:

    sometimes dogs have to be taught to play. Use the search bar and search for articles on teaching your dog to play.


  6. Nancy Moisan says:

    Could you explain a “down in motion”. Megan’s good in a down stay while I bounce ball around her, roll the ball until she gets a release command. But if I say down when she’s on the run, she comes to my feet, do I accept this? Thank you


  7. Helen says:

    How do I get my jack Russell terrier to enjoy retrieving a ball? She will retrieve a toy 2 or 3 times but then gets bored!


    Minette Reply:

    use the search bar at the top of the page to search for articles on teaching your dog to play and retrieve using play drive.


  8. Line says:


    My dog, Tesla, a Flat coated retriever, loves to run ( on the leash) next to my bike and have a run. The best part is that she’s obeing the best when I’m with the bike. ( when walking she’s pulling in the beginning until she understand that I am the boss) 😉
    She’s quite good in coming when I call her, 8-9 times out of 10. But sometimes she’s looking at me and goes anyhow ( mostly if there is a dog or when she’s playing and then got thirsty or warm and go into the lake even if I call her!!) How do I stop her to go this one or two times out of ten?


    Minette Reply:

    I don’t let a dog off leash until their obedience is reliable. She is rewarding herself for not listening to you and that is a bad behavior and difficult to change because the reward (lake or playing) is much better than coming to you. You have to avoid the reward she is giving herself


  9. Ines says:

    My usually very obedient 5months ld golden poodle today when called sat down instead where she was.Frer repeating the command she just turned round and ran in the opposite direction. How do Ihandle this adolescent rebellion?


    Minette Reply:

    Use a leash and take some privileges away for bad behavior.


  10. Chrisb says:

    Everything Minette replied costs an arm & a leg, especially for people on a fixed income. If you can find a used treadmill someone wants to give away or will bargain for at a low price, that is the way to go. Wishing you the best.


    Minette Reply:

    Nothing but the treadmill costs money. Swimming can be free as can running and training.

    However, some things are worth the investment! My dog and his happiness as well as that of my family is worth it!

    And, a well exercised dog doesn’t eat the carpet or drywall or computers or cell phones or other expensive items. Exercising your dog is usually, actually, cheaper.


  11. Mickey says:

    May I ask what kind of harness and device you use with your dog pulling you on your recumbant bike? My Shepherd wants to pull so badly:) I tried her pulling a plastic toboggan sled with groceries from the car to the house and she was SO happy to be doing it !! On lead of course to control her..but what do you use to safely do this? Thank you



    Love it ! But sadly my puppy dog was involved in a car accident. He has instantly learned to cope on three legs (two front and one rear). All that exercise is now beyond him, but he is still full of energy. What do you suggest ?
    He is a very intelligent Jack Russell aged 15 months.


    Minette Reply:

    He can still exercise! But swimming is a great idea


  13. Pam says:

    For the people that live in places like Minnesota, I can understand how it’s hard to work your dog out in the winter. I would put my dogs on the treadmill, and they loved it. For my really high energy dogs a backpack with 3 lb walking weights in the pockets, then a little laser fun after.


  14. I can’t get my 9 month old rescue to stop jumping me,once she starts I have to turn around ^ go inside!


    Minette Reply:

    Search jumping and self rewarding behaviors


  15. Jason Allen says:

    Please comment on the exercise needs of a 5 year old Rottweiller and how it affects his behavior. Also, he is not neutered.


  16. Jen says:

    You can teach your dog to help you around the house. This is handy, especially on bad weather days when outside time is limited. One of the most convenient things I taught my dog is “pick up”, and it can be used in a variety of situations. When it’s time to clean floors, I have him pick up his toys and put them in a basket. When it comes time to do laundry, I leave smaller items like socks on the floor and ask him to pick them up and put them in the washing machine. I sometimes deliberately drop things and ask him to pick them up for me. He loves it and feels like he’s helping and he gets a lot of joy out of it. I also have him help me pick up sticks in the yard after a storm and put them in a pile or hand them to me. The bigger the stick/branch the more he likes it. I also want him to hand me the ball or frisbee he’s retrieved (instead of dropping it at my feet) because I have physical issues with bending over and standing back up repeatedly, and we’ve knocked heads together before when we both go after the dropped object, so no more of that! If he wants something thrown, now he brings it to me and holds it until I take it. And this week I just taught him to put his ball back into the chuck-it cup so I can throw it again. I attached a small rope tug to the inside knob of the bathroom door so he can pull the door open after I shower. He waits for me to tell him to “open the door for mom” and is always happy to do it. He also knows “push” and “pull”. I try to do things that don’t necessarily always involve food as a reward, but sometimes I give carrot or apple pieces, or a few pieces of his kibble, but hugs, belly and behind-the-ear scratches, and just good old enthusiastic praise are great rewards and help create a great bond with a dog, plus that way you don’t give the dog the mindset of “I only work for food”.


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