10 Signs and symptoms your dog is over tired or exhausted!

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exhausted dog symptoms
exhausted dog symptoms

As I usually say: a tired dog is a happy dog. But too tired can be dangerous for your dog and people around him. So it’s really important to know the signs and symptoms your dog is not only tired but exhausted.

If your pup is tired and relaxed, that’s great, he’ll be able to sleep and you can enjoy some peace as well.

But you should definitely know when to stop. Because once your dog is not only tired but exhausted, you should give him some time to rest.

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It’s particularly important for you to stop your dog because most dogs won’t stop themselves, no matter how tired they are! They would follow you until they fall off their legs, that’s just their nature.

If your dog is still a puppy, he might show slightly different overtired signs. This article explains the 10 overtired puppy symptoms and what to do about it.

Why it’s important to force your dog to rest

Over excitement

Dogs are in many ways like children. And that’s particularly true for when they’re being exhausted.

Overly tired children often become hyperactive. With dogs, it’s just the same.

Have you ever noticed that you’re dog gets particularly excited after a long hike or agility training session? In that case it’s most likely that he’s overly tired.

I don’t know about you but I find it super annoying when Baloo’s overly excited so I try everything to avoid it!

Losing self control

Another thing that can happen is that your dog will loose his self control.

You probably know that from your own behavior: if you’re really tired you’re much more irritable.

This might result in you screaming at someone only because he asked you how you’re doing or something similar.

It’s the same for your dog. He might be the best dog for an entire day of family picnic but bite a child in the evening.

All the noise, activities and people make dogs tired. At some point they need to be able to go to a quiet place in order to rest. Otherwise he’s more likely to loose self-control when people behave in a way he doesn’t like (especially children).

Health issues

Dogs who never learned to calm down will suffer more easily from joint and heart problems. Their body is incapable to relax and will hence develop weaknesses.

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Exhaustion can also come from mental or emotional stimulation

It’s very important to keep in mind that mental exercise can exhaust your dog just as much as physical exercise. That’s why he might be more tired after an hour of obedience training than after a day long hike (or at least the same).

Another very important factor to keep in mind is emotional stimulation.

This is often overlooked because your dog doesn’t seem to be doing anything that would be actively tiring. But it’s actually very exhausting for dogs if a lot is going on around them. That’s most common for occasions where a lot of people are around him or where there are many smells or noises.

And there’s one more important thing: if you’re dog was getting too hot, then he’s suffering from heat exhaustion. This can have serious consequences, so make sure you read about the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs here.

Related topic: Mental stimulation can be a wonderful tool if used correctly. Check out Braintrainingfordogs to learn how to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation!

How much sleep does a dog need?

Dogs sleep a lot!

An average dog should sleep around 18 hours per day (24 hours).

By sleeping I also mean relaxing, just not actively doing anything. The time where they are actually in deep sleep is about 12 to 14 hours per day.

This may sound like a lot but if you think about it, it means that your dog would be ready to have some sort of activity for 6 hours per day!

For most dog owners it’s impossible to provide this much activity for their dog. So if there is only something interesting going on for, say, 4 hours per day, your dog can relax during the remaining 2 hours where he would be ready to be active.

Sleeping is kind of a default manner of dogs if they don’t have anything to do. If your dog gets at least 4 hours of activity each day and sometimes a bit more, like on the occasional camping or hiking trip, he should be fine.

Activities can be walks, playtime, eating/drinking, sniffing, exploring, chewing his bone, etc. Anything, where he is not just lying around.

The amount of sleep a dog needs also depends on the activity he’s getting during his waking hours. Sniffing, e.g., is much more tiring than just walking. New areas involve new smells and are therefore much more intense than known territory.

Puppies will need even more sleep, 20+ hours are completely normal.

In my article about the question “how many hours a day should a dog sleep” I cover this topic more in-depth.

Funny idea for mental stimulation to make your dog tired

10 Signs your dog is tired or even exhausted

1. Yawning

Most people would probably say, that’s the most obvious. While it can certainly mean that your dog is tired, it mostly means something different, like stress or uneasiness.

2. He forgets commands

It’s sometimes difficult to tell if your pup is just trying to be nasty or if he’s actually incapable of executing your commands. If he seems to have forgotten even the simplest commands without any noticeable distraction, it’s very likely that he’s had enough and needs a break.

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3. Hyper dog lying down

That’s a very clear sign for me that Baloo is exhausted!

Baloo never lies down in public on his own! He always feels like he has to watch everything that’s going on. So when he’s actually lying down, I know it’s time for a break for him.

Because even if he’s lying, he won’t be able to relax in public, just too many stimuli.

4. He’s having the “Zoomies”

When you’re dog is zooming around, it can mean 2 things: either he’s bored and tries to get rid of his excess energy. Or he’s hyper active because he’s over tired.

You have to look at this in the context of what’s been going on before he started to become hyper. If there has been a lot going on, it’s a good indicator that it’s time for bed for your fur baby.

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5. He’s sniffing the ground

This is a particularly obvious sign in training, like Agility.

You’re pup is usually super motivated and focused on you. But sometimes he just seems to get distracted by smells every 5 seconds, right? Yep, then he’s done! He’s too tired to focus anymore and that’s why he gets distracted.

6. Excessive panting and/or lip licking

These are simple signs of uneasiness. In case your doggo shows these signs after you’ve worked with him or had a busy day, it can mean that he’s starting to get tired.

7. He’s not acting like himself

Just watch out for any signs telling you that something’s different.

In my case it would be when Baloo’s lying down by himself, that’s a really rare scenario!

Other examples could be that your dog’s ears are usually up and now they’re hanging down. Or he’s being a clown and rolling around. Things like these can indicate that it’s time for his doggy bed.

8. Excessive thirst

Excitement or physical exercise can result in excessive thirst.

This can also be caused by the treats he’s getting. Chewing bones usually make a dog very thirsty as well.

But have you ever noticed that your dog drinks a whole lot more when you’re having guests around or visiting friends? That’s because the emotional excitement makes him thirsty. This is also a sign that you’re dog will have to rest at some point.

9. No interest in playing

Is your dog usually really playful and loves anything that’s flying around? But then sometimes he just doesn’t seem interested, right? That’s another sign that it’s time for a nap. Give him some rest and play again in a few hours.

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10. Hiding

Dogs that aren’t the social type will usually hide if it’s getting too much for them.

This behavior will particularly be visible with emotional stimuli, such as when you’re having friends over.

This is a very clear sign and very easy to read.

However, it’s not exactly typical dog behavior. Most dogs will show some of the other signs that aren’t that obvious. If he’s hiding somewhere, leave him there and let him relax until he feels ready for some socializing.

For hyper dogs: consider a crate

Crate training is a super helpful “tool” in dog training. It’s best to start practicing it when you’re dog’s still a puppy. But he can still learn it later on.

It’s especially useful for hyper dogs that have a hard time calming down by themselves. For them it’s best to put them in their crate in a calm room. It’s much easier for an excitable dog to relax there than if he’s just going to his bed in the living room where there’s still a lot going on around him.

Here’s a crate that I really like. Dogs used to live in caves. This is why they love to sleep in places that resemble caves. You can recreate this cosy cave-feeling with a crate that has a cover, like this one. This will help your dog even more to relax and calm down.

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Signs it’s getting dangerous

If your dog seems tired or lethargic for no particular reason you should watch out for signs indicating that he might have a medical issue.

If your dog is tired or even lethargic for more than 1 or 2 days, there might be something wrong with him. A very obvious sign is when he doesn’t react to the things he usually likes. That could be his favorite toy, his beloved food or you calling him to go for a walk.

Reasons can be a number of infections, pain, arthritis or even cancer. Vetstreet lists all the possible reasons.

Speaking of vet: have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!

Alright, so what have we learned? Yes, a tired dog is a happy dog! An over tired or exhausted dog isn’t!

Learn to read your dog’s body language and stop him when you realize he’s had enough!

16 thoughts on “10 Signs and symptoms your dog is over tired or exhausted!

  1. My puppy is 8 weeks old and would rather bite my hands,feet,ankles than play with his toys.

    He has drawn blood a few times which concerns me.

    Could he be tired?

    1. Hi Lisa
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Wow, sounds like your having a little rambo there 😉
      It’s very important for a puppy to get enough rest. The contrary can quickly lead to behavioral issues. Some puppies can’t decide when they need to rest, so we need to assist them.
      How much play time and active time does he get per day? At this young age he shouldn’t get more than 10 min of activity at a time (see rule of thumb under “Age and health”: https://dogpackr.com/how-long-can-a-small-dog-hike/#1_Age_and_Health). Spread over the day, I’d say he shouldn’t be playing or walking for more than an hour. You can increase this with every month of age.
      Speaking from my own experience with Baloo, it could indeed be that he’s overwhelmed by everything surrounding him. I highly recommend to start crate training your puppy. In the beginning, this was the only place where Baloo could relax. It would have been impossible for him to get his 20+ hours of sleep a day any other way.
      I would also recommend to stop playing as soon as he starts biting. You can leave him something to chew on but only give him attention when he’s calm.
      Let me know if you need any more advice. Puppy time is cute but it can also be tough 😉

  2. Hi there!

    We came to the beach with our 5 month old golden retriever.

    We feel is too much for her so we are not sure if we must come back to the rental house when she looks too tired.

    How can I know the limit?

    I feel it’s too many new things and she feels overwhelmed.

    She is obviously happy but I don’t want to expose her.


    1. Hi Vanesa
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      A 5 month old puppy still needs a lot of sleep. As a rule of thumb, a puppy should walk for only about 5 to 10 minutes per month of age at a time. So at 5 months, she shouldn’t walk or run for more than 25 to max. 50 minutes at a time. After that she should rest for a couple of hours.
      If you think she’s overwhelmed, you’re probably right. The signs are different for every dog. Does she show any of the signs listed above?
      With such a young puppy I think it’s important to stick to the rule of thumb, regardless of the signs. If she can relax easily, then you can also just go to a more quiet place, say a restaurant, after about 30 minutes on the beach. If she’s more of the hyper kind, then this won’t be enough, though. In that case I think she needs some time at the beach house to relax.
      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. My dog randomly get really wild and playful. By wild I mean he will pounce on me and start playing really rough , play biting my arms and ears etc. He will grab the couch and start pulling and just losing it. I yelp and stop but he still does it.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Wow, that sounds a little too rough.
      He definitely gets enough physical and mental exercise, right?
      If so, there can always be other things that can cause him to have a hyper phase. For Baloo, it’s taking baths and getting rubbed with a towel, for example.
      In that case, the most efficient thing for me to do is to sit down with him and just hold him by the shoulders until he’s calmed down. This works like magic and usually lets him calm down within a minute.
      If you’ve never done it before, it might take a little longer, though.
      It’s important that you’re very calm. You can then transfer that calmness through your hands onto your dog.

  4. Thank you for this article, I have a 2yr old maremma retriever cross who’s suddenly become uneasy and anxious exhibiting all the signs of what I see now as potential sleep deprivation. With school being canceled now his routine is thrown off and his quiet house all day is no longer quiet. I think this is compounding and creating a dangerous space for him and the kids. I’m working diligently on a more structured sleep area and times so everyone is happy. Then we can tackle our training with a well rested boy.

    1. Hi Carla,
      I just realized that my answer somehow got deleted. I hope you could still see it. Otherwise, let me know.

  5. We have a 12 month old lab/pit mix. We have had her for 6 weeks and she is a wonderful dog, but very energetic and her zoomies now include going after breeze roots. She gets two longs walks a day, play and positive training. She is crate trained and sleeps there from about 10pm until 6am. She will kind of rest in morning after walk and play, but easily disturbed and wants to know what we are doing. I have been putting her in crate for hour and a half in afternoon. But maybe she needs nap in morning after all the activity of walk and play?? Late afternoons she is wound up until dinner at 5. Sometimes she will just go to sleep after dinner for a couple of hours, but sometimes still in excited mode. I wondering in efforts to get her energy out in afternoons we are actually encouraging wild overtired dog-lol. Maybe nap in afternoon is too little to late?

    1. Hi there,
      Thank you for your comment.
      That sounds exactly like young Baloo!
      Sounds like she’s getting enough exercise and you set up a good routine. Remember, a dog should sleep and relax for about 18 hours per day. Does she get that much quiet time? She should definitely take a nap after your morning walk and then again in the afternoon. What works really well for Baloo and me is the following routine: morning walk (30min), afternoon walk at 2 or 3 pm (30min to 1 hour) and evening walk around 10 pm (30min). Between these active hours he’s sleeping or relaxing for most of the time.
      It’s very important to set up a routine for active and quiet hours. During the quiet hours she doesn’t need to be in deep sleep but should definitely be resting.
      I guess your dog is very focused on you and might even suffer from separation anxiety. In those cases the best thing is to ignore her during the quiet hours. I know it can be tough as they’re so cute. But this is really the most effective way to get a dog like this to calm down. Eventually she’ll get bored if she never gets any attention and will likely go in her crate to sleep. If she’s unable to do that even after a few days, try closing the crate for the hours when she should be sleeping. Ignore the crying, give her a chewy or a toy to go inside and be patient.
      Hope this helps. Baloo has calmed down a let when he turned 2. So, don’t despair! 😉

  6. Great article, we have an 18 week labradoodle and he’s quite challenging he doesn’t listen can play very rough at times appears totally indifferent to us, I am convinced he is much worse when tired, we use a crate but even when he is in it if he hears a sound or movement he is awake, his days starts at 0500 with breakfast, walk around 7 then crate till 11.00, lunch at 12 and rest till 13.00, he then goes back for a rest from 14.30 -1600. Last meal at 17.00 followed by rest till 1800 then out again until bedtime normally around 20.00 don’t know if we are getting it right our last pup would just sleep when tired this one will only stop if you put him in his cage even then he isn’t sleeping the whole time

    1. Hi Mario,
      Thank you very much for your comment.
      Oh dear, sounds like that’s the poodle in him, they just have a whole lot of energy!
      Baloo was exactly the same at that age. For the first few months he was barely able to sit down – let alone lie down – outside his crate! He was just always soooo hyper. Part of that was probably my fault because I thought he needs more exercise and training, while he actually needed less, at least for the first few weeks.
      Sounds like you’ve set up a pretty good routine. Just make sure he gets 18 to 20 hours of resting and sleeping time. If he manages to relax next to you, you can also try a relaxing couch session every now and then. When you realize he’s overtired then put him straight into his crate that he can take a nap.
      It will definitely take time for a puppy to get used to a routine. In the beginning, Baloo cried every time I put him in his crate. And that lasted for a few weeks. Only consistent ignoring helped to finally get him to relax and calm down.
      If you follow through with your routine and crate time, I’m sure your pup will soon be able to calm down. Baloo learned to sleep outside his crate at around 6 or 9 months old, just little steps at a time.
      So, there’s hope! 😉

      1. Thank you this gives me hope, we are trying and just want things as they should be for him to be happy and healthy

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