Why Won’t My Dog Won’t Sit Still? (9 Revealing Insights)

my dog won't sit still

Have you ever watched your dog zoom around the room and wearily wonder “Why won’t my dog just sit still for a moment?”

You’re not alone.

Many dog owners grapple with the challenge of a restless pet, wondering if it’s a sign of a deeper problem or simply a burst of canine energy.

Restlessness in dogs can stem from various causes such as underlying medical issues, pent-up energy from lack of exercise or even behavioral challenges. Addressing these issues is crucial to understanding and curbing this restless behavior.

Is your dog trying to tell you something with their restlessness? Let’s decode the silent messages behind those restless paws.

Why Does It Mean When My Dog Won’t Sit Still?

There’s no doubt that dogs are much higher energy creatures as compared to say, cats.

My feline friend is more than happy to sleep the day away but my dog is always looking for an opportunity to play.

As dog owners, it is good to have a dog that wants to move and do things.

But it can start to be problematic when your dog just can’t sit still and is constantly showing signs of restlessness.

Symptoms of your dog’s restlessness include:

  • Constant pacing
  • Non-stop whining or barking
  • Tail chasing
  • Excessive licking or chewing

Here are some reasons that could be causing this problem.

1. Lack Of Exercise

“Dogs have energy reserves that they need to expend or they could end up getting restless and antsy.”

Do you remember the time when you first got your dog? You were eager to bring it out for long walks and could easily spend hours at the dog park.

But over time once things have settled down, the walks and play time got shorter and shorter.

I know of dog owners that have not walked their dogs in years.

Dwindling down to the point that the only ‘exercise’ your dog gets is when you take it outside to use the toilet.

Dogs have energy reserves that they need to expend or they could end up getting restless and antsy.

Certain dog breeds such as Broder Collies, Golden Retrievers, Huskies and German Shepherds, need a lot more physical activity.

Even if you think that your dog is the laziest canine that has ever set paws on this planet, it still needs at least 30-60 minutes of exercise each day.

I use a flirt pole at times with my dog and he loves it.

He loves chasing the lure and gets even more excited when he can’t get it.

Who says playing hard to get doesn’t work?

2. Lack Of Mental Stimulation

dog wearing glasses

They say that “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop” and there’s good reason for this.

When your dog starts to get bored, it will start to find out less conducive ways to make up for this boredom.

Even if you are giving your dog enough exercise but not sufficient mental stimulation, it can start to get restless and not sit still.

Some working dog breeds like the Husky huskies were bred to run and run and run. then they run some more.

Too much physical exercise for dogs isn’t good as it can wear down their joints very quickly.

Mental stimulation helps lower the risk of dementia in elderly dogs, lower stress and improve happiness.

Some good ways to mentally tire your dog out is to do stuff such as:

  • Obedience training
  • Interactive games
  • Agility training

15-20 minutes of mental stimulation a day will tire your dog out faster than hours of walking.

Huge time saver there.

3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

“Dogs with ADHD are known to be hyperactive, inattentive and impulsive.”

ADHD is a neurologist and behavioral disorder that causes the dog to have a lack of attention coupled with hyperactivity.

A study has found that ADHD in dogs is more common in young and male dogs who are left alone for extended periods of time.

The exact causes of ADHD in dogs aren’t quite known yet but it is believed to be caused by a combination of factors such as genetics, breed and upbringing.

Dogs with ADHD are known to be hyperactive, inattentive and impulsive.

Basically, you have a dog that can’t sit still and has the attention span of a lightning bolt.

A dog with ADHD can benefit greatly from behavioral therapy and even medication in some cases.

The main aim is to teach the dog to focus, relax and stay calm.

4. Separation Anxiety

anxious dog

When we were kids, we got anxious when our parents were out and a sitter was in charge.

This emotion is common if you have a puppy but can also be present in adult dogs.

Most of our dogs are fine being left at home alone for some time without freaking out the moment we step out the door.

But if your dog experiences intense fear or distress when left alone, it could be suffering from separation anxiety.

Other symptoms of separation anxiety include:

  • Destructive behavior
  • Eliminating at home
  • Trying to escape
  • Refusal to eat

This disorder can be very bad for your dog’s well being over the long run especially if it escapes and gets hurt outside.

The best way to resolve this is through behavioral therapy or even medication in more severe cases.

5. Traumas And Fears

Do you have an irrational fear of something?

I do.

I hate roaches and can exit the vicinity faster than you can say ‘bug spray’ when I see one.

Your dog too can have traumas and fear that cause it to exhibit signs of restlessness and not sit still when triggered.

Past negative experiences, fears, or traumas can deeply impact your dog’s behavior.

If you adopted a dog that was abused before, it will get scared when it sees a stick.

Many dogs are also afraid of loud noises from fireworks or lawn mowers.

You can see them getting restless, pacing around the house and drooling excessively.

These dogs can even start to get aggressive when they are afraid.

Similar to separation anxiety, traumas and fear can be properly managed with a behavioral therapist with the right training methods.

6. Pain Problems

“The common pain areas for dogs will be their elbows, knees, hips and back.”

Besides behavioral causes and emotional distress, a medical condition can also cause your dog to not sit still.

Pain, whether acute or chronic, can lead to pronounced restlessness in dogs, making them uncomfortable and anxious.

The common pain areas for dogs will be their elbows, knees, hips and back.

These areas take the most wear and tear from repeated use.

Some dog breeds such as Great Danes, Labradors, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, etc are prone to hip joint issues like hip dysplasia.

Other symptoms of your dog being in pain include:

  • Vocalization
  • Lack of mobility
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive grooming
  • Unprovoked aggression

If you suspect that your dog is in pain, please take it to the vet as soon as possible.

The vet will run the necessary lab tests and scans to try and determine the cause of the pain.

Early medical intervention is important for your dog’s health to prevent the problem from getting worse.

7. Presence Of Parasites

parasitic worms in pets

A parasitic infestation won’t be the first thing that comes to mind for many dog owners when it comes to this problem.

But these irritating parasites can be a real pain in the butt for your dog and cause a myriad of issues for your dog’s health and comfort.

External parasites such as fleas and ticks will live in your dog’s fur and feed on its blood.

Your dog can get them when playing with other dogs or when moving through grassy or damp areas where these parasites like to live.

Symptoms include:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Skin lesions
  • Anemia in small dogs

Another form of parasitic infestation that your dog can get is internal in the form of worms.

Intestinal worms such as tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms can live in your dog’s digestive system and feed off its nutrition.

The most common way of contracting such parasites is when your dog ingests the eggs or worms directly in the soil or fecal matter of other animals.

This can happen rather frequently as dogs are not too fussy about what they put in their mouths.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of worms in dog’s stool

Another common symptom is when you see your dog sitting on its bum and dragging itself on its butt. This action is called scooting.

How Do I Get Rid Of Parasites In My Dog?

It is a two-fold approach when trying to get rid of parasites in your dog.

For me, prevention is always better than cure.

I make sure to keep my dogs away from dodgy areas and give them frequent body checks for fleas and ticks every week.

In the unfortunate event that my dog does have a parasitic infestation, I find that medication is still the best removal method.

When applying flea or tick medication on your dog, it is best to not do it after you have bathed your dog.

I don’t give my dog anti-parasitic medication as a form of prevention as the active ingredients are too strong for regular usage.

8. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism in dogs happens when the thyroid gland produces too much hormones.

The most common causes are tumors in the thyroid gland or giving a hypothyroid dog too much thyroid hormones.

The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is located in the middle of the dog’s neck.

Its main function is to regulate the dog’s metabolism, heart rate and body temperature.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Lump on dog’s neck

In order to diagnose hyperthyroidism in your dog, the vet will have to do a physical examination and lab tests to check for high levels of thyroid hormone in your dog.

The most common form of treatment is surgery to remove the tumor in the thyroid gland.

Chemotherapy for dogs can also be used in conjunction with surgery for better treatment.

9. Senses Are Triggered

dog nose

It is amazing how acute your dog’s senses are compared to yours.

A dog’s nose is said to be 100,000 times more sensitive than humans and it can hear sounds four times further away.

Your dog might have detected a smell or sound that is making it anxious or curious.

It could be the smell of another animal or your neighbor’s delicious shepherd’s pie that just came out of the oven.

How Do You Help A Restless Dog?

The first thing that you need to do if you have a dog that just won’t sit still is to see the vet.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that your dog’s restlessness is purely behavioral.

A thorough vet check dog will rule out any medical causes and pain that your dog might be experiencing.

Once you are certain that your dog is free of health problems, seeing a pet behaviorist or professional help can help set your dog on the right track.

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