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Why Is My Dog Pacing? | 11 Top Reasons and How to Help

Have you ever asked yourself – why is my dog pacing? If so, you’ve come to the right place. This action can be baffling to pet owners, especially when there aren’t any obvious reasons why. Although pacing can be a common dog behavior, in some cases, it might also be a cause for concern. 

Let’s examine the top reasons why dogs pace and go over the ways in which you can help your furry friend settle down if this action is caused by stress or anxiety. And lastly, you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions regarding pacing dogs. 

Dog-pacing why is my dog pacing
Image from Jorge Gardner on Unsplash 

Why Is My Dog Pacing? 11 Common Reasons 

There are many different factors that can trigger a dog to pace. The good news is that this behavior is usually easy to correct. However, in some cases, it could signal an underlying medical condition. 

No one knows your dog better than you, and hopefully, you’ll have a clearer understanding of this behavior after examining the most common reasons. 

1. Stress or Anxiety 

Stress or anxiety are common reasons why dogs pace. This can be caused by a number of things. 

  • Loud noises like fireworks, thunder, blasting music, or yelling are common causes of stress in dogs. They’re not used to these sounds, and they don’t know where they’re coming from or when they’ll stop. This can be very confusing to your furry friends. 
  • Separation anxiety can also cause your dog to pace. Your four-legged companion may have a tough time leaving your side, and the stress or anxiety they feel when you exit the room could trigger this action. 
  • Changing your pet’s environment can be a disorienting experience for them. Whether it be moving to a new house they’re not familiar with, or simply rearranging the furniture in a way they’re not used to; this can cause anxiety. 
  • For some dogs, introducing them to new people can be a stressful experience. This could stem from a number of things, like mistreatment from past owners, overprotectiveness, or territorial tendencies. They might need time to warm up to new humans, so it’s best to go slow. 

Warn your company about your dog’s behavior so they know to give your pet plenty of space and not rush in and touch them before they’re comfortable. 

If you know something is going to cause your pet to be stressed or anxious, you can help them stay calm by giving them dog-friendly CBD oil. In most cases, this natural substance is safe for dogs (and cats) and can help them relax in a triggering environment. 

2. They’re Searching For Something

Dog-with-toy

Image from Vinícius Cezário on Pexels 

No one likes losing their belongings, including dogs. Your pet may pace when they’ve misplaced something, like their favorite toy. This could include a bone, stuffed toy, ball, or treat. 

They might pick up on the scent of the lost object, but it could be unreachable because it’s under a heavy piece of furniture or behind a door. Once they’ve been reunited with their beloved toy, the pacing should stop. 

3. Your Dog Is Excited

Anyone who’s had a dog knows they can be full of energy, especially when they’re excited. Pacing can be a way for them to release some of their built-up energy. 

Excitement could be caused by many things, like hearing their owner’s car pull into the driveway. The anticipation of their best friend arriving home might cause a build-up of joy that needs to be released. 

golden retriever yellow smile
golden retriever

If your dog knows they are about to go on a walk or to play fetch, this could also cause an overload of excitement, which they relieve by walking back and forth. 

In some cases, dogs will lose their excess energy as they mature. But this is dependent on factors like their breed, personal temperament, and the amount of daily exercise they receive. 

4. They’re Hungry

Close-up-dog

Image from Lum3n on Pexels

Some dogs love mealtime more than others. The pacing could be your pet’s way of letting you know that they’re ready for food. Dogs might not be able to read clocks, but they still have a sense of what time it is. 

You may notice them start to pace around their bowl when it’s getting close to mealtime. Or they may begin this walking motion as soon as they see their owner get their dog food ready. This just means that your furry friend is ready to chow down. 

5. Your Dog Needs More Stimulation 

Your dog could be pacing because they’re bored. They might not know what to do with themselves, so they’ll resort to walking back and forth. Taking your dogs on walks or letting them play outside is much more than just a bathroom break for them. 

While they’re outdoors, they’re mentally stimulated by the sights, sounds, and smells that surround them. If your dog doesn’t get time to play or walk outside and they begin pacing, this could be the reason why. 

If you can’t fit in a walk every day for your dog, here are some stimulating pet toys your furry companion will appreciate having around the house to cure their boredom: 

6. Reacting to a New Environment 

The pacing could be a reaction to a new environment. If you’ve just adopted a puppy or dog and are bringing them home, they need some time to familiarize themself with their new environment. They may walk around incessantly while smelling and looking at everything in their new layout. 

Once your canine friend feels comfortable in their new surroundings, the pacing should stop.

7. They’re in Pain 

Calm-dog

Image from Steshka Willems on Pexels

Your dog could be pacing because they’re in pain and can’t get comfortable laying down. Things like arthritis, joint pain, or pulled muscles are examples of conditions that might be causing them high levels of discomfort. 

Arthritis is especially common in older dogs. A dog bed for arthritic pain can help with your pet’s pain immensely and allow them to get comfy when lying down. 

If your dog is younger and you notice they’re in pain, it could have obtained an injury while playing. In this case, a trip to the vet should answer and solve the source of your pet’s discomfort. 

8. Your Dog Is Developing Dementia 

Old-dog

Image from Couleur on Pixabay

Dog dementia, formally known as canine cognitive dysfunction, is a degenerative disease that can affect older canines. It causes them to become disoriented and confused, which can lead to pacing. 

This behavior usually occurs at night or when a dog is left alone during the day. They may become confused as to where you’ve gone. The pacing may be a way of them trying to locate you. 

Although there’s no cure for dog dementia, there are things you can do to help them manage it. If your dog starts pacing, try to stay near them or take them on a walk. If you need to leave, give them a toy, like a treat puzzle, to distract them and allow them to focus on a fun activity. 

dog asleep on paws

9. They Are Showing Signs of Liver Disease 

In some cases, liver disease can cause your dog to pace. When your dog’s liver is not functioning the way it should and cannot filter toxins out of the body, the toxins can overrun the bloodstream. This can negatively impact the neurological system of your pet, which can cause strange behaviors, including pacing. 

Make sure to take your dog in for regular exams at the vet. If caught early, liver disease is curable. 

10. Your Dog Has Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s Disease is a health condition that is the result of a dog’s adrenal glands overproducing the hormone cortisol. The excess production puts your pet at risk of developing serious illnesses and conditions. These can include kidney damage, diabetes, blood clots, and high blood pressure. 

Some of the symptoms of the disease are increased thirst and appetite, excessive panting, hair loss, and pacing. 

Cushing’s disease is curable. However, the dog’s adrenal tumor needs to be removed (if it hasn’t spread), which is considered a risky surgery. Treatment for the disease is preferred in most cases. This includes giving your dog an oral medication that can help lower the amount of cortisone their adrenal glands produce. 

dog-at-the-vet

11. They Have a Brain Tumor

Brain tumors in dogs can occur during all ages of life but are most common in older canines, typically ones that are older than five years of age. The exact reason why they develop isn’t always known, but it’s believed that things like genetic, dietary, and environmental factors can play a role. 

Brain tumors lead to brain damage, which results in neurologic symptoms. Besides pacing, other changes you may notice in your dog include seizures, loss of alertness, uncoordinated walking, head tilting, and weakness of limbs. 

While brain tumors can develop in any type of dog, some breeds have a higher risk. These include:

If you suspect your dog has developed a brain tumor, take them to a veterinary neurologist. It’s best that the tumor is caught early so that it doesn’t have a chance to spread. Special treatments to remove or shrink the tumor can be performed, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

french bulldog
french bulldog

Alternatively, when medical procedures cannot be performed, medication can be given to help your pet maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Pacing 

Here are a few final thoughts and answers to questions about dog pacing. 

1. How Do I Keep My Dog From Pacing? 

golden toy poodle on the run

To keep your dog from pacing, try to keep its environment as stress-free and stimulating as possible. Remember, playtime is important even after they’ve left the puppy stage. 

Keep your pet active by taking them on regular walks. Have dog toys in your house for them to play with and stay mentally stimulated when you’re busy. 

Help them maintain a healthy body by feeding them quality food and supplementing with dog vitamins if necessary. And lastly, make sure to schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to ensure your furry friend is in optimal health.  

Should I Physically Stop My Dog From Pacing? 

dachsund licks a person's face

It’s important to note that physically trying to stop your dog from pacing is never a good idea.

No matter what the cause of their pacing is, you shouldn’t try to restrict their movement or limit their environment. This can cause them to be stressed and panic.

If your dog is pacing in an unsafe location, it’s better to remove any obstacles in their way or block potential places where they could fall, like staircases. The best thing to do near a pacing dog is to stay calm and reassure them in a friendly voice that you’re there for them. 

When Should I Seek Professional Help For My Dog Pacing?

sick brown dog

Pacing every now and then for short periods of time isn’t something to be concerned about. However, if the pacing lasts for a long period of time and it becomes frequent, you should speak with your vet. They can better assess the situation and get your pet the help they need. 

Your vet can prescribe medication to help settle your dog. Things like CBD oil and calming chews can also be given to them to help them feel more relaxed. 

Some professional dog trainers are qualified to work with your dog to alleviate the stress or anxiety that’s causing them to pace. 

Why Is My Dog Pacing? | Final Thoughts 

It might be confusing to see your dog pacing, but hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what’s causing this behavior. There may be a simple explanation for it like they’re excited to see you, or they’ve lost an object. 

Or, you may be able to easily stop your dog from pacing by providing them with more mental stimulation and exercise.

However, if they begin to pace and you can’t figure out the cause, you should take your dog to the vet for a check-up. Serious medical conditions are usually much more manageable when caught early.  

white labradoodle walking outside

Want to learn about another common dog behavior? Check out this post on dog whining next. 

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