Why Is My Dog Pacing?


Why is My Dog Pacing?

Why is My Dog Pacing?Something that I hear often in the foster, rescue, and the canine community in general, are questions pertaining to behavioral issues.

One question that pops up repeatedly is: why is my dog pacing?

Today I want to cover 5 of the possible reasons that your dog might be pacing and what you can do about them.

 

5 Answers to the Question: Why is My Dog Pacing?

  1. Anxiety

    Nervous Dog
    What?

    One of the most common reasons for pacing in dogs is anxiety. Whether your dog’s anxiety is related to separation from you, thunderstorms, or strangers, pacing is a natural response to this buildup of tension.

    Why?

    Just like humans, dogs with anxiety need to find a way to cope with their anxious feelings. Pacing serves as an outlet for nervous energy. Repetitive behaviors can also be somewhat soothing which could be another explanation for why anxious dogs pace.

    What Shouldn’t You Do?

    Don’t try to stop your dog’s pacing, this is an outlet that helps your dog to cope. If you remove pacing, your dog will simply find another way to release their nervous energy.

    What Can You Do?

    Focus on addressing the root cause of your dog’s anxiety. There are many ways that you can do this: desensitization training, working with a canine behaviorist, using pheromone sprays, using anxiety wraps, or even using medication.

  2. Pain

    Dog Cast
    What?

    Pacing can be a symptom of pain in any part of your dog’s body. Pacing may even be a symptom of psychological distress! In addition to pacing, you may also note that your dog is panting, restless and unable to lie down, reluctant to eat or drink, has their tail tucked between their legs, or shows signs of physical injury such as limping.

    Why?

    When your dog is in pain they are unable to settle and instead they may pace to let you know that they are in discomfort.

    What Shouldn’t You Do?

    Don’t ignore signs that your dog is in pain.

    What Should You Do?

    If you suspect that your dog is in pain due to an existing condition that they have pain control medication for, check if it’s time to give them another dose of medication. If your dog is in pain for an existing condition even though they have taken their pain medication, consult your veterinarian about the ineffectiveness of your dog’s pain medication. If your dog is in pain and you don’t know why then it’s time to head to the veterinarian as soon as you can so that you can get your dog the pain relief they need.

  3. Sundowning

    Senior Dogs
    What? 

    Sundowning is a term that refers to a set of symptoms that present as a side effect of declining cognitive function. Sundowning is seen in human Alzheimer’s patients, but it is also seen in senior dogs in association with “canine cognitive dysfunction”. Sundowning may present with many symptoms that include pacing, confusion, anxiety, and forgetfulness. You can read more about sundowning in our post here.

    Why? 

    Pacing is a symptom of sundowning as a result of anxiety, fear, and confusion. Pacing gives your dog an outlet for their anxiety, but it may also be related to confusion that your dog is experiencing in relation to their surroundings.

    What Shouldn’t You Do?

    Don’t panic! A vast percentage of senior dogs experience some variation of canine cognitive dysfunction, so what your dog is experiencing is not unusual.

    What Should You Do?

    Talk to your vet! There are medications that can help to alleviate the symptoms associated with canine cognitive dysfunction. Additionally, there are some things that you can do to help to make your dog feel more at ease – keep your home well lit in the afternoon and evening hours, use a night light by your dog’s bed to help prevent confusion and fear associated with darkness, follow a routine, use familiar sights and sounds to make your dog feel more comfortable, and stay with your dog whenever possible.

  4. Boredom

    Bored Dog
    What? 

    Just like humans, when dogs are bored they will find a way to entertain themselves including physical activity or compulsive behavior.

    Why?

    When your dog is bored they may pace as a means of keeping themselves occupied. This pacing is simply “something to do” rather than a symptom of physical or psychological illness.

    What Shouldn’t You Do?

    Don’t ignore your dog’s pacing even if it’s “only” out of boredom.

    What Should You Do? 

    Keep your dog entertained! Different dogs have different psychological and physical needs, if your dog is pacing out of boredom, then they require more attention from you. Try incorporating more training, interactive games, or a long walk into your dog’s daily routine!

  5. Lack of Exercise

    Dog Walk
    What?

    Dogs need exercise! If you aren’t exercising your dog enough, they may decide to exercise themselves by pacing.

    Why?

    Pacing will give your dog the ability to get the exercise they crave if you are not exercising them enough.

    What Shouldn’t You Do?

    Don’t ignore your dog! Pacing is a mild expression of your dog’s need for exercise, if ignored, your dog may turn to more destructive means of letting you know that they need more from you!

    What Should You Do?

    Incorporate more regular exercise into your dog’s routine! Twice daily walks or one long walk once daily will help to curb this type of pacing.

 

Does your dog pace? How do you help them to cope with whatever causes them to pace? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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