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Dog Won't Sit Still? Here's What You Need to Know

By Aviram K.
September 21, 2021
6 min read
Dog Won't Sit Still? Here's What You Need to Know
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

You’ve just punched out at the office, marking the end of a very grueling workweek. It’s time to celebrate, and nothing sounds better than a peaceful and quiet night at home.

As you bust through the door of your home, you’re welcomed by your hyper pup. He jumps on you and gives you a hearty greeting. You feel loved and appreciated.

You change into your comfy clothes and grab some snacks. Then, as you plop down on the sofa and select a movie, your dog jumps up to join you.

Perfect…let a night of glorious relaxation begin!

Only your dog won’t settle. He moves a little to the right…then over to the left.

Then he gets up and actually starts pacing around!

What gives?

If your dog won’t sit still, they may be dealing with anxiety, physical discomfort, or sickness. They may also want attention, have pent-up energy, or need mental stimulation. Luckily, there are simple ways you can help your dog to sit still.

In this article, I will explain what it means when your dog won’t sit still, the reasons for the behavior, and then wrap things up by providing you with easy solutions to help your dog.

So, get cozy and prepare to take a trip inside your antsy pup’s head.

Let’s go!

Table of Contents
What Does It Mean When a Dog Won’t Sit Still?
Reasons Your Dog Won’t Sit Still
What Can You Do When Your Dog Is Restless?
Sometimes It’s Just Tough to Settle Down

What Does It Mean When a Dog Won’t Sit Still?


It can mean many things when your dog won’t sit still. Just like humans move around for a variety of reasons, so does your pup! These reasons most often have to do with their mental and physical state. Even if you don’t understand why your pup can’t seem to sit still doesn’t mean that there isn’t a reason for their behavior.

Usually, if your dog won’t sit still, this indicates they are uncomfortable either in their body or mind. They are likely unsettled in some way. Moving around more frequently may indeed be your pup’s natural disposition. But more often than not, it’s a sign that there’s an issue.

Thankfully, it’s usually an issue you can easily fix. You just have to figure out the reason behind it!

Reasons Your Dog Won’t Sit Still


Let’s get to the bottom of the potential reasons that your dog won’t sit still:

Your Dog Is Anxious

Your dog may pace back and forth and have a hard time sitting still if they are anxious. Certain dog breeds have a greater proclivity towards anxiety than others.

Interestingly, the size of your pup doesn’t seem to be a factor. Breeds prone to anxiety include larger dogs like Labradors and Greyhounds. Smaller dogs like Cocker Spaniels and Toy Breeds can be more on the anxious side as well. These breeds may be more prone to anxiety, but really any dog, regardless of breed, can experience it.

If your dog’s frequent movements result from anxiety, they will likely also have other symptoms. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Not being able to sleep at night
  • Pulling away when you try to pet them
  • Shivering and whimpering
  • Hiding and avoiding eye contact

Your Dog Is Sick or Injured

Your dog may not be able to sit still if they aren’t feeling their best. A sick or injured dog may pace in an attempt to ease their pain or discomfort. Your dog may also be pacing to get your attention. They may be hoping that you’ll take notice that something is up!

If you think your dog may have a health issue, I recommend taking them to the vet for an evaluation. From a simple injury to a serious disease, several conditions could cause your dog to pace around. It’s best to take the potential cue that your dog’s restlessness could be trying to give you. Early detection may just save their life.

They May Want Attention

Like all of us, dogs love and need attention! Human beings are wired for connection and intuitively search for a sense of belonging. Our pups aren’t much different.

As your dog’s owner, you are their world. Especially if there aren’t any other pets in the house, you are their primary source of love, affection, and attention. As a result, you hold a great position of honor and responsibility in your pup’s life!

If your dog seems to have limitless energy and can’t stop moving around, especially if they do it in your direct line of vision, they may be asking for attention. Some attention in the form of playtime, snuggles, or cuddles may just remedy their constant movement.

Your Dog May Have Pent Up Energy

Moving around a lot may simply be your dog’s way of releasing excess energy. If your dog can’t seem to sit still, it may be a good idea to think about how much physical activity they are getting on a regular basis.

This may be the case if your pup spends most of the day locked inside while you are at work. They may have a lot of energy bubbling up to the surface, just waiting to bust out. Your dog may have the natural and understandable desire to run, jump and chase.

If your pup is confined indoors, your pup may express these urges in the form of constant movement.

They May Need Mental Stimulation

Lack of mental stimulation can definitely make your dog have a difficult time sitting still. Your dog’s mental health is greatly enhanced by being challenged. It’s important to expose your dog to new and different environments and experiences.

If you’ve noticed that you’ve been spending more time at work and focusing less on your pup’s needs, it could be that their mind is feeling the difference.

If your normally calm and balanced dog seems to be on edge, perhaps ask yourself if it could be time to find tiny ways to switch up their routine a bit. Taking your dog on a new running trail, spending more time playing with them, or trying out some doggy games may help stimulate their brain and calm their restless activity.

Other Reasons

I have explained a few reasons your dog may struggle to sit still, but there are still many more. Here are a few extra reasons to consider:

  • They need to go to the bathroom
  • They hear, smell, or see something that is catching their attention
  • They are feeling territorial and are trying to guard you and your home
  • They may sense another dog nearby who is in heat
  • They are suffering cognitive decline
  • They are reacting to changes in the household

Again, these are only a few reasons that may explain why your dog won’t sit still. You know your pup, and through careful observation and professional help if necessary, you can get to the bottom of things.

What Can You Do When Your Dog Is Restless?


There are definitely simple ways to help your dog out if they are restless. I would recommend watching your dog and seeing what seems to trigger and alleviate their restlessness.

For example:

Does your dog pace when they need to use the restroom but going outside to relieve themselves settles them down?

Does adding an extra 20-minute walk at the end of the day seem to help them get their energy out?

Does intentionally giving your dog a little more cuddle-time diminish their pacing by satisfying their need for attention?

There are ways to actually train your pup to be calmer. This involves a process of enforcing the behavior you want while discouraging the behavior you don’t want.

Getting to the root of the problem may be a lot of trial and error and troubleshooting until you figure out what is going on and what helps.

If your dog’s restlessness is new or accompanied by other physical symptoms, I recommend having them seen by their vet just to be safe.

Sometimes It’s Just Tough to Settle Down


If you’re like most people, you’ve likely been through periods of increased stress, anxiety, or restlessness.

Life and its share of ups and downs can do that to the best of us and even to our beloved furry friends. If you’re already feeling stressed and it seems that your pup just can’t seem to stop and stay still, that can certainly compound your stress as well. This can lead to one giant, chaotic-feeling environment.

But try not to let it! If your dog can’t sit still, take a moment. Slowing down and truly connecting with your pup and really trying to see things through their eyes can help you get to the bottom of the issue more quickly. This will likely save you anxiety and your pup as well.

With all of this knowledge in tow, you can look forward to peaceful and relaxing cuddle sessions with your sweet dog being all yours again in no time!

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