Dog is Pacing and Unsettled
Pet Health Questions and Answers

Common Reasons Why a Dog is Pacing and Unsettled

It’s hard for a pet owner to see their dog acting stressed and anxious. But, there are several reasons why a dog is pacing and unsettled. Some issues are connected to excitement, while others are more worrisome. The more you know about the additional symptoms, and the causes behind them, the more that you can do to correct your dog’s behavior or help them to feel better.

Most of the time, dogs pace because they want to get your attention. You know better than anyone what ‘normal’ behavior looks like for your pet. If your dog seems to be restless, and that’s out of character for them, it’s a good indicator that something else is wrong.

Look at these potential explanations when your dog is pacing and restless. If you’re able to keep a close eye on them, you’ll be able to identify what’s wrong and find a solution.

Why Your Dog is Pacing and Unsettled

Dogs showcase this behavior for many different reasons, but there are common reasons behind excessive pacing in dogs. Once you know the cause of the restlessness, you’ll be better equipped to find a workable solution.

Anxiety and Worry

From travel anxiety (including car travel and flights) to separation anxiety (when you go to work or head to bed at night), there are many different situations in which your dog can become stressed and fearful.

You don’t know what’s playing on your dog’s mind or how a previous owner has treated them in the past, especially if you had a rescue dog. Some dogs are scared of being left alone in case you don’t return because that’s what happened to them in their previous life.

Anxiety is triggered by scary past experiences, such as going for a walk during heavy rain and thunder or walking up or down the stairs following an accident when you weren’t about. Asking a dog to repeat a scary activity will cause a dog to act strangely.

Physical and emotional trauma affects dogs in a similar way to how it affects humans. If your dog has been through a stressful or even a terrifying experience, it can cause behavioral and psychological problems that are difficult to correct.

If your dog seems restless, look for the following symptoms:

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, and look for visible clues regarding what causes it to change. Have you stopped your dog from sleeping with you recently, for example? Sometimes, anxiety can be controlled (or caused) by changing a “normal” situation.

It can take time to identify the underlying reason why your dog is pacing and unsettled. Also, training from a certified professional or a specific medication can calm your dog down (as a last resort).

Liver Disease

Connecting issues with the liver and pacing may not seem so obvious at first. But, a damaged liver in dogs can cause abnormal neurological behaviors. This includes everything from pacing, to circling, or even sudden changes in behavioral changes.

This happens if the liver is unable to function correctly. If it can’t filter out toxins correctly, those toxins can get into the bloodstream, and affect the neurological systems of a dog.

Any disease or damage to the liver should be taken very seriously. Some issues might be able to be managed with medication. However, you should seek out the help of a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Cushing’s Disease

This occurs due to the overproduction of the cortisol hormone. While it’s most common in older dogs, it can happen at any time. Some of the most well-known symptoms of the disease include pacing, restlessness, and wandering.

Cushing’s Disease can also lead to pituitary tumors, which can press against the brain, and cause even more neurological damage. This, too, can often be treated with medication.

Cognitive Dysfunction (Alzheimer’s Disease)

Yes, dog’s can get Alzheimer’s disease or forms of dementia. This condition occurs due to deposits on the brain and low dopamine levels. As it does in humans, most symptoms of this disease will show up slowly.

You may first notice your dog acting confused, or disoriented. This can eventually lead to aimless wandering and pacing or circling. Unfortunately, because this is a degenerative disease, there aren’t any proven treatment options as of yet, but the symptoms can be alleviated through the taking of medication.

my dog keeps pacing and won't lay down


Unfortunately, brain tumors do occur in dogs on occasion, and they can severely affect the neurological system. As we’ve seen with other disorders (liver, Cushing’s disease), it’s the neurological system that can influence your dog’s behaviors. Unusual pacing or aimless circling can be a symptom of a brain tumor.

Unfortunately, symptoms of a brain tumor can either show up very quickly or gradually. If they do show up suddenly, it may be harder to start treatment before it becomes a severe problem.

Where Can I Get Help for a Restless Dog?

Most issues with pacing or stress in your dog can be caused by other underlying health and neurological conditions. If these are abnormal behaviors for your dog, try capturing them on video whenever they happen. If you can’t discern what might be causing them, your vet will likely have a better idea if they can see the behaviors in real time as they’re taking place.

Therapeutic treatment, medication, or even a change in scenery or diet can be beneficial for a restless dog. The sooner you get in touch with your vet to get answers, the sooner you can seek out a treatment that works.

If these behaviors seem like a situational issue, try to eliminate or change the factors that are causing them. Again, anxiety can be a huge factor in a dog’s restlessness. Thankfully, it can also be one of the most treatable problems on this list (once correctly identified).

You know your dog’s natural behaviors better than anyone. When you take a look at the reasons why a dog is pacing and unsettled, you’ll know what’s ‘normal’ for your dog. If they’re not typically anxious or stressed, there’s a high chance that there’s a reason for the change.

Pay attention to their behavioral patterns, such as your dog is afraid to go outside suddenly. If the strange pacing, circling, and wandering continues, you should take your pet to see a vet. Some medical issues can be severe. So, the sooner medical advice is sought out, the better chance your dog has of making a full recovery.