My Dog Is Restless and Won’t Sit Still [Explained]

We’ve all been there; a source of stress pops into our minds, and no matter what we do, we can’t let it go. Dogs aren’t called man’s best friend for any old reason! 

Sometimes, our canine friends will experience agitation too, and just like us, they’ll have a hard time relaxing. If your dog is restless and won’t sit still, then there’s a good chance something behind the scenes has its mind turning. 

dog is restless and won't sit still
My dog is restless and won’t sit still [Explained]

Dogs become restless for a multitude of reasons. Professionals break down these reasons into two main categories:  

  • Medical 
  • Behavioral 

In this article, we will be going over the medical and behavioral causes of restlessness in your dog. There is a small margin of difference between the two categories, so you may be wondering how to tell the difference. 

While there are signs and behavior patterns to help you determine the cause, it is always best to consult a vet if you’ve tried at-home solutions and still notice these signs in your pet. 

Medical Causes for Dogs Being Restless 

my dog is restless and won't sit still
What can I do if my dog is restless and won’t sit still?

Many medical causes for your restless dog can be self-diagnosed

Remember, it’s best to schedule an appointment at the vet as soon as possible if you feel that your dog might be pacing and unable to rest due to a medical condition. 


If your dog is having a hard time relaxing, there is a good chance a physical ailment is bothering it. This pain could make your dog not want to sit down since it may irritate the pain. 

Check to see if your dog is limping or agitated while moving. If your dog is panting, whining, or aggressively licking or nibbling a specific spot.

Westiepoo in forest
A Westiepoo standing in the middle of the forest.


Fleas are small wingless insects that attach to dogs and other animals. When dogs have a case of fleas, they will often become fidgety because of the intense itching. Your dog won’t be able to sit still and will always want to move to try and make that pesky itching subside. 

Have you ever had several mosquito bites at once? If so, you know exactly how your pup is feeling. 

If you notice your dog is scratching or has red bumpy skin, you will want to use a comb to check for adult fleas fleeing or hatching larvae.

If this happens, you’ll want to get treatments right away to alleviate the fleas. 

dog scratches at fleas
A dog sitting on a lawn scratches at fleas


Worms are similar to fleas because they cause constant painful irritation and itching to your dog. They can also cause your dog abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss because they like to live in your dog’s gut.

If treated early, you can avoid long-term damage to your dog’s internal organs. This damage can cause further health problems and eventually even death.

If you suspect they are the cause of your puppy’s anxiety, don’t worry! Worms are an easily-treatable infection, but they need to be treated sooner than later.

dog biting tail due to fleas
Fleas and parasites can irritate the skin in the tail region – causing dogs to bite their own tail

Liver Disease 

Restlessness can also be a side effect of the pain that comes with liver disease. If you start to see other symptoms, such as vomiting, weight loss, and a loss of appetite, then you should call a vet immediately. 

dog is restless and won't sit still
My dog is restless and won’t sit still [Explained]


Ingesting toxins and poisons are detrimental to all canines. If your dog has ingested a toxin or poison, it can have similar symptoms to animal liver disease. 

Poisoning can range from mild stomach irritation to organ failure based on how much your dog has ingested. Call your vet for immediate assistance if you see any of these symptoms. 

Neurological Tumors

Brain tumors are accompanied by many symptoms, including trembling, loss of vision, increased appetite, hearing loss, and constant pacing. 

Typically, dogs who develop brain tumors are older. Pacing and excessive restlessness, including uncharacteristic aggression, are signs of neurological tumors. If your dog isn’t acting normally, it’s always a good idea to get it to the vet as soon as possible.

an old dog
An old dog looking at the camera.

Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease is common in elderly dogs. This disease is caused by the body producing an excess level of cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone that creates a behavior change, leading them to be more agitated and act more aggressively. 

Besides restlessness, common symptoms of Cushing’s disease include hair loss, skin infections, and increased thirst and appetite.

Behavior Causes for Dogs Being Restless 

Being unable to let go of something that stresses us out is the most common source of feeling unsettled. Our dogs are no exception to this, and you should know that dogs can be on high alert when they are anxious. Our dog’s “survival instinct” causes them to remain on high alert even when behavior changes have caused them to be restless. 

Behavioral causes for dogs being restless mainly come from stress, fear, and other forms of anxiety that make a dog feel like it can’t sit still. It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s behavior change, but knowing these leading causes can help you understand why your dog is restless and won’t sit still and what could be causing them stress. 

Separation Anxiety 

Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioral changes in dogs. Your dog doesn’t have to be left alone to suffer from separation anxiety. If you, as the owner, go for an extended period or have been coming home later than usual, your dog can sense this behavior change. 

white dog alone
A white dog alone in a small room.

Fear or Stress 

Some of a dog’s biggest fears are loud noises, including fireworks and thunderstorms, which leave a dog feeling unsettled. During a time of loud noises, your dog may be afraid and unable to sit still. Typically, once these events stop, your dog will feel more relaxed. 

Boston Terrier looks scared in blanket
Boston Terrier looks scared in a red blanket.

Need to Use the Bathroom 

Thinking to yourself, “why is my dog restless and won’t sit still?” you might want to think about how often they go outside to use the bathroom. House-trained dogs are more restless and unable to remain still when they need to use the bathroom because they have been trained to use it outside. 

Low Mental Stimulation 

Everyone gets bored, including our pets! When your dog is restless and won’t sit still, there’s a chance that they might not know what to do with themselves. 

Trips to the dog park are a vital source of mental stimulation for your dog, where they can exercise and tire themselves out for the day. Without enough exercise, your dog will become restless, which causes them to run around the house searching for that stimulation. 

Pomeranian anxious looking
Pomeranian is anxious looking on the floor.

Dogs Want Your Attention 

When your dog is restless, it may be asking for your attention. This behavioral cause depends on your reaction to their anxious state. 

Dogs can get bored without activities and attention, leading to restlessness because they aren’t getting enough of your love.

black and brown dog looking up at owner
A tan and black dog looking up at its owner

Hear or Smell Something 

Dogs have hearing that is incomparable to humans. Dogs get caught on a particular scent or sound and can’t sit still until they can pinpoint the exact source. This nervous feeling that comes with being stuck on one specific scent can leave your dog feeling restless and unable to sit still for an extended period.

beagle with his sense of smell
Dogs have incredible sense of smell.

Final Thoughts 

My dog is restless and won’t sit still! 

When your dog cannot sit still, there’s a common behavioral cause that can be self-diagnosed. The most important thing you can do is consult with a vet to learn more about your dog’s health to determine if the reason is medical or behavioral. 

Whether young or old, all dogs can be restless for several reasons. Determining these reasons will help you understand what is going on with your dog. 

As stated above, a restless dog can be under significant stress. If they cannot relax, they want to sit or lay down for an extended time. It’s essential to learn the cause of their anxiety to help them be more relaxed.