Why Your Dog Won’t Sit Still + Solutions for a Restless Puppy

A healthy puppy is a happy dog, and a happy dog is what every pet owner wants. I have never felt peace when my dog, Kristie, won’t sit still. Sometimes she crosses my line of sight to get my attention. Other times she soils the house. Are these happening to your dog? Is your puppy restless and won’t sit still? 

After being with Kristie for more than five years, I realized that behavioral and medical problems could cause restlessness in dogs. Examples include abandoning your dog, pain and physical discomfort, and Cushing’s disease. Understanding the problem could be tricky. For instance, a sick dog might show the same restlessness as the one with separation anxiety. 

Solutions for a restless puppy might be as simple as petting your dog or as severe as visiting your veterinary doctor. People and dogs develop a close bond that spotting when your dog requires attention should be easy. Read to the end, learn why your puppy is restless, and find solutions for a dog that won’t sit. 

Why is my puppy restless?

Here are some reasons your puppy is restless:

A nervous dog that wont sit

1. Abandonment and separation anxiety

Your dog is fond of you. If you go away for a long time, your dog will miss you. Dogs become upset and may start destroying household items. This behavior usually stems from separation anxiety and is common with dogs like Labradors and Greyhounds. 

The fear of being left alone at home causes dogs to panic. You will notice separation anxiety by escape marks created by your dog around exit points like doors and windows. When your dog is overly attached to you, do not abandon them all of a sudden. 

Before leaving your dog, give him a special treat to lessen their anxiety. You can also give them one of your recently worn clothes so your dog can sniff your presence in them.

2. Stranger anxiety

Dogs are naturally predisposed to sniff out strangers and strange objects. However, like with human babies, dogs take time to accept new faces. Be it other dogs, pets, or people. Some dogs show more stranger anxiety than others.

Stranger anxiety in dogs can be caused by poor socialization skills, a negative experience with strangers, or genetics. Although the anxiety can be extreme, you can train your dog to be calm around strangers. 

Even an adult dog can learn to socialize. Reward your dog with a treat next to the stranger. Reduce the distance gradually until the stranger starts tossing your dog a treat.

3. Pain and physical discomfort

Restlessness in dogs is a typical emotional response to pain and physical discomfort.

For instance, Kristie’s limb stuck to a wire mesh in our backyard for hours. When I found her, she had a dislocated left arm. I saved my dog and took her straight to the vet. However, before the pain and physical discomfort were over, Kristie would not sit. 

Signs of pain and physical discomfort in a dog include limping, depression, not eating, and agitation when being petted. Dogs can sustain injuries and bone fractures when playing or exercising.

4. Fleas, ticks, and worms

A Pekingese dog with fleas biting himself

Fleas and ticks bite the skin and suck your dog’s blood. The itching and irritation they cause to your dog is the most immediate cause of restlessness in dogs and puppies. If your dog is infested with fleas and ticks, you will see him biting, chewing, or scratching his skin.

Also, look for changes in the shedding of your dog’s fur, especially around the tail and neck. A severe flea infestation can cause a dog’s lethargy and appetite loss. If the dog ingests food with flea, flea tapeworms will form in his gut.

Other worms that cause discomfort and restlessness in dogs are tapeworms and roundworms.

5. Cushing’s disease

A pituitary gland tumor is the leading cause of Cushing’s disease in dogs. The tumor can be cancerous or harmless. However, it causes an overproduction of cortisol in the dog’s body and could lead to severe conditions and illnesses.

A dog with Cushing’s disease may not sit still because of increased appetite, thirst, and urination. If left uncontrolled, Cushing’s disease can cause bladder stones, high blood pressure, and kidney infections in your dog.

6. Abuse and neglect

If you had left your dog under the care of a new person, the dog should be happy and healthy when you return. However, if your dog appears extremely restless and does not want to sit, it could have undergone abuse and neglect from its caregiver.

Abuse can include not feeding the dog proper rations or at the correct times or not being attentive to the emotional concerns of your dog. An abused and neglected dog will constantly cross your line of sight to catch your attention.

Showing your dog affection by cuddling and petting him can ease his restlessness and calm him down.

7. Built-up energy or pent-up energy

A girl taking a walk with her dog in the forest

Sometimes, the dog will not sit still because of sudden unpredictable energy busts. It occurs when your dog has not been exercising for a while. 

By being restless and active, your dog could try to shed off the energy build-up in his muscles. They can destroy household items or bark excessively.

Allowing your dog to play and exercise is essential for ridding your dog of pent-up energy. Take them for a walk to your local dog park or the beach and allow them to run around freely.

8. Poison

Could your dog have eaten anything poisonous? It takes between 30 minutes and 12 hours for a dog to show signs of poisoning. Toxic substances such as ethanol, opioids, and some recreational drugs can irritate and cause allergic reactions in your dog.

Look around your home for any substance your dog might have ingested or gotten into contact with. The poison causes severe discomfort to dogs. Early signs and symptoms of poisoning in dogs include restlessness, agitation, tremors, and seizures. 

If your dog is exposed to large doses of the poison, the problem can escalate to heart problems and kidney failure.  

9. Loud noises

According to the Purdue Extension, you should not expose your dog to sounds above 140 decibels. Otherwise, you will cause immediate physical pain and hearing damage. 

Besides, loud noises can be terrifying to a dog. For instance, screams, fireworks, thunder, and a fired bullet can cause panicked running in dogs. 

Your dog could even defecate indoors. The maximum noise level a dog can tolerate is between 85 dB and 100dB. Your dog can also appear shaken and may cling to you for protection.

10. Caught on a scent

Dogs have a sense of smell that’s thousands of times better than ours. Your dog can pick a variety of smells that could make them uncomfortable.  

The most common scent they pick is usually from their mates. A dog on heat can be particularly restless when it can pick the scent of a male or female dog around. Also, if your dog picks the smell of barbecue, they might not sit still just to get a taste of it.

11. Dementia in elderly dogs

The age of your dog also plays a critical role in a dog’s restlessness. As dogs grow old, they face cognitive decline. Dog dementia, or canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, is mild in 11-year-old dogs but pretty intense in dogs aged 15 years and above.

There are several ways to identify restlessness that stems from dog dementia. Your dog may appear anxious, confused, and disoriented even in familiar surroundings.

Most importantly, your dog forgets routines and no longer responds to their name.

We’ve looked at some of the reasons your dog could be restless. The solutions I have given you below will help your dog remain calm. Let’s get to it.

Solutions for a dog that won’t sit

Here are the solutions for a restless dog or puppy that won’t sit down:

1. Train your puppy to be calmer

You can train your dog the acceptable behaviors from an early age. If you want them calm and settled, reinforce the behavior by rewarding them with chew toys or calming rubs whenever they are calm. The proper reward at the right time will make your dog learn faster.

2. Music and alternative therapy

There are several therapies to keep your dog peaceful. Music is one of the most potent dog therapies to calm the most aggressive beast. According to Derinda Blakeney of Oklahoma State University, dogs prefer soft rock, reggae, and classical music.

Alternative therapies such as aromatherapy and homeopathy can also lower dog anxiety. Some dog keepers use supplements like chamomile, melatonin, tryptophan, and thiamin. They are safe for humans and dogs and are effective against dog anxiety.

3. Massage your dog

Massaging your dog increases blood circulation and encourages deeper breathing. Massaging your dog can lower his panting and strengthen his immune system. 

Most importantly, a massage for your dog can lower his anxiety and relieve him from pain. A good massage will keep a restless dog calm, happy, and healthy.

4. Take the dog to a vet

You can correct behavioral causes of restlessness in your dog at home. However, medical causes such as Cushing’s disease, poisoning, and bone fractures require a veterinarian. Contact your vet when you notice limping, falling hairs, and dog anxiety.

5. Pet and cuddle your dog

A woman cuddling her dog.

Petting and cuddling your dog is essential to relieve them of fear, anxiety, and depression. You can lower stranger and separation anxiety by reassuring your dog that everything is fine. Sometimes that means carrying your dog and speaking warmly and confidently to them.

6. Take your dog for a walk

Taking your dog for a walk is key to shedding pent-up energy. If this energy accumulates in your dog’s muscles, your dog can be destructive and aggressive in the house. Taking him for a walk in the park and allowing him to play and run will also lower his stress and calm down your dog.

Here is a summary of the significant causes of restlessness in dogs and their solutions:

Causes of restlessness in dogsSolutions for a dog that won’t sit
Abandonment and separation anxietyTrain your puppy to be calmer
Stranger anxietyMusic and alternative therapy
Pain and physical discomfortMassage your dog
Fleas, ticks, and wormsTake your dog to a veterinarian
Cushing’s diseaseTake your dog to a veterinarian
Abuse and neglectPet and cuddle your dog
Built-up energy or pent-up energyTake your dog for a walk or exercise

How to know if a dog hurts when sitting

Here are some signs and symptoms that your dog hurts when sitting:

  • Difficulty resting
  • Lick and biting the painful area
  • Limping
  • Growling, howling, snarling, whimpering, or yelping.
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Shaking or trembling


Blakeney, D. (2021). Calming the anxious pup with music. Oklahoma State University.

Garvey, M., Stella, J., & Croney, C. (2017). Auditory stress: implications for kenneled dog welfare. Center of animal welfare science. Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University. Expert reviewed.

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