If dogs are constantly walking restlessly through the apartment, this can be a sign of excess energy, stress, anxiety, or longing. In some cases, dogs also wander around at night because they suffer from dementia, arthritis, or torsion in the stomach.
Occasional and short walking around is usually no cause for concern. If, on the other hand, your dog wanders back and forth every day and for a long time, this can indicate existing diseases.
Here is a rough overview of the most common causes:
|Possible causes||Most Affected Dogs|
|Desires||Bitches in heat + sensitive breeds|
|Stress||Dogs that need a lot of attention + lap dogs|
|Dementia||Dogs over 10 years old|
|Racial Behavior||Guard dogs + Great Dane species|
|Fear||Small dog breeds + sensitive dogs|
|Stomach torsion||Large dog breeds|
|Excess energy||Shepherd dogs + hunting dogs + city dogs + apartment dogs|
|Arthritis||Big dogs + old dogs|
|Hear or smell something||Sniffer dogs + guard dogs|
|Increasing blindness||Old dogs + sick dogs|
So let’s take a closer look at the causes.
Are you worried or unsure? Then click here to start the live chat with a veterinarian.
With very sensitive dogs, the longings are often so strong that they run back and forth restlessly. Potential triggers are here:
- Strong sex drive – eg when bitches are in heat
- Bowel movements – eg if the dog suddenly gets diarrhea and has to go outside
- The master – eg when the master is not at home
- Strong hunger – eg if the food was forgotten
- Favorite toy – eg if the favorite toy is in the garden
- Attention – for example, if the otherwise daily cuddle session did not take place
By far the most common cause here is a strong sex drive. The only thing that helps here is castration. Because this greatly reduces the production of sex hormones.
Unneutered males are horny almost all the time. Unneutered bitches, on the other hand, only come into heat every 6 months for around 3 weeks.
If your dog is pacing restlessly near the front door, it is usually waiting for a specific person.
A dog camera or recording with a cell phone can help to find out the exact cause. After that, all you have to do is satisfy the longing.
Longings such as a strong sex drive, the master, or hunger can lead to dogs running around restlessly in the apartment. The solution here is to identify the corresponding cause and satisfy the longings.
Constant wandering can also indicate emotional or environmental stress in dogs. Possible triggers are:
- Severe weather – eg upcoming storms, thunderstorms, or hail
- Noise – eg fireworks or noisy trains
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – e.g. violence in upbringing
- Mourning – eg after separation from the mother
- Vet – e.g. before or after a visit to the vet
- Threat to territory – eg if your own basket smells of other animals
If there is no recognizable trigger, this could also indicate the so-called “Cushing’s syndrome”.
Here, a brain disorder causes the dog to produce too much of the stress hormone “cortisol”. Affected dogs also often run restlessly through the apartment.
When dogs are under severe stress, they usually show other symptoms:
- Constant panting
- Unusually strong hair
- Nervous behavior
The following measures can help to reduce stress:
- Give your dog more time and attention
- Go for two long walks a day
- Reduce any noise
All lap dog breeds are the most sensitive to stress. Because they are considered to be particularly sensitive and trusting.
Severe or chronic stress often leads to restless pacing in dogs. Typical causes here are an upcoming storm, noise, or grief. In almost all cases, more attention and physical and mental activity help.
According to studies, around 28% of all 11-12-year-old dogs suffer from dementia. With 15 and 16-year-old dogs it is even a whopping 68%.
Affected dogs are more likely to run around at night, simply forgetting that this is their home. Other typical symptoms are here:
- Ignore the simplest commands
- Sudden night activity
Unfortunately, dementia is currently still one of the incurable diseases. However, the following measures can mitigate the effects:
- Night lights
- Mental occupation
- Dog diapers
This intelligence toy from Amazon is ideal for promoting cognitive performance. It is not for nothing that it is an international bestseller with around 25,000 reviews.
Older dogs pacing around the house restlessly at night can be a sign of dementia. Here dogs also often behave very defiantly and are disoriented. While dementia is incurable, the spread can be slowed.
4. Racial Behavior
Compared to humans, dogs are significantly more instinct-driven. Guard dogs in particular therefore tend to always be on the lookout for potential dangers.
- The reason? We are able to objectively assess how safe our lives are today. Dogs can’t do that.
- The result? Survival is still the #1 priority for dogs today. They, therefore, patrol the apartment more frequently for their own protection.
So what looks to us like restless pacing back and forth is actually more of an instinctive protective mechanism.
Some dog breeds were even bred specifically to patrol unaccompanied. The “Napoletano Mastiff” is the best example here.
But many other Great Dane species also instinctively tend towards this behavior. In the case of smaller and very trusting dogs, on the other hand, this is relatively rare.
Restless pacing can be an instinctive defense mechanism in dogs. Patrolling is most commonly seen in guard dogs and some Great Dane species. Sometimes they also migrate back and forth at night.
If your dog behaves restlessly or even nervously, this can also indicate existing anxiety disorders. Typical causes are here:
- Separation anxiety
- New environment after moving house
- Loud noises
- Barking of a more dominant neighbor dog
Very old dogs in particular often become increasingly anxious. Because the deteriorating memory usually leads to confusion and disorientation.
In addition to running back and forth, there are usually other symptoms here:
- Constant panting
- Repetitive Behavior
- Sudden aggressive
For treatment, the cause should first be identified. Irrespective of this, the following measures can also help:
- Distracted by a new toy
- Calming Supplements
- Anti-anxiety medication
Anti-anxiety medication should only be used when all other measures have failed.
Restless pacing is one of the many symptoms of existing anxiety disorders in dogs. It is usually accompanied by severe panting, repetitive behavior, and incontinence. Treatment is specific to the underlying cause.
6. Stomach Torsion
As the name already suggests, when the stomach rotates, the stomach rotates around its own longitudinal axis. According to studies, this disease occurs in 0.6% of all dogs.
The most common symptoms of this are:
- Bloated stomach
- Retching without vomiting
- Restless walking around
- Drooling and trembling
The exact cause of this is not yet known. According to statistics, however, large dog breeds are most frequently affected.
This is a medical emergency. Because if left untreated, torsion in the stomach is accompanied by severe pain and usually ends fatally.
Early action is therefore the be-all and end-all. In most cases, operative intervention is necessary for torsion of the stomach. The mortality rate here is around 25%.
Torsion in the stomach causes such severe pain that affected dogs cannot sleep and instead run restlessly through the apartment at night. If you notice any other symptoms, you should see your vet immediately.
7. Excess Energy
While a single short walk is perfectly fine for some dogs, not even three long walks are enough for other breeds.
In this case, restless wandering is just a symptom of a lack of physical and mental activity. Other typical symptoms are:
- Constant digging
Part of the restless behavior is also due to a diet with too much sugar and carbohydrates. A look at the nutritional information of the feed helps here.
Sheepdogs and hounds are generally considered to be among the most active breeds. However, excess energy can also be the result of living conditions:
- A large dog kept in an apartment that is too small
- Active dogs that are kept in big cities without wide meadows
Regardless of breed, every dog should get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. For more physical and mental activity, the following aids can help:
- Another dog as a play partner
- Use the dog as a jogging partner
- Frisbees or balls to throw
- Coffee wood chewing bones
With more than 4,000 positive reviews on Amazon, this coffee wood chewing bone is an international bestseller.
Restless pacing around the home can be a sign of excess energy. Here the dog only needs more mental and physical activity. This type of hyperactivity is most common in hunting and shepherding dogs.
According to studies, around 1 in 5 dogs will suffer from arthritis as they get older. This means chronic inflammation of the joints.
In this case, lying down and getting up is often associated with such great pain that affected dogs prefer to pace restlessly to and fro instead of sleeping.
Other symptoms of arthritis include:
- Stiff gait
- Painful impression of rising
- Swollen joints
- Aversion to jumps
Unfortunately, arthritis is still one of the incurable diseases. However, the symptoms can be treated very well. Help to:
- Medicines for pain relief
- Physical therapy
- Dietary Adjustment
Arthritis can make lying down and getting up so painful for dogs that they fidget around the house at night instead of sleeping. In addition, affected dogs usually walk a little stiffer. Although this disease cannot be cured, it is easily treatable.
9. Hear or Smell Something
In comparison, dogs hear and smell many times better than humans. Here are the facts:
- Depending on the breed, dogs can smell up to 60 times better than the average human.
- Dogs hear sounds four times farther away than humans.
- Not only can they perceive frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz, but even up to 65,000 Hz.
In other words, dogs’ hearing and sense of smell are so good that we can’t even imagine it.
If your dog is pacing back and forth in front of a wall, this could be an indication of existing bed bugs or rodents.
In particular, tracker dog breeds are very sensitive here. Other typical behaviors are:
- Scratching on the floor
- Barking at a wall
Even if it sounds completely silent to you, another dog may be howling or yelping in the distance. This also causes nervous behavior.
Since dogs smell and hear many times better than humans, restless walking around the home can indicate possible rodents or noises in the distance. Sniffer dogs are the most affected.
10. Increasing Blindness
As dog’s age, their eyesight often deteriorates. And the worse a dog sees, the more often disorientation occurs.
Affected dogs often run back and forth in the apartment to memorize the floor plan. Other symptoms of this are:
- Hazy eyes
- Dog no longer jumps on objects
- White dots on the eyes
- Sudden clumsiness
- Avoiding Stairs
Completely blind dogs often make a depressive impression, no longer want to play, and are reluctant to leave their familiar home.
You should visit the vet for a diagnosis. Treatment then depends on the underlying cause.
No worries. Even with a terminal illness, there are numerous ways to keep a blind dog happy.
Older dogs with increasing visual impairments often wander restlessly around the home in order to remember the floor plan. In many cases, the impairment can already be seen in the eyes. The veterinarian should be consulted for treatment.
11. Other Causes
In rare cases, the restless pacing can also indicate other problems. The more typical causes include:
- Liver diseases
- Brain tumor
- Breathing problems
- Other abdominal pain
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Heart diseases