Why Does My Dog Pace Back and Forth?
Pacing in human beings can point to many different things, from excitement to impatience. Pacing in the doggie world is similarly diverse; it can indicate everything from the urge to mate to the frustration of separation anxiety. Do not ignore pacing in your pooch. She might just need your help.
If your dog starts pacing every time she picks up on even the smallest hint that you could be leaving the home, whether for a short or long period of time, separation anxiety might be at fault. If being on her own makes your dog feel unsettled, frightened and out of her element, you might notice everything from antsy pacing back and forth to whimpering every time you take your cellphone, wallet and keys off the kitchen counter. Separation anxiety also frequently causes dogs to behave in destructive manners -- think house soiling and chewing.
Hyperactivity could also be the reason behind your doggie's constant pacing. If your pet's energy reserves are a tad on the excessive side, this could be her issue. Many potentially things can lead to hyperactivity in dogs, from the anxiety of household tension to the desire for your acknowledgement and attention. Apart from pacing, you also might notice other telling behaviors, including seemingly nonstop running around, inordinate barking and chewing on practically anything in sight.
Frequent pacing in a dog could also signify the aging process. Elderly dogs often develop cognitive issues that cause them to feel disoriented and confused, whether due to memory problems or difficulties in seeing and hearing. If your dog paces a lot and seems to have no apparent destination or point to her actions, then it's time to take a closer look at the situation. Along with the pacing, you might see other hints of problems, such as antisocial behavior, quivering, zero reaction to her name and excessive daytime sleeping.
Pacing can also be a sign of compulsion in dogs, similarly to spinning around, barking all day and going after shadows on the wall. Many experiences can bring out compulsive patterns in canines, including insufficient interaction with doggie peers during the puppy stage, bullying from fellow household dogs, serious past neglect and trauma and frequent isolation and lack of attention from human beings.
In dogs of both sexes, nonstop pacing can be a sign of hormonal behaviors and the strong drive to find a partner and mate. Unfixed male dogs often exhibit intensely restless behavior, such as pacing and attempts to run away from the house. Unfixed female dogs also frequently display these types of antsy actions when in their heat cycles. Spaying and neutering procedures, however, often can help with these behaviors.
Pacing in dogs can be caused by a number of different things, some of which are medical. Vision problems in senior pooches can lead to pacing, as can dietary imbalances in super-hyper pets, for example. Because of these possibilities, a thorough veterinary examination is a must -- as soon as possible. Some pacing behaviors also may require the skills of certified canine behavioral experts, as well. Severe separation anxiety and compulsions, for instance, may call for professional help.
By Naomi Millburn
The Marin Humane Society: Why Spay/Neuter Your Pet
DogChannel.com: Hyperactive Behavior in Dogs
DogChannel.com: How to Manage Dog Separation Anxiety
DogChannel.com: Signs You Shouldn't Ignore in Your Senior Dog
ASPCA: Compulsive Behavior in Dogs
ASPCA: Behavior Problems in Older Dogs
Humane Society of Missouri: Compulsive Disorders in Dogs
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.