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Picture it: You and your dog have both had dinner, the sun is going down, and you are all ready to snuggle on the couch for some TV time. Or so you think, but your dog has a different idea.
They start on the couch with you, then move to the floor, then move to their bed. They continue to move from spot to spot. You checked to see if they need a late bathroom break, it is not the nightly zoomies. Your dog just cannot seem to get settled.
It can be unnerving and frustrating when your dog moves from spot to spot, especially when you feel you have done everything right as a dog owner. You have exercised, fed, trained, and loved your dog and want them to be able to relax with you. Even with a big comfy dog bed or being allowed lay on you, they move from spot to spot while sleeping.
So why does your dog move from spot to spot?
Dogs move from spot to spot because they do not feel settled. They need to feel secure before settling down for the night. Anxiety, proximity to you, temperature, old dog joints, or other health issues could make a dog too uncomfortable to stay in one spot.
So let’s look at what might cause your dog to move from spot to spot when it can be a normal behavior, and when it might be a sign of a behavioral or health issue. Is your dog trying to get comfortable on a hot summer day or do they have anxiety?
We will also give you some tips to help your dog settle and stop moving from spot to spot during the day or when they are sleeping if you are concerned about their behavior.
Why Does My Dog Move From Spot To Spot?
Dogs can have trouble settling down too. Sometimes they have not had enough exercise and need a quick walk or a zoomie’s session, though you think it is bedtime.
However, what if your dog is still moving from spot to spot despite having been walked and had a training session? Surely you have done enough to help them be tired enough to relax.
It might not be your stewardship as a dog owner that is making them want to move from spot to spot. From anxiety to temperature, to being a velcro dog, there are lots of reasons besides not being worn out that can make your dog move from spot to spot.
Reason 1: Your Dog Is Distracted Or Anxious
Whether your dog is distracted because of loud noises like fireworks, or naturally has an anxious personality, there is a good chance you will observe your dog moving from spot to spot when triggered.
Dogs who are sensitive to loud noises or busy neighborhoods tend to move from a window to a door, to under the bed, and go back to the door. As they move from spot to spot, you can pinpoint what is exciting and distracting them. A truck backfiring might send them from their favorite spot to under the bed, and a dog on the sidewalk could make them frantically move from window to window.
This sassy squirrel certainly has these dogs’ attention making them move from spot to spot in the video.
While the loud road construction is probably distracting to the whole family, people and dogs included, some dogs might be more sensitive to busy neighborhoods, and moving from spot to spot could be a symptom of anxiety. Moving from spot to spot, or pacing and restlessness, is a symptom of anxiety.
Other symptoms of anxiety in dogs include panting, drooling, toilet accidents in the house, as well as destructive behaviors and barking.
Dog owners with dogs who suffer from severe anxiety should talk to a trainer or behaviorist to help build a training plan. In extreme cases, a veterinarian can help by prescribing anti-anxiety medicine.
Reason 2: Your Dog Wants To Be Near You
Dogs are very emotional and empathetic creatures and not only do they see us as their defenders and caregivers, but they almost see us as their parents. This means they like to be near us, and if they are moving from spot to spot they could be following you.
True, some dogs might be more comfortable in a different room than you, but most people notice their dogs always following them around. Going in the kitchen? They need to check on what you are cooking. Laying on the couch, they better join you for TV time. When you are checking on work in the home office, I bet your dog will sit under the desk while you use your computer.
There is a term for dogs who like to always be touching and following their owners. Velcro dogs have a very tight relationship with their owners and like to always be with them. It makes sense that dogs can become clingy with their owners, the pack mentality that they have makes them want to move from spot to spot with their owners.
However, be aware that if you let your dog always move from spot to spot with you, they could become overly attached and develop separation anxiety. Giving them something to do by themselves in their crate can help them develop some independence and coping skills.
Reason 3. Your Dog Is Regulating Their Temperature
Is your dog moving from spot to spot and choosing the most unusual places to lie down? If it is an extra hot or a bitterly cold day, they could be trying to regulate their temperature.
Your Dog Is Trying To Cool Off
Dogs regulate their temperature and keep cool through panting and sweat glands located on their paws. Sometimes they need a little extra help to stay cool, and they might move from spot to spot in the house to find the coolest place. A favorite of my dogs is the cool tile floor of the bathroom.
Their coat can keep them warm and sometimes does too good of a job which is why you have to be careful with thick double-coated dogs like huskies if you live in hot weather. Any dogs in a hot climate should have constant access to water and shade and should be allowed to move from spot to spot while following the shade.
Your Dog Is Trying To Get Warm
However, that thick fluffy husky is perfect for cold weather. But not every dog has a glorious coat made for the Arctic tundra. As someone who has a chihuahua and deals with frigid winters, I have observed my dog chasing sunbeams as it moves across the floor or stealing my spot that I have pre-warmed. With the heat going and the fireplace blasting, he has to move from spot to spot to find the warmest place in the house.
The dogs in this video have also perfected the art of laying in warm sunbeams, both in the house and outside.
Why Does My Dog Move From Spot To Spot While Sleeping?
After a long day full of adventures, it seems natural to us that our dog will pass out once it is dark and stay in one spot till the morning. However, it is also in some dogs’ nature to move from spot to spot even while they are sleeping.
Some dogs are more vigilant than others and need to check on every noise or family member to make sure they are okay. A dog might also move from spot to spot while sleeping because they cannot get comfortable, either because of soreness or age.
Reason 4: It Is In Your Dog’s Nature
Many dogs seem to possess a certain instinct to protect us. We are a part of their pack and they can be constantly vigilant about making sure they know where we are and that we are okay. This might lead them to move from spot to spot and be alert while sleeping.
Some dogs, like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Great Pyrenees, and Pit Bulls, have been bred to instinctively want to protect you and your family. If you have one of these natural protectors, they want to be aware of everything that is going on in the house and check in on everyone and might move from spot to spot when they are sleeping.
If you feel like your dog is not getting enough rest because it is in their nature to always know where you are, you might want to consider crate training. Some dogs become so conditioned to using their crates that they eventually will sleep in their crate with the door open instead of moving from spot to spot.
Kikopup’s “Go To Your Bed” video is also helpful for teaching your dog to settle down and relax rather than moving from spot to spot.
Reason 5: Your Dog Cannot Get Comfortable
Have you ever seen your dog sleep so hard that they start dreaming? They start barking or whining in their sleep and look like they are running while laying down. Kind of like the dog in the video.
Or does your dog have a hard time getting comfortable enough to sleep that deep? Instead, they seem like they are constantly moving from spot to spot trying to get comfortable. One second they are on the floor, on the couch, then they finally find a pile of blankets to nest in.
Not all dogs like to sleep the same way, and you might have to do some trial and error before finding the perfect bed for them. Or maybe they do not like beds and prefer to sleep on the floor, on the couch, or in bed with you. If your dog likes to sleep with you, they could be moving from spot to spot while sleeping because they are waiting for your to go to bed.
Reason 6: Your Dog Is Aging
Old dogs need less exercise and more sleep than younger dogs and puppies. However, with age comes joint stiffness and arthritis which means it is harder for your senior dog to get comfortable.
Instead of settling down on their comfy bed, they might move from spot to spot. I often watch my senior dog move from her comfy bed to the carpet, to the hardwood. I know her joints bother her.
Senior dogs still need exercise, but not as much as they did when they were younger. An appropriate length walk or swimming are wonderful low-impact activities that will keep your old dog moving and comfortable without working them too hard. Remember, they are also more sensitive to extreme cold and hot temperatures now.
Furthermore, old dogs start to lose strength as they get older, and they might be stressed not being able to get places they use to like to sleep, like on the couch or in the bed with you. You should always talk to your veterinarian if you are worried about your senior dog and their pain level.
Should I Be Worried?
Your dog moving from spot to spot while trying to get comfortable, checking in on you, or trying to regulate their temperature is usually nothing to be worried about. If your dog is distracting or frustrating you, crate training is a great option to help condition your dog to stay in one place rather than moving from spot to spot.
However, besides basic old age, some medical emergencies might be making your dog uncomfortable and could cause them to move from spot to spot.
Fleas are tiny insects that plague dogs and make them terribly itchy. A bad infestation can be incredibly uncomfortable for dogs and they might move from spot to spot to get away from the biting and itchiness, or they might lay down and wiggle. Unfortunately, that does not work.
If you live in an area that has fleas, talk to your veterinarian about flea prevention. Most preventatives also protect against ticks, mites, lice, and scabies, which are other terrible bugs that can make your dog unhappy enough to constantly move from spot to spot.
Lastly, moving from spot to spot because they cannot get comfortable could be a sign they are not feeling well, particularly if a dog has an upset stomach. A dog might start pacing and moving around a lot when they have to throw up or have a more critical medical emergency.
Bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is a very serious condition in dogs caused by the stomach filling with air and pressure and usually requires life-saving surgery. Restlessness is a major symptom of GDV, as well as retching, enlargement of the abdomen, pain in the belly, and drooling.
All dogs can be at risk for GDV, but especially large dogs with deep or barrel chests. Veterinarians recommend not feeding your dog right before or after heavy exercise. And if your dog eats their food too fast, feed them in a slow feeder to minimize the amount of air that can get in the stomach.
The video below shows both DIY options and ones you can purchase. Slow feeders have the added bonus of being interactive and will help wear your canine friend out mentally.
There is something so cozy about the idea of being settled in and relaxed for the evening with your dog. They are passed out on their comfy dog bed and you have a good book or a favorite movie playing.
Nothing ruins that vision like your dog moving from spot to spot, unable to settle.
Your dog is not doing this on purpose to annoy you. They might be anxious and distracted, trying to regulate their temperature, are extra vigilante by nature, or simply unable to get comfortable. Older dogs especially might have sore joints caused by arthritis that might make it hard for them to find the perfect spot to lie down.
Crate-training, mat-training, or finding your dog that perfect bed will help them learn to settle down.
In addition to training your dog to settle or helping them find the perfect bed, as responsible pet owners we have to make sure the issue of our dog moving from spot to spot is not health-related. Older dogs sometimes need to go on anti-inflammatory drugs to help their joints or your dog could be getting bitten by fleas. If you are worried about bloat you should go to the closest veterinarian as soon as possible.
For those future dog owners who are not looking for a vigilant dog and want one that will stay in one spot on the couch all day, check out our list of 22 dog breeds that love to sleep!