As with almost any canine behavior, sometimes pacing can be an indication that something is wrong. The pacing could be occurring simply because your dog is uncomfortable and the pacing is his way of trying to find relief.
If they have pain or discomfort, they may feel restless and rhythm is the way they deal with it. But, when combined with other symptoms, it could also be a sign of liver disease, separation anxiety, Cushing’s disease, brain tumors, dementia, swelling, blindness or vision problems, or worse.
Your dog is anxious about something
Dogs that pace and don’t lie down often are due to anxiety, which could be caused by a number of different issues. An anxious dog will have nervous energy, and one way to release this nervousness is to start pacing. The anxiety could stem from the fact that storms are coming or it could be due to leaving your dog for a while.
Separation anxiety is one of the most common reasons, but the anxiety could be due to a number of other issues. It’s important to find out what’s causing the anxiety and do what you can to calm your dog down.
How do I stop my dog from walking?
The best way to prevent your dog from pacing is to discover the root cause of his anxiety and address it accordingly.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to pace when anxious or stressed. If you think your dog is pacing due to anxiety, there are a few things you can do to help.
Dobermans obviously like to have a lot of interactions with their owners. This means that they are very prone to separation anxiety. Even leaving them alone for a short period of time, such as receiving the mail, can lead to anxiety and destructive behaviors in an affected dog.
Separation anxiety takes its toll on your Doberman. It can lead to serious behavior problems if left unchecked. It will also be incredibly stressful for your dog. This is a more serious problem than the common Doberman need. Check out this helpful guide for more information on how to spot separation anxiety and what to do about it: How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Dobermans: The Proven Method.
Tips for canine anxiety
- Exercise your dog. A mentally stimulating walk, a good run, tug of war, a game of flirtation, or a wrestle with a dog friend is sure to drain excess energy. If you can’t walk your dog, try other ways to exercise him.
- Feed nutritious food. There is a belief that a healthy diet will improve a dog’s mood. Imagine children who have eaten a lot of junk food, sugar or soda, and then run around like little maniacs.
- Try behavior modification with candy. For noise phobias, try tossing your dog a favorite treat after every thunder and lightning strike. Food helps dogs focus and can work as a distraction to whatever is scaring them. Hopefully, your dog will learn to associate a scary noise with something positive. Keep in mind that some dogs are more motivated by food than others.
- Try to mask any sights or sounds that bother your dog. For example, close the curtains so he can’t see the lightning, or turn on the TV or music so he can’t hear the wind outside. Or close the blinds so he can’t see that stranger walking outside.
- Some dogs feel safer in their crate, while others crate makes them more nervous. Let your dog go to the place he likes. One of my Dobermans likes to bathe during thunderstorms (one theory is because that room has less static electricity).
- Try calming devices. These tools need more research, but some believe they work to help dogs be less nervous. Anti-anxiety tools include calming pheromones for dogs, body wraps (like Thundershirt), calming caps, Storm Defender (a metallic-lined shirt), and Mutt Muffs. The appeasing pheromone for dogs is available as a collar or room spray. It works by emitting a synthetic version of pheromones naturally released during lactation. I tried this product because it was recommended by my vet for noise/thunder anxiety, but I did not notice any visible difference with my two Dobermans.
- Be calm yourself. If you look or feel tense and anxious, your dog will be too. Keep your body position relaxed, don’t look upset, scared, or agitated, and speak calmly. Your dog will pick up on these subtle cues. They look to you for guidance in stressful situations. Make your dog feel that he can trust you to protect him from scary things. (Note that standing or staring is considered threatening body language for dogs.)
- Get anti-anxiety medication from your vet. If your dog is very afraid, he needs relief. Medications can also help with desensitization training.
- Use a Kong Wobbler to distract your mind and help calm your dog down. Here’s a handy Kong filler guide.
- Music can help calm your Doberman. I suspected that classical music had a calming effect on dogs and have since learned that piano music is only one option for influencing a dog’s mood. A research study conducted by Dr. Deborah Wells, an animal behavior specialist, studied the effect of different styles of music on shelter dogs. While heavy metal music made the dogs bark and walk more, psychoacoustic classical music showed fewer stress behaviors in the dogs. (Pop music and conversation seemed to have no noticeable difference either way.) The relaxing solo piano seems to have a heart rate lowering effect due to the slow rhythms and simpler arrangements. For dogs with separation or noise anxiety, try playing this style of music 20 minutes before you leave the house. If you are expecting visitors and your dog is fussy, try calming him down with music to help him train obedience when the person arrives. If you plan to board your dog, maybe ask the kennel if they can play their soothing music for your dog.
I recommend the solo piano as an option to relieve stress for your dog. At home, I often play solo piano music from an Internet station, or you can buy music made especially for dogs like the Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion CD. With my two Dobermans they seem to calm down and sometimes even go to sleep to the music. On another note, it’s also great for calming down humans!