Dogs are generally adventurous and curious creatures, and will examine pretty much anything and everything they come into contact with.
So one day while on your daily walks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your pup is merely sniffing the proverbial flowers if it has suddenly stopped in its tracks.
However, when a dog just stands in one spot for an unusually extended amount of time and doesn’t act ‘normally’, it can be a worrying sign for many owners.
Some dogs may remain stationary for so long that they might not respond even when you call out their name! Even a firm ttug may not move them from where they stand.
Before free falling into panic mode, it’s important to consider the potential reasons for this strange behavior.
Is there something in the environment that is making your dog cautious or afraid?
Or, does your dog have a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) neurological condition?
It could also be the case that your pooch is bored out of its mind or simply doesn’t feel like following your lead. Hey, it happens!
A consultation with a vet or a canine behavioral specialist could be the solution to this problem.
Although a dog standing still in one spot is unlikely to be a major issue, it s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
- My Dog Won’t Move From One Spot! Why?
- Pain, Pain, Go Away…
- Wanted: Attention- And Lots Of It!
- Sensitive Senses Of Hearing And Smell
- Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome
- Other Potential Causes Of A Dog Standing Still And Staring
- In Summary
A dog that won’t move and just stands in one spot could be acting this way due to several different reasons.
These can be factors ranging from pain and wanting attention, to sensitive hearing or seizures.
If your dog won’t move and is standing with its head down, it could also be the case that your pup is feeling upset or depressed.
If this is the case, you will need to find out the reason for their emotional distress and manage it accordingly either by distracting them or by removing the stressor.
Make sure that you document each episode of abnormal behavior via video recording and note down the time and duration of each incident in case a vet needs it to analyze the situation.
This can be particularly helpful as many dogs have the strangest tendency to behave completely normally once they’ve stepped paw inside the vet’s office! It’s as if they know…
These abnormal behavioral cases are often treatable, so it is important to always take any symptom seriously and seek help when you feel it is necessary.
Whenever your dog behaves strangely and develops weird habits, it may also be a good idea to contact a canine specialist to identify the potential issue and determine if treatment is required.
Being the tough little critters that they are, an injured dog will often show no signs of pain until the condition escalates beyond recovery.
In some cases (such as when a dog’s front paws are turning inwards due to structural damage), standing still may be a behavioral response to the existing trauma since moving around can intensify the discomfort experienced.
A dog in pain will behave differently depending on the severity and location of the injury.
(For example, a dog with lower back pain or a tail injury may yelp when you lift its tail, while a dog with tooth pain obviously will not!)
Some potential indicators that may suggest that a pooch is suffering from pain include:
- Hiding away in its crate or in a corner
- A hunched posture
- Constantly looking down
- Lethargy and sleeping more during the day
- Vocalization, such as whining or yelping
- Reluctance or inability to walk, or walking with a limp
- Having trouble when trying to stand or get up, and vice versa (having difficulties sitting or lying down)
- Lack of appetite and/or won’t drink any water
- Refusing physical touch, especially grooming
If the pain is localized in the spinal region, a dog may also become unable to properly regulate their urinary and bowel functions.
This could subsequently lead to uncontrollable urination and defecation when they are walking around (or even while standing still).
All in all, if a dog suddenly seems rooted to one spot with little to no desire to move, some kind of pain or physical trauma is definitely one of the first possibilities to consider.
Wow- what a question, right?!
Pain, as you might imagine, can be a result of so many different factors. These can range from acute, one-off injuries, to chronic problems such as arthritis in senior dogs.
To determine the exact cause, it is highly recommended that you visit a vet since they are really the only qualified people able to provide a specific diagnosis via carrying out thorough physical examinations.
Nevertheless, potential explanations for pain can include:
- Abdominal issues
- Back problems
- Ingestion of foreign objects such as AirPods or latex gloves, resulting in bowel obstructions
- Injured tissue, bone, or joints
- Oral and teeth-related diseases
- Recent surgery to remedy the above afflictions
The list really is endless, but once the root cause has been identified pain can be quickly resolved in many cases.
As pain can be caused by a variety of factors such as a back injury, disc problems, or even hip issues, the first step will always be to identify the origin of the pain by consulting with a professional vet.
Before heading to the vet, try your best to obtain images or videos of the times when your dog displayed odd behaviors.
Documented evidence will help your vet prescribe the appropriate medication, and to advise a suitable routine to reduce the pain and discomfort.
A series of tests including a physical exam, bloodwork, and x-rays may also be necessary to identify the cause and to apply the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.
It is important to have the dog checked immediately as your pup may not complain until the situation becomes too severe to handle.
Any medication and therapy prescribed for your dog will be wholly dependent on the specific cause of pain.
Pain medication and anti-inflammatory products are often given along with an order of sufficient rest. If the pain becomes intolerable, medication can also be prescribed to help your dog relax and sleep.
More holistically, changes in daily activities such as exercise and diet may be necessary to promote more efficient recovery.
In cases where there is persistent pain or loss of function in the affected area, surgery may be required to remedy the issue.
Another reason as to why a dog may suddenly stand in one spot could be due to wanting to gain its owner’s attention.
Attention-seeking behavior may be spurred initially by boredom (such as from being left alone at home for all day long).
Without sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, excess trapped energy can make a dog behave in abnormal ways.
Canines are intelligent creatures. Over a period of time, your pooch can come to realize that by standing still they are able to gain their owner’s attention and receive praise and pats.
Once this behavior is reinforced through repetition, your dog may then begin to sporadically remain motionless to garner your attention again and again!
To resolve attention-seeking behavior, a couple of effective things that you can do include increasing the frequency of exercise and providing mentally-stimulating games to keep your dog occupied.
Whenever your dog behaves appropriately, make sure that you reward them so that they associate good behavior with treats. Even giving your attention is a reward from your pup’s perspective.
Simply ignore your dog when they act out of place (but try not to get too mad at them for too long!). It may not be overly successful initially, but with time your dog will learn that they will be promptly ignored if they behave in a certain way.
If you have trouble getting your dog’s attention-seeking habit under control, it’s always a good idea to ask for help from an experienced canine behaviorist or vet!
As dogs have evolved throughout the millennia, they have at the same time developed incredible hearing abilities that allow them to discern sounds at much wider frequencies and lower decibels than human beings.
What this means is that our dogs are able to quickly detect strange noises that us lowly humans cannot even imagine being able to hear.
The same can be said about their sense of smell, which is actually their strongest sense. Dogs have the ability to detect smells up to 100,000 times better than humans and can even use their nose to tell the time!
As a result, you may from time to time find a pup standing still and staring at a wall or into space, trying their utmost to identify the source of a particular sound or scent.
It’s not uncommon to see a dog staring up at the ceiling, sniffing, and tilting its head- seemingly at nothing at all!
In this scenario, there is nothing really to worry about.
However, it might pay to join your dog’s efforts in trying to identify the source of the sound or smell.
For instance, if there is something unwelcome in the walls that’s catching your pal’s attention you’ll definitely want to contact pest control to curb that issue ASAP!
If your dog is getting ‘up there’ in terms of age, an increased tendency to stand still in one spot for no apparent reason may be due to the onset of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome can be likened to diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease in humans, where cognitive function begins to decline with age due to degeneration of the neural network.
Degeneration means that the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction will get worse over time if there are no appropriate interventions in place.
Symptoms of cognitive dysfunction often overlap with other illnesses, so a thorough examination at the vet’s office is often necessary to rule out other potential causes of irregular behavior.
Signs of cognitive impairment can include:
- Disorientation (‘drunk’ walking or being stuck in corners)
- Altered sleeping patterns
- Getting lost in familiar areas
- Abnormal habits such as excessive licking or barking
- Inability to respond to commands or its own name
- Inability to recognize familiar people or objects
- Defecates and urinates inappropriately
- Difficulty learning new patterns
- Easily irritable and experiences anxiety more frequently
While the condition is unfortunately irreversible, degeneration can still be slowed down and symptoms reduced by carrying out certain recommended exercises for mental stimulation.
An antioxidant and fatty acid-rich diet may also be advised to help keep the brain as healthy as possible.
Finally, a vet may be able to prescribe certain medications to promote sleep and manage anxiety, as well as suggest strategies to cope with irregular behavior and inappropriate elimination at home.
A dog that develops cognitive dysfunction will need lifelong support and therapy. There is no cure for this condition, but as the owner you can help to slow down the progression of the illness.
The first thing you should do is to consult with your vet. Consistent monitoring of your dog’s condition will help to prevent abnormal deterioration of their mental capacities.
Maintaining a stimulating environment by regularly exercising, playing, and training will help to slow the progression of cognitive decline.
The environment should also be adapted to suit your dog’s needs. This may involve:
- Night lights to help your dog navigate through darker areas in the house or whilst walking
- Potty pads in an appropriate area in the house to let your dog relieve itself when they are alone
- Orthopedic foam beds to support sleep
Another important factor that is beneficial to implement when trying to delay canine cognitive decline is a nutritious and balanced diet, as one that is designed to support cognitive function will help to bolster a dog’s memory and learning ability.
For this purpose, some of the vitamins and supplements that can be helpful for an older dog include vitamin E and C, carnitine, omega-3, antioxidants, and carotenoids.
Although we commonly associate seizures with convulsions and frothing, it is also possible for a dog to experience something called absence seizures.
Otherwise known as partial, focal, or petit-mal seizures, these types of seizures are characterized by a tendency of the patient to stand still and stare into space for a period of time.
Absence seizures- a form of epilepsy- can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from poisoning to cancer. The seizures can also sometimes be idiopathic, meaning that there is no clear known cause.
Petit-mal seizures are typically brief and result from disturbances in the electrical activity within the brain.
These disturbances subsequently cause irregular brain function, manifesting outwardly as short periods of unconsciousness, loss of muscle tone, and blank staring.
The causes of partial or focal seizures are similar to those of absence seizures, except in the fact that they affect a larger region of the brain. As such, symptoms can be more intense.
Seizures do not cause any pain, but they can cause confusion in your dog as they will be unable to control their body.
As heartbreaking as it may be for you to watch, the only thing you really need to do during an episode is to make sure that your dog cannot hurt itself in its surroundings.
Finally, it is also important to make sure the seizure isn’t prolonged as hyperthermia and a range of other issues can develop in such a scenario.
It is important to understand that doses need to be followed very carefully. Once the first dose is provided, your dog may need seizure medication for the rest of its life.
Alternative approaches to controlling seizures can include making dietary changes, incorporating supplements, and testing certain homeopathic remedies.
Before starting any regimen, however, it is vital to consult with a vet first as they will advise on the most suitable method for your pup.
For an Ultimate Guide on Seizures, make sure that you check out our page here. It explains in more detail the different types of seizures, as well as what to do in each scenario!
A dog that stands in one spot for a prolonged period may exhibit other abnormal symptoms such as head pressing, pacing, diminished reflexes or issues with their senses (such as impaired vision).
In these cases, the potential causes can include poisoning, trauma, tumors affecting the nervous system, degenerative diseases, or canine distemper.
As there are a range of potential explanations, it is best to take your pet to the vet straight away for a thorough assessment..
A physical examination, imaging and analysis of the dog’s medical history will help to identify the cause as well as to establish the corresponding medical treatment necessary to prevent long-term damage.
Unfortunately, the prognosis for neurological causes isn’t the greatest as issues such as canine distemper will require frequent follow-ups and medications to suppress serious symptoms.
If the cause of the behavior involves cancer, the treatment will similarly be a long process and recovery isn’t always guaranteed.
In the case of poisoning or an infection, these conditions can thankfully be quickly resolved once the toxic element and treatment approach is identified.
During recovery, it is always best to not over-excite or stress out your dog. Ensure they have sufficient food, water, medication, and rest to accelerate the speed of recovery.
It can be worrisome when you find that your dog just stands in one spot for long periods of time. As you’ve no doubt learned from this article, this behavior can arise from both minor issues or major health problems.
If your dog suddenly stands stationary because it has detected foreign animals or insects– or if it was simply trying to get your attention in a strange manner- these relatively harmless problems can be quickly resolved.
When it comes to factors such as pain and seizures, long-term treatment is often not required. However, this will depend on the severity and duration of these problems.
Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome remains a possibility with older dogs and can have more complicated implications.
When faced with this behavioral issue, a consultation with a vet or canine behavioral specialist can quickly provide an accurate diagnosis as well as a suitable treatment plan.
With an improved diet, consistent exercise schedule with appropriate physical and mental activities, and prescription of relevant medications, your dog should be able to make a full recovery rapidly in most cases. Good luck!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.