Why Does My Dog Keep Sitting Down Abruptly?

When a dog sits down abruptly (in situations where they normally wouldn’t), there is likely a health issue at play. The dog might be suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia, both of which can make walking uncomfortable. There’s also a chance your dog is “balking” and doesn’t like the route you’re taking it on.

Dogs can add so much happiness to our lives. Sometimes it feels like we don’t deserve them! They’re loyal, give us unconditional love, and provide us with an endless amount of joy and laughter.

Dogs are a part of our otherwise busy lives, balanced with work, family, stress, etc. But for them, we are their entire world, so it’s essential to monitor them and make sure they’re as happy as can be…and happiness starts with their health.

Like humans, many dogs suffer from health issues as they age. It’s important to keep your eye on any strange behaviors that could be a symptom of a bigger underlying problem. One of these strange behaviors is when your dog sits abruptly out of nowhere, whether on a walk or in the house.

Keep reading to learn more about what this odd behavior could mean for your dog and what you can do about it.

Why Do Dogs Sit Abruptly – Seemingly Out of Nowhere?

Imagine calling your sweet pup to come to you. They heed your request and joyfully start bounding your way. Halfway there, they suddenly stop, biting back towards their hip and abruptly sitting down.

What could cause this? Why did they stop coming toward you? And even more bizarrely, why did they suddenly sit down?

Most likely, there is a health issue at play that is causing your dog to be uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the potential health issues.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia can happen to any dog, but it is more common in larger breeds. It can cause arthritis and start becoming more apparent in old age, but it can also be caused by a growth spurt where the dog’s hips never fully formed correctly as the dog grew. It’s tough to treat as each dog’s condition and comfort level are unique.

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One of the most common first symptoms of this unfortunate issue is a dog sitting down often and out of nowhere.

Hip dysplasia means that when the dog walks, the hip joint and bone are not properly connected, causing them to rub against each other, resulting in pain.

If you have a large breed dog that sits abruptly, it may be time to start joint supplementation and make an appointment with the vet.

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia typically cannot be cured with anything other than surgery. Still, symptoms can be mediated with specific prescriptions and supplements to help joint pain.


Similar to Hip Dysplasia is arthritis. But unlike Hip Dysplasia, arthritis can happen in any joint, not just the hip joint. Their back, hips, shoulders, knees, and elbows can all be affected.

This condition causes joint inflammation and damage, resulting in pain when the dog tries to get around.

Abrupt sitting is a symptom of arthritis. If you have a senior dog struggling to get around the same way it used to, arthritis is likely a cause.

Vet-approved NSAIDS will probably be your best option to treat arthritis.

Swollen Anal Glands

This next one isn’t the most pleasant topic, but is part of dog ownership. Dogs have anal glands near their rear that can become infected. This can cause discomfort and pain, and along with abruptly sitting. “Scooting” can be a symptom of swollen anal glands.

Luckily, if you take your dog to the groomers regularly, even as often as once or twice per year, they can express your dog’s anal glands to ensure this doesn’t become an issue. However, once you’ve reached the point of infection, it will need to be treated with antibiotics.

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This one is more behavioral than the others and might require a phone call to your local dog trainer instead of the veterinarian.

Balking is when you walk with your dog, and they suddenly stop and don’t want to go any further. It can cause much frustration for both you and the dog.

In some cases, this is your dog’s way of “protesting.” Maybe he doesn’t like the route that you’re on, or perhaps he simply doesn’t like that you’re on your cell phone answering emails or texts instead of giving him the attention he feels he deserves. Either way, those would be behavioral examples instead of medical, but can be just as complicated to deal with.

Sometimes it’s as easy as bringing their favorite treats on a walk, but other times it might take a bit more complex knowledge of the proper training routine.

A Bad Memory

Dogs have a good memory and remember that time they got spooked by a car horn or a loud noise on a walk. Now they always associate that part of the street with the scary thing that happened to them.

Dogs are emotional animals and they remember when scary or traumatic things happen. For example, when a dog sits during a walk, he could simply be saying, “I don’t think I want to go that way anymore.”

Try changing the pace or going in a different direction than you usually do to ensure your dog has a new routine and new things to sniff. This is especially important if there are parts of his regular walk he feels hesitant about.


Your dog could have an old achy injury that went unnoticed, or they may have stepped on something sharp and their paw is sore. Make sure your dog doesn’t have a slight limp.

Like us, dogs can strain a muscle or sprain an ankle if they step wrong. Even a tiny stumble over a rock or curb could have consequences for your pup. Always stop and check to see if your dog is alright.

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They Are Physically Uncomfortable

It’s also important to consider the temperature outside and your dog’s comfort level. Is it over 80 degrees out or under 40? Your dog doesn’t suit up or wear shorts to go on their walks. They always go with what they’ve got and sometimes get overheated or too cold, just like we do.

Abruptly Sitting Down is a Red Flag

It is a bit of a red flag if your dog abruptly sits down, especially if it’s happening regularly. It’s important to schedule an appointment with the vet to ensure there are no major issues.

Always remember that dogs are emotional creatures. If they stop abruptly on a walk, they may just be trying to tell you they’re tired or feeling a little sore.

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