Dog Won’t Lay Down .. (causes & solution)

Last Updated: March 5, 2023

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dogs lay down except the one that keeps standing

Lying down is something that is second nature to dogs. Most canines have no problem getting comfortable for a night of sleep or just to lounge around when they're feeling lazy.

When dogs are having a difficult time laying down or they outright refuse to do it, it should be a cause for concern.

Dog's aren't able to communicate their problems to us humans. In most cases, they wouldn't want to if they could.

Dogs will instinctively hide their problems from you and avoid showing any signs of weakness. As a result, you're going to need to use other methods to figure out why your pup is not lying down.

Why Would a Dog Refuse to Lay Down?

There are a number of reasons why this issue is occurring. You need to learn how to read your dog's body language so that you're better equipped to give them the care they need.

Here are a few common reasons why a dog may refuse to lay down and possible solutions that can help.

4 Reasons Why your Dog Won't Lay Down

#1. Pain

It's never easy to accept that your dog is in pain. Every owner wants to see their furry friend jumping and playing to their heart's content. Unfortunately, injuries and medical issues can create drastic changes in behavior.

Bodily pain can make it impossible for your pooch to lay down. They may choose to sit up or get into an awkward position to avoid it.

Issues like arthritis, hip dysplasia, and back pain are all common causes. They may also be experiencing internal ailments like gastrointestinal upsets, Lyme disease, or pancreatitis.

If you suspect that a medical issue may be the culprit, keep an eye out for additional symptoms.

You may notice changes in their eating habits, vomiting, diarrhea, and a host of other problems. Noticeably labored breathing or frantic chewing on one part of the body may be signs that you need to seek professional assistance as soon as possible. 

A dog's health can deteriorate quickly after an injury. This is especially true with senior dogs. Seek professional help and give your dog with some much-needed love and support.

#2. Discomfort

This reason is less serious than intense pain but should still be addressed to prevent future problems from occurring.

Some dogs won't lay down because the floor is uncomfortable to them. There are a number of breeds that just aren't built for sitting on unforgiving floors.

dog lying down on the floor

Dogs with thin coats and bony legs will find hard floors unpleasant.

Depending on the particular surface, it may be too cold or too hard on their bones. A dog's joints are quite fragile as it is.

When they have thin skin and not a lot of hair, laying down on a solid floor can lead to pain and injury. You may even notice some slight redness on the surface of the skin.

The best way to resolve this issue is to provide them with something soft to lay on. You can invest in a dog bed. There are many options out there with memory foam that are specifically designed to soothe the joints.

Even something as simple as a soft towel will suffice for many dogs. Once they find a suitable spot that's comfortable, they'll likely stick with it.

Related: 8 Reasons Why your Dog is Suddenly Sleeping on the Floor

#3. Stress

Stress and anxiety can affect dogs just like it affects humans. Some dogs will go and hide to deal with their emotions while others will become energetic and difficult to calm down.

If your dog is not laying down, they may be going through a stressful situation. 

This is quite common among newly adopted dogs being introduced to a new home, dogs that just experienced a death in the family, or dogs that have experienced traumatic events in the past.

Dogs aren't always capable of dealing with their emotions properly. They're a lot more complex than most people think. They may be thinking about a million things at once.

An over-active brain will make it hard to relax, causing them to pace around the room. It's important to find a solution for your dog as soon as possible. Too much stress can lead to major behavioral issues if it's not dealt with properly.

The easiest way to solve this would be to address the stressor directly. However, that's not always possible. In these types of situations, you'll need to teach your dog calming techniques so that they have the power to overcome their feelings on their own.

One method is to teach them the "Settle Down" command.

To do this, attach a leash to their collar and place the end on the ground. Place your foot on top of the leash to prevent your dog from running away.

Make sure to keep some light slack to avoid injury. Tell them to "Settle Down" and position the leash in a way that forces them to lay down on the ground.

*Give your pup multiple breaks and provide plenty of rewards for positive reinforcement.

Related:  How to Win the Trust of a Scared Dog

#4. A Communication Barrier

Sometimes, not wanting to lay down is simply a product of poor communication.

While many people think that laying down is one of the first and easiest commands to learn, not every dog is going to understand the process.

Some owners find it difficult to move past the point of sitting. To overcome that hump, you need to be vigilant with your training.

Your dog should already know how to sit down. From this position, hold a treat in front of their nose and move it down to the floor while stating your command firmly. Continue this process until your pooch can perform it successfully at a distance and with distraction.

If that still doesn't work, you can try training them on a raised platform where they'll have to get down low to receive their treat. 

Other methods include putting the treat underneath a chair that forces them to get, imitating what you want them to do, and training them when they're tired after a long walk. If those tactics don't work, you can contact a professional trainer for help.


If you notice that your dog isn't laying down like they normally would, you need to take action as soon as possible. While not every situation is dire, it's always a possibility.

Refusing to lay down for extended periods of time can lead to undue stress and major issues down the line. Keep an eye out on his or her behavior and contact your vet the moment that you notice extreme behavioral changes.

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.