Why do German Shepherds Pace and Is it Something to Worry About? – We love german Shepherd

Why do German Shepherds Pace and Is it Something to Worry About?

Many dog parents see their German Shepherd dog pace a lot. They don’t know the reasons and, at times, worry about their dogs.

So, Why do German Shepherds pace? German Shepherds will pace when they have one of these causes which are physical conditions, neurological causes, psychological causes, genetic causes, or excitement.

To know more about the causes and ways to stop pacing in German Shepherds, read on.

Physical conditions

Your German Shepherd may have health problems that cause them to have run in circles.

For example, your dog may have pain or itching in their tail, hind legs, or back which will ultimately cause them a lot of spinning in circles and tail chasing.

The main causes of these health conditions:

  • Parasites: Parasites such as fleas and ticks can irritate your dog’s skin causing them itching and red sores.
  • Skin conditions: While skin conditions such as mange can cause your German Shepherd to also to run in circles.
  • Anal gland infection: An anal gland infection can cause your German Shepherd lots of pain and irritation.

German Shepherd dogs also pace when they are ill with other health conditions such as liver disease, Cushing’s disease, dementia, and brain tumors.

Also, Sometimes the causes can even be digestive problems and joint problems which will cause your German Shepherd discomfort and will most likely to pace.

Neurological causes

Sometimes your German Shepherd may run in circles because they have a disorder in their nervous system.

They are often not under your dog’s control.

Usually, it will be hard for your German Shepherd to move in the opposite direction when they have a neurological disorder.

The most common causes of a neurological disorder in German Shepherds are head traumas, seizures, an infection in your dog’s middle ear, distemper.

Head traumas

A serious injury to their head in which your German Shepherd may die from the injury if untreated.


  • Lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • difficulty walking
  • Bleeding from the ears or nose
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Differences in pupil size
  • Seizures


This condition happens when your dog has abnormal brain electrical activity. Some breeds are more prone than others to seizures.


  • collapsing
  • stiffening
  • muscle twitching
  • loss of consciousness
  • drooling
  • chomping,
  • tongue chewing
  • foaming at the mouth

Ear infections

Credited: pure shepherd

These may cause your dog to have pain in their ears and make them more likely to scratch and pace in circles.


  • Scratching of the ear or area around the ear
  • Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge
  • Odor in the ear
  • Redness Swelling Crusts or scabs on inside of the outer ear
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Rubbing of the ear on the floor or furniture
  • Head shaking
  • Loss of balance
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Walking in circles
  • Hearing loss


Distemper is a contagious viral disease that affects dogs and attacks their brain cells.

Symptoms of distemper

  • Seizures
  • Running in circles
  • Eye and nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

Psychological causes

German Shepherd’s like all dogs are prone to stress, frustration, or facing a conflicting situation.

This will lead them to develop a pattern of running in circles when exposed to certain triggers.

Some of the triggers stem from boredom, insufficient exercise, and lack of mental stimulation.

This boredom mainly comes because of their instinct to the herd that got them always moving and stimulating their mind. Their back and forth movement remind them of herding.

Also, this compulsive behavior can often result from stress and anxiety.

The main reasons for this stress and anxiety may come from your dog being abused or living in a stressful environment that caused them to spin in circles.

Other reasons for anxiety and stress in your dog is separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety happens when your German Shepherd feels anxious wherever you leave or go out.

Confinement happens when you put your German Shepherd in a crate or keep them in an area for long periods of time.

Genetic causes

Breeds like the German Shepherd and Bull Terriers are more genetically predisposed to pacing and circling.

They can’t help it because it is in their genetics. It was passed in their DNA from their parents to them.

Also, if they weren’t bred properly with care and love, they will also pace.

Another reason is that they weren’t socialized from a young age and had negative experiences.


Credited: emborapets

Your German Shepherd may run in circles because of excitement.

Some of the examples of your German Shepherd showing excitement is that you are showing them a treat, getting a leash before walk time, or simply coming home after a long period.

They will become so excited that they will begin to pace because of the excitement.

Is it something that you should worry about?

Yes, you should definitely worry about your German Shepherd because this behavior is telling you something about their condition.

It may be a way that your German Shepherd is telling you that they are bored.

German Shepherd needs 2 hours of exercise a day. They also need to be mentally stimulated through dog puzzles and toys.

They may be anxious or have a physical condition that is causing them to pace so they need to get treated to feel comfortable and safe.

How to stop your German Shepherd’s pacing

1.) Go to the vet

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You have to test your German Shepherd for any medical conditions.

Here are some of the basic diagnostic tests from your vet:

  • A physical examination by your vet for certain types of illnesses.
  • Blood tests, urinalysis, and tests for Cushing’s disease.
  • X-rays to dig deeper into the types of diseases and illnesses. Your vet may recommend doing an ultrasound, or special imaging studies.

2.) Be brave and have a positive attitude

When your German Shepherd is around and ill, you have to maintain a positive attitude.

This is necessary because dogs will mirror your behavior and how you feel.

If you become worried, frustrated, or angry, your German Shepherd dog will mirror your behavior making them worse.

3.) Upgrade your dog’s bed

Credited: k9deb

Your German Shepherd who is underweight or in pain can become relaxed when they have a comfortable bed.

Start with a high-quality bed that is large and will offer your German Shepherd a large space for them to relax.

Make the bedding comfy as possible using bedding that won’t be hard or stiff when your dog lays down.

4.) Increase your dog’s exercises

Give your German Shepherd’s exercise so they can release their pent up energy. They can also stop feeling bored, ultimately, stopping their pacing behavior.

German Shepherd’s need about 2 hours per day of exercise.

Exercise is good for their health by making them maintain a healthy weight and keeping their limbs and joints in good condition.

It is important to choose specific times during the day so your dog won’t get a heat stroke such as early at morning and in the evening.

For dogs who are old or have a severe health condition, you can use a stroller to get them outside or give them a car ride.

5.) Stimulate your dog’s mind

Your German Shepherd won’t only need physical exercise, they will also need mental stimulation so they can feel happy and relieve their boredom.

For example, give your dog puzzles and interactive toys so they can have fun and occupy their own time.

You can teach your German Shepherd new tricks such as standing on the carpet to get a treat and many more.

There are two advantages to teaching your dog new tricks. The first is that your German Shepherd will not become bored and will use their mind to learn.

The second is that you can teach them any tricks and train them using a clicker which will make them obedient.

Thus, the training will positively reinforce your dog.

6.) Change your dog’s diet

Credited: the happy puppy site

Introduce your dog to a different diet especially one that has natural anti-oxidants and healthy fats.

Gradually, introduce fresh foods such as green vegetables, sweet potatoes, and lean cooked meat.

It is important to introduce the food gradually so they don’t have problems in their stomach.

The minerals, protein, and vitamins give your German Shepherd a healthy boost in energy and can actually stop problems such as pacing.

This is mainly due to the psychological rewards that this diet gives. There have been studies that certain foods lower stress and anxiety in dogs.

7.) Herbal remedies

Herbs such as Gingko Biloba has been shown to treat stress, pain, cognitive dysfunction and anxiety.

These herbs can actually contribute to your dog not pacing in the long run.

However, you have to be careful and have a balanced amount of herbs to give to your dog.

If you misuse herbs when giving them to your dog, you can actually lead them to unwanted side effects.

Related questions

1.) What other types of behaviors that will worry you when your German Shepherd dog does?

If your German Shepherd is barking more than usual, it might be a symptom of compulsive barking.

Dog chewing or howling excessively may be a sign of separation anxiety in which your dog does so to express how they are feeling.

Dog biting can be a sign of your dog being nervous, aggressive, or fearful.

2.) What to do if your German Shepherd is chasing their tail?

Try to understand the main cause of your dog tail chasing by first going to the vet. It could be an underlying condition.

If it is behavioral, you can implement a behavioral training program for your German Shepherd to stop chasing their tails.

Also, there are a lot of times that your dog chasing their tail is a result of having lots of pent up energy and your dog doesn’t have a way to exercise to release this energy.


German Shepherds are known to pace a lot. There are many reasons for your German Shepherd to be pacing.

You have to take into consideration that many causes of pacing and find a way to stop it.

For more information regarding whether German Shepherds can see in the dark, check Can German Shepherd See in The Dark?

Share your experience with us. Does your German Shepherd pace and what did you do about it?


Welcome to my bio everyone, my name is Nada. Ever since I was little, I have loved animals because they are so loving and kind. All they need is you attention, love, and care but I didn't understand them very well because I didn't get the chance to raise them. Well, That changed when my family and I got our first dog Rocky, a German Shepherd. Rocky was fun and loving with funny quirks. Being loyal and protective of us, he made me see the nature of a German Shepherd. Now, we have another German Shepherd named Mia. She is a wonderful dog and a rescue who just needed a second chance in life. Mia has long grown from being a terrified dog to the brave and caring German Shepherd that she is today. P.S: Here is a picture of our beautiful German Shepherd, Mia.

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