A dog walks in the park in early spring

Why Does My Dog Walk Sideways?

Seeing your furry friend scooting around sideways can be amusing, but it also sparks curiosity (and maybe a little concern).

Is this normal doggy behavior, or could it indicate something more?

Injury or Pain:

Dogs may walk sideways if they are experiencing pain or discomfort, especially in their limbs or joints. Check for any signs of injury, swelling, or sensitivity when you touch specific areas.

Breed and body structure:

Some dog breeds, like Pugs or Bulldogs, have shorter bodies and longer legs, making a sideways “crab walk” more natural for them.

Playful behavior:

Puppies and young dogs sometimes walk sideways as part of playful behavior, like when they’re chasing each other or trying to get your attention.


Some dogs might learn this gait from other dogs or as a way to navigate certain situations, like tight spaces.

Neurological Issues:

Disorders affecting the nervous system can lead to abnormal gait or movement. Conditions like vestibular disease or certain neurological disorders may cause a dog to walk sideways.

Ear Infections:

Issues with the inner ear, such as infections, can affect a dog’s balance and coordination. This might result in a dog walking sideways as they struggle to maintain their equilibrium.

Intoxication or Poisoning:

If your dog has ingested something toxic or is under the influence of certain substances, it can affect their motor skills and cause them to walk unusually.

Muscle Weakness or Fatigue:

Weakness in certain muscle groups or overall fatigue can impact a dog’s ability to walk normally. This may lead to a sideways gait.

Joint Problems:

Arthritis or other joint problems can cause discomfort and influence a dog’s walking pattern. If joints are stiff or painful, a dog may adjust their gait to alleviate discomfort.

Genetic or Breed-Related Factors:

Some dog breeds may exhibit unique gaits or movement patterns due to their anatomy. However, sudden changes or abnormalities should be investigated further.

What to do

Observe your dog: Pay attention to any other symptoms like limping, lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty getting up.

Consider the context: Did the sideways walking start suddenly? Is it associated with any activities or situations?

The Bottom Line

Remember, most cases of occasional sideways walking are harmless.

However, it’s important to be observant and seek veterinary help if you notice any sudden changes, pain, or other concerning symptoms.

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