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Why Does My Dog Sit Sideways? 5 Causes of "Sloppy Sits" in Dogs

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Sitting with the legs placed sideways rather than under may be a sign of a dog with trouble sitting.

Sitting with the legs placed sideways rather than under may be a sign of a dog with trouble sitting.

Why Does My Dog Act Like It Hurts to Sit?

In dog-training lingo, "sloppy sits" are those where the dog keeps the rear legs sideways rather than under, almost like a lady riding sidesaddle. This position, which is often chalked up to "laziness,'' often denotes some sort of physical problem.

So, what is causing your dog to sit sloppy or sit and then flinch back up again? There are many possibilities.

5 Reasons Your Dog May Have Trouble Sitting

This article is not for the purposes of diagnosing your dog, but to simply provide a possible explanation and help you identify a potential problem. Following are some common causes for your dog having trouble sitting.

1) Hip Problems

From hip dysplasia to arthritis, and perhaps simply a temporary inflammatory response, hip problems may play a role in your dog's sloppy sitting. Similar to humans, sitting (or getting up from sitting) requires your dog to flex joints and bones in ways that can cause pain and soreness.

2) Knee Pain

In this case, it could be caused by luxating patellas, a condition common in small breed dogs. Again, just as it would hurt you to bend your knees to sit, it would hurt your dog.

If your dog is sitting sloppy with his leg to the side and is limping on a rear leg, suspect a torn cruciate ligament. This is what may female Rottweiler in the picture above turned out to have.

3) Back Pain

Even in this case, if you ever have back pain, you may find it painful to sit, and so does your dog. In particular, some dogs may have trouble sitting when they are developing intervertebral disc disease or a herniated disk. This condition is common in Dachshunds.

4) Dog Anal Gland Problems

Because your dog sits on his bum, those anal glands may sure hurt if they are inflamed. These two glands are located at the 4'o clock and 8 o'clock position around the rectum.

5) Painful Tail

Some dogs develop a condition where the tail hurts known as "Limber tail." This condition is temporary and often seen after the dog goes for a swim.

Don't Make Assumptions!

As can be seen, there are many causes for trouble sitting in dogs. If your dog is suddenly sitting sloppy, do not assume your dog is just being lazy or stubborn since she is not sitting as promptly as she normally would.

Please see your vet to confirm or rule out a potential medical problem that could be causing your dog to have trouble sitting.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2012 Adrienne Farricelli


Tounya Halsey on September 03, 2018:

Thanks for the info; our lab went swimming and of course she was tired but all of a sudden I ask her to sit for a treat and she could not sit; your information is extremely helpful; the night of the swim she licked herself a lot around her anal area, and her feet, we just thought it may have been the sand; but she also is keeping her tail down; so we are thinking it is limber tail, we will watch closely; if she is not better in a few day we will go to the vet. Again thank you for the info.

Bob Bamberg on November 01, 2012:

Very informative hub, alexadry. My knee-jerk reaction was hip problems, never realizing the other possibilities you offered. A salute to you, also, for recognizing your boundaries. I feel I know just enough to be dangerous (the real meaning of "jack of all trades, master of none"), which is why I spend a lot of time doing research to confirm my information. Your training and experience serves us all well. Voted up, useful and interesting. Regards, Bob

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on November 01, 2012:

Great information. We can never have too much knowledge when it comes to our pets since they are not always able to make us understand when things go wrong. I appreciate that you don't claim to be capable of diagnosing but you are a wealth of knowledge and information. Keep up the great writing. You are a valuable resource.