Why Can’t my Dog Jump Onto the Sofa?

My four-year-old Cocker Spaniel suddenly forgot how to jump up on the couch. He puts his front paws up, but won't follow through with his...


My four-year-old Cocker Spaniel suddenly forgot how to jump up on the couch. He puts his front paws up, but won’t follow through with his rear legs.

He’s also keeping his tail clamped down. He’s not dragging his butt, but could this be an anal gland issue?

San Francisco, CA

It could be an anal gland issue, but it’s probably not. I suspect that your dog is reluctant to jump up because he thinks it will hurt to jump.

Several problems can make jumping painful for dogs. Back pain is one of the most common causes of reluctance to jump. Back pain also frequently leads to a non-wagging tail.

Dogs may develop back pain after suffering major or minor trauma, or after suffering no trauma whatsoever. The last time my back hurt it was because I slept on it wrong. Dogs with back pain may be reluctant to engage in massive, explosive bursts of activity such as jumping.

Pain in or injury to the hips or rear legs can make dogs reluctant to jump up. So can any problem that causes pain in the hindquarters (including infected anal glands) and any problem that causes weakness in general.

Because this problem has so many potential causes your best bet is to have your vet check your dog. A thorough physical examination may lead to identification of the problem. And remember: if your vet wants to express your dog’s anal glands, I’d recommend that you step outside of the room for the procedure.

11 thoughts on “Why Can’t my Dog Jump Onto the Sofa?”

  1. My jack Russell has started hesitating jumping up at age 2.5 years but he has Vestibular Disease with both eyes moving all over the place "SOMETIMES" and I think this is the issue because he can't see the landing spot properly and he is similar jumping back down and I have to move objects on the floor in his path when he hesitates and when everything is clear he'll jump. I often say loud and politely YOU CAN DO IT and it gives him a boost of confidence. I've also put a little plastic step next to the bed and sofa so he can use it as a trampoline to get up much easier. Anything to make his life better for the little guy.

  2. My 8 year old male whippet can’t and won’t jump on the couch, climb the stairs, sometimes won’t step down 2 steps to go outside from the house iam having to lift him most of the time. He’s eating and drinking and going to the toilet as normal nothing in his stool or urine. He cry’s when he’s wanting to climb stairs or get on the couch but he just can’t get his backend up. He’s favourite thing is walks and usually goes crazy when say the word walkies and show him his leader and he sits up but can’t seem to get his back end up with out me having to help him. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    1. Hi Amy, did you ever find out what the problem was? My 8 year old whippet is exactly the same. Nothing wrong with her stools/urine, tail is wagging as normal but she's suddenly stopped jumping onto the couch and just sits there and cries. It's come on suddenly so I'm a bit clueless. Hope your furbaby is ok now!

  3. My almost 7 year old female Maltese x Pomeranian is lethargic. Won’t jump up on low couch. Just jumped off and let out a small yelp. Walking funny and tail down.

  4. My 4 yr old Chocolate Lab has trouble with her back legs, she has trouoble getting in the car to go for rides because her back legs give out , what causes this and what can I give her if I can’t afford to take her to the vet at this time?

  5. My 7 month old mini poodle chihuahua mix has never been able to jump on the couch. He can climb up and down stairs but can’t jump on any surfaces. I once witnessed him physically climb up a blanket to get onto a chair, like humans would rock climb. We go to the dog park multiple times every week and he sees dogs jump onto benches when he’s chasing them, yet he’s never been able to figure it out. Is there something wrong? I’ve never met a young dog who hasn’t been able to jump.

  6. My six month old Border Collie does not run very much preferring rough and tumble games. He can not jump on to the couch or car seat. The vet has examined him but says she can’t find anything obvious. However can’t be sure without X-ray. Do you think this is cause for concern?

    1. I have a 4 year old Malinois and I have the same issue. This has been going on for over a month. I have taken her to the vet, I have kept her low key 99% of the time and if she wasn’t low key, its because she was outside to use the bathroom without me and saw a rabbit or something. She walks fine, seemed to even jog and run fine with no issues in the last few days, thinking I had my girl back!! She jumped a little in the yard and gave a slight yelp and not putting weight on her left rear leg. After a few minutes her walk is normal again. Guess I will have to shoot for another month of minimal activity. 🙁

  7. My dog is an 8 year-old dachshund, he keeps bending his back and his doesnt wag as often and when we try to pick him up he screams in pain i dont know if its his back or his leg because he cannot jump on the couch either what should i do?

  8. my 4 year old dachsound and beagle mix over the last year losoing abiity to jump up. its very bad now she’s in pain i don’t have any money for a vet, whata can I do to help her

    1. Hi there —
      We suggest reading this article if you’re having trouble affording vet care: https://qa.dogster.com/dog-health-care/need-help-with-vet-bills-ideas-that-anyone-can-do
      Hope your dog feels better!

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