Dog Won’t Walk? Here’s 5 Reasons Why…
Published: July 26, 2022
Updated: May 12, 2023
Summary: Dog refusing to walk on a leash? Dog stops walking and won’t move? Don’t worry, pet parents. In this blog, learn why your dog may be refusing to walk with you and how you can help encourage them to get moving again…
It can be frustrating when Fido just stops mid-walk for no apparent reason. But, with dogs, it’s worth noting that there’s always usually a reason behind each behavior they adopt, no matter whether it’s obvious to us or not. So, what are the potential reasons for a dog to stop walking and moving…?
Dog Refusing To Walk
If you have a puppy that is refusing to walk, this can be because a baby dog’s instinct is to stay as close to home as possible. It’s a genetically-informed safety mechanism to stop puppies from wandering off too far. As they grow older, the desire to stay near home will diminish but be mindful that this can happen quickly, so work on their recall training pronto!
If you have an adult dog that’s refusing to walk, it may be because they’re scared of something up ahead or around them and they’re trying to avoid it. This may be another dog, cars, something scary-looking blowing in the wind, a loud noise like thunder, or a strange smell. Try and figure out the trigger if your dog seems unnerved when they stop on walks. If you have a rescue dog, this may be the most likely cause of their refusal to walk, and you may need to spend some time working out what’s frightening them…
They may be uncomfortable in their collar or harness and it may be ill-fitting without you realizing it. It should be secure, but you should be able to put two fingers comfortably underneath the harness/collar too, otherwise, it’s too tight and may be rubbing against your dog’s skin. The same goes for any protective gear they may be wearing (coat, cold-weather boots, etc.)
Alternatively, they may be experiencing muscular or skeletal discomfort or have hurt themselves, and that may need the attention of a vet. Look for the signs; are they being reluctant in putting weight on their foot perhaps? Are they struggling while walking? If this is sudden behavior and not like your dog, it’s definitely worth having them checked over by the vet.
If you have a large breed puppy, they may be experiencing growing pains as they tend to grow so rapidly and this might be causing them to stop on walks.
Are you over-walking your dog? They may just be exhausted or not fancy a walk… Check out our handy guide below on how much walking each dog breed typically needs.
They Want To Do Something
Your dog may want to greet another person or dog and be refusing to walk until they’re allowed to do so. If they’re stopping in the same spot each time on a walk, they may have enjoyed something there before (a crumb of food, a treat, or a nice smell!) and are hoping it will repeat. Or, they may be wanting to check out something interesting like a squirrel or bird’s activity.
They Don’t Want To Leave
If the issue always tends to arise as your dog’s walk is due to come to an end, their sudden refusal to walk may be because they don’t want the fun to stop! You need to work on positively reinforcing their behavior with treats and praise when they do come to you via perfecting their recall training.
This can also be the case the other way around. Some dogs simply hate to get wet or be cold, so may be refusing to walk because of the temperature, the fact that it’s wet out or they’re already too hot.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: In the summer months, check the pavement with the back of your hand. If you can’t hold your hand on it for more than 5 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws and too hot for them to be out! Engage in some indoor, gentle playtime instead.
Dog Won’t Walk? Here’s What To Do…
Firstly, you need to determine what you think is causing your dog to stop walking and not move. Once you understand what’s going on, you can move forward with helping them progress with more fluid walk times.
Bring high-value, healthy treats on your walk with you; when your dog behaves well and walks when commanded or freely, praise them and offer them treats. However, don’t lure a dog with the treats as otherwise they may refuse to walk until they get one! Treat only when they are walking…
If you suspect worry or fear, invest in training; an ethical, reputable dog behavior trainer will be able to tailor their training to the fear and their breed tendencies. It’s hard work encouraging a dog not to be scared of something that has evoked fear in them so look to invest in proper support and professional training.
Don’t force your dog through fearful situations; if you can see a trigger for your dog up ahead, find a new direction to walk in and minimize the potential reaction. Forcing a dog through their fear won’t help them until they’ve slowly built their confidence up in a controlled way.
Start practicing patience; don’t get angry at your dog for not walking - this will just teach them to be scared of you as dogs don’t process frustration and/or discipline in the same way humans do. Don’t pull your dog along on their leash either - this will potentially cause them pain and may make them dig their heels in more and refuse to walk for longer.
Train at home; prepare them for walks by training them while at home. Have them sit next to you, and then give them a command like “let’s go” and encourage them to move off with you and walk. If they do this, reward them with praise and a treat. This way, they’ll learn the command in advance of a walk so they should move when told after they stop.
Author Taffer, Marissa “Why Your Dog Refuses To Walk: The Guide To Understand” Dog Eared by My Ollie, Jan 13. 2020 https://blog.myollie.com/why-dogs-refuse-to-walk/
Author Thornburg, Jen “10 Reasons Your Dog Stops On Walks And 10 Ways To Get Moving Again” Good Human Dog Training, Aug 02. 2020 https://goodhumandogtraining.com/10-reasons-your-dog-stops-on-walks-and-10-ways-to-get-moving-again/