You are outside taking your dog for a walk on a beautiful day, but they suddenly stop and won't move. Today, our Mankato vets share some reasons why this may happen and what you can do.
Reasons Why Dogs Stop Walking & Refuse To Move
If you've ever gone on a walk with your dog and they suddenly stopped, refusing to move, we want you to know you aren't alone. While this is a common issue, it can be very frustrating and hard to manage, especially if you don't know why they are doing it or what to do. Here, our vets have listed some reasons why your dog may have stopped walking and how you can get them moving again.
They are Experiencing Joint Pain
Dogs sometimes stop walking if they are experiencing long-term pain in their joints. Common causes of joint pain include arthritis and hip dysplasia. These conditions can be very painful for dogs, making it important to be able to recognize the signs of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or letting out a yelp or whimper before stopping.
If you think your dog is suffering from pain in their joints, the best thing you can do is call your vet and schedule an exam. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive examination to determine the underlying cause and prescribe a treatment plan.
Your Dog Has Been Injured
Your dog may stop suddenly on a walk if they get injured. Injuries can be minor or severe and could include a hurt paw pad or nail, or something more serious.
If your dog is injured, stop your walk immediately and examine their paws and legs for any injuries. If you find the source of the wound, take pictures and call your vet to schedule an appointment and get first aid instructions. If you can't find the source of the injury, you still need to contact your vet to get advice and arrange an appointment.
Meanwhile, to prevent the injury from getting worse, call a friend or family member to pick you and your dog up.
They are Scared of Something
Lots of dogs might refuse to walk or keep moving if they are afraid of something in their surroundings. This is most common in young puppies who are going through their fear period and adult dogs that are walking in an unfamiliar environment (especially if they tend to be anxious/fearful or have a history of trauma).
Signs of fear in dogs include held-back ears, a tucked under tail, crouched body posture, and/or abnormal or heavy breathing.
The first thing you need to do when addressing this issue is to find the source of their fear, this could include noises, another dog walking nearby, a trash can, a sign, or a scent you didn't notice. If the source is a specific sight or smell they may stop in the same spot every time you walk by it.
After you have determined the source of your dog's fright you can start desensitizing your dog to this trigger (if it is safe) and help them build their confidence. While the exact steps required to desensitize your dog may differ based on the fear, here are some basic actions you can take:
- Figure out what the fear is and build resistance
- Offer rewards (do not reward negative behaviors)
- Redirect your dog's attention with commands
If you know your dog stops walking out of fear, call your vet and schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how you can properly manage your dog's fear safely and efficiently.
Not Enough Leash Training
Another common reason why your dog may refuse to keep walking is that they aren't used to going for walks on a leash or haven't gone for a leashed walk before.
If this is the case, you need to keep in mind that this could be an overwhelming or frightening experience for your pooch, so it's best to start them out slowly, introducing the process gradually. Begin by showing them one piece of equipment at a time, letting them sniff and get to know the gear as you pass them treats. Do not skip this step because it could result in negative associations with walks and the equipment.
Then you can start putting the collar on them for brief periods at a time, gradually increasing time intervals, starting with a few seconds and increasing the time until they are used to it.
It's also essential to select a properly fitting and weighted collar for your dog, by carefully reading the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging. However, for training purposes, a lighter collar and leash are typically best.
Before taking your dog for a walk on a leash, let them wander around your home with the collar on for several days, so they get used to the feeling. Then you can start taking your dog for leashed walks in your home. Gradually, you can introduce your dog to outdoor walks in areas such as a fenced backyard or an enclosed dog run.
Don't forget to reward good behaviors with treats and to move at your dog's pace. If you need help leash training your dog, don't hesitate to contact your vet for advice.
Other Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want To Walk
If you don't think the above situations apply to your dog, here are some other potential causes:
- Your pooch is fatigued or tired
- It's too hot or cold outside for your dog
- Your dog's walking gear (leash, collar) is uncomfortable for them
- They want to keep walking more
- Your dog needs to get more exercise and stimulation out of their walks
- Their walks are too long for them
Ways to Get Your Dog Moving
Here are some additional tips and ways you can help your dog start moving again:
- Start walking faster when going through interesting locations
- Choose one specific side for your dog to walk on to prevent pulling
- Spice up your usual walk and take other routes
- Stop walking and restrict their access to objects they are interested in (this will help them realize the only way to walk is with you).
- Implement proper leash training
- Reward good walking behaviors
If your dog stops walking and won't move, it's always a good idea to call your vet to get advice and book a physical examination because many of the potential causes are due to an underlying medical condition or even a veterinary emergency.
It's also key to note that if your dog stops walking, you shouldn't bribe them to keep moving or drag them as it could motivate this negative behavior or make it worse. It's also very important that you don't yell at or punish your dog because there could be many factors causing this issue. This is why we say "when in doubt contact your vet".
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.