There are a number of reasons why a dog suddenly refuses to walk. And it is a very popular question among pet parents. It’s not something you can neglect because your dog, irrespective of the breed, needs to go for a walk because they need exercise.
It is also the gateway to all peeing and pooping activity. And some canine parents are used to taking their dogs on a walk while they run errands and kill two birds with one stone. But when your furry friend refuses to put one step in front of the other, that can be a logistical problem.
You must make time to figure out what’s happening and sometimes, you really don’t have time for that in your busy schedule. It happens. We get it.
But to make that easy for you, we’ve put together all the possible reasons why your dog has suddenly stopped walking. Don’t worry. We’ve got some solutions too.
Now, this is not exactly something dangerous. But you’re responsible for your little guy (or gal) and you need to make sure they are okay. For starters, you need to know that this happens quite a bit when there is a change in the routine or the environment around them.
If you’ve moved the timing of their walking session or got them a new leash, it makes a huge difference to their life. And this is their way of letting you know that they are not big fans of these changes that you are making. Unfamiliar environments and things can trigger a little anxiety or fear and this is their response to it. But there are plenty of other reasons that lead to this behaviour. Let’s take a look. Sometimes dogs just hate the bad weather too!
Why Is This Happening to Me?
Well, actually, it’s more like it’s something is happening to them and you need to find out what that is. Let’s try and help you before you lift your arms and scream this into the air.
We’ve already looked at the obvious one. Something changed and they don’t like it. Now let’s look at the other top reasons that have compelled this negative reaction from your dog. Yes, there is never a joyous reason for them to stay still.
The first reason can’t be tough to guess. And by discomfort, we mean literal, physical discomfort. So, you must check their collar and harness (if they are wearing one) immediately.
It could be that something is pinching or poking into their skin and they need you to pay attention to it. If you put a harness around your dog, you must check to see if it fits well and see that their ability to move is not restricted by it.
If you put gear related to the weather on your puppy, you must check to see the fit and if there are sharp corners that might be making them uncomfortable.
Raincoats, jackets and even protective boots might need some breaking into sometimes. They could also have sharp button corners or buckles or straps that are not smoothened out.
And, in any case, every time you buy new gear, it is a good idea to let them wear it in the house as a test drive. If something bothers them, your buddy won’t walk around in it and you’ll know it’s the gear.
If your pup has medical issues like an injured paw or an ache in their knees or back, they might not always stop walking but will definitely slow down. Check their paws to see if something is stuck underneath. Arthritis is also a reason because it causes pain when they walk.
A lot of dogs are really good at hiding pain. So, you must be proactive in finding out what is happening. And never force them to walk if they seem reluctant whether the reason is physical or behavioural. It could lead to sudden paralysis too.
We know that humans respond to fear in different ways. Fight or flight is a concept that applies to dogs too. And yes, they do tend to freeze when something is scaring them.
This could be driven by a larger dog or an obstacle or some kind of phobia. Sometimes, dogs that are not used to objects like skateboards or bikes or other automobiles and tend to suddenly stop walking.
In fact, even strollers can cause fear and freeze them. Some puppies are also afraid of children maybe because they have had a bad experience with a child who was rough in their play.
If you have a rescue, you must also take PTSD into account. This could be a trigger and the reaction is to whatever untoward incident took place in their past. Puppies that were hit by cars or bikes in the past or have had a close call have a tough time walking on the sidewalk as if nothing happened. Plastic bags, trash cans and fountains on a windy day can also be triggers.
If you have moved houses and the locality is different in terms of the sounds of the traffic, that can be a trigger too. You can see how that plays into the changes for a rescue dog, right?
If you’ve moved to a busier part of town, there will be all kinds of new sounds and smells. Take into account the fact that their hearing and sense of smell is a lot stronger than us humans. You will know this is the case if you see your buddy hide in a corner or away from doorways.
Simply Unwilling to Leave
This is likely to happen if you’ve signalled to your canine that it is time to go back home from the park. Maybe they want to stay and play some more. So, that is nothing to get mad or worry about.
This is also likely if you want to take them out when it is drizzling or raining. That is obvious, isn’t it? You can tell this is the case if you see them run away or lay down to signal their unwillingness to go.
No Lead Training
If your dog is okay otherwise but refused to move when they are put on a lead, it is clear that they have a problem with the tag. There could be two reasons for this. One is, of course, that the lead is too tight or causing pain in some form.
It could be the case if it is a new lead and they are uncomfortable with its fit or smell or maybe it’s heavy. If you have a small dog then you don’t need a very strong lead. Maybe you got the wrong one. So, check that.
The second reason is that they are not trained well on a lead. Now, this is something to tackle. Dogs aren’t born with the knowledge of working with a leash. It is something that needs to be taught. So, you have to get on it right away. We’ll tell you how in a minute.
What Do I Do about It?
We’ve seen the problems. Now let’s look at how you can fix each of these physical and behavioural problems that you might have encountered as a dog parent.
If Your Dog Is Uncomfortable
If it is physical discomfort, with the collar or harness, we’ve already told you what to do. But if this happens outside, say in a park, and it is not because they are having too much fun and don’t want to go home, you must see if they got too tired.
You know this when they start lying on their back after a while. Maybe they’ve walked a lot more with you that they should have. This is not uncommon in puppies during the first few weeks. It is important to keep them active but don’t tucker them out.
What you can do is read about the right amount of physical exercise for a puppy of your breed and let the rest of them be mental exercises. Little ones also like exploring what’s around them.
Take that into account before you head out for a walk. And if you’re not feeling up for the homework, remember that if you do this wrong, your dog might end up having orthopaedic issues later on.
The opposite is true for senior dogs. They might be too tired because they are getting old. For rescues, they might have gone through experiences that keep them from walking around joyously. You have to consider all these factors before deciding on the length of the walk or any other form of physical exercise.
If Your Dog Is in Pain
When it is physical pain, you need to go to the vet without further delay if you haven’t already. Before that, you must check their gait. See if they are trying not to put their weight on a particular leg or if there is a limp when they walk.
After a diagnosis from the vet, you must find out the limits of the dog’s ability to walk. Adjust the schedule around it. Shorter potty breaks and some corrective exercises are all good ideas when they come from the vet. And do not neglect professional advice if you want your buddy to get better as soon as possible.
If Your Dog Is Unwilling to Go
On the contrary, if your dog is having too much fun and doesn’t want to leave, you have to work on some tricks. If you have excellent recall skills that have your buddy running towards you, you are probably going to be okay.
Otherwise, you can call them on and make them do a trick for you. That makes them come to you without giving away the fact that the recall command means it is time to go home. It also gives you just enough time to put the leash back on them. That signals to them that playtime is over. You could try treats (although watch out for obesity).
Lead or Collar problems
This one can sometimes be a biggie. With some dogs, this is always a work in progress. As mentioned before, lead manners don’t come naturally to dogs. And that’s not surprising because they don’t have an evolutionary purpose. They are just for our convenience and to keep the canines safe in an unsafe world dominated by (sometimes cruel and crazy) humans.
So, you need to go about this from the beginning. Introduce the lead and collar properly to the dog. Yes, that means you need to do a whole session with these items. Otherwise, the dog forms negative associations with them and that could cause your friend to refuse to walk.
But before that, you need to get a harness or collar that fits the dog’s size. You will need to measure your dog in a certain way and find one that is closest to your dog’s numbers.
Go through the fitting guide of the product carefully before you wing it. A short lead gives you more control in the training phase. Also, remember to check the weight of the leash and get something that works for the size of that breed.
Dog Suddenly Refuses to Walk – Parting Thoughts
Luckily for you, a lot of dogs like clear instructions and routines. That’s because when they know what is expected of them, they will confidently do it unless they are scared of something in that process.
When that is missing, they feel insecure. So, if you get the walks into their routine and get a collar that is comfortable, you can avoid this problem to a great extent.
Really young puppies might be reluctant because they are new to the process. Just be gentle with them and give them tons of praise as encouragement before the walk and treats as a reward after the walk.
You must also make sure that your dog isn’t dealing with behavioural problems like separation anxiety that have been causing them to bark excessively or chew on furniture.
If that’s coupled with any of these above-mentioned problems, you are really in for a ride through hell. But they are easily avoided if you pay attention to your dog.