Dog Refuses to Walk: 11 Reasons & What Should You Do?

Last Updated on July, 2024

Is your dog stopping mid-walk while you’re taking it out on your usual walk? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! This behavior is typical in many dogs for a variety of reasons. 

However, it can be annoying and frustrating when your dog stops halfway during a walk. Identifying the root cause of this behavior is the first step you must take to stop it from happening continuously. 

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the most common reasons why your dog stops walking and refuses to move. We’ll also tell you HOW to solve this problem and other helpful facts. 

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Quick Summary

There are multiple reasons why a dog may stop walking during a walk, including joint pain, injury, fear, lack of leash training, discomfort with weather, overstimulation, or fatigue.

It is important to identify the root cause of the behavior in order to address it effectively, and seeking veterinary advice may be necessary in some cases.

It is not recommended to force a dog to continue walking if it doesn’t want to, and there are certain things to avoid, such as punishing or leaving the dog unattended. Patience and positive reinforcement are key in addressing this issue.

Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Walking and How to Get Your Dog Moving

Let’s look at the causes behind why your dog stops walking and won’t move and how to solve each issue. 

a dog on a leash refusing to walk

Your Dog Has Joint Pain 

Sometimes, dogs may stop walking due to persistent joint pain. This is common in adult dogs facing issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis.

Ensure that you look for indicators in your dog, such as the preference of one leg over the other or letting out a whimper or a yelp before it stops walking. 

If you suspect your dog is grappling with joint pain, you must contact your vet and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Your vet will conduct a physical examination to pinpoint the underlying medical condition causing your dog’s joint pain. Based on their findings, they will propose a tailored treatment plan. 

When suffering from joint pain, dogs constitute medical advice regarding their health and well-being, so ensure that you take swift action. Stop your walk immediately and seek veterinary attention. 

Your Dog is Injured 

If your dog doesn’t want to walk, it could indicate an injury.

This can range from minor issues like a hurt paw pad or a loose nail to more severe problems like an open wound or something stuck in a limb. 

If you suspect your dog is injured, stop walking immediately and check their legs and paw pads for any signs of injury.

If you identify the source of the injury, contact your vet to schedule an appointment. 

an injured chihuahua dog being examined by a vet

Your vet will likely provide first aid instructions. Even if you can’t locate the injury, still contact your vet for medical advice regarding pets and to schedule an appointment for an accurate diagnosis.

Till then, you must stop walking to ensure your pet’s condition doesn’t worsen. Call a friend or family member to come pick up your dog to prevent the injury from getting aggravated.

Your Dog is Scared of Something 

When a dog feels scared of something around them, it usually means it has had an overwhelming or frightening experience. This can make your dog hesitate to walk or move. 

This behavior commonly happens with young puppies during their fear period and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment, especially if they’re usually anxious or have a history of trauma. 

Signs of your dog’s fear include:

  • Held-back ears.
  • A crouched body posture.
  • A tucked tail.
  • Unusual or heavy breathing. 
a dog on a leash looking frightened

To address this issue, the first step is figuring out what’s causing your dog’s fear. It could have negative associations with certain noises, a trash can, a sign, a scent you didn’t notice, or another dog walking nearby.

If it’s a particular smell or sight, your dog might stop in the same spot each time you pass it. Once you identify the source of your dog’s fright, you can start by making it more comfortable with it (if it’s safe) and show it that it’s not so scary. 

Desensitizing your dog may involve different steps depending on the fear, but here are some basic actions you can take: 

  • Identify and gradually expose your dog to the source of its anxiety.
  • Reward good behaviors (without rewarding negative behaviors, of course).
  • Use commands to direct your dog’s attention. 

If you notice your dog has stopped walking due to fear, consider contacting your vet for advice. Your vet can provide specific tips on how to manage your dog’s fear safely and efficiently. 

Your Dog Needs to Have More Leash Training

If dogs refuse to walk, it might be because they aren’t accustomed to being on a leash or haven’t experienced leashed walks before.

You need to implement proper leash training if you want your dog walking beside you like a pro without any negative behavior.

In such cases, this can be an overwhelming and scary experience for your dog.

To ease it into the process, introduce the leash slowly. Let them sniff and become familiar with the gear while offering treats.

This step is crucial to avoid negative associations with walks and the gear.

a woman walking her dog on a leash

Gradually progress by fitting the collar on for brief periods, gradually increasing time intervals from a few seconds to longer durations as your dog gets used to it.

Ensure you choose a well-fitting and appropriately weighted collar, following size guidelines on the packaging. For leash training, a lighter collar and leash are often more suitable.

Before a leashed walk, let your dog roam indoors with the collar on for a few days to acclimate. Begin leashed walks inside your home, then slowly introduce outdoor walks in places like an enclosed dog run or a fenced backyard. 

Remember to reward good walking behaviors with treats, and move at your dog’s pace. If you need assistance with leash training, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a professional dog trainer. 

Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Bad Weather 

Different weather conditions can affect your dog’s willingness to walk– whether it’s too hot and sunny, too cold and icy, or too wet and windy.

In hot or wet conditions, dogs stop walking, may seek shelter, and refuse to continue. On the other hand, wet snow can make it uncomfortable for them to walk. 

This is why you must consider your dog’s tolerance for weather. Short-coated dogs may struggle in the cold, while long-haired dogs might be sensitive to heat. 

a husky dog laying on a leash in a park

Heatstroke is a genuine concern for all dogs, especially during hot weather. To prevent this, walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooler.

Consider dressing your dog in a coat and boots in cold weather to keep it warm during walks. 

Your Dog is Overstimulated 

Some dogs can struggle with overstimulation, making it challenging for them to learn. This is particularly common in rescue dogs exposed to new and overwhelming experiences, like smells, sights, passing cars, other dogs, and energetic kids. 

If your dog is overstimulated, distracting it is a good approach. For instance, scattering kibble on the ground can shift their focus away from the overwhelming stimuli.

Alternatively, you can work with a trainer to learn techniques to redirect your dog’s attention toward you and away from anything else. 

Your Dog’s Walking Gear is Uncomfortable 

Your dog may be stopping during walks because its leash collar is uncomfortable.

This discomfort can also be caused by other gear like shoes or a harness. 

Lucky for you, fixing this is usually simple–make sure your dog’s gear fits properly.

It should be snug, but not too tight and lightweight to allow your furry friend to breathe and move comfortably.

If you notice any discomfort, consider replacing poorly fitted gear. 

a dog on a leash with its mouth open

Pay attention to your dog’s reactions when introducing new clothing or gear. If you see chafing or marks, try opting for a more comfortable collar or a supportive padded harness for your dog’s comfort during walks. 

Your Dog Wants Something From You 

Your dog may refuse to move to express discontent with the current walk. Perhaps it wants to go in a different direction to explore its favorite park or visit a dog friend in the neighborhood. 

If you can accommodate your dog’s preferences, you should go for it.

It’s your dog’s opportunity to venture outside, so if it indicates a desire to walk in a specific direction or visit a favorite spot, consider allowing it. 

However, there may be situations where fulfilling your dog’s wishes is not possible.

Perhaps you’re short on time, or your dog is recovering from an injury that limits the distance it should walk. 

When your dog stops on the sidewalk, try waiting patiently without acknowledging the behavior change.

A dog walking on a leash in a park

Eventually, your dog should realize its tactics aren’t effective and continue on the planned route. 

Your Dog is Tired 

Not every dog is built for long runs or covering extensive distances. This can be because of factors like age and breed. Your dog may not want to walk due to fatigue from the duration or frequency of your walks. 

Look for signs of fatigue, such as extensive panting, a slower pace, and unenthusiastic body language. Ensure you consult your vet about the appropriate amount of exercise for your dog. 

If your dog doesn’t want to walk because it is tired, but needs more exercise, try breaking it into several short walks instead of a few long ones. Indoor activities can also supplement walks. Just be mindful not to push your dog too hard.

Your Dog Doesn’t Want the Walk to End

Just like sometimes dogs can be tired and not want to walk anymore, it can also be because they don’t want to return home!

If your dog stops near the end of your walk, it might be because they don’t want to go back inside. 

To tackle this, make coming home an exciting experience! Give your dog something fun, like a toy or a play session, to make returning home a happy moment. 

Avoid using treats to lure your dog during walks. You don’t want to reward negative behaviors.

a dachshund standing on a leash on the beach

Instead, reward your dog for continuing to walk, praising and treating when it gets up and walks again after it stops. 

You can also encourage your dog to run home by calling out in an enthusiastic, high-pitched voice to make it exciting. 

Your Dog isn’t Satisfied With Just a Walk 

If your dog is eager to prolong the walk, it might be because it needs more exercise. Consult your vet about the suitable amount of exercise based on your dog’s breed and age. 

A reluctance to end walks could suggest your dog lacks the necessary physical and mental stimulation.

Consider longer walks or add excitement to routine walks with games. Enrolling your dog in a sport can also provide the needed physical and mental workout. 

More Tips 

a person walking a dog on a leash

Here are some more ways to encourage your dog to resume walking:

  • Increase your walking pace in interesting locations. 
  • Pick a designated side for your dog to walk on to prevent leash pulling. 
  • Add variety by exploring different routes during walks. 
  • Pause and redirect your dog to you when it gets interested in something along the way. 
  • Train your dog proper leash etiquette. 
  • Reward good walking behavior. 

Things You Should NEVER Do When Your Dog Stops Walking 

It can be frustrating when your dog refuses to walk.

Still, there are certain things you should avoid to ensure your pet’s safety and prevent reinforcing unwanted behavior:

  • Don’t Overtreat Your Dog: This sends the message to your dog that stopping mid-walk leads to snacks. Instead, reward appropriate walking behaviors periodically to boost its confidence. 
  • Never Drag Your Dog: This can make them even more determined to stay put and may lead to injury. Consider using an escape-proof harness for safety, but avoid forceful dragging. 
  • Avoid Yelling At Your Dog: While stopping during walks can be annoying, expressing anger won’t build trust. Communicate positively to encourage your dog to walk with you.
  • Be Mindful Of Your Time: Don’t go for long walks when you’re pressed for time, as unexpected stopping during the walk can make you frustrated. Patience is key in resolving this issue.
  • Never Drop The Leash And Leave Your Dog Unattended: It’s unsafe and can lead to unforeseen dangers. Stay with your dog and address the stopping behavior patiently.
  • Avoid Punishing Your Dog: Identify the root cause of the issue instead of punishing your dog. Patience and understanding are crucial when working through behavioral challenges with your canine companion. 

FAQs 

No, forcing your dog to walk may result in stress, resistance, and potential harm. It is better to understand and address the underlying reason for its reluctance instead of using force.

No, it’s not normal for dogs to dislike walks. If your dog is showing aversion, consider factors like health, fear, or discomfort. Consult a vet for any underlying issues.

It is not safe to walk your dog when the temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Final Note 

Paying attention to your dog’s behavior when it stops during a walk is vital to figuring out the root cause behind the behavior. Patience, understanding, and positive reinforcement can help improve walks for you and your furry friend. 

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Thomas Villalpando
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of Dogs Academy. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. He has been featured in MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Sun, Entrepreneur & More. You can find more about him here.

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