Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk
It has happened to every dog owner. You are walking along, enjoying your time together when bam, they stop walking and won't go any further. Our Westminster vet specialists are asked about this often and luckily are here to offer some advice for this frustrating situation.
Joint Pain Makes Walking Uncomfortable
While are sometimes not aware until the condition is advanced, your dog may be experiencing joint issues that lead to severe pain. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are both common causes of joint pain in senior dogs. These conditions can prove very painful for dogs, which means it's important to know the symptoms to watch for such as whimpering, using one leg more than the other and limping.
If you think that your dog may be having issues related to their joints you should contact your vet right away for an examination and they may also request that your dog has diagnostic imaging completed to help pinpoint the issue. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive wellness examination to determine the underlying cause and prescribe a treatment plan.
Your Dog Has Sustained a Painful Injury
Injuries of all types can cause your dog to be in serious pain which can make walking difficult. Injuries may be minor or severe, from a hurt nail or paw pad to something more serious, such as an open wound or a foreign object stuck in a limb.
If it looks as though your dog is hurt you will need to stop and take a look at both the legs and the bottoms of their feet for any signs of the injury. If you're able to find the source of the wound, take pictures and call your vet to schedule an appointment. You'll likely be given first-aid instructions to follow. If you can't find the source of the injury, you still need to contact your vet to get advice and arrange an appointment.
It may be best in this situation to contact someone to come pick up you and your dog in this situation to avoid causing further pain.
You Are Walking Near Something That Has Frightened Them
If your dog has spotted or smells something that they are afraid of then you may have a tough time getting them to move any further. This can happen more frequently with puppies or with dogs that have previously experienced some type of trauma.
Symptoms of fear in dogs include held-back ears, crouched body posture, tucked under the tail, and/or heavy or abnormal breathing.
The very first step in this situation is to figure out what is frightening your dog. This can include noises, a trash can, a sign, a scent you didn't notice or another dog walking by. If the source is a specific smell or sight, they may stop in the same spot every time you walk by it.
After you've discovered the source of your dog's fear, you can start desensitizing your dog to the trigger (if it's safe) and help them build their confidence. While the precise steps needed to desensitize your dog can differ by the fear, here are some basic actions you can take:
- Determine the source of the fear and build resistance
- Offer rewards (without rewarding negative behaviors)
- Use commands to redirect your dog's attention
If you understand your dog stops walking out of fear, contact your vet to schedule an appointment. speak with your vet if you would like more tips on how to maneuver this situation.
You Need to Continue With Leash and Obedience Training
If your dog has never walked on a leash before or is still relatively new to it then you may struggle with getting them to continue moving forward.
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 equipment.
Next, you can start getting them used to the feeling of the collar. You can do this by putting it on them for periods of time while still in the home.
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.
Make sure that you continue to reward your dog for good behavior using treats throughout this training process.
Some of the Other Reasibs Why Your Dog Stops Walking
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
How to Get Your Dog Moving Again
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.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should never get mad at your dog or drag them when they stop walking. Positive reinforcement will be the ideal solution to this situation.
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.