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What to Do if Your Dog Stops Walking and Won't Move

You always thought that dogs loved to go for walks. So why does your dog stop walking and refuse to move? Read on to learn more about the reasons dogs refuse to walk, and what pet parents can do to get their pup moving again.

Why Dogs Sometimes Stop Walking

If you've ever gone for a walk with your dog and they suddenly stopped, refusing to move, know you're not alone! While this is a common problem, it can be very frustrating and challenging to manage, especially if you don't know why they are acting this way or what to do about it. Below, we take a look at some possible reasons why your dog may have stopped walking and tips to help get them moving again.

Joint Pain

Dogs may stop walking if they are experiencing chronic joint pain. Arthritis and hip dysplasia are two common causes of joint pain. These conditions can be extremely painful for dogs, so it's critical to recognize signs of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or letting out a yelp or whimper before coming to a halt.

It can be difficult for pet parents to spot the early signs of joint pain since symptoms come on very gradually and can appear to be nothing more than the normal aging process. If you think your dog might be suffering from painful 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.

Injury

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. Unless you check your pup's paws and legs frequently it can be easy to miss these injuries.

If your dog stops and refuses to move during a walk, take a few minutes to carefully examine their paws and legs for any injuries. If you discover the source of the wound, take photos and contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment and obtain first-aid instructions. If you cannot locate the source of the injury, it's still important to contact your veterinarian for advice and to schedule an examination for your furry friend.

Meanwhile, to prevent the injury from getting worse, call a friend or family member to pick you and your dog up.

Fear

Many dogs will refuse to walk or move if they are afraid of something in their environment. This is most common in young puppies experiencing their fear period and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment (especially if they are anxious/fearful or have a history of trauma).

Signs of fear in dogs include held-back ears, a tucked under the 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 fear 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 for positive steps forward (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. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend calling on the help of a behavioral trainer to resolve the issue and elevate your pup's fear.

Inadequate 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, keep in mind that this could be an overwhelming or frightening experience for your dog, so begin slowly and gradually introduce the process. Begin by introducing them to one piece of equipment at a time, allowing them to sniff and get to know the equipment while passing them treats. Do not skip this step because it may lead to negative associations with walks and 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. 

Allow your dog to wander around your house with the collar on for several days before taking them for a walk on a leash. Then you can begin taking your dog for leashed walks around the house. You can gradually introduce your dog to outdoor walks in areas such as a fenced backyard or a 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:

  • Too tired
  • Extremes in hot or cold weather
  • Uncomfortable collar, leash or other equipment
  • They actually want you to keep walking further
  • Satisfied with the level of exercise already completed
  • Their walks are too long for them

Ways 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
  • Diversify your route to 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 important to note that if your dog stops walking, you shouldn't bribe or drag them because this could encourage or worsen the negative behavior. It's also critical that you don't yell at or punish your dog because there could be a variety of factors causing this problem. This is why we say, "when in doubt, consult your veterinarian."

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

Struggling on walks with your dog? Contact our Greensboro vets today to book an examination for your canine companion.

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