Dog Refuses To Walk: 7 Reasons and What to Do

It’s frustrating when you’re out walking your dog and they just suddenly stop. Maybe they’re trying to head in a different direction, they don’t want to go home yet, or they’re just not used to walking on a lease yet.

They could also be in pain, uncomfortable, or scared of something. The weather can also have an influence on how far they’re willing to move.

Whatever the reason is, it can be frustrating, especially if you’re in a hurry or they haven’t gone potty yet. It can get even more frustrating if you let it become a habit.

Your best bet is to stay calm and find the underlying cause of their sudden stubbornness and do something about it. Never get angry and lash out at your companion.

Lack of Lease Training

If you just got your dog and they haven’t done a lot of lease walking yet, they may naturally have trouble figuring out what to do. They may just be stopping because they’re confused and don’t understand that they’re supposed to be following along. The lease may freak them out and confuse them at first.

If this is the case, the problem should naturally resolve itself as long as you keep up with lease training. Give them encouraging words, praise, and treats for following along properly.

Once they understand how outings are supposed to work, they should stop fighting it naturally. If they aren’t, you may want to check that you’re not making mistakes in training.

If they’re still stopping and refusing to move after a couple of weeks, there may be another issue.

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If your dog is new to lease walking, it may take time to get used to it and they may refuse to walk. Be patient and keep up with lease training.

Fear and Anxiety

If something outside is scaring your pup, they may naturally refuse to go any further. Puppies who are new to the outside world or dogs with previous trauma may be especially easy to scare.

Bikes, cars and motorcycles, other people or pets, loud noises, the list goes on. If you recently moved, your pup may also be anxious about the new area.

You may need to be patient with your pup and work on getting them used to these scary things. Take them out often and work on desensitizing them. As they get used to the scary sounds and people, they’ll be less terrified and less reluctant to move.

You should also look into other ways to calm your anxious pet, especially if anxiety is a regular problem for them. Anxiety supplements can be a helpful way to counter anxiety. They’re not an immediate solution, but they can help in the long run.

You should also talk to your vet or a behaviorist if fear and anxiety are a constant disturbance in your pup’s life.

Injuries or Pain

If your pup is hurt or sick, they aren’t going to want to move around much. Leg or paw injuries would especially make moving hard. Any big injury or sickness can keep your pup from wanting to move. If the pain becomes too much for them in the middle of a walk, they may stop and refuse to move.

Make sure you’re keeping track of your pup’s health and any injuries. If you notice any sudden limping or other signs of injury, check them and take them to the vet if needed.

If you notice any signs of sickness like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, watch them and take them to the vet if it doesn’t improve in a day.

If they’re having trouble moving due to pain or illness, keep your walks shorter and respect them when they can’t go on anymore. Know the signs that they’re in pain and adjust accordingly.

A sick or injured dog won’t want to move around as much and may stop. Do not force them.

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Fatigue

If your companion is worn out for whatever reason, they may stop and refuse to go on. Maybe your walk lasted too long, or maybe they aren’t feeling well. Either way, it’s best to get them home.

If your pup is fatigued, they’ll show signs of exhaustion. They may pant, move slower, and show a lack of enthusiasm. They may also make a show of it by plopping down on the ground and refusing to go any further.

Never force your fatigued pup to continue on a walk if they’re too tired. Just like humans should listen to their bodies and stop when needed, so should dogs.

Make sure you’re walking your pup for an appropriate amount of time and length. If your pup is consistently fatigued from an outing, you may be trying to do too much at once. Try smaller walks, even if you have to go more often. Know how much exercise your specific dog needs.

Uncomfortable Collar/Harness

Finding the right size for equipment can be a pain, but it’s really important that the equipment does fit. If a collar or harness is too big or too small, your pup may not be comfortable wearing them on walks.

Collars that are too loose may slide off, or slide around and irritate the skin. On the other hand, one that’s too tight may be uncomfortable for your pup, especially once a lease is pulling at it.

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An uncomfortable collar or harness can make for an uncomfortable walk, causing your pup to stop and refuse to go on.

Harnesses may not pull at the neck, but they can still be very uncomfortable to wear in the wrong size. They can be uncomfortable on the body and leave marks if the straps are too tight.

Both of these need to be secure but not tight enough to make your pup uncomfortable. If any collars or harnesses are leaving marks, that’s a potential sign that you need to either adjust them or get new ones.

They Don’t Want to go Home

I deal with this one all the time. My stubborn puppy will sometimes decide she’s having too much fun and would rather plop down in the grass than go home.

Dogs usually enjoy walks. They get to run around, sniff interesting things, and maybe see new people or pets. Sometimes they don’t want to go home because they’re having so much fun.

To combat this, try to make going home a fun, rewarding thing. Give them one of their favorite treats when returning home so there’s a reward for finishing the walk properly. This doesn’t mean you need to pull out the treats to lure them back, just that they get a reward for going home.

I’ve also had some success with using my excited voice to encourage my dog to go home. If they think going home is another exciting adventure, they may be more inclined to go along with it.

3 puppy with lease
Sometimes your companion is enjoying their time outdoors and just doesn’t want to go home. They could also have too much energy to burn.

If your companion consistently refuses to go home, make sure they’re actually getting enough out of their walks. Maybe they need to burn off more energy, or maybe they’re just still looking for a place to go potty. Either way, some dogs need more time than others. Make sure you’re giving your pup a good ten minutes.

If your pup is high-energy, you may also want to make sure you’re burning off some of that extra energy with interactive games to help wear them out. Once they’ve burned up enough energy, they should be more willing to go home.

You can also try interactive toys like flirt poles. Have your pup chase the pole around for 5-10 minutes before they go outside so they can burn some energy off.

Weather

The weather can get us all down, dogs included. Hot, humid weather can make us sluggish, and cold weather can make us miserable. It’s pretty similar to dogs, but it may vary depending on breed.

You may want to do some research on your breed and how they handle certain weather conditions and adjust your outings accordingly. Certain breeds handle heat better than others, and some handle cold weather better. Some breeds may stop in their tracks because the weather is draining them.

Keep in mind that thick-coated pets can’t handle the heat well and should not be out long. Flat-faced breeds who suffer from BOAS can’t handle the heat for long either. Keep an eye out for signs of heatstroke when walking any breed in intense heat.

On the other hand, dogs who don’t have a lot of fur may handle heat better, but chilly cold days may affect them more. They may not be able to take long walks out in the colder weather. You don’t want your dog getting a chill either.

If you live in an area with hot or cold weather, make sure you’re aware of how much of either extreme your pup can handle, and don’t force them on long outings in extreme heat or cold. Even if you can handle it, it doesn’t mean they can.

4 dog on walk
Some dogs handle certain weather conditions better than others. Don’t force your companion on long outings in intense heat or cold if they can’t handle it.

How to Keep Your Dog Moving

The cure for your dog’s stubbornness mostly depends on the cause. Many tricks won’t work if your pup is injured or in pain. That said, there are some things you can try to keep your pup moving.

If there are areas they usually get distracted in, try to move through those areas as quickly as possible. Don’t give them time to sniff around and get distracted.

If your pup is being stubborn, stop and keep them restricted from whatever’s interesting to them. Eventually, your dog will realize that they have to walk with you if they want to get anywhere.

Whenever your dog properly walks with you, reward them with high-quality treats. Positive reinforcement will get through to them much better than frustration and yelling will.

Never drag your pup or shout at them. I know it can be frustrating, but you’re just going to make things worse. Dragging them through their fears could cause more anxiety. And if there isn’t already an injury involved, dragging them may cause one. If they are hurt or sick, dragging could make it worse.

Don’t lash out and punish your stubborn dog. It won’t have the effect you want and may lead to worse behavioral issues in the future.

Getting Your Stubborn Dog to Walk

Dogs can be stubborn when they want to be. It’s up to you as their owner to lead them in the right direction and find out what’s causing their stubbornness.

If your pup is suddenly refusing to move, consider anything in the area that may be worrying them. Work on desensitizing them to anything new that may be scaring them. Make sure you’re staying on top of lease training.

Don’t force an injured or sick dog to walk. Always take your pup to the vet if they’re seriously sick or hurt, and listen to their advice.

Watch your pup’s energy levels and don’t force them on long outings if they can’t handle it. Don’t force them on long walks in extreme weather.

Make sure they’re comfortable in their collar and harness and that they aren’t choking them or making them uncomfortable.

Make your walks fun, but also make finishing the outing and going home rewarding with a treat. Dogs are very food-driven and are more likely to behave if they know there’s a reward in it for them.

If stubbornness proves to be a constant problem for your companion, you may want to consult your vet or a behavior specialist.

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