Why does my dog stop and refuse to move on walks?

Why does my dog stop and refuse to move on walks?

Health & Safety

Dogs are usually very keen to go out walking, and often start making a big fuss as soon as you get your coat out or pick up their lead. However, every dog has different needs when it comes to exercise; some dogs are much more lively than others and need longer walks, while others will be happy with a sedate walk around the block, and will pick up the pace significantly when they get on the home stretch!

All dogs also have their own unique personalities and behaviours, and some dogs will just flatly refuse to do things they don’t want to do – which might include walking. If your dog is stubborn when out walking and is prone to simply stopping dead and refusing to continue at certain points, you have probably wondered why this is, and if there is anything you can do about it.

There are a number of different things that may be going on in your dog’s head if they suddenly stop, sit, or lie down when out walking and refuse to budge, and working out why this is occurring can help you to address and tackle the issue.

In this article we will talk about why a dog might stop and refuse to move when out on walks. Read on to learn more.

Poor fitness

Dogs that are overweight or very unfit might be just as keen to go out walking as any other dog, but they will have a poorer tolerance for exercise and may not have the type of endurance that they should for their age and breed.

If your dog finds exercise unpleasant, stressful or too much like hard work due to their fitness and condition, they’re apt to want to stop regularly along the way, and may be reluctant to get going again.

Work on bringing your dog’s weight back to a healthy level, and improving their fitness gradually at the same time.

Foot problems

If your dog has sore or scuffed paw pads, a cut or graze on their foot or if they have trodden on something sharp, they will probably show signs of pain and discomfort such as limping, reluctance to walk, or a refusal to budge.

Check your dog’s feet over carefully as accidents can happen when out on walks (or be exacerbated by walking) and contact your vet if anything is wrong. Once your dog’s feet are back in tip top condition, they should be back to walking happily once more.

Joint conditions and health issues

There are a number of canine health conditions that can affect the bones and joints, such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. Such conditions don’t always present outward symptoms but they can affect your dog’s flexibility, mobility and comfort, and whilst many conditions can be eased by the right types of gentle exercise, general exercise that doesn’t take the dog’s condition into account can worsen such issues and cause pain and distress.

This is very likely to lead to your dog being reluctant to walk, or apt to stopping when they are uncomfortable. Talk to your vet about determining if a bone, joint, or chronic health condition might be affecting your dog’s willingness to walk, and investigate how it can be treated or managed.

Heat and exertion

We all know that it is wise to avoid strenuously exercising dogs when the weather is very hot, as this can lead to overheating, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. Even when the weather is cooler, dogs can overheat during exercise and need to have plenty of opportunities to cool down and calm down in order to stay safe.

If your dog is overheating or has overexerted themselves, they might refuse to move, so offer them water and take steps to cool them down before you continue.

Tired out

Even the liveliest, fittest and most active of dog breeds like the Border collie will get tired out with enough exercise, and pushing a dog to continue when they have reached this stage is both unfair and potentially dangerous.

Get to know your dog, their fitness and tolerance for exercise, and make sure that you don’t ask too much of them, even if they are very fit.

Something is daunting them up ahead

If something up ahead is scaring or disturbing your dog, you might not even be aware of it, but this can make your dog stop and refuse to move. Even if you investigate and can’t work out what is bothering your dog, they might have been scared or had a bad experience in the spot in question before, and the memory of this can be enough to lead to a refusal to continue in certain places.

If you can spot a fear reaction that causes a refusal to move, you can work on conditioning your dog to get past their fear over time, and make walks easier in the future.

Attention and reactions

If your dog stops and refuses to walk, your reaction and the attention that you pay to your dog as a result of this can serve as a reward, which can reinforce such behaviour and cause it to become a pattern. This may happen if your dog gets bored when on walks, or if they think you’re paying too much attention to things going on around you instead of them, or if you keep stopping to talk to friends and other dog owners!

When your dog does refuse to move, if you are sure there is not a good reason for this, give your dog the command to get going and then proceed without making a big fuss, or pushing your dog to move, or trying to pull them along.

Keep your cool and don’t shout or make a fuss – by minimising your reaction to this behaviour, you will make it less of a big issue and so, less likely to become a habit or attention-seeking behaviour on the part of your dog.



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