When was the last time you and your pretty pooch enjoyed a long leisurely walk together? Sometimes, without warning, your dog decides the walk is over, and they aren't taking another step, or they flat out refuse to leave home. When this happens, you can feel understandably perplexed and wonder how you should respond. You may have considered as many options as come to mind, but there may be many things you haven't thought of and ways to fix the problem.
We'll consider some of the probable reasons your dog refuses to walk and what you can compassionately do about it.
Why Your Dog May Refuse to Walk
Your dog may usually love their walks when they suddenly don't. They either refuse to walk any further during a walk you're already on or protest at home when you pick up their leash. There can be many reasons for this; here are just a few.
They Are Young
If your dog is very young, it may not want to be far from home. They instinctively feel safer close to home and may refuse to leave. Don't worry, though, because as they mature, they will become more independent and feel happier going further away from home.
They Are Fearful
While most dogs love the great outdoors, your dog may be the exception to that rule. Your dog may be fearful of the outdoors for many reasons. Being outside may leave them feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated, or they may be afraid to run into other dogs. Your dog may have a fearful temperament, or it may have developed due to a negative experience on one of your walks. Either way, your dog is too afraid to go out. Needless to say, if this is the reason for your dog's refusal to walk, understanding is required.
You Are Using the Wrong Walking Strategy
What's your walking/training strategy? Did you even know you were supposed to have one? If every time your dog stops walking (for whatever reason), you give them a treat to get them going again, you may be inadvertently training them to keep doing it. Your dog may even start to think that they're entitled to a mid-walk snack. So, your dog's refusal to walk may be because you have allowed them to form unhelpful habits around it.
The Dog is Tired
Your dog may refuse to walk for the same reason we might refuse; they're just tired. The walk you're on may be a little too long for your dog's liking, they're being overexercised, or they may be lethargic. A lack of energy could point to an underlying medical condition if it lasts longer than usual.
Comfort or Health Issues
Your dog may be refusing to walk because of health issues or pain. They can be suffering from sore hips, backs, or muscle pain. Your dog may have sustained an injury or punctured its paw during your walk. Certain fast-growing dog breeds may even experience 'growing pains.'
Also, if your dog is feeling too cold or too hot, they'll stop walking.
On what feels like a moderately hot day, the asphalt can be more than 40 degrees hotter than the air temperature. This means that your dog can sustain paw burns without you realizing that they're suffering until they refuse to walk any further. Conversely, if you're trying to walk in the winter, the snow and ice can also damage your dog's paws.
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Related: How to Show Your 1Dog You Love Them
Uncomfortable Harness or Leash
If your dog won't walk or refuses even to let you put the harness or leash on them, it might not be the walking they don't want - it could be the harness. Like us, dogs have preferences about what they are comfortable with. For instance, your dog may not like you putting things over their heads, or putting your hands near their faces, they could be allergic to the harness' material, or the harness is a poor fit for them.
Common FAQs About Encouraging Your Dog to Walk
When your dog won't walk, you'll have many questions. Here are some common FAQs about what to do about this problem.
What Do You Do When Your Dog Refuses to Walk?
Your response to your dog's refusal to walk depends, of course, on their reasons.
- If your dog is afraid, be patient with them. Identify what, exactly, they're afraid of and find ways to mitigate contact. You might try to find a new walking path if the usual one is full of things that upset your dog. Recognize the signs of fear and be sensitive to their feelings.
- If you have unintentionally reinforced the negative behavior of refusing to walk by providing treats, you will have to retrain your dog.
- If your dog is injured or unable to walk due to medical reasons, visit your vet. Check between their toes for foreign objects or puncture wounds. Remember, dogs are good at hiding pain. So, it's up to you to observe their behavior and notice if their gait is off or behaving strangely.
- If your dog is tired because of overexercising, you can slow down your walk or running routine. Some dog breeds are lower energy than others.
Should You Drag Your Dog?
Getting your dog to walk by brute force is a bad idea. Your dog has a strong will of their own, and trying to drag them will usually make them dig in all the more or try to go in the opposite direction. Generally speaking, most dogs don't just refuse to walk if they're happy and healthy. Dogs love to walk and run. So, if they're resisting, don't force them. Find out what's going on.
Dragging your dog can also result in injury to either or both of you.
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