Does your dog suddenly stop walking and refuse to move whenever you head out on a walk? Our Laguna Beach vets understand how frustrating it can be. Today we discuss some reasons why your dog may be stopping and provide some helpful tips to get them moving again.

Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move

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 difficult to manage, especially if you don't know why they are acting this way or what to do about it. Our veterinarians have listed some of the reasons your dog may have stopped walking and how you can get them moving again.

Your Dog May Have Joint Pain

Dogs may stop walking if they are experiencing long-term 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.

If you think your dog is suffering from pain in their 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.

Perhaps Your Dog Has an Undiagnosed 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.

Stop your walk immediately if your dog is injured and 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, you must still contact your veterinarian for advice and to schedule an appointment.

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

Fear Could Stop Your Dog From Enjoying a Walk

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 fright 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 (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.

More Time Needed Working on 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 Reasons Why Dogs May Not Want To Walk

If you don't think the above situations apply to your dog, here are some other potential causes:

  • Your dog may be fatigued or tired
  • It's too hot or cold outside for your dog
  • Your dog's walking equipment (leash, collar) is uncomfortable for them
  • They don't want to head home, they are trying to extend the walk
  • Your dog needs to get more exercise and stimulation out of their walks
  • Their walks are too long for your dog

Tips For Getting 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 to prevent long sessions of sniffing and exploring
  • Choose one specific side for your dog to walk on to prevent pulling
  • Spice up your usual walk by taking new and interesting 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).
  • Work on and 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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Concerned that your pet may be experiencing undiagnosed pain or discomfort? Contact Canyon Animal Hospital today to book an examination for your four-legged family member.