Dog Stops Walking and Won't Move! Reasons & What to do

Dogs love walks, but even they can get tired! Still, your dog stopping and refusing to move mid-walk could be a sign of a more serious issue. Our East Setauket vets discuss reasons why your dog stops walking and what you can do about it.

Reasons Why Dogs Stop Walking & Refuse To Move

Has this happened to you? You're walking your dog on a seemingly normal day, you're both getting fresh air and exercise, when suddenly your canine companion stops walking and won't move! Even tugging lightly on the leash to encourage them won't get them moving,

This can be a frustrating issue but know that you are not alone. Below are 4 major reasons your dog might stop walking and refuse to move while you're out together.

They are Suffering From Joint Pain

Hip dysplasia and arthritis are common causes of joint pain, usually in senior dogs. As these conditions can be very painful, owners should be able to recognize symptoms of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or whimpering/yelping before stopping. 

If you suspect that your dog's issue is with joint pain, you should take them to your veterinarian for a wellness check. Routine wellness exams also help detect and prevent medical issues before they cause your pooch to alter their behavior.

Your Dog Has Been Injured

Injuries could be minor or severe, from a hurt nail or paw pad to an open cut on the leg or a foreign object lodged in the paw. 

If an injury is the case, stop walking immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for injuries. If you can't find anything yourself, take pictures of their legs/paws and book an examination with your vet. In the meantime, it's best to avoid the walk and carry your dog home until you can rule out an injury causing their behavior.

They are Scared of Something

If a pooch is afraid of something in their surroundings, they may refuse to walk or keep moving. Young puppies who are going through their fear period and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment commonly experience this (especially true if they tend to be fearful or anxious, or have a history of trauma). 

Symptoms of fear in dogs include held-back ears, crouched body posture, a tucked under tail, and/or heavy or abnormal breathing. 

The first thing to do when addressing this issue is to find the source of their fear. This can include noises, a trash can, a sign, a scent you didn't notice or another dog walking by. If the source is a specific smell or sight, they may stop in the same spot every time you walk by it. 

After you've discovered the source of your dog's fear, you can start desensitizing your dog to the trigger (if it's safe) and help them build their confidence. While the precise steps needed to desensitize your dog can differ by the fear, here are some basic actions you can take:

  • Determine the source of the fear and build resistance
  • Offer rewards (without rewarding negative behaviors)
  • Use commands to redirect your dog's attention 

If you understand your dog stops walking out of fear, contact your vet to schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how you can appropriately manage your dog's fear safely and efficiently. 

Not Enough Leash Training

A common reason for your dog not to move on walks is if they are not properly leash trained or not used to being on a leash during walks. Dogs being on leashes when not properly trained can be a stressful situation for them.

To counteract this, here are some steps to gradually leash train your pooch:

  • Introduce the leash slowly. Show them each piece of equipment one at a time, letting them sniff it. Give them treats during this step to create positive associations.
  • Put the collar on them in your home for short periods of time, gradually increasing time intervals.
  • Let them wander around the home with the collar and leash on periodically so they grow accustomed to walking with it. Then, transition into an enclosed outdoor space, like a backyard or fenced-off park. 
  • Finally, take your dog outside, giving them treats along the way for following your pace and not pulling or stopping.

If you have any hesitance about this process, contact your vet to clarify the best ways to leash-train your pup.

Other Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want To Walk

If none of the above reasons apply, here are some other potential causes for your dog's refusal to move on walks:

  • Fatigue/walks are too long
  • It's too hot or cold outside
  • Your dog's walking gear (leash, collar) is uncomfortable
  • They know you're headed home but want to keep walking
  • Your dog needs to get more exercise and stimulation outside of walks

Ways to Get Your Dog Moving

Below are some additional ways you can encourage your dog to get moving again.

  • Start walking faster when going through interesting locations
  • Choose one specific side for your dog to walk on to prevent pulling
  • 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 you notice any odd behavior in your dog during walks or if they are refusing to move, contact your veterinarian to eliminate any health risks as soon as possible.

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.

Does your dog keep stopping mid-walk and you're unsure why? Are you unable to get them to keep walking? Contact our East Setauket veterinarians for a consultation today.