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

Let's say you are out walking your dog, but they suddenly come to a halt and won't move, what could be the reason? In this blog post, our Milledgeville vets share some reasons why your dog may stop walking, and what you can do to get them moving again.

Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

Have you ever gone on a stroll with your dog and suddenly, they stop walking and won't move? This is a common question asked by dog pet owners, as it can be frustrating and hard to manage at times. This is especially true if you don't understand why they are stopping or know what to do about it.

Below, our Milledgeville vets share some reasons as to why your dog may not be walking as usual, and how you can get them back on track.

Joint Pain

Dogs may stop walking (or not want to walk at all) if they are experiencing long-term pain in their joints. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are common causes of joint pain, especially in senior dogs. These conditions can be quite painful for dogs, enough so that they may not even be in the mood to go for a walk. This means that it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or letting out a whimper or yelp before stopping. 

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from joint pain, call your vet and book an examination. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive wellness examination to determine the underlying cause and provide the appropriate treatment. 

Your Dog Has Been Injured

If your dog stops walking and won't move, it may be because they have suffered an injury of some sort. Your dog may not want to walk due to minor injuries, such as a hurt nail or paw pad, or something more serious, such as an open wound or a foreign object that has gotten stuck in a limb or other part of the body. 

If your dog appears to be injured, stop walking immediately and carefully examine their legs and paws for signs of injury.

If you're able to find the source of the wound, take pictures and call your vet to schedule an appointment. You'll likely be given first-aid instructions to follow. If you can't find the source of the injury, you still need to contact your vet to get advice and arrange an appointment. 

They Are Frightened

If a pooch is afraid of something in its surroundings, it may cause them to avoid the area altogether. Young puppies who are going through their fear period and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment commonly experience this (especially if they have had recent trauma and/or are naturally anxious). 

If your dog is afraid of something, you may notice held-back ears, a crouched body posture, a tucked tail, and/or heavy or abnormal breathing. 

The first thing to do when addressing this issue is to identify their fear. This can include noises, a trash can, a sign, an unfamiliar scent, or another dog walking by. If the source is a specific smell or sight, you'll likely notice them stopping around the same place each time. 

Once you've discovered 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 tips you can try out:

  • 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 effectively. 

Lack of Leash Training

Another common reason why your dog may refuse to keep walking is that they aren't used to going for on-leash walks.

If this is the case, remember that it can be an overwhelming or frightening experience for your pooch, so it's best to start them out slowly, introducing the process gradually.

Begin by showing them one piece of equipment at a time, letting them sniff and get to know the gear as you pass them treats. Do not skip this step because it could result in negative associations with walks and their leash and collar/harness.

You can then start putting the collar on them for brief periods at a time, gradually increasing time intervals. Start with just a few seconds and increase the time until they get used to it.  Also, be sure the collar fits your dog well, as a collar that is too tight can be uncomfortable and prevent them from wanting to walk with it on. Carefully read the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging before selecting a collar or harness for your dog.

Before taking your dog for an on-leash walk, let them wander around your home with the collar on so they get used to the feeling. Then you can start taking your dog for leashed walks in your home. Gradually, you can introduce your dog to outdoor walks in areas such as a fenced backyard or an enclosed dog park. Don't forget to reward good behaviors with treats and to move at your dog's pace.

Other Reasons Why Your Dog May Not Want to Walk

If you don't think the above situations apply to your dog, see if anything below could be the culprit:

  • Your pooch is fatigued or tired
  • It's too hot or cold outside for your dog
  • Your dog's walking gear (leash, collar) is uncomfortable for them
  • They want to keep walking more
  • Your dog needs to get more exercise and stimulation out of their walks
  • Their walks are too long for them

Getting Your Dog Walking Again

Here are some tips and tricks you can try to help your dog start 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 your dog constantly stops walking and won't move, it's always a good idea to call your vet for advice, and possibly to book an examination. Since many of the potential causes are due to an underlying medical condition and may be considered a veterinary emergency, it is always best to err on the side of caution.

It's also key to note that if your dog stops walking, refrain from bribing or dragging them as it could motivate negative behavior and even worsen the situation. It's also very important that you don't yell at or punish your dog because there could be many factors causing this issue.

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.

Do you think your dog's behaviour constitutes a veterinary emergency? Contact our Milledgeville emergency vets to have your pup cared for right away.

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