If your dog suddenly stops walking, it may make you wonder if something is wrong and whether you should be worried. However, there is usually a logical reason behind your dog's behavior. Our vets in Vancouver have shared some possible causes of why your dog may stop walking and what you can do when they refuse to move.

Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

If you're out for a walk with your dog, and they suddenly stop walking and sit down, you may be left wondering why this is happening. It's important to know that you're not alone - many pet owners have discussed this issue with our veterinarians at Vancouver. It can be frustrating and difficult to manage, especially if you don't know why your dog has stopped or what to do next. So, today, we'll share some reasons why your dog might stop walking and how you can encourage them to get moving again.

Your Dog Has an Injury

If your dog has sustained an injury, they may find walking difficult and may even refuse due to the pain. The injury can be as minor as a hurt paw pad, nail, or something more severe, such as an open wound or a foreign object stuck in a limb. 

If you suspect your dog has been injured, stop walking immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for any visible wounds. If you can, take pictures of the affected area and call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. Your vet will likely provide you with instructions on how to administer first aid. If you cannot locate the source of the injury, you should still contact your vet to seek advice and arrange an appointment. 

In the meantime, preventing the injury from worsening is important. You can do this by calling a friend or family member to come and pick you and your dog up.

They Are Scared of Something

If a dog is afraid of something in their surroundings, they may refuse to walk or keep moving. This is especially common in young puppies who are in their 'fear phase' or adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment, particularly if they are anxious or fearful or have a history of trauma.

Physical symptoms of fear in dogs include a tail tucked under their body, crouched body posture, and laid-back ears. They may also breathe heavily or abnormally. 

To address the issue of your dog's fear, you should start by identifying the source of their fear. It could be a sign, a trash can, a noise, another dog passing by, or a scent you didn't notice before. If a sight or smell bothers them, they may stop in the same place every time you walk by it.

After you've discovered the source of your dog's fear, you can begin to desensitize your dog to the trigger (if it's safe to do so) and help them build their confidence. While the precise steps required to desensitize your dog can differ based on the specific fear they're experiencing, here are some basic actions you can take: 

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

If your dog is experiencing fear, contact your vet for advice on managing it safely and efficiently.

Your Pup is Experiencing Joint Pain

If your senior dog is experiencing chronic joint pain, they may sometimes stop walking. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are both common causes of joint pain in older dogs. These conditions can be very painful for dogs, which makes it crucial to recognize symptoms of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or whimpering or yelping before stopping.

If your dog is showing any signs of joint pain, we advise you to call your vet and book a comprehensive wellness examination to determine the underlying cause. Your vet can also prescribe a treatment plan. 

You Need to Train Them More

If your dog isn't walking well, it may be because they are not used to it. In such cases, it is important to introduce the process slowly, as it can be overwhelming or frightening for your pup. You can start by showing them one piece of equipment at a time, letting them get familiar with it as you pass them treats. This will help them become comfortable with the equipment.

Once they are comfortable with the equipment, you can start putting the collar on them for brief periods of time, gradually increasing the duration. Begin with a few seconds and increase the time until they are used to it. It is important to select a properly fitting and weighted collar for your dog, by carefully reading the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging. For training purposes, a lighter collar and leash are typically best.

Before taking your dog for a walk on a leash, let them wear the collar around the house for several days to get accustomed to the feeling. You can then start taking your dog for leashed walks indoors. Gradually, you can introduce your dog to outdoor walks in areas such as a fenced backyard or an enclosed dog run.

Positive reinforcement is always recommended when your dog walks well and listens to your prompts. If you encounter any difficulties, it is advisable to contact your vet for a consultation.

Some Other Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Walking and Won't Move

If the causes listed above don't seem to fit your dog, here are some other issues to consider:

  • Your pup 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

How to Get Your Dog Walking Better

Here, our vets offer some advice on how you may be able to get your dog walking 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 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 important to remember that you shouldn't force them to go further, as this may only make your problem worse. Negative responses such as yelling may also cause a negative reaction and should be avoided. This is why we say, 'When in doubt, contact your vet.'

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 notice that your dog frequently stops walking and won't move while you are out? Call our Vancouver vets today to schedule a consultation.