You are outside taking your dog for a walk on a beautiful day, but they suddenly stop and won't move. Today, our Stroudsburg vets share some reasons why this may happen and what you can do.

Reasons Why Dogs Stop Walking & Won't Move

We want to let you know that if you've ever gone for a walk with your dog and they suddenly stopped, refusing to move, you are not alone. Managing this common problem can be frustrating and difficult, especially when you don't know the reasons behind their behavior or how to address it. Our veterinarians listed some reasons why your dog may have stopped walking and how you can get them moving again.

They are Experiencing Joint Pain

If dogs experience pain in their joints, they may stop walking. Joint pain is commonly caused by arthritis and hip dysplasia. Dogs can experience extreme pain from these conditions, so it is crucial to recognize signs of joint pain, such as when they favor one leg over the other when stopped or when they let out a yelp or whimper before stopping.

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.

Your Dog Has Been Injured

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.

If your dog is injured, stop walking immediately and inspect their paws and legs for injuries. If you discover the source of the wound, you should take photographs and contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment and obtain first-aid instructions. Even if you cannot find the source of the injury, you should 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.

They are Scared of Something

If dogs are afraid of something in their environment, they might balk at walking or continuing to move. Young puppies going through their fear stage and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment (especially if they tend to be anxious, fearful, or have experienced trauma in the past) are the two groups of dogs most likely to experience this.

Signs of fear in dogs include held-back ears, a tucked under 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.

Not Enough 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, remember that your dog might find this experience stressful or overwhelming, so it's best to start out slowly and ease them into the process. Start by passing them treats and introducing one piece of equipment at a time, allowing them to inspect and get to know it. Skipping this step might cause people to associate walks and the equipment negatively, so don't do it.

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. 

Before taking your dog for a walk on a leash, let them wander around your home with the collar on for several days, 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 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 Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want To Walk

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

  • 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

Ways to Get Your Dog Moving

Here are some additional tips and ways you can 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 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

Keep in mind that if your dog stops walking, you should avoid bribing or dragging them as it may encourage or worsen this bad behavior. Additionally, because this problem may have a number of factors causing it, it's crucial that you don't scold or punish your dog. Because of this, we always advise consulting 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.

If your dog has a habit of stopping mid-walk, contact our Stroudsburg vets and schedule an appointment today.