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Why does my dog refuse to walk or move?

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

Reasons Why Dogs Stop Walking & Won't Move

If your dog has ever stopped abruptly and refused to continue on a walk, you are not alone. Dealing with this issue can be extremely frustrating and difficult, especially if you don't understand the reasons for their behavior and how to address it. Our veterinarians have compiled a list of possible reasons why your dog may have stopped walking and suggested ways to get them back on their feet.

They are Experiencing Joint Pain

Joint pain in dogs can cause them to stop walking. Arthrosis and hip dysplasia are common causes of joint pain. Dogs may experience severe pain as a result of these conditions, making it critical to recognize symptoms of joint discomfort. These signs include favoring one leg over the other when stationary or giving a yelp or whimper before coming to a stop.

If you suspect your dog is experiencing joint pain, contact your veterinarian and schedule an examination. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to determine the underlying cause and suggest a treatment plan.

Your Dog Has Been Injured

If your dog becomes injured, they may abruptly stop while you are out for a walk. Minor or severe injuries can occur, ranging from sore paw pads or nails to more serious conditions.

If your dog becomes injured during the walk, stop immediately and examine their paws and legs for signs of injury. Once you've identified the source of the wound, take some photos and contact your veterinarian. They will be able to help you schedule an appointment and give you the necessary first-aid instructions. Even if you are unable to determine the cause of the injury, you should contact your veterinarian for advice and to schedule an appointment.

Meanwhile, to prevent the injury from worsening, contact a friend or family member who can come pick you and your dog up.

They are Scared of Something

If something in their environment makes them nervous, dogs may hesitate to walk or move. This phenomenon is common in two distinct groups of dogs. The first group consists of young puppies who are currently in their fear stage. The second category includes adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment, particularly those who are anxious, fearful, or have a history of trauma.

Dogs express fear through body language, such as holding their ears back, tucking their tails under, crouched posture, and abnormal or heavy breathing.

Identifying the source of their fear is critical in resolving this issue. Noises, the presence of another dog, a nearby trash can, a sign, or an unnoticed scent could all be potential triggers. If the source is a specific sight or smell, they may stop in the same location each time you walk by.

Once you've identified the source of your dog's fright, you can start desensitizing them to the trigger (if it's safe) and help them gain confidence. To desensitize your dog, you can take these basic steps, though the specific steps may vary depending on the fear:

  • 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

Perhaps your dog is hesitant to continue walking because they are unfamiliar with being on a leash.

Keep in mind that your dog may become stressed or overwhelmed in this situation, so introduce them to the process gradually. Introduce one piece of equipment at a time, offering treats as they inspect and become familiar with it. Make sure to finish this step, as skipping it may result in a negative connection between walks and equipment.

Begin by putting the collar on for short periods of time and gradually increasing the duration. Begin with a short duration and gradually increase it until they are accustomed to it.

Make sure you choose a collar that fits your dog properly and is the appropriate weight. Make sure to follow the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging. For training, a lighter collar and leash are generally recommended.

Allow your dog to roam around your house with the collar on for a few days before you begin walking them on a leash. This will increase their familiarity with the sensation. Begin by going for leashed walks with your dog inside your home. Begin introducing your dog to outdoor walks by taking them to a fenced yard or an enclosed dog run.

Don't forget to reward your dog with treats when they exhibit good behavior, and match your pace to theirs. If you need help leash training your dog, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

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

It's crucial to remember that if your dog stops walking, avoid bribing or dragging them. These actions could potentially reinforce the undesirable behavior or exacerbate it. Furthermore, it is essential to avoid scolding or punishing your dog, as there could be multiple factors contributing to this issue. We strongly recommend consulting your veterinarian at all times.

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 Blountville vets too see of the reason may be related to a medical emergency.

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Airport Pet Emergency Clinic is open weekday evenings, overnight, weekends and holidays to provide your pet with urgent care when needed. Our experienced Blountville vets are passionate about caring for companion animals.

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