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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 Mechanicsburg vets share some reasons why this may happen and what you can do.

Reasons Why Dogs Stop Walking & Won't Move

You're not alone if your dog has ever abruptly stopped during a walk and refused to continue. Dealing with this issue can be incredibly frustrating and challenging, particularly when you lack understanding of the reasons behind their behavior and how to address it. Our veterinarians have compiled a list of possible reasons why your dog might have stopped walking and provided suggestions on how to get them back on their feet.

They are Experiencing Joint Pain

If dogs experience joint pain, it can cause them to cease walking. Joint pain is often caused by arthritis and hip dysplasia. Dogs may experience intense pain due to these conditions, making it crucial to identify signs of joint discomfort. These signs include favoring one leg over the other when stationary or emitting a yelp or whimper before coming to a halt.

If you suspect that your dog is experiencing joint pain, taking proactive measures by contacting your veterinarian and arranging for an examination is highly recommended. The vet will perform a thorough examination to identify the root cause and recommend a treatment plan.

Your Dog Has Been Injured

If your dog gets injured, they might suddenly stop while you're out on a walk. Minor or severe injuries can occur, ranging from hurt paw pads or nails to more serious conditions.

If your dog gets injured during the walk, make sure to stop immediately and check their paws and legs for any signs of injury. Once you've identified the source of the wound, be sure to take some photographs and reach out to your veterinarian. They'll be able to help you schedule an appointment and provide you with the necessary first-aid instructions. It is important to reach out to your veterinarian for advice and to schedule an appointment, even if you are unable to identify the source of the injury.

Meanwhile, to ensure the injury doesn't worsen, reach out to a friend or family member who can come and pick you and your dog up.

They are Scared of Something

Dogs may hesitate to walk or keep moving if they feel scared by something in their surroundings. This phenomenon is commonly observed in two specific groups of dogs. The first group comprises young puppies who are currently in their fear stage. The second group consists of adult dogs who are walking in an unfamiliar environment, particularly those who tend to be anxious, fearful, or have a history of trauma.

Dogs show fear through their body language, such as ears held back, tail tucked under, crouched posture, and abnormal or heavy breathing.

Identifying the root cause of their fear is crucial in addressing this issue. Potential triggers may include noises, the presence of another dog, a nearby trash can, a sign, or an unnoticed scent. They may stop in the same spot every time you walk by if the source is a specific sight or smell.

Once the source of your dog's fright is identified, you can begin desensitizing them to this trigger (if it is safe) and assist in boosting their confidence. To desensitize your dog, you can follow these basic actions, although 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 not accustomed to being on a leash.

Keep in mind that your dog might feel stressed or overwhelmed in this situation, so it's better to introduce them to the process gradually. Introduce one piece of equipment at a time while offering treats, allowing them to inspect and become familiar with it. Be sure to complete this step, as skipping it may result in a negative connection between walks and the equipment.

Begin by placing the collar on them for brief intervals, gradually extending the length of time. Start with a short duration and gradually increase it until they get used to it.

Ensure that you select a collar that properly fits your dog and has the appropriate weight. Make sure to read the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging. For training purposes, it's generally recommended to use a lighter collar and leash.

Let your dog roam around your home with the collar on for a few days before you start taking them for a walk on a leash. They will become more familiar with the sensation through this. Begin by going on leashed walks with your dog inside your house. Start introducing your dog to outdoor walks by taking them to places such as a fenced backyard or an enclosed dog run.

Don't forget to reward your dog with treats when they exhibit good behaviors and make sure to match your pace with theirs. If you need guidance on leash training your dog, don't hesitate to contact your vet.

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 Mechanicsburg vets and schedule an appointment today.

New Patients Welcome

Looking for a vet in Mechanicsburg PA? Silver Springs Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our skilled veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of Central Pennsylvania companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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