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

As a pet owner, it can be concerning when your dog stops walking and won't move. Whether you're on a stroll or heading somewhere important, a dog that suddenly halts can be both puzzling and frustrating. There are several reasons why a dog doesn't want to walk, and understanding these can help you address the issue effectively. This blog post will discuss behavioral and medical reasons behind this behavior and offer practical solutions.

Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

While walking with your dog, have you ever experienced them suddenly sitting down and refusing to continue walking? If so, you're not alone. Our experienced vets at Fountain Valley have encountered this issue with many pet owners. It can be quite frustrating and challenging to manage, especially if you're unsure of the reason behind your dog's behavior or what to do next. Today, we'll discuss some potential reasons why your dog may have stopped walking and provide tips on encouraging them to start moving again.

Your Dog Has an Injury

If your dog is injured, walking may be difficult or even refused due to pain. Injuries can range from a hurt paw pad or nail to something more serious, such as a foreign object stuck in a limb or an open wound.

If you suspect your dog is injured, stop walking immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for any obvious injuries. If you can, take photos of the wound and call your vet to book an appointment. You'll likely receive first aid instructions to follow. If you can't find the source of the injury, still contact your vet for advice and to schedule an appointment.

In the meantime, prevent the injury from worsening by calling a friend or family member to pick you and your dog up.

They Are Scared of Something

If a dog is scared of something in their environment, they may refuse to walk or keep moving. Young puppies who are in their 'fear phase' and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment commonly experience this (especially true if they tend to be 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. 

The first thing you'll want to do when addressing this issue is to locate the source of their fear. This may include a sign, a trash can, a noise, another dog walking by, or a scent you didn't notice. If the source is a specific sight or smell, they may stop in the same spot each time you walk by it. 

After discovering the source of your dog's fear, you can begin desensitizing it to the trigger (if it's safe) 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 you know your dog is experiencing fear, contact your vet to book an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on managing your dog's fear safely and efficiently. 

Your Pup is Experiencing Joint Pain

If your dog is experiencing long-term joint pain, it may sometimes stop walking. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are common causes of joint pain in senior dogs. These conditions can be very painful for dogs, so it's important 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 shows 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

One of the most straightforward reasons your dog isn't walking well is that it isn't used to it.

If this is the case, you must remember that this could be an overwhelming or frightening experience for your pup, 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. It's important to allow your pup to become comfortable with the equipment.

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, a lighter collar and leash are typically best for training purposes. 

Before walking your dog on a leash, let it wander around your home with the collar on for several days to 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. 

Positive reinforcement is always recommended when your dog walks well and listens to your prompts. If your dog struggles, 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 dog is sleepy 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 refuses to move, call your vet for advice and to schedule a physical examination. Many potential causes are linked to an underlying medical condition or a veterinary emergency.

It's important not to force them to continue walking, as this may exacerbate the problem. Adverse reactions such as yelling should also be avoided, as they could lead to a negative response from your dog. That's why it's always best to consult your vet when in doubt.

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 doesn't move while you are out? Contact our Fountain Valley vets today to schedule a consultation.

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