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My Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move: What Should I Do?

You and your dog are taking a walk on a beautiful day, but they stop suddenly and won't move. In this post, our vets in Clackamas list some reasons why this may happen and what you can do. 

Reasons Why Dogs Stop Walking & Refuse To Move

Have you ever been out for a walk with your dog and they suddenly stop walking and refuse to move? First and foremost, understand that you are not alone. While our Clackamas veterinarians frequently receive concerns about this condition from pet owners, it can be frustrating and difficult to manage. This is especially true if you don't know why they're stopping or what you should do. In this piece, we discuss some of the possible causes of your dog's inability to walk and how you might get them going again.

They are Suffering From Joint Pain

Dogs may sometimes stop walking if they are experiencing long-term pain in their joints. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are both common causes of joint pain in senior dogs. These conditions can prove very painful for dogs, which means it's important to be able to recognize symptoms of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or letting out a whimper or yelp before stopping. 

If you feel your dog is experiencing joint pain, the best thing you can do is contact your veterinarian and schedule an examination. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough wellness assessment to diagnose the underlying reason and suggest a treatment plan.

Your Dog Has Been Injured

If your dog doesn't want to walk, it may be because they have been injured. Injuries may be minor or severe, from hurt nail or paw pad to something more serious, such as an open wound or foreign object stuck in a limb. 

If your dog is hurt, stop walking them right away and inspect their legs and paw pads for injuries. If you can locate the cause of the wound, take pictures and contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. You will almost certainly be given first aid instructions to follow. If you cannot locate the source of the injury, you must still contact your veterinarian for guidance and to schedule an appointment.

Meanwhile, you can keep the damage from getting worse by arranging for a friend or family member to take you and your dog up.

They are Scared of Something

If a dog is terrified of something in their environment, they may refuse to walk or continue going. This is frequent in young pups going through their fear period and adult dogs walking in a new environment (particularly if they are scared or anxious or have a history of trauma).

Fear symptoms in dogs include pinched ears, hunched body position, a tucked under tail, and/or heavy or irregular respiration.

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

After you've discovered the source of your dog's fear, you can start desensitizing your dog to the trigger (if it's safe) and help them build their confidence. While the precise steps needed to desensitize your dog can differ by the fear, here are some basic actions you can take:

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

If you understand your dog stops walking out of fear, contact your vet to schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how you can appropriately 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, keep in mind that this could be an overwhelming or terrifying experience for your dog, so begin cautiously and gradually introduce the process. Begin by introducing them to one piece of equipment at a time, allowing them to sniff and get to know the equipment while passing them treats. Do not omit this stage because it may result in unfavourable connections with walks and the equipment.

Then, gradually increase the time intervals, starting with a few seconds and then increasing the time until they get 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 none of the above scenarios apply to your dog, here are some other possible 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 extra advice and methods for getting your dog going 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 also important to note that if your dog stops walking, you shouldn't bribe or drag them because this could encourage or worsen the negative behaviour. It's also critical that you don't yell at or reprimand your dog because there could be a variety of variables causing this problem. This is why we suggest, 'when in doubt, consult 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 Clackamas vets and schedule an appointment today.

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(503) 946-5417