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Dogs Stops Walking and Won't Move

Introduction

Are you ever going for a pleasant dog jaunt outdoors, when suddenly your leash tightens, you look back, and your dog stops walking and won't move, digging his paws into the ground? If you could only speak English with your pup, you could figure out why on earth he's doing this, but instead you've got to rely on biological theories about pups.

To flip your pup's mentality from static to dynamic, it'll take some investigating on your end, diagnosing why he's stopping in his tracks, and remedying the situation based on the diagnosis. For instance, if your pup's immobility stems from the scorching heat, the remedy might just be a bottle of icy cold water; however, if your pup is peeved that the walk has only lasted 5 minutes, the remedy is probably to continue for another 20 minutes.

In this list which follows, you'll read through a pack of possibilities as far as why your pup might stop walking and not move during jaunts outdoors. By sifting through the various possibilities, you can perhaps pick out 2 or 3 reasons which sound like they resonate with your pup, and test some solutions accordingly. If all goes well, you'll triangulate exactly where your pup's coming from, and be able to cure the malady in short order!

It’s Too Hot Outside

An easy reason why your pup may seem like a beached whale is simply due to the scorching sun! Burnt out and panting, your pup might stop walking simply because she needs a breather, catching some shade and cooling off before the next leg of the journey.

Fortunately, there's a simple way to see if it's too hot to be walking outside. There's a handy trick called the "5 second rule"; lay the back of your hand against the pavement for about 5 seconds. If it feels more like a stovetop than a sidewalk, then it's likely too toasty to walk your pup. Instead, try changing your routine to walking in the morning or evening, when the temperature is a tad more temperate. If you truly are tight on time and can't do morning or evening walks, then travel on grassy trails, ideally with plenty of shade, and be sure to bring along cold water to help your dog keep cool! Trying those methods, there's a good chance your pup will play ball and keep moving during walks.

It’s Too Cold Outside

As another solution, you can aim for lots of short walks, rather than just a few long walks, for the seasons when it’s extra nippy outside.Similar to being too hot outside, the temperature may be too cold outside! If it's wintertime and you notice your pup shivering, lifting his paws and licking them, tucking his tail, or whimpering, there's a decent chance it's too chilly outside for dog walking. As a rule of thumb, for pups which don't have double-coats like Siberian Huskies, Newfoundlands, Samoyeds, or Malamutes, 4 degrees celsius is typically the threshold where you'll want to invest in warm winter coats and paw booties.

As a note, dogs which have short hair fare much worse in frigid air. For example, short-haired dachshunds, chihuahuas, and greyhounds especially may stop walking in case the temperature is too low. Again, you can simply use the techniques which us humans use to combat the cold; namely, by bundling up to keep the blood flowing and tail wagging.

Too Fatigued to Walk

If you've suddenly committed to jogging 5km with your pup and your pup stops walking, it's vital to realize that your pup may not have consciously agreed to jogging 5km as well! Being too fatigued, your pup may decide it's time for a time-out, resting underneath a shady tree for some respite.

This issue of fatigue is especially of note, seeing as up to 56% of North American dogs, according to the American Kennel Club, are overweight or obese. For pups who aren't used to bursts of physical activity, fatigue could easily kick in during walks, rendering them horizontal and refusing to walk.

Next, the type of breed of your dog is rather relevant as well! For example, working breeds such as border collies could easily pound the pavement for 2 hours per day; you likely wouldn't face the issue of immobility with a collie. On the other paw, pugs, who were bred to literally be footwarmers of Chinese emperors, certainly won't take kindly to Terry Fox runs of several kilometers. With that being the case, take time to speak with your vet about your pup's breed-specific exercise needs, and tailor your walks according to those needs, in case you believe fatigue to be the underlying issue behind the immobility.

Dog Doesn’t Want Walk to End

If your dog was hoping for a 30 minute walk and instead receives a 3 minute circle around the block, there's a chance he might rebel by planting himself next to a tree. It's easy to tell if this is the issue, since pup owners report that this can happen the moment the direction reverts homebound.

The easiest solution is of course to simply go for longer walks, satisfying your pup's desire for more sniffing time in the sunshine. Additionally, you can vary your walking route, so that your pup isn't as aware if you're headed back home; similarly, you can even revert homebound and walk past your home, teaching your pup that reverting direction doesn't necessarily mean the walk is over!

General Dissatisfaction With the Walk

There's a chance that your dog is simply rating your walks R for "ruff"; in other words, your pup might plant himself into the ground as a way of saying that he's not happy with your performance!

In case this is the cause, it's certainly somewhat trickier, since you've got to put effort into understanding what your pup is dissatisfied with. With that being said, it's typically related to sniffing. In case your dog was hoping to catch a closer sniff of the lamppost, yet you yank the leash to keep the walk moving, he might seat himself to rebel and insist upon more sniffing time. If this is the issue, sometimes it's worth compromising with your pup, allowing him to sniff to his snout's delight until he's painted a picture of the pup who was last there.

Gradual Onset Injury

Your pup could be experiencing gradual onset injuries, such as arthritis or inflammation, causing enough aches and pains to insist on breaks during walks. Older age means higher risk for these types of ailments. 

In case you suspect that your pup is experiencing gradual onset issues, then try to schedule a visit with your veterinarian as soon as you can. Until then, shorten your walks, and keep the pace of the walks slower. You can even change strategies from “distance walks” to “scent walks”, where the primary objective is allowing your pup to sniff to her heart’s delight, rather than completing a planned route.

Sudden Onset Injury

Your dog might experience sudden injuries, like slivers, injured nails, cuts, fractures, or dislocated joints, making it uncomfortable to walk. You’ll notice your dog is experiencing this if, for example, she has suddenly started limping, or indicates discomfort by whining when pressure gets put on the leg in question.

For this type of situation, you’ll want to visit your local veterinarian as soon as you can; your vet will perform a physical examination (or biopsies and blood tests if needed) to diagnose the trauma, and offer you solutions, so you and your dog can walk normally together in short order!

Dog is Afraid or Overwhelmed

Particularly common for younger dogs, being fearful or intimidated by the strangers in the neighborhood might cause your dog to freeze in place. Rescue pups who have experienced trauma might suffer the same stage fright.

To overcome fear or intimidation, you can try a variety of solutions, including positive reinforcement with treats, going on walks with more confident dogs, and progressively starting with quieter times of day (or quieter locations in the city). Just like overcoming phobias in humans, your dog just has to realize that comfort zones are made to be stretched, since that’s where the fun in life is!

Lack of Leash Walking Experience

A lack of leash walking experience isn’t as common for urban dogs, but it’s still something to at least rule out when your dog won’t move during walks. 

If this is the issue your dog is facing, then a regime of progressive “getting used to” can really do the trick. Start with letting your dog sniff or even sleep with the leash, followed by leash walking inside the house; then, you can proceed with leash walking in the backyard or in an isolated and quiet street of the neighborhood. Finally, you can return to normal leash walking during the day, and observe how your dog has improved.

Poorly Fitting Walking Equipment

Your dog’s defiance while walking might actually be her way of communicating with you, telling you that the collar, harness, booties, or coat is uncomfortable. 

Badly fitting equipment can cause chafing, choking, or general discomfort after enough steps, so that your dog just says “enough is enough.” Though this is less likely to be the cause of your pup’s immobility, it’s easy enough to test out another collar or harness to rule this possibility out.

Conclusion

If your dog stops walking and won’t move, then there are a kibble-full of reasons why she might be exhibiting that behavior. It’s not always an act of defiance; on top of fatigue, it could indicate discomfort with the collar, intimidation by the environment, injury, or other reasons. By sniffing out the root cause, you’ll be much better equipped to solve the problem once and for all.

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