If Your Dog Refuses to Walk – Do This:

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Your dog suddenly refuses to walk and you’re asking yourself what’s wrong.

What’s even worse is when a puppy refuses to walk away from home because they’re young, energetic, and full of life, right?

Going outside is usually the best thing to do for a young pup and many pull strongly on the leash to get around the next corner as quickly as possible.

You might just witness that your dog stops walking and won’t move. Maybe he’s even sitting down all of a sudden and seems like he refuses to walk any further.

This behavior not only seems stubborn but can also become quite dangerous if it happens in the middle of a busy road.

So why does your puppy refuse to walk?

If your dog refuses to walk, it may be due to a medical issue, lack of leash training, too much exercise, or fear, which may require desensitization and counter-conditioning.

Medical Reasons

Before you start worrying about any dog training or behavioral issues, get him checked by a vet. Keep in mind that dogs are masters when it comes to hiding pain.

Pain or trauma should be considered even more seriously if it happened out of nowhere.

A thorough examination of your dog’s body is the easiest way to make sure there are no wounds and no foreign objects stuck in his paws.

If your puppy won’t walk paired with a gait that is not as smooth as usual or if he is limping, that’s another giveaway.

An older dog might experience orthopedic pain from diseases like arthritis and doesn’t want to walk due to the discomfort it causes him.

Do not force your dog to continue on walking unless you have clearly ruled out any medical problems. There is nothing worse than dragging your dog throughout the walk only to discover that he has been in pain during the whole time.

Boxer dog in fear, surrounded by darkness.
Photo by Jordan Davis

Lack of Leash Training

If your puppy refuses to walk on leash but he’ll happily walk without (which might not be possible due to poor recall, busy streets, etc.) then you might have to take a step back and leash-train your pup first.

Leash manners have to be taught constantly. No dog is born with the knowledge of how to walk on a leash.

Leash training starts with a proper introduction of the leash and collar. If this part is skipped, negative associations with walking may follow which could cause your dog’s refusal to walk.

An ill-fitting collar may lead to discomfort and a heavy leash could become a burden for a toy breed or young puppy (reserve stronger leashes for your grown medium/large-sized dog).

When choosing a collar or harness make sure you read the size instructions and fitting guides carefully. Start by using a short and light leash for better control and training results.

To properly familiarise your dog with the collar and leash you can read the tips outlined in my guide on how to leash train a puppy. Follow the leash training steps and make sure that your dog has a perfect understanding of how to walk on a leash.

Many times, simple leash training and the right introduction will do the trick. Dogs thrive with clear guidelines and easy-to-follow routines. If he knows what he is doing, he will quickly gain confidence and be more excited during walks.

To further boost his confidence, make sure sure that he doesn’t struggle with other behavior problems such as separation anxiety, barking, chewing, jumping, etc.

Those are all symptoms of a dog that doesn’t have clear guidelines in his life and is not feeling secure. This is why I have created a free guide about the 10 most common dog behavior problems and how you can solve them.

If you have a very young puppy that has never been walked outside, start by creating a great leash walking experience inside first. A puppy that has never seen a leash or collar before might freeze when being restrained for the first time.

Let your puppy walk around the house with the leash on for a few days so he gets used to the weight and feel of it. Use lots of treats during the process and encourage your puppy with a warm and happy voice.

You should also do the same thing with a rescue dog that had no prior exposure to leash walking.

Fear

Dogs are much more sensitive to all the different environmental stimuli, including sounds, smells, people, places and movement. A dog that didn’t go through socialization training as a puppy will be much more fearful of his environment.

Fear could play a big role in your dog’s refusal to walk. He will demonstrate it with a submissive posture – ears laid back, tail tucked and a crouched body.

Your dog might even seem to breath weird and heavy which is another sign of stress.

The fear will be evident in other situations, for example when unfamiliar guests arrive or loud noises startle him from outside.

You might see that your dog stops in the exact same spot every time because he is frightened of a certain sight or smell. The trigger might not be visible to you since past experiences may have led to that point.

Try to avoid this place for the time being and find out if your dog feels more comfortable on a different route.

Desensitization and counterconditioning will slowly ease his fear.

Carry a handful of treats during every walk and be prepared to make good associations with your dog’s surroundings.

Restrict your walks to quiet paths at first to avoid overwhelming your dog which could cause him to shut down.

If your dog is scared of something, try to lure him away from the trigger with a treat and comfort him. Increasing the distance always helps and when you’re ready to approach again, every little step towards the right direction must be rewarded.

Redirecting your dog with simple commands or a toy might also help in certain situations.

Make sure you never reward the fearful behavior though and only reward the calm situations or if your dog bravely approaches something. Although it may seem comforting, it could reinforce the fear.

Every place you visit and every person or dog you meet should become a pleasant experience for your dog. Boost his confidence by integrating some bonding time into the day. With you at his side, he will surely become much more confident to conquer any fear.

Recommended Reading: How to Bond With Your Dog

Infographic on five steps to follow if your dog refuses to walk.

Too Much Fun

A dog that just had the best day at the park will be very reluctant to leave the area. While we love seeing our pooch having fun, this stubbornness can get very annoying especially if you try to call him for the 20th time.

The first thing you should be doing is teaching your dog a very strong recall. Follow the steps on my recall training guide and stay very consistent with it.

Teaching a proper recall will take time and dedication so in the meantime you can use another alternative to get your dog to walk again.

Put your dog on a leash and call him to follow you with whatever command you have taught him. Only use your dog’s recall one single time, if he doesn’t react you just stop.

Restrict any access to his playmates or a nice spot to smell and just wait for him to pay attention to you.

This might take several minutes and you can try to get your dog’s attention by luring his nose with a treat or making sounds with your mouth.

He will eventually understand that you are in charge of deciding which direction to go and he will be rewarded for following you.

Mark every tiny step in the right direction with a click or verbal praise followed by a treat. The more distance you build up the easier your dog will continue walking with you.

Choosing the right gear can also have a big impact. If your dog’s nose is bound to be on the ground all the time then buying the Halti Head Collar will provide you with maximum control over your dog’s head.

Too Much Exercise

If your dog always starts to lay down on the way back from your walk, consider that the route might have been too long.

Especially puppies shouldn’t walk until total exhaustion in the first few weeks. Playtime is much more crucial at this point for a puppy so why not get your pup a brain game?

Puppies are satisfied with exploring their environment and playing. Their joints are not connected yet and too much exercise will lead to orthopedic problems later in life.

Similarly, older dogs or those that just aren’t in perfect shape (shelter dogs, for example) may have problems keeping up.

Dog laying on the bed exhausted.
Photo by Ryan Stone

How to Stop Dragging Your Dog on the Leash

You have already learned a few tips and tactics that you can use to get your dog to walk again. Most dogs stop during walks all the time because they want to sniff everything. If your dog doesn’t stop out of fear or medical reasons, then he just doesn’t want to go the way you want to.

A quick fix that works a lot of time is just picking up the pace in very interesting locations. That way, your dog won’t even have time to think about jumping into a smelly bush and you’re not rolling your eyes and screaming “Why won’t my dog walk!” again.

Proper leash training will definitely eliminate a lot of these problems but the best way to conquer any leash-related problem is by just stopping and standing still.

No dog wants to just sit there, he will eventually start to sniff or walk into other directions, even if it takes some time.

By just stopping right where you are and restricting access to any of his desires, you will show your dog that the only right way to walk is beside you. The second he walks toward you, reward him with a yummy treat and continue walking.

You will probably have to repeat this step a few times depending on how often you have reinforced this behavior in the past by giving in to your dog.

Dogs have a natural tendency to lean against any pressure or force applied from the other end of the leash. So trying to drag your dog down the road will make it much more difficult for you.

On the other hand, it’s very hard for dogs to manage sideways pressure, so that may be easier for you to keep him going.

Teach your dog the good association of a reward that comes when the leash hangs loose. Also, choose one side that your dog should always be walking on, this will eliminate sudden pulling.

My Puppy Refuses to Walk Away from Home

A young puppy gets overwhelmed by his environment incredibly quickly. He just got separated from his mother and littermates and is now supposed to live with complete strangers in a new home.

He will try hard to adjust to the new place but leaving home too early might be daunting to him.

Take your time and be very patient with a young puppy. Don’t expect him to jump outside into a busy city with lots of people and loud noises.

Never ever force a young puppy to go outside if he doesn’t want to. Rather show him how lovely the world can be by engaging in play and luring him with treats. Start in a quiet and controlled environment like a backyard where he can take plenty of time to explore.

A puppy knows when he is ready to take the next step. If you go too fast you will have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life that could include fear, reactiveness and possibly aggression.

Your home should be a fun place to be. He doesn’t have to walk far away to be able to explore. A combination of compassion, treats and patience will solve this problem.

Rescue Dog Doesn’t Want To Walk

You might have heard of the 3-3-3 rule, let me refresh it for you.

  1. This rule states that your dog will be overwhelmed by his new environment in the first 3 days. Don’t worry if he refuses to walk or even eat, total shut down or heightened challenging of your leadership is possible too.
  2. After 3 weeks, your dog will start to get used to his new surroundings and family. Use that time to bond with him, leash-train and you should be good. Refusal to go for walks could be signs of an underlying behavioral issue.
  3. The full 3 months have gone by and your dog has settled in. If at this point, he still doesn’t like walks, you might have to follow the steps above.

If you’ve got a problem and think your dog doesn’t like going for walks, maybe you’ll find an answer in the comments. If not, feel free to drop a comment and I’ll get back to you asap!

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About Danielle

In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

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53 thoughts on “If Your Dog Refuses to Walk – Do This:”

  1. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

    Reply
  2. My Yorkie is 6 and in the past she has had the odd day when she didn’t really want to walk but treats seem to do the trick. Other than that she has enjoyed walks. Just recently in the cold and the odd air bang going off in nearby farmers fields, she just flatly refuses to go. Do I let up on walks till it gets warmer or make her walk. She just doesn’t seem to enjoy it. I can lure about 100 meters then she just sits and as soon as I head home she walks back quickly. Really stuck as she isn’t a puppy, there’s nothing wrong, she just doesn’t want to walk 😢

    Reply
    • Hello Kate,

      first of all, we have to discern whether your dog doesn’t want to walk due to the cold or sound.

      When your Yorkie refused to walk in the past, was that during summer or winter? And did she seem especially startled due to the bang and thus started this behavior or did this evolve over the last walks during winter?

      If it was winter when it happened before and now your dog doesn’t wanna walk below certain temperatures, she might just be too cold and the sound makes her even more uncomfortable. You could solve this if you get her a warm and cozy dog coat. Also, you could do extra fun things outside like playing with her favorite toy, going to new places and, of course, giving her favorite treats. Fact is that she needs to be walked. Dogs don’t determine the schedule, we do and your dog needs the physical exercise/mental stimulation (picking up all the scents for example).

      If it happened in the summer before (maybe even with other occurrences/sounds) and you think it was a drastic change in behavior, you might want to dive into how you can desensitize sounds. If the problem persists or gets even worse, you might want to check your dog with the vet to rule out any medical problems.

      Reply
  3. Hey Danielle,
    Thanks for coming back so quick.
    So, there’s no real pattern to her not wanting to walk in the past it’s been hot and cold. For sure, she hates the rain so we do skip walks on those days. I did buy Bo a super cosy coat and that’s not made any difference. She is more than happy to go out in the garden when it’s cold without the coat.
    I do think it might be the quite a lot to do with the noise thing. She is terrified of fire works and the bangs in the fields do sound like that so I guess that might be a big part of the issue. If we see another dog when we are out walking she gets excited and wants to say hello and forgets that she doesn’t want to walk so some times I walk with a friend and that does seem to help. Obviously that’s difficult at the moment. She needs serious bribing with treats until we get to my friend and then she fine and forgets she doesn’t want to walk.
    As we have been walking on our own it’s got much worse. She does love my friends dog and my friends dog mothers her (very cute).
    So if it is the noise, how do I fix that? I would go through sooo many treats trying to bribe her to walk even 1/2 a mile!!!! Any suggestions?
    Thanks for the support xx
    Kate and Bo

    Reply
    • Hi Kate, if your Yorkie Bo is really scared of sounds, you have to work on desensitization. You can start doing this by playing firework noises, for example.

      While doing this (or during walks) it’s important that you do not comfort her as this may cause reinforcement. We often want to show our dogs everything is okay and give her a pat on the back but this may signal your dog “Oh, she likes it when I’m fearful!” and we don’t want that.

      You shouldn’t get angry either, it’s very important to stay calm. So, if it happens outside, just sit that moment out. If she’s on the leash and she wants to race home, stand your ground (but don’t drag her with you). The more fearful she is, the more time she might need to come down, even if that means waiting 10 minutes.
      If it’s extreme, calmly remove her from the situation.

      But as always, it’s hard to diagnose from a distance and evaluation needs to be up to you. If she’s a little scared but it doesn’t seem to be a biggie, just keep walking and show her through confident body language that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Let her investigate if she wants to, just don’t force anything on her.

      The thing about your friend’s dog: If she’s motherly, it might be that Bo just needs confirmation that she’s safe and this dog gives it to her. Does the excitement persist with stranger’s dogs or only with this particular one? If so, take that dog with you on walks and try to go someplace loud etc. because that might create good connections. You could create that same relationship through bonding even closer to your dog so she’ll feel even safer with you than with any other dog – more on that in this post.

      If the behavior consists, you might want to think about going to a local dog trainer/behavior consultant – if (s)he’s any good. Hope this will help!

      Reply
  4. I need help! I have a 2 year old Kelpie who loves going for walks but will only stick to our regular route. He will not go now any other streets in our neighbourhood to extend the wall. This has only been happening for the past few weeks as I use to take him for larger walks. Do you have any suggestions??

    Reply
    • Hey Kirstin,

      since you say that this has only been happening for the past few weeks, this probably has to do with the extended walks. Maybe your Kelpie has his regular route memorized and wants to walk exactly this route.

      It could be due to him being unsure about the new route (if you’ve walked the old route exclusively) or he just doesn’t have the stamina (depending on age/health it might not be a stamina problem but a “couch potato problem”). Another possibility would be something more abstract like him smelling another dog in heat/seeing a squirrel some time ago if he’s prey-driven) and he wants to regularly check the same spot – there would be signs that he’s overly excited/determined until he gets there.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  5. Hi Danielle,

    Thank you for your great article.

    I have a 7 month old bulldog. She loves running and walking, however, about 2 weeks ago she decided otherwise. She refuses to walk with me, she almost seems scared and tries to run back home. If my boyfriend walks her, she has no issues and walks. Do you have any tips as to what might be going on? I’ve tried treats, toys and getting her excited.

    Thank you for your time,
    Jess

    Reply
    • Hey Jess,

      first of all, I always recommend to make sure it’s not a health-related problem and no fear issue – did something happen to your bulldog while you were walking her? Maybe she met a scary dog, was extremely startled by a noise or something? She might connect that experience with you walking her although it could be no fault of your own at all.

      If that’s not the case, it might just be that your bulldog has a “stronger” bond with your boyfriend. Could this be the case? Who primarily trains and takes care of her? Even though you might be the primary carer, your boyfriend could be more of an authority figure and thus your dog places more trust in him even though he’s not really her trainer. That’s no problem at all and can be fixed. Check out this article on bonding.

      Puppies generally have two fear stages when growing up and need a lot of reassurance and confidence-building so that they can grow up to become a well-adjusted adult dog. It’s normal for your bulldog to go through these and it’s important that you’re persistent in walking her and exposing her to new environments.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  6. My puppy is 10 weeks. He’s an Australian Shepherd. We were taking him on two 10min walks a day. He would walk wonderfully. Very eager and wouldn’t pull. But he’ll only start doing this once the house is out of site. We have to carry him out of site of the house for him to even move from the street we are on. Previous to this week and a half we didn’t have to. We probably started waking him at 7 weeks.
    Now he full on refuses to walk anywhere.. unless it’s the direction back to the house.
    I’ve tried everything .. Food lures, Leash work, positive reinforcement, affection, toy rewards.. better treats..

    I’m not sure what happened. Or if he’s just being very stubborn. He’s not limping and he’s paws have been inspected. He runs around and walks happily in the yard.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks!

    L & Waffles

    Reply
    • Hey Lauren,

      thanks for writing here :). Your Aussie Waffles is very young with 10 weeks and it’s perfectly normal to have phases like this. Especially with puppies, is there any fear-related reason why he doesn’t want to walk, meaning did anything negative happen to him?

      It could be that your pup formerly learned that the house is his safe/fun space and that’s why he refused to walk when you were near the house. It means that your pup is just testing you a bit and if the hosue is out of sight, it’s out of his mind. I’d guess that the walks may have not been fun enough; have you started this positive reinforcement work with treats, toys etc. after he started this behavior of not going at all or did you start when he refused to go around the house? If you started late, you may have to get that habit out of him first.

      In that case, it would be learned behavior and if you reinforced that not wanting to walk means getting back inside, then he might just employ this tactic again. It’s important to differentiate if your pup’s stubborn or scared.

      Try taking him to places with your car and see if he displays the behavior there (he can’t walk back to the house from a brand new place, that is for sure). Definitely don’t slack with socialization (check the linked article on the importance of puppy socialization if you’re interested) and that means new people/dogs/places/ground textures etc.

      Let me know if this helped,
      Danielle

      Reply
      • Hi Danielle,

        Thanks for writing back to me!

        A quick update.. my puppy is now 12 weeks today.. he is really just stubborn and trying to own the situation rather than follow my or my boyfriends lead during the walk.

        I have been more patient with him though. If he plunks his bottom down and decides not to move I then stand there with him and wait until he goes to move and once he does that I continue to guide him the way I want to go and he some what complies. He is a work in progress but we’ve been able to see progress so that’s what’s important! He actually now takes the initiative to cross the street away from the house on his own! We then get very excited and praise him.

        We also took him to a location away from the house, a public pathway, he did amazing and really walked great! He rarely plunked down unless it was because he wanted to people watch or was a little warm. Otherwise he was great!

        So we are working with being consistent and praising and encouraging when he does leave the house area and is eager to go!

        Thank you for your help and insight!

        Lauren & Waffles

        Reply
        • Hi Lauren, thanks for checking in with your pup Waffles. Sounds like you’re making progress big time. Stay on it. I know how you feel, we’ve all been there and just gotta pull through training!

          Have a great day,
          Danielle

          Reply
  7. I have a 1 year old lab. When i take him for a walk, if I try to go in a different direction or go the same route but in reverse, he becomes very panicky and will stop and look in the opposite direction. If I get him going again he usually looks around fearfully. I try not to pull him but sometimes he will stop in the middle of the street. He’s never been a particularly willing participant in walks ( I did get him when he was 6 weeks old).

    Reply
    • Hi Fran,

      if you say your 1-year-old Lab was never particularly fond of walks, what have you tried to make them appealing to him (treats, toys, meeting other dogs, swimming etc.)? Is he a low-energy dog or does he just love doing other activities until exhausted? Normally, Labs (especially this young) are quite energetic and demand walks more often than their owner would like them to. Try to use his favorite treat/toy if you haven’t already, that often does the trick.

      Also, his regular route seems to be less of a hassle compared to a new route or the same in reverse. The latter could mean that your dog is too used to patterns. If so, this should be noticeable around the house (same feeding time/spot, same familiar dogs, etc.) and generally prone to adapt poorly to new environments.

      To fix this, you can switch things up more often and confidently walk new routes with him. Be aware not to treat in the wrong situations (when he stops, for example) as this will only reinforce his reluctant behavior. Sometimes, pulling him along is not a bad thing because it establishes you as the leader and shows him that he’s going to walk regardless. Always evaluate if he’s fearful in which he case he shouldn’t be pulled along except for getting him out of that situation.

      Which brings us to his panicking. Paired with the pattern, it’s a classic sign that you might want to refresh his socialization (sounds, dogs, people etc. especially if his normal route is pretty calm) as well as your bonding – I’ve linked you both articles.

      Your dog is still in socialization anyway, medium-large breeds develop until at least 2 years old. Although tailored to the breed Cane Corso, you can read more about the second fear imprint of your Lab here.

      Let me know if this helped,
      Danielle

      Reply
  8. Hi Danielle…. we are having the exact same issue with our 16 week old Cavapoo Fletcher. He doesn’t fight us when the harness goes on and seems keen to walk but only gets a few steps out of the house and he sits. He will walk for a bit and then stop….repeat over and over and we never get too far. He doesn’t seem sacred or timid at all and simply looks around. He’s very interested in bikes, people, cars etc and seems well “socialized” in that regard in this pandemic era where he hasn’t been able to do any puppy training etc. When we come home it’s the opposite. He doesn’t pull but walks beautifully and rarely stops. We have used different treats that do help to love him along but he will stop even with those available. Today we drove to another location away from the house and he was marginally better but still stopped. Interestingly enough, he walked way better back to the car!! He has never been to this area nor does he have a compass to know which way was “home”…..lol…..any suggestions??? It’s so tough figuring this out on our own without professional training and socialization first him and we hope he hasn’t been “scarred” by all of this isolation. Thanks so much…..

    Reply
    • Hey Rob,

      since you mentioned your Cavapoo doesn’t seem scared or timid at all, I would say that this is typical puppy behavior. A lot of puppies are interested in everything and everybody and that’s a good sign, you should encourage him to check out stuff if he’s not scared. A big part of socialization (which I’ve linked here for you) is just sitting down and letting your puppy observe crowds of people, other dogs, noises and so on.

      The fact that he will only follow your treats part of the time can be due to his short attention span which is also totally fine for Fletcher since he just hit the age of 4 months. Generally, poodles are quite trainable (although it’s always hard to determine with mixed-breeds) but I’m sure he will come around soon.

      When you say your dog walked way better back, he might not have known the area but as soon as he walked the path, he probably memorized the way back. Either that or Fletcher has a built-in compass if you walked a different direction back to the car :).

      Here you can check out my link on things I wish I knew before getting a puppy. It features a couple of topics with significance in regards to the current events (re: separation anxiety, for example).

      Let me know if I can help with anything else,
      Danielle

      Reply
  9. Hey so I just found this post because my 1 and a half year old dog has stopped wanting to walk with me. I’d follow a bunch of these steps but the main issue is she has no problem walking with her grandparents or uncle. But me her owner, play with her, sleep with her, feed her she doesnt want to walk with me. When we are home everything is normal we play have fun and all that

    Reply
    • Hey Brandon,

      first of all, I’d suggest asking your grandparents/uncle how they walk your dog. How is their relationship with your dog inside the house?

      Second, I’d just go for a walk with them and see how the dog behaves when they walk the dog and you just observe.

      Does she feel uncomfortable due to your presence or is she happily walking with them?
      Does she walk with you when your uncle is just present?

      As always, maybe something happened to your dog while you walked her (this can be as much as a dog attack or as little as an extremely startling noise). Otherwise, it might be that you’ve reinforced your dog not walking in the past means going back home.

      After you answered the above questions, I’d be happy to give you further advice!

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  10. Hi, this is so useful!

    We have a two year old rescue dog who has lived in a (loud) shelter his whole life. When we first brought him home, he was happy to go on walks around a nearby lake/garden area, however a little timid around dogs. A week or so in, he is now excited to get ready for a walk but stops when we leave the small area surrounding our building. If he manages to go a little further, he will stop multiple times on the walks. So far, we have tried using treats, however he can take or leave these. And have taken to stopping and waiting where he does for around 5 minutes before trying to move on, or if just outside the house, we tend to sit for 10-15 minutes so he still has outdoor time.

    We know rescue dogs take a little time to settle in and this is part of his journey, we want him to feel safe and trust us, yet also want him to be able to enjoy walking which I’m sure he’d love.

    Just wanted to check in that this sounds like the right thing to be doing? Or if you have any advice for us with a rescue dog?

    Reply
    • Hey Hannah,

      kudos to you for rescuing that dog and saving him from a life inside the shelter!

      You’ve probably heard about the 3-3-3 rule with rescues, they tend to be more comfortable after three weeks but only show their real capabilities, interests, strengths (and sometimes issues) after 3 months. As it sounds, he’s just 1 week in so no problems there, give him time and space :).

      Always evaluate your dog’s body language and don’t overwhelm him with new places/many new dogs. Even a seemingly well-adjusted dog that lived with dogs all his life can be overwhelmed by all the new stimuli and that’s where people/dogs get bitten. He needs time to get to know you are his new forever family and the best thing you can is bonding with him and building trust.

      Feel free to use the methods I explained in this article and make walking great with his favorite treats (did you try toys?) and gently push him further if he’s not too afraid. Distances will increase and you can soon work on socialization, introducing new places/textures/etc.

      Switch things up with play inside your yard or teaching your dog new tricks, use snuffle mats, hide-and-seek and so on to tire your dog mentally.

      I’m sure you’ll do well!
      Danielle

      Reply
      • Hi Danielle,

        Thank you for your advice and suggestions! We will definitely try tiring him out at home too, whilst giving him time to discover his surroundings.

        Reggie has begun to come to us on walks, if we stop a few feet away, so it seems he is bonding with us gradually! We have toys at home, however it doesn’t seem that he understands how to play with them yet, or perhaps if he is allowed to. We will definitely try taking some out with us over the next few weeks.

        Thanks again,
        Hannah

        Reply
  11. Hi Danielle, thanks so much for this post. We are having a similar issue to some of the others on here. Mylo is nearly 14 weeks – initially he seemed to like going out, although hasnt ever loved walking away from the house. We moved house 10 days ago and since then he wont leave out drive. The road is slightly busier.
    As a puppy he definitely seems to have a more nervous disposition. If we drive anywhere then he always seems happy to walk, and once he reaches a destination he runs about and when we are walking home he is amazing!
    Is there anything we can do to help him?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa,

      with 14 weeks, Mylo is still a pup and this fear period is totally normal. However, you should guide your dog through socialization (especially if he has is a nervous character) and be an overall great, calm leader for him. Moving can be so hard for puppies – imagine living 8 weeks just to move into your new home and then move again after a couple of weeks – adjustment periods are completely normal.

      Feel free to tire your dog out with enough playtime and teach new tricks, etc. and if he makes good experiences outside, the rest will come. Your thought of bringing him to new places is spot on. That behavior should transfer to normal walks. Encourage him but don’t be pushy, your pup will thank you later on. Use this time to bond with him as much as you can!

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  12. My Daschund loves to walk if we drive to any location. She gets excited and will walk eagerly for miles but she refuses to walk from the house. She just sits and refuses to budge. Any advice?

    Reply
    • Hello Bella,

      have you tried the steps above? There’s a section about your exact problem :).

      It could be due to negative experiences on walks near the house or a feeling of uncertainty (most common with puppies – they want to get back to the house/safe-haven but once it’s out of sight, it’s not on their mind anymore). Maybe it’s just not exciting enough for her and she flourishes in new environments with new smells, etc.

      Also, check out the other readers that commented on here, the problems resemble each other more often than we might think.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  13. Thank you so much for these ideas! I have a rescue that I have had for 2 years..I took her to my parents house and she refused to walk all week long. When we got home, she again just refuses to walk most of the time. She will get excited at an animal, and her gait seems fine so i don’t think it is medical related. I think she has a lot of fear, but it is so discouraging to have this set back after so much growth! Just last month she would run 2 miles with me. I wonder if there is something I am missing, or could be doing different so that she will want to come along again. I have another do who walks well, and walking the two of them is near impossible with one pulling to go and the pother pulling to stay..but they have always walked together! I don’t understand why this is so sudden.

    Reply
    • Hi Maggie,

      if your rescue has walked normally before and just started this after getting back from your parent’s house, I wouldn’t worry too much. Your dog may have just adapted poorly to this new situation and now needs an adjustment period to go back to normal again (unless you’re already back for a couple of months – then that should have changed back already if nothing happened to your dog during that time).

      Feel free to check out the steps above and try luring her on walks to make them really fun and exciting.

      You’d be surprised how many dogs suddenly refuse to walk and even more dogs that are bad at adapting to new situations. Bear with your dog, keep that bond strong and you should be fine.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
      • Thanks for responding.

        I am not sure what I am doing wrong, exactly. I have tried waiting (sometimes up to 15 minutes), and offering treats. She gets the treat when she walks with me, but then will stop again after she gets her treat. When I first got her, I wrapped her leash around my waist and would walk her that way, and I feel like she has totally regressed and I have to walk her like this to even get down the block. She doesn’t resist as much, however she does tug against me from time to time. I’ve picked her up and carried her a few times, which I doubt helps to much. I really just don’t know what to do.

        Reply
  14. Great post. We rescued a saluki cross 3 weeks ago, the kennels think she’s 18 months. The first week she happily went on walks. Then she started to refuse to leave the house. The last few days she will leave the house but only go one way and only to the end of the road which is about about 4 houses along. She likes to sniff the grass at the end on the road for a few minutes and then heads back home, quickly. We live in a very quiet area in the countryside so it’s not a busy road, she maybe hears only 1 car if that. She’s very needy indoors, constantly wanting our attention by trying to climb on us. She has plenty of toys and we play with her in the garden. We feel that she needs to be walked to burn off some energy but just won’t go. She doesn’t respond to treat or encouragement when out. Any advice is welcome. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Andrea,

      congrats on the new addition to your home! If you check the end of the article, I’ve covered rescues and the 3-3-3 rule there. Some dogs need longer to adapt than others.

      Most dogs are quite insecure/shy/etc. during the first 3 days and then start getting comfortable around 3 weeks in (slow, gradual and straightforward process). Other dogs look like they’ve never been anywhere else during the first days and then start showing their true capabilities after a few weeks (this includes behavior issues and can be perceived as sudden change).

      Since you’re three weeks in, your Saluki is still figuring things out but slowly recognises that this may be her forever home. This doesn’t mean that your dog is uncomfortable or anything, maybe she just recognised if she refuses to walk, you’ll stay at home and she’s fine with that since you mention you play there and she loves that.

      I’d recommend to just walk her as long as she’s not fearful. You don’t have to overdo it if she’s physically fine with brisk, short walks for the time being and could rather engage with her in play. Teach your dog a couple of new tricks (linked you an article) or check out these boredom busters. Playtime will improve your bond for sure and that’s what you’re doing during the first 3 months anyway :).

      Good luck!
      Danielle

      Reply
  15. Hi Danielle, thanks for this post! Our family has a 6 year old Westie. His primary owner is our 79 year old mother who walks very slowly and isn’t very active, however she and Harry have always been able to go for a short walk and a longer one each day. Harry has VERY bad skin issues that made him scratch constantly and lose some hair, plus he gets ear infections – this has gone on most of his life, and he’s now under vet care – recently he also lost some weight, though we think my mom just wasn’t feeding him enough. He’s just a really sad dog these days and we can’t get him to walk or play with toys or do anything really, he just lies on the couch all day – but I know he can run because he chases bikes and joggers (we worry he will nip or bite, this has happened before). If I try to take him out on the leash he just stands there looking sad and won’t move. I don’t want to drag him by the neck and if I give treats to reward forward movement he just eats the treat and then does it again. He’s wise to all the tricks and my elderly mother just can’t be bothered with training, she drags him until he does his business and then goes home. How do we get him to like going for walks again or playing with other dogs or running on the beach? He used to enjoy all these things but now – nothing. As he’s only 6, I worry that he’s not getting enough exercise. We want him to have a happy life again, even with the skin issues? Help!

    Reply
    • Hey Alexandra,

      with only 6 years, small breeds are just about to enter the senior stage but yes, he still has exercise needs.

      The thing that might pose the biggest problem is your mother’s unwillingness (or inability due to her own age/health) to start training. How often are you taking care of the dog? He needs one person to focus on – a partner that will bond properly with him and train consistently (although every person that’s taking care of him needs to stay consistent because otherwise, he’ll just start ignoring your mother if she allows him stuff, even though you train him not to do something). He may have just figured out what works on your mother and consistent training is necessary to show him that the old tricks won’t work anymore.

      Not to step on any toes, but if your mother forgets to feed him sometimes (depends how often really) and he chases bikes/joggers and even nips them, somebody should step in or at least help with taking care of Harry.

      For the actual problem: If treats, toys, and nothing else helps it may be because he has nobody he bonded closely with. Dogs love going for a walk with their favorite person but a bond can only be strong if that person provides clear rules and boundaries because then the communication is 100% clear.

      Unfortunately, dragging won’t solve anything and may make him dislike walking even more.

      I’d recommend that you and your mother incorporate bonding sessions into each day which can be really small things as you’ll read in my post. Other ideas that help with bonding + mental exercise are teaching a couple of simple tricks or getting your dog new toys to play with (you may even notice that he is into toys – just not the toys you’ve thought. Some dogs love balls, frisbees, tugs, chew toys, plush toys, it’s all about texture!).

      With that, you may be able to get him love walking again as well as tire him out mentally (extremely important) and physically. Is he into play sessions with other dogs or is he generally not interested in them? If he is, schedule play sessions like you’d do with a puppy.

      A tired dog is a happy dog, but not if he’s tired out of boredom and lack of mental exercise. Fortunately, this is an easy fix if we humans are willing to change that.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  16. Hi there!
    We have a very sweet 3 year old rescue pitt lab mix who has been home with us for 3 weeks. She is pretty good on leash and does not seem fearful of walking (and we saw the vet recently and got a clear bill of health so no apparent physical issues) but is increasingly resistant to do anything out of the house unless BOTH of us are present. If only one of us takes her out she will sit down and more or less refuse to go. I can get her to come (though only in small spurts) with a firm come and treats but my husband has slightly less luck with this. If both of us take her out she is happy to go for a walk or play/train in the yard. I know about the 3-3-3 rules but wondering if this is something to address now or wait and see how things stand after 3 months? Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi Jen,

      if you ruled out any physical issues, your next step should be making sure that fear is really no factor for your Pit/Lab mix. The fact that her unwillingness to walk is just increasing says it’s not fear, but manifested fear isn’t always showing right away – that’s what the 3-3-3 rule is for. Even if a rescue seems fine, issues can suddenly turn up after 3 weeks or longer.

      That being said, if you’re sure it’s not fear (normal body posture, no laid back ears, submissive position, reactiveness, tail between legs, etc.) then you might just need to do separate walks.

      Does she refuse to walk with either one of you alone or just one particular person? If it’s both, that may just be the way she learned it if you did a lot of walks together (which is normally very good). Keep improving your bond with her (separate as well as together) but include walks alone and just go through the steps above to avoid it becoming a habit. Other than that, time will tell if there’s a real issue or just how she’s comfortable at the moment.

      Make sure your husband does the same training steps as you for a strong release & recall command so she listens to both of you.

      Sometimes we just need to be more engaging and figure out what that particular dog likes (treats/balls/rope toys/etc.).

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  17. Hi all,
    I have a 2.5 year old female bulldog who I’ve recently become very frustrated with and I’m hoping you can help?

    Ever since starting to work from home almost 4 months ago, on our walks around the neighborhood but when we start heading in the direction of home, my dog has suddenly started sitting on the sidewalk and refusing to walk. Nothing can move her – not treats, not coaxing, not confident reassurance – nothing. Sometimes we can get walking again if I agree to walk in the opposite direction (away from home) or on an unfamiliar route. There’s times she’s not moved for a half hour or more while I stand there with her leash trying to coax her. It’s horrible and I feel upset she’s doing this to me.

    Any suggestions on why this is happening? For context I live in an apartment downtown and I’m wondering if she maybe doesn’t like going home because she’s confined in a smaller space with me (since I’m now working from home all day instead of my usual 9-5 at the office)?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hey Lauren,

      it may very well be that your dog doesn’t want to go home but not necessarily because she doesn’t want to be confined with you in a small space, but rather because she might need more exercise.

      It’s perfectly normal to assume that dogs want their own space and sometimes they do but if you have a great bond with your dog and a breed that’s not too independent (e.g. Livestock guardian dogs) then they should love being with you. It’s a common misconception that (large breed) dogs need a big yard, lots of space, and so on and that’s just not true. I have a 100 lbs Rottweiler and she loves being inside but only because she gets enough exercise and stimulation outside.

      Dogs don’t think rationally. Before you were home, she may or may not have been fine with being alone but now she sees the opportunity for more since you’re already at home. Try new toys like flirt poles, frisbees, tug-of-war, or whatever. Also, provide your dog with mental stimulation like teaching her new tricks, building your own super simple Agility course, or puzzle toys. Check out my article on boredom busters if you’re interested in a couple of ideas.

      Be patient with your furry companion and let me know how it goes!
      Danielle

      Reply
  18. I adopted my wee dog three weeks ago from a Romanian rescue volunteer charity organization. She is a great wee dog and bonded with my husband and I very quickly but she will only go for short walks then wants to go home and she doesn’t know how to play with toys, she hardly ever barks ( although that’s ok for me) we have tried every thing to her to play even take her to my daughters garden to play with her dog, she is very interested but will make no attempt to join in the fun. I know it will take time but I wonder if she is happy!

    Reply
    • Hey Anne,

      with rescues it’s really important to repeat the mantra of the 3-3-3 rule. It might just take more time for your new pooch to fully settle in.

      How is she behaving on the walks? It doesn’t have to be outright fear, it can just be a certain feeling of discomfort on her new route. Build confidence and keep improving that bond!

      Btw: My Rottweiler came from a great breeder and she’s 2y old and almost never barks – count yourself lucky :). I’ve also fostered a rescue that seemingly didn’t know how to play with toys but they figure it out almost always – just try a variety of toys and different textures. I’ve even made a list of indestructible dog toys as my own dog would love to play all day and if that time comes, you want something durable.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  19. Hi Danielle

    Our 4 year old Poodle Rosie came in from the garden limping about 5 months ago …. Fast forward she has been to see a specialist vet who requested X-Rays. Those X-Rays showed up Grade 1 Patella Luxation and an inflamed ankle with a tendon slipping in and out of its groove … Surprisingly the vet said it was unlikely she was getting any real pain from those two things?? She is definitely feeling something .. If it isnt pain, maybe its a weird feeling?? Whatever it is, she has become fearful of it.

    Anyway, our Rosie is now flatly refusing to properly walk anywhere, apart from around the block where we live. Upon saying that she will not walk directly from the house, but from further around the block when she feels the distance back home is short enough for her. I have bought her a dog buggy which I use to get her away from the house with much success. Sometimes, and when we are near the house, she asks to get out of the buggy, but she will usually ask to get back into it very quickly. When she gets to that certain point on her walk, she tries to jump out of the buggy and always walks very enthusiatically for about 30 minutes back home.

    I can seriously see this never coming to an end, and consider that this is now Rosie forever, so any advice from yourself to help her to overcome this fear would be so much appreciated.

    I would like to say one more thing, and that is before the injury, she was the type of dog that liked to dictate the route of her walk, and “sometimes” I let her have her own way, plus sometimes she wouldnt be interested in a walk at all, just to go to the to the end of the road, go to the toilet and demand I take her home. There is a part of me that feels she has a strange mixture of fear and stubborness .., If thats at all possible??

    Reply
    • Hi Jaclyn,

      I’m very sorry to hear that your Poodle Rosie is limping. I actually have an article about dog limping, maybe it’s of some help to you.

      What did the vet suggest you do? Grade 1 Patella Luxation doesn’t necessarily mean pain for your dog, neither does it mean that osteoarthritis will occur sometime soon. However, depending on the cause of inflammation these two can correlate. It’s actually normal for dogs with grade 1 to take every third or fourth step and then limp on. Did this happen due to trauma or just develop over age? Did your dog come from a breeder?

      That being said, I’m not a vet and I’d definitely talk to a (qualified) vet to get a second opinion if you’re not sure about the current evaluation in the first place. As far as I know, there are massage techniques to manipulate the Luxating Patella back into place and the right diet will also help support your dog’s body to avoid arthritis or other developing conditions.

      Regarding the walking: It’s important to note if the refusal to walk was already there before this condition or if she already refused just because there were first signs of pain (doesn’t sound like the latter since you’re talking about her “dictating the route” before). Fear & stubborness is definitely possible because fear can make a dog shut down totally but something negative must’ve happened to your dog on the walks.

      I’d suggest you focus on mental stimulation (teaching tricks, interactive puzzle toys, etc.) and take her to places where you know she loves to walk to get her to be compliant. Make walking a great experience with lots of treats. The fact that she seems to jump out of the buggy at some point and then walk 30 mins (without limping?) shows that she’s definitely able to and wants to but she may just need to learn that she has to walk your routes in the long-term, not only hers. If that is the case, it’s a classic case of just training her with positive reinforcement and being persistent with it while handling your dog’s condition and balancing different activities.

      I’m sure Rosie and you will get through this!
      Danielle

      Reply
  20. Hello!

    I have a golden that just turned 6. We’ve moved around a lot and have always been very adventurous on our walks. Due to COVID, I am living with my parents until further notice.

    Occasionally before if we started down a street that she knew led to home, she would pull in the opposite direction and try to sit down. But, it didn’t take much to get her to continue on the walk.

    Now, where I am currently living, I choose to stay on a very routine walk. I’m currently in a very small southern town where most people in the neighborhood train their dogs for protection and let them outside off leash. We have already had two violent encounters. Because of this, I choose to stay on a familiar route were I know we won’t be attacked. She does NOT like this. She is constantly stopping and pulling, even to the point of sitting/lying down and refusing to move. We just got back from a walk and about a black away from home I had to pick her up and walk for a few yards to get her moving. (must have been a sight for the neighbors to see a small girl carrying a 60 lb golden retriever haha) She wants to explore new territory and I don’t blame her, but we just can’t here.

    Any tips?

    Reply
    • Hey Anne,

      I’m really sorry about your current circumstances, no at-home protection-trained dog should be let off-leash on the streets but that’s we gotta deal with for now.

      Refusal to walk due a desire to explore more is definitely better than the opposite due to fear, so congrats on having an adventurous dog! Are you entirely sure it’s due to the routine or could it be that she just feels uncomfortable (especially with the violent encounters) but doesn’t want to go home right away and freezes instead?

      If your dog is just bored, try luring her with her favorite treats or toys. Too many people don’t even try balls, frisbees, tugs or whatever to get their dog moving. Priority for you is to be more interesting than her environment.

      Instead of trying to tire your dog with the walk only, you could teach new obedience commands, tricks, or use puzzle toys and snuffle mats to get your Golden really tired. Just check my linked articles here and you’ll find many opportunities to tire out your dog in other ways.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  21. I have two dachshund both are puppy mill dogs . They are both six years old. They are both scared of everything after the Fourth of July they don’t want to walk on the leash now. Before the fourth they were ok walking with a little fear but with positive reinforcement they would work through it. I have only had the for six months and three months. The are both on some anxiety medication it help a little bit anything I can do to help them feel more safe.

    Reply
    • Hi Bob,

      great for these two that you rescued them! With 6y they should’ve seen some fireworks already if they weren’t locked away before (as it often happens in puppy mills, sadly). If you know that that’s the source of fear, you can start by desensitizing them to the sound.

      Just start playing it on your laptop or whatever and create a positive association with treats, toys, etc. Remember not to reinforce negative behavior (fear, shivering, tail between legs) with pets – that’ll only make it worse. Be confident and calm and just guide them through this little exercise.

      Besides anxiety meds (which should only be given under veterinary supervision), there are options like a Thundershirt. Just gradually expose them to walking again and keep going with treats or toys. It’s a process. You may have to walk them separately if you notice that one gets the other extremely riled up when he’s startled by or reacting to something.

      Hope that helps,
      Danielle

      Reply
  22. I rescued a dog 5 months ago and she has been through a lot before we gave her her forever home. We can never get her to walk. She is completely scared of everything (which is understandable) but she will only walk at 5 am and sometimes after dark. We try to take her outside multiple times a day and she will not move from the steps and tries to run back inside. She will hold her bladder until the next morning since she won’t walk. I need help

    Reply
    • Hi Shay,

      with the rescue over 5 months ago, the 3-3-3 rule shouldn’t apply anymore, although it can definitely be said that some very sensitive dogs need more time and lots of guidance. Are you improving your bond with her?

      Depending on your dog’s age and breed, lengthy walks are definitely needed. Even if it’s an older small-breed dog, the outdoors will provide stimulation and help with socializing, so definitely don’t skip the walks.

      Have you tried luring with toys, treats? At times when she does want to walk (5am or after dark) make the walk AWESOME. It’s hard if you’re very tired and whatnot but it’s necessary. Although dogs don’t think rational, such behavior patterns can definitely transition to the whole day.

      Other than that, just take her for a walk without any force as far as possible and observe her behavior. Tail tucked between the legs, shivering, very jumpy, sensitive to other people/dogs/noises, etc. and when you know the source, you can work on the real issue.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  23. Hi,
    I have a 4 year old goldendoodle. She loves walks and playing fetch. I’ve also taken her on hikes with no problem. Just recently she started to stop dead in her tracks and won’t budge. On a hike recently, I think the reason for stopping was tiredness, it was a warm day and it was longer than her normal walks. However, I’ve taken her on other walks and I know she wasn’t tired yet she stopped and would not budge no matter what, it was so difficult to get back home. This was on a different path than she is normally used to but not longer. I don’t understand why this started, I used to be able to go anywhere and she was happy just walking along side me. She is really good on and off leash.
    Any other thoughts or suggestions?
    Brenda

    Reply
    • Hey Brenda,

      has your dog experienced anything negative on her walks? Maybe with a friend or dog walker? With adult dogs that suddenly stop out of nowhere even though they’ve been active before, it’s quite often a negative expereince that impacted them. However, it’s important to note the body language in these cases (signs of fear could be tail between legs, shivering, fixating on something, etc.).

      Could also just be that your dog just figured out it’s cooler to hang out at home. In that case it always helps to make walks more attractive with toys, treats, and so on. We want to associate walking with something positive.

      As you already ruled over-exercising out, maybe you can switch things up with different types of exercises. Some Agility at home, teaching new tricks, going on some bonding trips where the focus is not solely on walking but the outside experience – these things might also help.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply
  24. Have 7 year old female Lab. I’m dad in family of five. Our lab is super smart, friendly, outgoing has it all. About year ago she decided she will not walk more than 100yds from our home with either of my 19 year old sons. She had no health problems and is a super well rounded great dog. I have always walked her off the leash (unless traffic around) and she behaves perfectly staying near me and obeys commands very well. She is definetly “my” dog I guess since if in house she always rests near me and puts her head on my feet. Can’t break the problem with refusing to walk with sons. She even snubbed my wife yesterday too for first time. I’m out of ideas? Help!

    Reply
    • Hey Rich,

      from the way you’re describing it, I’m assuming that your Lab was with you since she’s a pup or at least for several years now?

      Does the problem only exist with your kids or is it possible that she doesn’t want to walk with you either at the moment? If so, health problems or fear-inducing experiences could be the reason why she avoids walking now (even if she walks with you, it could be a bad experience your Lab had while being walked by them).

      If she’s totally fine with you (paired with her “snubbing” your wife), then it might just be the lack of a bond the other family members have with her. You can read more about that in my article about bonding. With a bigger family, it’s important that everybody takes part in training which will make it easier to give your Lab commands and provide boundaries as well as guideliens.

      Although the go-to topic for many people with similar issues is the partially outdated dominance theory, it’s often just miscommunication that can be easily solved with bonding, obedience training, and clear body language.

      Let me know how it goes!
      Danielle

      Reply