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My Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move: What to Do

My Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move: What to 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 Upland 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 Upland veterinarians are frequently asked about this issue by 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 post, we discuss some of the possible causes of your dog's inability to walk and how you can get them moving 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 suspect your dog may be suffering from pain in their joints, the best thing you can do is call your vet and book an exam. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive wellness examination to determine the underlying cause and prescribe 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 has been injured, stop walking them immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for injuries. If you find the source of the wound, take pictures and contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. You will most likely be given first aid instructions to follow. Even if you can't locate the source of the injury, you should still contact your veterinarian for advice and to schedule an appointment.

Meanwhile, you may 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 pooch is afraid of something in their surroundings, they may refuse to walk or keep moving. Young puppies who are going through their fear period and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment commonly experience this (especially true if they tend to be fearful or anxious, or have a history of trauma). 

Symptoms of fear in dogs include held-back ears, crouched body posture, a tucked under tail, and/or heavy or abnormal breathing. 

When addressing this issue, the first step is to identify the source of their anxiety. Noises, a trash can, a sign, a scent you didn't notice, or another dog walking by are all examples of this. If the source is a specific odor or sight, they may come to a halt in the same location every time you pass by it.

Once you've identified the source of your dog's apprehension, you can begin desensitizing your dog to the trigger (if it's safe) and assisting them in gaining confidence. While the precise steps required to desensitize your dog will vary depending on the fear, the following are some general 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, you must keep in mind that this could be a stressful or overwhelming experience for your dog, so it's best to introduce the process gradually and start them out slowly. Start off by introducing them to one piece of equipment at a time, letting them inspect it and familiarize themselves with it as you pass them treats. Avoid skipping this step to avoid damaging associations with walks and 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, 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 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

Important to keep in mind is that dragging or bribing your dog to keep walking when they stop could encourage bad behavior or worsen it. Additionally, it's crucial to avoid yelling at or punishing your dog because a variety of factors could be to blame for this problem. Therefore, we advise "when in doubt, contact 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 Upland vets for an emergency appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Inland Valley Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians care passionately about the health and well-being of Upland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your cat or dog's first appointment.

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