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My dog keeps stopping on walks, what should I do?

You want to ensure that your pup gets the exercise they should, but every time you head out on a walk your dog stops and won't move. It's a frustrating issue faced by many pet parents. In today's post, our vets explain some reasons why dogs stop and what you can do to help get your pooch moving again.

Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

You love your dog and want to ensure that you do everything you can to keep them healthy and happy, which includes taking them out for walks. Yet, every time to head out the door your pooch stops and refused to keep moving.

Although it can certainly be madding, rather than getting angry, a little detective work and helpful solutions are called for. Below are a few common reasons why your dog may be stopping and what you can do to try and deter this behavior.


It may seem obvious, but if your dog is suffering from joint pain, a cruciate injury, a cut paw pad or other painful injury or condition, they won't be very enthusiastic about walking. It can be difficult to detect when a dog is in pain and where the pain is stemming from.

Book an appointment with your vet for a full checkup for your pooch, to help rule out any conditions that may be causing your pup pain, and preventing them from enjoying their walk. Also check to see if their harness or collar could be causing them discomfort that could prevent them from enjoying their daily exercise.


It is not unusual for dogs to be fearful, especially when they are young, or when they find themselves in new surroundings. Dogs can also be fearful if they have been hurt by another dog while out on a previous walk, or experienced trauma such as being hit by a car. The key to correcting this behavior is to pinpoint the cause of your dog's fear then patiently working to desensitize your pup and build up their confidence. Fear may be triggered by loud traffic, an aggressive dog you encounter on your route, or fast moving children in a park

Begin by staying close to home and just walking back and forth in front of your house, or even just walking calmly out the door then back in again. Then gradually increase the time you are out of the house before calmly returning to the safety of your home. Many dogs and pet parents benefit greatly from working with an experienced trainer to help them identify the source of fear and provide behavioral modifications to help the dog feel more relaxed and comfortable.


In some cases, dogs that stop frequently on walks just need more practice or may be unaccustomed to the harness or collar. This can be especially true with rescue dogs or very young puppies. Introduce the dog walking paraphernalia one piece at a time, giving your dog lots of positive reinforcement with the introduction of each piece. Try leash walking around your living room or home to help your pooch get used to the equipment in a safe and calm atmosphere.

Next try leash walks around your garden or tiny walks just as far as next door's lawn and back again. Do that until your pooch begins to relax and enjoy the experience, then increase the distance of each walk, taking your time to allow them to adjust to each new distance.


For some dogs, overstimulation can be a real problem, since a dog on hyper-alert is not in a good frame of mind for learning. Hyper-arousal can be a real issue for rescue dogs that have not seen much of the world and suddenly find themselves surrounded by new smells and sights with cars whizzing past, other dogs checking them out, and fast moving kids.

If your dog is experiencing overstimulation, your best bet is to try a distraction technique to break their hyper-arousal. You could scatter kibble on the ground to help them move their focus away from the source of stimulation, or work with a trainer to learn techniques to help them focus more on you and less on the excitement going on around them.


If your pooch is showing little enthusiasm for their walk, even before leaving the house, they could be tired. Perhaps your dog doesn't need all of the exercises you are lovingly supplying. Not all dogs make ideal running partners or hiking companions.

Dogs of different breeds have different exercise requirements. Surprisingly some small dogs will need loads of exercise and stimulation, whereas some large and giant breed dogs need very little exercise.

Age is another factor when it comes to judging the amount of exercise your dog needs. Very young and senior dogs typically need less exercise than healthy middle-aged dogs. Speak to your vet or breeder to determine just the right amount of exercise for your pooch.

Bad Weather

Bad weather comes in all kinds of combinations, too hot and sunny, too cold and icy, too wet and windy, the list goes on. In hot or wet weather dogs will often find a shady covered spot and just refuse to go on. Whereas, wet snow can cause the spaces between your dog's toes to become uncomfortably packed with ice and snow. 

Be aware of your dog's weather tolerance. The more obvious guidelines are that short coated dogs often struggle in cold weather, and long haired shaggy dogs can be particularly heat-intolerant, etc.

That said, heatstroke is a very real health concern for all dogs. If it's hot where you live, walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening when the weather is cooler. In cold weather try kitting your pooch out in a coat and boots to help them feel more comfortable while out on their walk.

Pooch Wants To Go Somewhere Different

Like people, our canine companions have their own preferences and personality quarks. Many dogs enjoy the reassurance of doing the same walk at the same time each day and can become stubborn if their schedule is being messed with. If your pup is stopping because they want to go a different way, or because you are making their usual route longer or shorter, patience is going to be key.

Do not acknowledge your dog's stubborn behavior. Simple stand patiently until they notice that they aren't winning then move on

Loving the Walk Too Much to Go Home

In some cases, your dog may simply be having so much fun they don't want to go home. If your dog typically stops near the end of their usual walk it could be a sign that they want more. If this sounds like your pooch the trick will be making arriving back home more exciting.

To help make home as much fun as a walk try giving your dog a special treat each time you get home -  a stuffed Kong to play with, a tasty dental chew, or a favorite soft toy are all great.

Needs More Mental Stimulation

On the other hand, your dog's reluctance to walk could be an indication that they are not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation. Perhaps they are eager to check out some smells or meet some other dogs. 

To help your pup get the most out of their walk allow for plenty of sniffing and investigating as you go along, you may want to try an extending leash if it's safe to use where you walk, or try visiting your local dog park to allow your pooch some fun playtime and socializing.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical or behavioral advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you need advice on dealing with your dog's undesirable behaviors contact our  San Diego vets to book an appointment for your pooch. Our vets can check your pup for signs of pain or illness, and offer helpful tips for improving your dog's behavior while on walks.

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Kearny Mesa Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Diego companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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