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My Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move

If your dog suddenly decides that they're going to plop themselves down in the middle of your adventure and refuses to go any further, you may be wondering why. Here, our vets in Springfield share some of the reasons why your dog may stop walking and what you can do when they won't move.

Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move

You are walking with your dog when suddenly they sit down and stop walking. You will likely wonder why this is happening. The first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Our Springfield vets have discussed this issue with many pet owners often enough, as it can be frustrating and. difficult to manage. This is especially true if you don't understand why they are stopping or what to do next. Today, we'll share some reasons your dog may have stopped walking and how you can get them moving again. 

Your Dog is Injured or Experiencing Trauma

If your dog has sustained an injury then walking may be difficult and they may even refuse because of the pain. These can range from a hurt paw pad or nail to something more serious, such as a foreign object stuck in a limb or an open wound. 

If you do think your dog may have been injured, stop walking immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for any obvious injuries. Take photos if you're able to find the source of the wound, then call your vet to book an appointment. You'll likely be provided first aid instructions to follow. If you're unable to find the source of the injury, you'll still need to contact your vet for advice and to arrange an appointment. 

Meanwhile, you can prevent the injury from worsening by calling a friend or family member to pick you and your dog up. 

Your Dog is Nervous About Something Nearby

If a dog is scared of something in their environment, they may refuse to walk or keep moving. Young puppies who are in their 'fear phase' and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment commonly experience this (especially true if they tend to be anxious or fearful or have a history of trauma). 

Physical symptoms of fear in dogs include a tail tucked under their body, crouched body posture, and laid-back ears. They may also breathe heavily or abnormally. 

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

After you've discovered the source of your dog's fear, you can begin to desensitize your dog to the trigger (if it's safe to do so) and help them build their confidence. While the precise steps required to desensitize your dog can differ based on the specific fear they're experiencing, here are some basic actions you can take: 

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

If you know your dog is experiencing fear, contact your vet to book an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how to appropriately manage your dog's fear safely and efficiently. 

Your Dog is Plagued by Joint Pain

If your dog is experiencing long-term pain in their joints, they may sometimes stop walking. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are both common causes of joint pain in senior dogs. These conditions can be 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 whimpering or yelping before stopping. 

If your dog is showing any of the signs of joint pain, we advise you to call your vet and book a comprehensive wellness examination, so the underlying cause can be determined. Your vet can also prescribe a treatment plan. 

Your Dog Needs More Leash Training

One of the simplest reasons why your dog isn't walking well is just because they aren't used to it.

If this is the case, you need to keep in mind that this could be an overwhelming or frightening experience for your pooch, so it's best to start them out slowly, introducing the process gradually. Begin by showing them one piece of equipment at a time, letting them sniff and get to know the gear as you pass them treats. It's important to allow your pup to become comfortable with 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. 

P{positive reinforcement is always recommended when your dog is walking well and listening to your prompts. If there are any struggles, you should contact your vet for a consultation.

Some Other Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

Along with the reasons listed above, your dog may also stop walking because:

  • They are feeling tired.
  • It's too hot or cold outside for them.
  • Their walking gear (leash, collar) is uncomfortable.
  • They want to keep walking more.
  • More exercise and stimulation out of their walks are needed.
  • Their walks are too long.

Ways to Prevent Your Dog From Stopping During Walks

Here are some things you can try if your dog tends to stop often during regular walks:

  • 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 is stopping more often than usual while you are out and about, you should reach out to your primary veterinarian to schedule a wellness exam and diagnostics. This is recommended because many of the potential causes are due to an underlying medical condition or even a veterinary emergency

It's important to remember that you shouldn't force them to go further as this may only make your problem worse. Negative responses such as yelling may also cause a negative reaction and should be avoided. This is why we say 'When in doubt, contact your vet'.

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 is having issues walking that span beyond the scope of standard veterinary care, ask your primary vet for a referral to our hospital for advanced diagnostics and care. Speak with our Springfield vets to learn more about what we offer and how to visit us.

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The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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