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Why does my dog stop walking?

While a dog that won't walk can be concerning, most of the time, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation that can be addressed. Here, our vets in Egg Harbor Township talk about what to do if your dog stops walking and won't move and how to help them get moving again.

Your dog stops walking and won't move, why?

When you are out for some exercise and your dog suddenly doesn't want to walk, it can leave you very confused. While it can lead to many questions, you should know that this is a common occurrence. Our Egg Harbor Township vets have discussed this issue with many pet owners often enough, as it can be frustrating and. difficult to manage. Especially if you can't seem to figure out the cause. So what are some of the common reasons why a dog may stop walking? 

Your Dog is Injured

When out walking, your dog may experience the occasional injury. 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. Unfortunately, your dog may experience some level of pain with the injury.

If you do think your dog may have been injured, stop walking immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for any obvious injuries. You should take photos of the wound immediately if you can locate it then contact your vet to schedule 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. 

You should take precautions to avoid further damage to the wound by carrying your dog if possible or by having someone pick you and your dog up.

They are Frightened

dogs who are experincing fear will also stop walking suddenly or refuse to walk in a specific direction. 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 your dog is experincing fear while walking, your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how to appropriately manage your dog's fear safely and efficiently. 

Your Dog Has Joint Pain

Join issues, especially in senior dogs, can cause pain and discomfort that can result in a dog that no longer wants to walk very far. 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. 

They Need to Be Trained

Sometimes, the cause behind a dog that won't walk is just that they don't want to. 

When this happens, you will need to take your time and train your dog for walking. 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.

Other Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Walking and Won't Move

If the causes listed above don't seem to fit your dog, here are some other issues to consider:

  • Your pooch is 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

Tips to Help Your Dog Walk Better

Here, our vets offer some advice on how you may be able to get your dog walking 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

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.

Does your dog stop walking partway through your trip around the block? Speak with our Egg Harbor Township vets today to schedule an examination.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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