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

As a pet parent, you want to make sure that your furry friend gets enough exercise. However, it can be quite frustrating when your dog stops and refuses to move during a walk. This is a common issue faced by many dog owners. In this post, our vets in Ankeny will explain why dogs may stop during a walk and provide tips on how to get your pup moving again.

Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

If you are a dog owner, you know the importance of taking your furry friends out for walks to keep them healthy and happy. However, your dog may sometimes refuse to budge and stop in their tracks, causing frustration.

Rather than getting angry, it's important to investigate and find helpful solutions to this behavior. Below, I have listed some common reasons why your dog may stop during walks and what you can do to discourage this behavior.


If your dog is experiencing joint pain, a cruciate injury, or a cut paw pad, they may not want to go for walks. However, detecting when dogs are in pain and where the pain is coming from can be challenging. That's why it's crucial to book an appointment with your vet for a full checkup to rule out any conditions that may be causing your pup pain and preventing them from enjoying their walks. Also, ensure that your dog's harness or collar is not causing discomfort that could prevent them from enjoying their daily exercise.


It is common for dogs to experience fear, especially when they are young or in unfamiliar surroundings. Fear can also be caused by previous trauma, such as being hit by a car or hurt by another dog. To address this behavior, it is important to identify the root cause of your dog's fear and work patiently to desensitize them and build their confidence. Fear can be triggered by various things, such as loud traffic or encountering an aggressive dog on a walk.

Begin by walking your dog close to home, back and forth in front of your house, or just calmly stepping out and back in again. Gradually increase the time spent outside before returning home. Working with an experienced trainer can help identify the cause of your dog's fear and provide behavioral modifications to help them feel more comfortable and relaxed.


In some cases, dogs that stop frequently on walks 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 by introducing 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 pup 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 around them.


If your dog seems unenthusiastic about going for a walk, they might be tired. It's possible that your dog doesn't require as much exercise as you think. Different breeds of dogs have different exercise needs.

Some small dogs require a lot of exercise and stimulation, while some large or giant breed dogs require very little. Additionally, age plays a role in how much exercise a dog needs.

Puppies and senior dogs generally require less exercise than healthy middle-aged dogs. To determine your dog's ideal amount of exercise, consult your veterinarian or breeder.

Bad Weather

Different types of bad weather can affect dogs in various ways. Some dogs may refuse to walk in hot or wet weather and seek a covered spot to rest. On the other hand, wet snow can make dogs' toes uncomfortable by packing ice and snow between them.

Therefore, it's essential to know your dog's weather tolerance. For instance, short-coated dogs may struggle in cold weather, while long-haired dogs can face heat intolerance. It's crucial to remember that heatstroke can be a severe health issue for all dogs.

If you live in a hot area, consider walking your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when the weather is cooler. You can make your dog more comfortable in cold weather by providing them with a coat and boots during their walk.

Dog Wants To Go Somewhere Different

Dogs, just like people, have their preferences and unique personalities. Some dogs enjoy following a consistent routine, like walking at the same time every day. If their schedule is disturbed, they may become stubborn.

Patience is key if your furry friend stops during a walk because they want to go a different way or because you are making their usual route longer or shorter.

Refrain from acknowledging their stubborn behavior and remain calm until they realize they are not winning. Then, continue the walk as usual.

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 pup, the trick will be to make returning home more exciting.

To help make the 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 indicate 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 pup 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're struggling with your dog's unwanted behaviors, don't hesitate to contact our veterinarians in Ankeny for a consultation.

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Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our Ankeny vets take the time to get to know our clients and treat every pet as if it were our own. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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