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My Dog Stopped Walking & Won't Move: Possible Causes & What to Do

Enjoying a stroll with your dog on a pleasant spring day can be both enjoyable and soothing—until they abruptly come to a halt, refusing to budge. In this blog post, our vets in Torrance discuss the reasons behind your dog's sudden pause and offer insights on encouraging them to resume their walk.

Why Dogs Stop Walking & Won't Move

Have you experienced the challenge of your dog coming to a sudden halt during a walk, steadfastly refusing to budge? Rest assured, you're not the only one facing this common issue that can be vexing and challenging for dog owners. It becomes particularly problematic when the reason behind their reluctance remains unclear. In this guide, our veterinary experts shed light on potential causes for your dog's sudden reluctance to walk and provide practical strategies to encourage them to resume their stroll.

Your Dog Has  Joint Pain

Occasionally, dogs may cease walking due to enduring long-term joint pain. Joint pain in dogs often arises from conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, causing significant discomfort. It's crucial to be able to identify signs of joint pain in your dog, such as favoring one leg over the other during pauses or emitting a yelp or whimper before coming to a stop.

Should you suspect that your dog is grappling with joint pain, the optimal course of action is to contact your veterinarian and arrange for an examination. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough assessment to pinpoint the root cause of the pain and devise an appropriate treatment plan.

They Have Been Injured

Your dog may suddenly halt during a walk if they sustains an injury, ranging from minor issues like a hurt paw pad or nail to more severe injuries. Should your dog get injured, it's crucial to promptly cease the walk and thoroughly inspect their paws and legs for any signs of harm.

If you identify the source of the injury, document it through pictures and promptly contact your veterinarian to arrange an appointment while seeking first aid instructions. In cases where you cannot pinpoint the source of the injury, it remains essential to contact your vet for guidance and to schedule an appointment.

Simultaneously, to prevent exacerbating the injury, reach out to a friend or family member who can assist in picking you and your dog up.

Something is Scaring Them

Many dogs exhibit reluctance to walk or continuous movement when confronted with fear-inducing elements in their environment. This behavior is particularly noticeable in young puppies experiencing their fear period and adult dogs navigating unfamiliar surroundings, especially those prone to anxiety, fearfulness, or with a history of trauma.

Signs of fear in a dog may manifest as tucking its tail beneath, flattening its ears, crouching down, or exhibiting heavy or abnormal breathing.

Your initial course of action should involve identifying the source of your dog's fear, whether it's another dog nearby, an unfamiliar noise, a peculiar object like a trash can or sign, or an unnoticed scent. If the trigger is a specific sight or smell, your dog might consistently halt at the same spot during walks.

Once you pinpoint the cause of your dog's distress, you can initiate the desensitization process, provided it is safe to do so and work towards bolstering their confidence. While the specific steps for desensitizing your dog can vary depending on the nature of the fear, here are some fundamental actions you can undertake: 

  • Redirect your dog's attention with commands
  • Figure out what the fear is and build resistance
  • Offer rewards (do not reward negative behaviors)

If you know your dog stops walking out of fear, call your vet and schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how you can properly manage your dog's fear safely and efficiently.

They Have Been Leash Trained

One common reason for your dog's reluctance to walk may be their unfamiliarity with leash outings or lack of prior leash-walking experience.

In such instances, it's crucial to recognize that walking on a leash can be overwhelming or frightening for your pup. To ease them into the process, adopt a gradual approach. Introduce each piece of equipment one at a time, allowing your dog to sniff and familiarize themselves with the gear while offering treats. Skipping this step might lead to negative associations with walks and equipment.

Next, gradually accustom your dog to wearing the collar. Initiate brief periods with the collar on, steadily increasing the duration from a few seconds to a point where they become accustomed.

Choosing a well-fitting and appropriately weighted collar is vital. Carefully follow the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging. For training purposes, opt for a lighter collar and leash.

Before embarking on outdoor leash walks, let your dog wear the collar indoors for several days to acclimate to the sensation. Progress to leashed walks within your home before venturing into enclosed spaces like a fenced backyard or dog run.

Always move at your dog's pace and reward positive behaviors with treats. Should you require assistance in leash training, consider seeking advice from your vet.

Other Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Refusing To Walk

If you don't think the above situations apply to your dog, here are some other potential causes:

  • Their walks are too long for them
  • Your dog's walking gear (leash, collar) is uncomfortable for them
  • Your pup is fatigued
  • They want to keep walking more
  • Your dog needs to get more exercise and stimulation out of their walks
  • It's too hot or cold outside for your dog

How to Get Your Pup Moving

Below are some more tips and tricks for helping your dog start moving again:

  • Choose one specific side for your dog to walk on to prevent pulling
  • Start walking faster when going through interesting locations
  • Implement proper leash training
  • Spice up your usual walk and take other routes
  • Reward good walking behaviors
  • 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).

If your dog stops walking and won't move, we suggest calling your vet to get advice and book a physical examination, as many causes result from an underlying medical condition or even a veterinary emergency.

It's also key to note that if your dog stops walking, you shouldn't drag or bribe them to keep moving because this could motivate their negative behavior or worsen it. It's also very important that you don't yell at or punish your dog because there could be many factors causing this issue. 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 has stopped moving suddenly in the middle of a walk, contact our Torrance vets as quickly as possible to schedule an appointment. 

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New Patients Welcome

Harbor Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Torrance companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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