Tips & Training

Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Walk? Here’s What to Do

How to make walkies time, a happy time!

My dog doesn’t want to walk. Help!

Imagine this scenario:

Your dog loves to play off leash at dog parks, happily trotting next to you and staying close.

But the minute you put on their leash? That’s when the trouble starts.

Suddenly, they dig their nails in the ground and lean their weight back. If your pup has a flair for the dramatic, they’ll lie down on the ground, or flop to the side and pretend to play dead. Anything to prevent them from walking.

Sure, their anti-walking tactics are cute…until it happens for the 17th time on the same walk! And you really want to get home, get warm and watch your fave dog movie on Netflix.

Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone…

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Sunny’s story: Our dog doesn’t want to walk!

Yep, that’s right…our beautiful Sunny just happens to be a stubborn dog who refuses to walk certain places, or directions. The only time he’ll pick up a decent pace is when we’re heading back home (the nerve!)

Needless to say, it does kill the joy of our daily walks. So much so, we’ve even joked about getting him a pram, in a desperate bid to have a nice walk as a family.

Pram daydreams aside, we knew we needed help – so we turned to Pretty Fluffy’s resident pet expert and dog behaviourist, Sophia Gillis.

Read on to see Sophia’s expert dog walking tips, and a few common reasons that could explain why your dog refuses to walk.

5 Tips If Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Walk

From Sophia:

Reasons why your dog doesn’t want to walk

There are several reasons why you might describe your dog as being a ‘stubborn walker’ on a lead.

These reasons can range from being anxious or fearful of something, to lacking in dog training and socialisation.

Let’s walk through (pun fully intended!) a few scenarios on how this can happen:

ANXIETY:

Paddy was raised as a young pup on a quiet farm, before moving to a busy suburban area with his new parents.

He isn’t used to all the road noises, and so many humans and dogs everywhere.  This causes Paddy some anxiety, as he doesn’t feel safe in his new environment.

BEING FEARFUL:

Ernie was a perfectly well balanced pup, until one day while out on his regular dog walk, he was attacked by an off-leash dog.

Ultimately, this resulted in Ernie developing a fear of dogs approaching him while on walks, whether they are leashed or not.

LACKING TRAINING & SOCIALISATION:

Sparky is an excitable pup who loves anyone and everyone. This translates to her jumping and hopping on her hind legs, in an attempt to push forward and greet someone new.

So, when her parents try to discourage this behaviour by gently tugging on her leash, Sparky gets upset and refuses to walk away from her new-found friends.

Why does my dog not want to walk - Sunny

What can I do to encourage my dog to walk?

If any of the above scenarios sound familiar, here are five pointers you can use to help your dog become more comfortable with walking out and about on a lead.

1. Positive reinforcement training

Using high value dog treats and verbal praise to encourage your dog to walk forward, while guided by you, goes a long way. 

Start off with leash walking inside your house, or in your back or front yard (ensuring either is fenced off from distractions) and gradually work your way to going out for short neighbourhood walks.

2. Dog walking accessories

Using the right size dog harness and collar is very important to ensure your pup is comfortable while out walking.

A well-fitted dog collar and harness sits snug on their body. It isn’t overly tight, or too loose where they can easily slip out of it.

3. Leash desensitisation:

To help desensitise your dog to their leash, attach the lead to their collar. Then, leave their leash hanging on your dog’s body while they walk around the house and yard.

The aim of this is for your dog to get used to the sensation of there being movement on their neck, back or chest.

(Just don’t leave them unsupervised, and discourage any children from picking it up and tugging at it!)

Why does my dog not want to walk - Sunny2

4. Walk different routes

Dogs are much like humans where they crave familiarity and routine. Generally, they thrive in that environment.

However, for the purpose of getting your dog comfortable with being on-lead, start walking in different directions when you step outside of your house or apartment block. 

Stay within a small radius of your home so your dog feels safe, and feels they could be going home very soon.

5. Seek out professional help

If the above dog walking tips help troubleshoot the issue you’re facing with your reluctant walker, fantastic!

However, if the reason your dog refuses to walk is more complicated, I recommend seeking the expert advice of a professional dog behaviourist and trainer to work closely with your pup, and properly address the issue.

Final thoughts

If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it’s that being patient and consistent goes a long way!

Effective training sessions aren’t about blocking large periods of time each day to work with your dog. Positive reinforcement training should be incorporated into all aspects of your daily life, to help grow your dog’s confidence while walking on a lead.  

So, if you don’t already think a training pouch or a bum bag/fanny pack is fashionable, start thinking it is…because you need one! 

References & additional material:

  1. Teach your dog to walk on a loose leash | Animal Humane Society
  2. Leash Reactivity: How to Train a Dog Who Is Anxious on Walks
  3. Leash Training: How to Leash Train a Dog or Puppy to Walk on a Leash

Before you go…!

You might find these expert dog training articles helpful:

About Sophia Gillis

Author bio: Dog behaviourist Sophia Gillis

Sophia Gillis has been working in a professional capacity with dogs and cats for over 13 years as a dog behaviourist, veterinary nurse and practice manager.

Sophia currently runs her own business with her trusted team, providing behavioural consultations and dog training, as well as running a doggy daycare service focusing on controlled socialisation. Sophia also offers short phone and live text consultations for pet parents in need of quick professional guidance. She strongly believes in contributing to her local community and fostering good relationships with her clients.

Sophia is pictured here with Mush, her adopted maltese x shih tzu x toy poodle. Image credit: Sarah Van Treel.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM

5 Tips If Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Walk

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Pick of the Week

  • Lambwolf Spring Box

    Picnic Snuffle Box by Lambwolf

    Picnic season is here, so let your pup celebrate and snuffle! Box includes wine, eclair, cheese, picnic blanket - and a mystery toy.