What to do when your dog refuses to walk

man-2885709_640 What to do when your dog refuses to walkAs a professional dog walker, this is a question I occasionally get asked.  As a general rule, dogs love to go for a walk and explore the world around them.  Daily walks are important for health and fitness, both for you and your dog. but occasionally, a dog refuses to walk

For a small percentage or occasionally for other reasons, dogs can sometimes refuse to move or will go and hide under the table when they see the lead.  It is always worth checking this is not just simple stubbornness.

Rather than ignore this, it will be beneficial to you and your dog (let us call her Peggy) in the long run to work out the reason why dog walks are simply not the plan.  Once you understand the reason, there is a good chance you can turn this around and start enjoying walks.

So if you want to start enjoying walks with Peggy, then hopefully, these tips will help.

It’s raining. It’s pouring ….

During my time as a Professional Dog Walker, I have had a few clients that favour cuddles on the sofa over going out for walks in the rain.  Maybe your dog doesn’t like going for a walk when it’s raining, and most dogs certainly don’t like going out when it is really hot (and shouldn’t).

It is a fact that some dogs love to play in puddles and are not phased at all by the rain.  Other dogs look at you as if to say, “Have you seen my hair?  You want me to go out in that?”

Dogs find it hard to cope in hot weather as they don’t sweat in the same way as we do.  Panting is one of the ways they get rid of heat, but on warm days they don’t always want to exert themselves.

After all, we all like to put our feet up and watch TV when the weather is stormy and  chucking it down, or it’s sweltering

Is your dog feeling under the weather?

If your dog usually likes to go for a walk and gets excited when they see the lead, then maybe they are feeling unwell.  Many dogs can and will cover up their ailments as they do not want to be seen as vulnerable to their enemies.

The other problem is that humans are not always clued up on body language.  We obviously spot the easy ones, such as shaking, limping cuts and grazes, vomiting or lethargy.  However, if they are an older dog, then it may be walking itself has become uncomfortable.

If they continue to be under the weather and not themselves, then contact a vet).

Has something frightened them when on a walk?

Occasionally dogs can become frightened of the outside.  This can sometimes take one negative walk to cause your dog to be afraid and want to stay at home.  It could be that a child has been a bit ruff and pulled their tale, or they kept getting bowled over by a big dog.

If they no longer like going out on walks, and this has been due to fear, then you need to handle the situation with care.  E.g., Going on walks and allowing dogs to run up to them will just make them more fearful.

When you are out on a walk, you need to observe their behaviour and body language.  Is there head low with ears pinned back, Are they jumpy when you pass certain people or objects etc

You may also like to talk the matter over with a dog behaviourist

Are the collar and harness too small?

How long have you had the collar and/or harness? It may be a case they have grown out of them, and so it is causing discomfort and rubbing against their skin.  Perhaps it is time to try a different harness to see if that helps?


What not to do

Hopefully, the above has been of some use as to why Peggy doesn’t want to walk.  Below are a few things that you should not do when your dog is refusing to outside for a walk

Force them to go outside

Whilst it is easy to grab the lead and harness and put them on the struggling dog, especially when in a hurry, DON’T.  In reality, making a dog that refuses to go for a walk go out will create more problems.

Since you picked up and brought Peggy hoe you have been building up trust in each other.  By forcing them to go for a walk or do something, they don’t want to do, you are risking damaging that trust. This will cause problems when you want them to carry ut everyday training such as “stay” or “wait” as they may not even listen to you as they have lost any trust and respect

Always  tale things slowly and gently and at their pace, if you want to build a close bond between=n the two of ou

Don’t lose your temper

t is important to try and remain calm and relaxed and not lose your temper with your dog even if they are not doing what you want.  Losing your temper and telling the dog off will not make them submit. In fact, it is likely to cause Peggy more stress and lose respect for you

Always follow the principle of cool, calm and collected when interacting with your dog.

Lure them out with treats

Whilst luring is mainly a good thing, you have to be careful you do not coach them out and put their stress levels high. It is always to find out why they don’t want to do something if you can

What to do when your dog refuses to walk

We’ve explored what you should never do when your dog refuses to walk, so here are a few things you should do.

Weather can play a  big part in not wanting to go for a walk

Rain: Some dogs just don’t like going out in bad weather.  If this is the case, then maybe consider buying your dog a nice outdoor waterproof jacket to keep them warm

Snow – Not all dogs like the snow, and if this is the case, I would recommend a nice warm coat (as above), but you may also want to consider dog booties as this will provide protection to the dog’s feet from ice and rock salt on the roads

Summer –  It is important to remember that dogs get jot and cannot cool in the same way that we do.  Therefore it is vital t take an early or late walk when it is cooler

Are your walks with the dog  boring – jazz them up

Your dog may be refusing to go out as the walks are boring.  This is particularly the case if you do the same old route day in day out and Peggy has become bored with seeing and selling the same thing

Try mixing up where you go for a walk take a different route to the park.  Go to a new park in the neighbourhood.  Go for a sieve at weekends to new and unfamiliar areas like a new forest the beach Another option is etc.

Another option is to go for a training walk and stop randomly to do some training, use street furniture such as weaving gin and out of bollards,

Check your dog for any issues.

One of the reasons they have stopped waking could be they are under the weather.  Check your dog for any injuries and keep an eye on their overall behaviour indoors.  If they seem more lifeless than normal or have gone off their food then you may wish to talk with your vet

Slowly slowly

in certain circumstances, especially if the reason that eggy no longer wants to walk is due to fear because something or someone scared them on a walk (such as an attack), then you may wish to contact a dog behaviourist

However, there are some things you can do to help build their confidence and make walks a positive and fun experience again

As with nervous or anxious dogs, you need to take baby steps and introduce the triggers slowly

It may be that even the site of the walking gear can cause stress, so we need to make this a positive experience by laying the harness on the floor and getting them to sniff it and then as you slowly pick it up to put the harness on rewarding them with treats.  The next step is to add the cue works such as “shall we go out?” and offer more teats.  Remove the harness and repeat this two or three ires slowly removing the treats

Repeat this exercise over the next couple of days, slowly moving the exercise towards the front door whilst feeding treats and keeping an eye on their body language.

Leave them alone if they refuse to go for a walk.

It may also be that your dog is just having an off day and so doesn’t want a walk.  If occasionally you find they don’t want to go out, especially as they get older, and don’t force the situation

Play games instead

If it is too hot for a walk or your dog simply refuses to go for a walk, then play some bai games.  Mental stimulation is just as good as going out for a walk and can tire them out. Play a game of fin it or the muffin tin game.  Some brain games can be made from simple materials around d the house. Other more complex ones can be brought online

Occasionally you come across a dog that is quite happy to just go outside and do its business and spend the rest of the time at home.  If your dog is like this, then don’t worry.  Make sure they go out for comfort breaks and to check the daily wee-mail  The rest of the time, you can play games at home so that your dog still lives a happy life.

Another great article to read from a dog trainer in Cheltenham is Why your dog is not being stubborn.


If you have enjoyed this post, then the following articles on dog walking may be of interest.