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

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

It can be fun and even relaxing to take your dog for a walk on a nice spring day until they suddenly stop and refuse to move. In this blog, our Palmyra vets explain why your dog may have stopped walking and how you can get them moving again.

Why Dogs Stop Walking & Won't Move

Have you ever been on a walk with your dog and they suddenly stop moving and refuse to move? We want you to know you aren't alone. This common problem dog owners face can be very frustrating and hard to manage, especially if you don't know why they won't move. Here, our vets share some reasons why your dog may have stopped walking and how you can get them moving again.

Your Dog Has  Joint Pain

Sometimes dogs stop walking when they are suffering from long-term pain in their joints. Common causes of joint pain include arthritis and hip dysplasia. These conditions can be very painful for dogs. This is why you should know how to recognize the signs of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or letting out a yelp or whimper before stopping.

If you think your dog is experiencing joint pain, the best thing you can do is call your vet to schedule an exam. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive examination to determine the underlying cause of the pain and prescribe a treatment plan.

They Have Been Injured

Your dog may stop walking suddenly if they get injured. Injuries can be minor or severe and can include a hurt paw pad or nail, or something more serious.

If your dog is injured, stop your walk immediately and examine their paws and legs for any injuries. If you find the source of the wound, take pictures and call your vet to schedule an appointment and get first aid instructions. If you can't find the source of the injury, you still have to call your vet to get advice and book an appointment.

Meanwhile, to keep the injury from getting worse, call a friend or family member to pick you and your dog up.

Something is Scaring Them

Lots of dogs refuse to walk or keep moving if they are scared of something in their surroundings. This is seen most often in young puppies who are going through their fear period and adult dogs that are walking in an unfamiliar environment (especially if they tend to be anxious/fearful or have a history of trauma).

If your dog is afraid they may tuck their tail beneath them, hold their ears back, crouch down, or/and breath heavily or abnormally.

The first thing you should do is determine the source of their fear, which could be another dog walking nearby, a strange noise, a trash can, a sign, or a scent you didn't notice. If the source is a specific sight or smell they may stop in the same spot every time you walk by it.

Once you know the source of your dog's fright you can start desensitizing your dog to this trigger (if it is safe) and help them build their confidence. While the exact steps required to desensitize your dog may differ based on the fear, here are some basic actions you can take:

  • 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

Another common reason why your dog may refuse to keep walking is that they aren't used to going for walks on a leash or haven't gone for a leashed walk before.

If this is the case, you need to remember that this can be an overwhelming or frightening experience for your pup, so it's best to start them out slowly, introducing the process gradually. 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. Do not skip this step because it could result in negative associations with walks and 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.

Don't forget to move at your dog's pace and reward good behaviors with treats. If you need help leash training your dog, don't hesitate to contact your vet for advice.

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 pooch is fatigued or tired
  • 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 of the causes are the result of 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 them or bribe them to keep moving because this could motivate their negative behavior or make it worse. 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 Palmyra vets as quickly as you can to schedule an appointment. 

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