Why Your Dog Won’t Walk

Rachel has a smart, friendly Glen of Imaal Terrier named Jake. And like a good pet mom, she wants to walk him every day and he used to be good about it, but lately he’s been dragging his feet. Some days, they’d have a fine outing, others, Jake would go all weird. The walk would start fine for five minutes then he’d just sit and refuse to walk. Rachel would yank, he’d yank back and try to sit.

Dog Won't WalkSometimes, she could get him going after many (embarrassing) minutes of yanking, waiting, and persuading.  Sometimes bribing with treats would work. One day, in a hurry and at wits end, she just tucked him under arm and walk home. She could not figure out what happened or what to do. Should she just stop walking her dog?

A walk is always good for your dog’s health. Some dogs, even energetic dogs, just get it in their head that they don’t want to walk. If he or she used to like the walk, but all sudden you dog does not want to walk, the first thing you want to do to fix the situation is to try to figure out why he or she is refusing.

Start with asking yourself these questions:

Is your dog tired?

How’s their energy level? Are he or she painting? Have you had a long play session before walking home? Is your dog’s breed one that is a moderate – or lower-energy breed? Is your puppy under a year old? Your dog may be refusing to walk because he or she is just flat-out tired.

How’s the weather?
Is it very cold? Cold air temps or freezing pavement under paws for a long time can be extremely uncomfortable to many dogs. Try these tips to help winterize your dog. Is it very hot? Some breeds don’t breathe well or release heat effectively in high temperatures and high humidity which makes walking exhausting and unpleasant.

Is your dog in good health?

Dog Doesn't Want to WalkIf  weather or fatigue aren’t the problem, maybe your dog needs to be checked by your vet, especially older dogs. Pain certainly discourages any creature from wanting to move. Is your dog limping or walking unevenly? Does he or she whine or grunt when walking or climbing? Your dog may be suffering from some type of joint disorder (arthritis, hip or elbow dysplasia), an injury, or simply growing spurts.

Even if your dog is not limping, an underlying condition may be robbing your dog of energy such as a thyroid condition, anemia, a heart condition, or diabetes. If you notice a lack of energy for the walk or during the walk or even in day-to-day activities, it is definitely time to see a vet.

What’s up with your walking route?

There may be something on or about your walk route that is not to your pup’s liking.


Great Dog ExerciseWalking the same path, day after day, month after month, year after year? Many dogs (and people) do well, even thrive, on a comfortable, pre-set routine. No surprises here – we know what we are going to do today.

However, as with people, some dogs get bored and need more to do and experience. Especially clever dogs and high-energy breeds need new things to sense and process. A variety of physical challenges to navigate will make a walk interesting.

Maybe it’s not your dog’s disinterest – it might be you! Are you bored with the route? Your dog may get that. If you think something’s a boring task, your dog can sense that and start to feel that way too. By the same token, if you find something exciting and fun, it’s likely that your dog will too.

If this sounds like your dog – boredom is the reason for your dog’s resistance – change up your routine as drastically as possible. Walk different routes, find places to climb over and under and around, run a few short spurts during the walk, or pick a certain spot where you may let him or her to wander and explore (on- or off-leash) for a few minutes.

Attractions and Threats:

Are there particular fascinations or terrors on the route you walk? For instance, you may have a dog that looks forward to walking past other dogs or past a fascinating, wooded area many interesting smells. If you choose not to walk past this dog carnival of sorts, your dog may give you a hard time on the more “boring” route you are choosing.

Conversely, a dog that has had a bad experience – even once – on your usual path, may be trying to tell you they don’t want to be in harm’s way again, even if you know better. Another thing to consider, depending on your dog’s sensitivity, she or he may not want to walk past places with sharp or loud noises, too much activity, or lots of bad smells. Think about your dog’s temperament and your walking path and consider if this is a possibility. You can get a good idea if it is by changing the route, in part or in whole.

Rachel eventually figured out the problem. She and I went over these questions and talked about the patterns she’d noticed. It looked like Jake was bored with the route. She confirmed this walking a different way and making a game out of hopping over concrete parking bumpers at a certain part of the route. He has not gone on a sit-down strike once since walking this new way.

Has your dog ever refused to walk? What did you do?