Is your park loving dog suddenly not enjoying walks as much? You’re used to grabbing the leash, and you’re pup jumping up in joy and racing to the door; you might be left confused as to why that’s changed.
When a dog refuses to walk, it might be worth a trip to the vet to make sure they aren’t in any pain that is stopping them from walking. Dogs can be masters at hiding pain, make sure you inspect their paws to ensure no foreign objects are pushing into their padding.
As our dog’s age, they can suffer from diseases like arthritis and may not want to walk due to the pain it’s causing them. This will most likely be something you’re monitoring and won’t occur out of the blue, but it’s important to know when to start reducing the duration and distance of walks as our dog’s experience more discomfort.
After you have ruled out a possible medical reason for your dog not wanting to jump on their leed, fear is the most common cause for a dog not wanting to go on a walk.
Whilst it may seem like to you this has come out of the blue, there could have been an instance that has made your dog fearful of leaving home. Something must have happened on a previous trip that has left your pup fearful. Unless an event sticks out in your memory, it can just easily be something that startled them, which has now ruled out all positive associations with walking.
A siren wailing past, banging from a construction site or a bike getting too close could have easily spooked your dog without you noticing.
Sometimes your dog might just be tired and not feel like going for a walk. It’s ok to listen to their way of communicating and be willing to give it a rest. But if you attempt a walk the next day and there are no signs of any pain or medical condition, it’s time to think about how you are going to make them less fearful.
How to get your dog out walking again
If your dog is scared to go on a walk, forcing them out the door isn’t the way to instil trust and loyalty with them. In this case, slow and steady will always win the race.
When your dog refuses to walk, it’s ok to give the daily outings a break, but just ensure you play with them to increase their heart rate and use brain games for mental stimulation.
To reprogram a positive association with walking for your dog, you might have to change your vocabulary a little. If you used to say “walkies” before going for a walk, try to use a different term so they aren’t immediately flooded with negative connotations.
Start small by encouraging them to the front door, sitting with them there for a while and patting them, paying close attention to their body language. This may need repeating for a few days if your dog is still visibly uncomfortable in the hallway.
Time to brave the outside
If you have successfully made it to the front door, it’s time to look at going outside. Pick a day where it is quiet, not much traffic around. To warm your pup up to the idea of hitting the town again, try taking them for a drive so they can look outside and get used to their surroundings from the safety of your vehicle.
See a specialist dog trainer
Time to enlist the help of some friends. Do you have friends with good temperament dogs? Try suggesting going on a walk together, so your dog can model their behaviour and see it’s not so bad after all.
All whilst taking these steps, make sure you are supporting and encouraging your dog with positive language, affection and treats. It can be difficult to get your dog out walking like they once were, but it is certainly possible! Please reach out to us if you are still struggling!