what to do when your dog refuses to walk

dog refusing to walk

There are many reasons that your dog may refuse to walk any further.  This blog assumes that there are no physical impairments so we can address the most common issues related to this situation, with one exception – it’s possible that her harness may be uncomfortable – you may want to switch to a collar to see if this really is her impediment to walking.  This blog assumes that your dog refuses to walk too far away from her home base.

Despite ruling out the above, there are still many, many reasons your pup may be refusing to walk.  If your pup is young, it is most likely due to the brave new world she is 

facing when outside the door.  Usually, if you have high value treats and take it literally step by step, you can make quick progress moving her along away from home base.  It’s important to use lots of praise and treat her only when she moves in the right direction.  As time passes, she will get braver and braver and you will be walking down the street in time.  Once on the street, there will be lots of noises – it’s important to reward her for each noise that apparently spooks her, like trucks, buses, cars, skateboards, and bicycles

Usually, the reasons your dog refuses to walk is either she was a rescue and had a traumatic outdoor event happen in the past, or she is spooked by something in the area, or she is plain uncomfortable with her new surroundings.  In any event, here are the things to try, in no particular order:

  1. Buy her a thundershirt
  2. A Veterinarian may prescribe medication but before going this route, try Rescue Remedy for Dogs by Dr. Bach (you can find on Amazon). This homeopathic remedy works frequently with anxious dogs.  You can try the thundershirt AND Rescue Remedy at the same time, FYI.
  3. With or without the above, the most important thing to do is have patience and high-value treats. Sit with her if she is clearly showing anxiousness or fear – let her start to feel comfortable with her immediate environment.  You may have to sit with her for a half hour or more.
  4. When your pup moves even a step away from the door, give her lots of praise, a marker word like “yes!”, and a high-value treat.
  5. Play the touch/come or stay game. Go to the end of the leash and ask her to come or tell her to stay and then release her toward you – that may get her moving.   If it works, go to the end of the leash and rinse and repeat down the block.
  6. Tether her to a tree, and walk down the block out of site, then come back in range and see if she will then move down the block with you.
  7. Don’t pull the dog against her will or lure her with a treat without making her earn it.
  8. Last, if all of the above fail to work, call Top Dog Training – we have some other tricks up our sleeves! 646-991-0333.

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