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My Dog Stops Walking & Won't Move. Why?

When your dog stops walking, it makes you wonder what is wrong and if you should be concerned. Usually, there is a perfectly logical reason why your dog stops. Here, our vets in Gaithersburg share some of the reasons why your dog doesn't want to walk and what you can do when they won't move.

Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn't Want to Walk

You are walking with your dog when they suddenly sit down and stop moving. You'll probably wonder why this is happening. The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Our Gaithersburg veterinarians frequently discuss this issue with pet owners, which can be frustrating and challenging to manage. This is especially true if you're not sure why they're stopping or what you should do next. Today, we'll talk about why your dog may have stopped walking and how to get them moving again.

Your Dog Has an Injury

If your dog has been injured, walking may be difficult, and they may even refuse due to pain. These can range from a sprained paw pad or nail to something more serious, like a foreign object lodged in a limb or an open wound.

If you suspect your dog has been injured, stop walking immediately and examine their legs and paw pads for any visible injuries. Take photos if you can locate the source of the wound, and then contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. You'll probably be given first-aid instructions to follow. If you are unable to locate the source of the injury, you should still contact your veterinarian for advice and to schedule an appointment.

By having a friend or family member pick you and your dog up, you can prevent the injury from getting worse in the interim.

They Are Scared of Something

If a dog is scared of something in their environment, they may refuse to walk or keep moving. Young puppies who are in their 'fear phase' and adult dogs walking in an unfamiliar environment commonly experience this (especially true if they tend to be anxious or fearful or have a history of trauma). 

Physical symptoms of fear in dogs include a tail tucked under their body, crouched body posture, and laid-back ears. They may also breathe heavily or abnormally. 

The first thing you'll want to do when addressing this issue is to locate the source of their fear. This may include a sign, a trash can, a noise, another dog walking by, or a scent you didn't notice. If the source is a specific sight or smell, they may stop in the same spot each time you walk by it. 

Once you've identified the source of your dog's fear, you can start desensitizing him to the trigger (if it's safe to do so) and help him gain confidence. While the precise steps required to desensitize your dog may vary depending on the specific fear they're experiencing, here are some basic actions you can take:

  • Determine the source of the fear and build resistance to it.
  • Offer rewards (without rewarding negative behaviors).
  • Use commands to redirect your dog's attention. 

If you know your dog is experiencing fear, contact your vet to book an appointment. Your veterinarian can help by offering specific tips and advice on how to appropriately manage your dog's fear safely and efficiently. 

Your Pup is Experiencing Joint Pain

If your dog is in chronic pain in their joints, they may stop walking. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are two common causes of joint pain in older dogs. These conditions can be extremely painful for dogs, so it's critical to recognize signs of joint pain, such as favoring one leg over the other when stopped or whimpering or yelping before stopping.

If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of joint pain, we recommend contacting your veterinarian and scheduling a comprehensive wellness examination to determine the underlying cause. Your veterinarian can also offer a treatment plan.

You Need to Train Them More

One of the simplest reasons why your dog isn't walking well is that they're not used to it.

If this is the case, keep in mind that your dog may find this an overwhelming or frightening experience, so begin slowly and introduce the process gradually. Begin by introducing them to one piece of equipment at a time, allowing them to sniff and get to know it while passing out treats. It is critical to let your dog get acquainted with the equipment.

Then you can begin putting the collar on them for brief periods of time at a time, gradually increasing the time intervals, beginning with a few seconds and increasing the time until they are accustomed to it.

It's also critical to choose a properly fitting and weighted collar for your dog after carefully reading the size guidelines and recommendations on the packaging. However, for training purposes, a lighter collar and leash are usually preferred.

Before taking your dog on a leash, let them wander around your house with the collar on for a few days to get used to the sensation. Then you can begin taking your dog on leash walks inside your home. You can gradually introduce your dog to outdoor walks in fenced backyards or enclosed dog runs.

Positive reinforcement is recommended when your dog walks well and responds to prompts. If you have any problems, contact your veterinarian for a consultation.

Some Other Reasons Why Your Dog Stops Walking and Won't Move

Here are some other problems to think about if the above causes don't seem to apply to your dog:

  • Your pooch is fatigued or tired
  • It's too hot or cold outside for your dog
  • Your dog's walking gear (leash, collar) is uncomfortable for them
  • They want to keep walking more
  • Your dog needs to get more exercise and stimulation out of their walks
  • Their walks are too long for them

How to Get Your Dog Walking Better

Here, our vets offer some advice on how you may be able to get your dog walking again:

  • Start walking faster when going through interesting locations
  • Choose one specific side for your dog to walk on to prevent pulling
  • Spice up your usual walk and take other routes
  • 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).
  • Implement proper leash training
  • Reward good walking behaviors

If your dog stops walking and won't move, it's always a good idea to call your vet to get advice and book a physical examination because many of the potential causes are due to an underlying medical condition or even a veterinary emergency.

It's important to remember that you shouldn't force them to go any further, as this may exacerbate your problem. Negative responses, such as yelling, can also have a negative effect and should be avoided. This is why we say, "When in doubt, consult your veterinarian."

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.

Do you notice that your dog frequently stops walking and won't move while you are out? Get in touch with our Gaithersburg vets today for same-day treatment.

New Patients Welcome

Veterinary Referral Associates is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gaithersburg companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (301) 926-3300