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My Dog Doesn't Want to Walk! 5 Reasons Why + What to Do | Pupford

November 7th, 2023

Filed under Training

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We talk a lot about how you can get your dog to have good manners on their walk -- reducing leash pulling, passing other dogs calmly, things like that.

If you're struggling with leash pulling, check out tips for loose leash walking here.

But we’ve gotten some questions about what to do in the case of a different type of walking issue: a dog that doesn't want to walk. Or in some cases, straight up refusing to go on walks!

If your dog runs when you grab the leash or comes to a grinding halt a few steps in, you might want to get to the bottom of it. There could be a quick fix involved or a deeper issue to resolve. Either way, the sooner you figure out why your dog is refusing walks, the sooner you can get your dog excited about them again.


cute puppy refusing to walk on leash | Pupford

There are a few explanations as to why your puppy is refusing to go on a walk. While there isn't always a simple answer, there are some things you can look at to help determine the cause.

Here are 5 common reasons a dog doesn't want to walk:

  1. Something is pinching, pulling, or poking
  2. They're scared
  3. They are in pain
  4. They've over-exerted themselves
  5. They're having too much fun!

Let's look at each reason below. 👇

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If your dog’s collar, harness, or leash are too tight or restricting mobility, it can make your dog really uncomfortable. Imagine trying to make it through a workout class while wearing a jacket that’s three sizes too small and pinching you at every seam.

How to tell if this is the culprit: Make sure collars and harnesses are snug, but loose enough where you can fit a couple of fingers underneath them. Also make sure your dog is able to freely move all of their legs, their tail, their ears, etc. Finally, if your dog goes out in the rain or snow, make sure their accessories are fully dry before you put them back on again so their skin doesn’t get irritated.

Related Reading: Harness Training a Dog


Dogs can form associations and memories from just one event. Whether it’s something as insignificant as someone zooming by on a bicycle or as major as being lunged at by another dog, something scary on a past walk can leave a lasting impression. Something as simple as a change in environment can rattle your dog a bit.

Unfortunately, if you’ve recently adopted a rescue dog, you may not know their history in terms of what scary experiences they’ve had.

Related Reading: How to Train a Rescue Dog

How to tell if this is the culprit: Start small by taking your dog in the yard or another familiar area on the leash. If they seem okay there, move on to a more public area. If they refuse, it may be a sign that something in that environment scared them.

Related Reading: Why Is My Dog Scared of Other Dogs?


Pain in paws, legs, hips, and back could make your dog not want to walk. This could be a short-term issue from a minor cut or bruise, a pain from growing quickly, or a serious injury. Even minor pain can cause your dog to avoid walking and should be a cause for concern.

How to tell if this is the culprit: Look for signs that your dog is limping or favoring a limb. If they wince when you touch any area, are uninterested in their favorite activities, or show a drastic change in behavior (especially eating habits), you’ll want to contact your veterinarian right away to rule out a serious injury.

Related Reading: 10 Signs a Dog is in Pain


dog refusing to walk on leash with owner comforting him | Pupford

If your dog went for a five-mile run with your dog yesterday or spent the day running around the yard with family and friends, they might just be dog tired (100% pun intended). Would you want to go for a run the day after running a marathon? Probably not.

How to tell if this is the culprit: Give them a day to rest. If they get right back to their enthusiasm for walking after a day or two, they were likely just tired. Try to make sure exercise is evenly spread out throughout the week if that’s the case.


If your dog doesn’t want to walk home from the park or from a playdate with another dog, they might just not be ready to stop having fun. They might lay down when they see you approach them or run away when you call them to avoid going home, much like a human child.

How to tell if this is the culprit: This is a tricky one, depending on your dog’s recall strength. Next time, take them to a different environment that has less enticement for their walk. If they are happy to head home, it’s likely that they just enjoy the previous location too much.


puppy refusing to walk on leash | Pupford

If you still aren’t able to narrow down the cause of your dog refusing to go on walks, you might want to consult either your veterinarian or a certified dog behavior expert/trainer.

But if you’ve gotten to the root of the problem and are working to resolve it, there are things you can do to get your dog to enjoy walks again -- in addition to addressing the immediate cause of course.

Here are 3 ways to help your dog enjoy walks again:

  1. Bring high value treats
  2. Change the environment
  3. Get a check-up

Here are more ideas for each one below. ⏬


During your walks, you want to strengthen already-formed positive reinforcements and introduce new ones. High value training treats are the perfect way to do that. You can work on leash behaviors, give your dog a tasty treat, and show them that going for a walk can be a (literally) rewarding experience, all at once.

Over time, your dog will start to associate going for walks with treats, success, and fun!

To increase the value of the treats even more, save a certain flavor or kind of treat for walks. This means that they only get the treat while out walking with you! And make sure it is something they love. Different kinds of jerky can be an extra-special reward.

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A lot of times, a change in environment can serve as a blank slate for your dog’s walks. If there’s something on their current path that they’re afraid of, starting over fresh can help them have positive associations with walking again.

This can give your pup new smells and sights that may help them enjoy their walks again!

Make sure you’re starting over in an environment with minimal distractions or spooky things like cars, other animals, construction noises, etc. to give your dog a chance to enjoy it.


It’s always best to rule out any medical issues anytime your dog’s behavior changes. Taking your dog to the vet for a check-up gives you peace of mind knowing that they are not in pain or suffering from any condition that makes walking difficult.

It also gives you a chance to make sure your pup is up-to-date on any preventive care they need to live a happy, healthy life.


a brown dog who doesn't want to walk while on leash | Pupford

Even the happiest pups may go through a phase where they refuse to go on a walk. While it's often a phase, it's important to rule out any health issues, or other things that could lead them to not want to walk.

As for motivating a pup, no matter where they are, be sure to shop our full line of training treats. With a wide range of flavors, simple ingredients, and low calorie count, they're the perfect option for every dog.

Shop & save on training treats here! 👈

Has that happened to your dog? Tell us about it in the comments.


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