If your puppy doesn’t want to walk because he dislikes his collar and leash, train him to get comfortable inside your quiet house first with games and treats as he progresses.
Some puppies love to go for walks and will pull ahead like sled dogs to reach their destination. But what if your puppy puts on his brakes and refuses to budge? Don’t despair! There are ways to get him happily going.
Walks help exercise a puppy and provide him with socialization to new experiences. But puppies aren’t born knowing how to walk on a leash. So, it’s up to you to train them.
The first step is figuring out why your puppy doesn’t want to walk.
Top reasons your puppy doesn’t want to walk
Because each puppy is an individual, there are many reasons why your puppy is hesitant, and they aren’t all behavioral issues. Here are the top reasons your puppy doesn’t want to walk:
- Collar or harness issue: The puppy isn’t used to wearing a collar, harness or leash. Some pups will freeze in place when any of these are attached until they’ve been trained to wear them. Or, the collar or harness doesn’t fit, which makes walking uncomfortable.
- Not ready to go home. The puppy wants to remain on his walk. He doesn’t want to go home because the walk will end.
- Fear of the great outdoors or new things. Some pups will put the brakes on when they’re scared of going outside and all that they will encounter. This includes happily walking during the day, but becoming fearful in the dark at night.
- Too tired to walk. This can occur at the beginning of the walk or sometime during the walk.
- Something is painful. Your puppy may have a physical issue. Or, his nails may be too long, causing discomfort.
- The weather: too hot, cold or rainy.
- Wanting to stop and sniff. A dog has a “nose brain” and loves to see who’s been there and what is going. So, he stops to smell the roses, so to speak.
- Wanting to greet people and dogs. If your puppy is a social butterfly, he’ll stop walking when he sees other beings.
- If you always take the same route, a puppy communicates that he wants a new path by refusing to move.
- Too fast or slow pace. If you’re walking too quickly, your pup jams the brakes on because the leash is tight or because he can’t keep up. If you walk too slowly, he’ll stop walking because he’s bored.
- You’ve inadvertently discouraged him to walk. This can happen when someone corrects a dog too often, such as when he pulls or tries to pick up items.
Puppy doesn’t want to walk: How to help
After you’ve figured out the reason your puppy isn’t walking, now’s the time to take action. Don’t try to pull your puppy along or tighten the leash — make walking a fun experience! Follow these 13 steps:
- Practice using walking equipment inside your house. Put on his collar or harness and give him yummy pieces of deboned chicken. Play with him. Have a leash drag and also reward when you attach it. Encourage him to move forward with a food lure or favorite toy. Make putting on and wearing the equipment a fun game.
- Make sure that your puppy isn’t too tired. Even though the adage that “a tired dog’s a good dog” may be true in some circumstances, it’s not the case here. Choose a time when your pup shows you he’s ready to rumble.
- Schedule a vet exam to ensure the puppy doesn’t have a physical problem.
- Practice short walks in different weather conditions. Use treats and take him out when it rains. Get him used to warm and cool conditions, too, and wearing a coat or sweater. Avoid temperatures that are too hot or cold, which are unsafe for your pet.
- Teach core training behaviors, like loose leash walking, sit/stay and come. By teaching these basic behaviors, you’re training your puppy to move. Training equals confidence.
- Let him sniff. Many dogs enjoy a “sniffari” as part of their walk.
- Praise often and use high-value treats (foods that are a 10 out of 10 for your dog!) when he’s walking, such as small, pea-sized pieces of chicken or cheese. Keep these high-value by saving them only for walking time.
- Appoint your dog’s favorite person or another dog as a lure. Some puppies readily walk when there’s a loved one walking in front of them.
- Plant hidden treasures along the route. A stuffed Kong or favorite toy put in place prior to the walk motivates him to find treasure on subsequent walks.
- Schedule regular walks at the same time of day. Dogs are creatures of habit and respond well to schedules.
- Socialize him using positive reinforcement, introducing him to new scents, sights, sounds, people and animals.
- Start your walk away from home. Carry or drive your puppy a short distance, even 20 feet away. This encourages him to walk homeward bound to his perceived safety.
- Avoid areas that scare him, such as a busy area or road. Instead, find quiet spaces until he’s socialized to new environments.
Don’t despair if your puppy doesn’t want to walk. There are many measures that you can take to convince him that walks are fun. Then, it’s time for adventure!
Debbie DeSantis, BAH, CPDT-KA
Debbie DeSantis, CPDT-KA, is an award-winning dog trainer and behavior specialist. In addition to working with shelter dogs, she shows her nationally-ranked obedience and rally dogs in competitions. Besides spending time with her five canine companions, she enjoys cooking.
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