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My Dog Doesn’t Like Walks Anymore – What Should I Do?

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Once upon a time in a quiet suburban neighborhood, there lived a cheeky Labrador named Max. Max was known for his love of food and naps, in that order. One sunny afternoon, his owner, Sarah, decided it was time for their daily walk. She jingled his leash and called out, “Max, walk time!”

Max, who had been comfortably sprawled on the living room rug, lifted his head and gave Sarah a look that clearly said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

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“Come on, Max, it’s a beautiful day outside!” Sarah coaxed, but Max was having none of it. He rolled over, presenting his belly in a blatant attempt to distract Sarah with cuteness.

What was the solution?

Strategies When a Dog Refuses to Walk

When a dog doesn’t like walks, it can be concerning because walks are important for required exercise, mental well-being and fun, both for the dog as well as for you.

So, let’s look at some strategies to help encourage your dog to enjoy walks again.

1. Identify the Cause

Understanding why your dog dislikes walks is the first goal:

  • Fear or Anxiety: Your dog might be afraid of loud noises, other dogs, or unfamiliar environments.
  • Physical Discomfort: Check for any signs of pain or discomfort. This could be due to an ill-fitting collar, leash or harness, or a health issue like arthritis.
  • Overstimulation or Under Stimulation: Some dogs get overwhelmed by too many stimuli, while others might find the walk boring.
    Is that equivalent to straddling the fence? Maybe, but your dog’s reluctance could be due to either one or the other stimulation situations.

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2. Make Walks Positive

  • Start Slow: Begin with short, low-stress walks in a quiet area. You can increase the length once your dog shows a a little more enthusiam for walking.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Use treats and praise to reward your dog for walking calmly. Carry his favorite treats to encourage him.
  • Familiar Routes: Stick to familiar paths where your dog feels safe. Gradually introduce new areas.

3. Comfort and Safety

  • Proper Equipment: Ensure your dog has a comfortable, well-fitting collar or harness. A harness is often more comfortable than a collar.
  • Weather Considerations: Ensure the weather is suitable for walking. Extreme heat, cold, or rain can make walks unpleasant.
  • Check Health: If your dog’s reluctance to walk is sudden or severe, consult your vet to rule out any medical issues. Arrange for a vet check-up to rule out any health issues that might make walking uncomfortable.

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4. Training and Desensitization

  • Lack of Training: Have you taken your dog through the preliminary steps of leash training? Starting young is definitely a plus. Practice leash walking inside your home or yard. Teach your dog that the leash means positive experiences.
  • Desensitization: Gradually expose your dog to the things that he might fear or dislike about walks, using positive reinforcement to create a positive association.
  • Professional Trainer: A certified dog trainer or behaviorist can provide personalized guidance and support.

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5. Mental Stimulation

  • Interactive Walks: Let your dog sniff and explore during walks. This provides mental stimulation and can make walks more interesting.
  • Games and Toys: Bring along a favorite toy or incorporate games like “find it” with treats to make walks more engaging.

6. Alternative Exercise

If walks continue to be a challenge, consider other forms of exercise:

  • Playtime: Engage in interactive play with toys, fetch, or tug-of-war.
  • Indoor Activities: Use puzzle toys, training exercises, or indoor agility courses to keep your dog active.
  • Doggy Daycare: This can provide socialization and exercise in a controlled environment.

How Did Sarah Get Her Dog to Walk?

After trying many different ideas, Sarah finaly found a solution.

She left the leash on the floor and walked to the front door, opening it wide. “Okay, Max, I’m going for a walk without you,” she announced.

Max, curious about this new development, lifted his head. Sarah stepped outside and began to close the door behind her. Just as the door was about to shut, Max leaped up, bolting towards the exit. In his haste, he knocked over a side table, sending a vase crashing to the floor. But Max didn’t care; he was not about to be left behind.

Sarah caught the door just in time and clipped the leash onto Max’s collar as he skidded to a halt in the doorway. “Gotcha!” she declared triumphantly.

Max, realizing he had been outsmarted, gave Sarah a look of mock indignation. But as they started their walk, his grumpiness melted away, and he trotted along happily, sniffing every tree and bush.

From that day on, Sarah knew that getting Max out for his walk would always be a challenge, but at least it would never be boring. And Max? Well, Max continued to plot new ways to avoid his walks, but deep down, he loved every minute of them.

By identifying the root cause and gradually making walks a positive experience, you can help your dog enjoy this essential activity.


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