Does your dog not want to go for a walk?
Unfortunately, I know this problem only too well.
When it’s raining or very cold outside, it’s very difficult to motivate my pug lady to go for a walk. Sometimes it’s even so bad that she refuses to walk any further and rushes back home in a rush. In the long run, it was neither fun for me nor for her.
But there are many different reasons why your dog does not want to go for a walk. So I started looking for a cause and a solution.
In this article, I want to share my experience with you.
Dog does not want to go for a walk – what can be the reason?
If your dog doesn’t want to go out anymore, that’s an alarm signal that something is wrong. Coercion and punishment for this behavior are not the right approaches and can sometimes reinforce the behavior.
It is important that you start looking for the cause as quickly as possible if changes in behavior occur. It is always easier to correct new behavior than to change long-established patterns.
So what are the most common reasons why a four-legged friend no longer wants to go out?
Stress is one of the most common triggers for behavioral disorders. The reason for this can be both stress at home, for example from a second dog or from a lot of noise and unrest in the house, as well as stress on walks. The latter occurs especially in anxious dogs that panic in front of environmental noises, cars, or strange dogs and people.
An extreme situation that frightens many dogs, for example, is the lighting of fireworks. The four-legged friend cannot assess what is triggering this sudden noise and panics. Before the next walk, just looking at the leash brings this feeling back, the dog is stressed. To avoid this, the dogs buck and refuse to go outside. Your own home seems to be the safest place for your darling at this moment.
My old dog also had a bad walking experience that made him feel like he wouldn’t want to leave home. He had been going for a walk a few days before the behavior started and really enjoyed running around. On the way back he lost his strength and as he was too big and heavy to carry I couldn’t help him other than taking lots of breaks.
This experience burned itself into his memory and made him very uncertain about whether he would make it home next time. As a result, he couldn’t be persuaded to go for a walk for a while.
You’re probably wondering how you can differentiate stress from unreasonably stubborn behavior. Stress is shown by a general lack of concentration on the part of the dog. He doesn’t heed your commands, is very environmentally oriented, and pants heavily. As with humans, stress often affects the stomach, so that affected dogs often leave their food lying around.
Boredness while walking usually manifests itself in your dog reluctantly coming along and just wandering around bored outside. He is not interested, accepts requests and can no longer enjoy the trip. If there is not enough variety on the way, two- and four-legged friends get into a certain monotonous rut that is simply unwound. But most of the time it’s no fun.
Boredom will also cause your dog to bark at other dogs. Some dogs want to be challenged when they go for a walk: fetching a stick or giving commands bring a good change. But it’s not just outside the home that boredom can make your dog bark.
Does your dog bark when he’s alone? Loneliness leads to social isolation. Your dog has no one to play with or scratch. He starts barking to keep himself busy.
Weather and time of day
When I was looking for reasons why my dog doesn’t want to go out anymore, I had to laugh heartily about this reason at first, because it completely applies to my dog. After all, dogs are still robust animals that shouldn’t be bothered by the weather or the time of day. As I delved deeper into the subject, I found that these environmental factors seem to discourage many dogs from going for walks.
Dogs with little fur in particular often have problems with cold and wet conditions, as they freeze quickly. Some dogs just don’t want to get their paws wet and dirty. Dogs with long fur, on the other hand, often become sluggish in midsummer because they get too warm.
Like humans, there are dogs who do not wake up early in the morning and prefer to sleep on in the morning rather than get up and move around. Other dogs get lazy in the evening and just don’t feel like going out anymore.
And indeed, there are also dogs that are afraid of the dark. This is mainly due to the fact that the dog sees significantly less in the dark than during the day. This can be scary and unsettling, so your four-legged friend prefers to stay indoors in the bright, safe house.
The old dog doesn’t want to go for a walk – pain as a possible cause
When we humans are in pain, we take it easy. It’s no different with dogs, only that they can’t articulate themselves clearly. If the pain is severe, your dog will limp or whine, letting you know something is wrong. But sometimes all it takes is a wrong step on a rock or a slight sprain that causes pain that is not necessarily visible from the outside when running, but which is uncomfortable on walks.
So if your dog no longer wants to go for a walk, you should clarify whether he is in pain. For example, you can squeeze your paws and check your legs for swelling or injuries. If you don’t find anything, going to the vet is advisable. For example, the onset of arthrosis or other joint problems can lead to pain when walking, especially in older dogs.
Most complaints can be remedied with medication or targeted therapy so that your dog can enjoy walking again.
Dog doesn’t want to go for a walk – you can do that about it
If a dog doesn’t want to go out, it can lead to big problems. Regular exercise is important so that the circulation, the muscles, and the musculoskeletal system work properly and do not rust. In addition, dogs rarely meet playmates at home, so a walk is important for social contact alone.
As already mentioned, it is important that you first find the cause of your loved one’s behavior. This is the only way you can adapt to him individually and correct the misconduct.
And as always with dog training: keep calm and take your time! For most dogs, it takes a lot of patience to break the wrong behavioral patterns and establish new, desirable ones. Above all, if pain or panic are the cause, a targeted therapy has to work first – that takes time.
Consistency is also very important. Only if you always make it clear to your dog what is allowed and what is not, can he orientate himself accordingly. Undecided dog owners who correct a misbehavior once and forget it the next time are quickly ignored by the four-legged friends because their behavior is incomprehensible.
Very important: Do not equate consistency with punishment! Many use the terms interchangeably, which is incorrect. Punishing fearful dogs in particular would be very counterproductive and could even reinforce the wrong behavior.
If your dog is stressed while walking, you should think carefully about what triggered it and avoid such situations (initially). Start with small rounds and praise your dog when he comes along – even if it’s just a step. When your darling notices that the stress factors are no longer occurring, you can extend the walks further and further.
Now, some stressors are easier to avoid than others. Dogs who have had bad experiences with fireworks don’t necessarily have to be walked through residential areas on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s, it’s easy to avoid. But what if your dog is afraid of cars, other dogs, and strangers?
Once your dog has found pleasure in walks again by avoiding the supposed dangers, you should slowly start training with the stress factors. Walk past the “source of danger” at a good distance and praise your dog when it comes along. Over time you can get closer and closer and signal your four-legged friend that nothing will happen to him. You are always the calming influence and you have to convey security to your four-legged companion.
Again, I come back to my old dog, who didn’t want to go out anymore because he was afraid of not making it back home. At first I only started walking with him on our farm. And even that was very difficult at first, because he hardly wanted to step outside the door. So I started with a 5 meter circle. Back at the front door, I praised profusely.
As time went on, I was able to move further and further away from the front door with him step by step. He then understood that I would not overload him. During the first longer walk, we kept taking breaks so that he didn’t have the feeling that he couldn’t go any further. Because that would have made him panic again.
If boredom is the cause of your dog’s unmotivated behavior, consider adding more variety to your walks. Maybe you explore new routes, because there is a lot to discover in new surroundings. After all, your four-legged friend then wants to use the tracks to analyze exactly who was here before. And a new route is also more interesting for you.
Other activities while walking are also possible. Why not fine tune obedience to difficult commands (of course with lots of praise and treats when it works)? Games such as fetching or looking for treats are also fun for most dogs and are a welcome change from going for a walk.
If you have the opportunity, you both would be happy to have a little companionship. There are probably other dog owners nearby who would also be interested in going for a walk together. Then the two-legged friends can start a conversation while the four-legged friends can explore and play together.
Adapt to the needs of the dog
If your dog is in pain and sick, he needs painkillers or targeted pain therapy. Then your dog will be better. If you can’t get the pain under control, nothing will change in the supposedly stubborn behavior when going for a walk.
Your dog doesn’t want to go for a walk because he has problems with the cold and/or wet? Then you can choose relatively dry, puddle-free walking routes and equip your dog with a warm raincoat. He no longer freezes and can have fun outside again.
You can accommodate long-haired dogs that get too warm in the summer by shifting your walks to the cooler morning and evening hours. Shearing the fur is also an option and will give your dog relief. After all, you don’t leave the house in winter clothes when it’s 30 degrees in the shade.
You can easily prevent anxiety in the dark by going for a walk during the day. Nevertheless, in this case you should also address the causes. You can use the same approach to practicing as you would to avoiding stress.
Conclusion: dog does not want to go for a walk
Getting your dog to enjoy walking again can work in different ways. What works and what doesn’t mainly depends on why your dog didn’t want to go outside anymore. Once you have found the cause, the next step is often logical. Always be patient and fair, because no matter what the reason: your dog is not doing anything just to annoy you, everything has a deeper reason.
As always, there are cases of hardship that you cannot cope with yourself. Dogs that suffer from anxiety and panic attacks in particular need professional help.
In such a case, I recommend the online course by Martin Rütter & Conny Sporrer. The course can help you to better understand your dog’s behavior and correct it with modern training methods.
With important basics and valuable tips, you will learn how to strengthen the bond with your dog for a happy togetherness.