You’re happily walking your dog, and then all of a sudden the dog stops in their tracks.
They sit or lie down and refuse to budge. They’re done with the walk — period.
Arrghhh! How frustrating.
And as you struggle to coerce your dog to keep moving, hoping you don’t look too foolish to the giggling people around you, you wonder why this dog decided to sit down during the middle of the walk.
Keep reading, and I’ll explain why this might be happening …
3 Common Reasons Why a Dog Keeps Sitting Down During Walks
1. Injury or Illness
Like so many other dogs out there, my pup, Babe, will sit down during the middle of a walk — and we’ve learned that sometimes immediate attention is required.
For example, shortly after adopting her, we took Babe on a 5-mile fundraising walk. About halfway in, she stopped to lie down and got back up only when we tugged at the leash.
But then she flopped back down on the concrete and refused to budge.
We picked her up and looked her over. Yikes. All 4 of her paw pads were rubbed raw from walking on the sidewalk, and 2 were actually bleeding.
At 3 years old, Babe had never apparently gone for a long walk on a sidewalk. So my husband and I took turns carrying her the rest of the way to the finish line.
Before scolding your dog and dragging them forward, check them out.
- Stepped on a pebble, glass or a thorn
- Sprain or pulled muscle
- Too ill to continue
There are many more possibilities. If you suspect something serious, it’s time to get your dog checked out by your veterinarian.
2. Lazy or Tired
Yes, just like us, dogs can get lazy too — and sometimes they’re just not in the mood to walk.
Doing some breed research may shed a little light on your dog’s expected activity level. For example, a Border Collie is going to be much more likely than a Basset Hound or Bulldog to keep up for a few solid miles.
Your Bulldog isn’t necessarily lazy, but they will likely need less exercise than more energetic dog breeds need.
Besides laziness, your dog could just be plain tired.
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As limitless as their energy is when they are running circles around your living room, your pup could have exhausted themselves before heading out on the walk.
Pro tip: Let your dog rest a few minutes.
Oh, and don’t forget that dogs are clever — they will learn what they need to do to get their way.
Babe often lies down while we’re walking simply because she wants to be picked up and carried. She’s tired or lazy — or both. But we’ve caved in so many times that now she knows all she has to do is lie down mid-walk to get carried home in our arms.
Another common reason dogs stop in their tracks is that they’re distracted:
- They smell another dog’s urine.
- They want to eat something off the ground.
- They see another dog or person they want to meet.
- They spot a squirrel.
One way to lure your pet back to the walking path is bribery — namely giving them a treat.
Consider bringing a treat bag with you on your walks to dispense little bites and keep your dog’s attention.
However, be careful with this. As a commenter named Jill explains in the comments beneath this article, “Luring them every time they stop is going to teach them ‘if I stop mid-walk then owner gives me a treat and then we walk again.’”
Jill adds: “Obviously this will just cause the dog to stop walking more and more … wouldn’t you?”
Even if you’re in a big hurry or just not in the mood for your dog’s refusal to budge during the walk, please do them a favor:
- Take a moment and look them over for injury.
- Watch for strange behavior when they stop.
- Make sure they are well enough to keep walking.
It could just be a cute dog across the street who has caught their attention — or it could be something serious.
Take the time to double check.
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This article was originally published in 2015 and is regularly updated. It was last reviewed and updated Aug. 1, 2019.