Help! My Dog Won’t Budge On A Leash.

The most common difficulty people have when walking their dogs is pulling on the leash. However, it’s not unheard of for a dog to simply “refuse to move” when out on a walk.

Dog refusing to walk.

Some dogs will suddenly flatten themselves to the ground, sit, or lay down and not want to go any further. If your dog is one of these, you need to take steps to make him feel more confident.

For some dogs, many things out in the world are frightening or overwhelming. Couple that with the fact that being on leash can make some dogs feel as though they are trapped and could not run away if they needed to; and you can see why a less-than-confident dog might panic and not want to walk on his leash. In order to help a dog like this feel safer and enjoy his walks, start small. Begin by acclimating your dog to being on his leash in an environment in which he’s comfortable. Simply let him sit or walk around the house with his leash on. Periodically, walk over and give the leash a gentle tug; just enough so that your dog feels the pressure. Then say, “yes,” give him a treat, and walk away. Once your dog is moving comfortably around the house with his leash on, begin to ask him for a little movement. Hold one end of the leash and walk as far away from your dog as it will allow without becoming taut. Kneel down and encourage your dog to come to you. When he does, use your reward marker and give a reward. The next step might be to encourage your dog to follow you just a step or two while you’re holding the leash.

Once your dog is comfortable walking the way you’d like in the house, you can begin practicing in the back or front yard. Moving outside may still be quite frightening for your dog, so you may need to use even better rewards and start the process over (reward your dog simply for feeling a periodic tug on the leash, then for walking to you across the length of the leash, then for walking with you a few steps). When your dog is comfortable in the yard, begin taking him off your property only very briefly. At this stage, heading back home will probably serve as a powerful reward for walking just a handful of yards down the sidewalk.

This process may sound monotonous, but once you get your dog moving outside just a bit, he should gain confidence very quickly. Once that happens, walking will become its own reward; for you and your dog!

Guest Contributor–Danielle Grand has spent the last decade working to parlay her affinity for animals into a dog training career. While earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she was involved in an experimental study on canine cognition. She has also obtained her dog training certification from Animal Behavior College and attended numerous dog training seminars conducted by respected behaviorists. At home in New York’s capital region, she works closely with colleagues and mentors to expand her expertise; she hopes to help forge strong, happy relationships between many dogs and their humans.

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3 Responses to Help! My Dog Won’t Budge On A Leash.

  1. Wendy says:

    I am having problems with my chichuaha walking on the lead. He will lie down and refuse to move. I have waited for him for 10 minutes, quietly encouraging him to come and he still won’t budge. Off the lead he runs everywhere without anxiety. We have just moved house and the problem is worse. I am puzzled as to why he doesn’t have a problem off the leash but on it. Can anyone help? He is four years old.

  2. Danielle Grand says:

    That’s so great to hear! You are living proof that patience and consistency pay off. Great job!

  3. This is exactly what I did with my not so confident puppy and it worked! Now I am at the point that I was able to ween the treats out (for this behavior) and replace it with verbal reinforcement. It was VERY monotonous while doing this confidence boost, however, I totally agree that it was worth it in the end! Great to read!

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