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

  1. David says:

    I have a 1 year old English Mastiff that just shakes in fear every time I put a leash on him, I got him when he was about 6 months old and seemed to come from a nice family. I have tried treats and love but every time I put it on he just shakes in fear, I walk away thinking it will get better if I leave him alone but come back 15 minutes later and he is just petrified. Iv’e sat with him for 30 minutes hoping it would get better but he acts scared to death, have tried the one that goes under and around but I need to get him to the Vet for his year checkup but he won’t budge. HELP

  2. Hi Joe, this is definitely a question for your veterinarian. Only a vet can diagnose health issues and possible abuse. Continue being patient and kind to your dog, and good luck with your leash training. Don’t give up; even abused dogs can learn to enjoy walks and leash training.

  3. Hi Deanna, this is a very common problem, but one that is easily solved. Dog training experts agree that you should never pull the leash or drag the dog; instead, encourage him to walk beside you and give him a treat when he does this correctly. Stop every couple feet to treat again and again and this will encourage him to keep going. Read more here:

  4. Deanna Clemmons says:

    I have two Bijon Frise and there still puppy I have a boy and he perfectly walks wonders on a leash . The trouble I’m having is with my female I can’t get her to walk on the leash, but does wonders running around the house and outside . But as soon I put her on the leash is like you have to drag her, it’s difficult for me try and walk both the dogs at the same time . So I have to take my boy out first and then let my girl run around the yard so what I’m trying to say is I really need some advice on what I need to do.i’ve tried everything about letting her on the leash around the house but all she does is just stand there and doesn’t move. If you have any advice or suggestion please email me and let me know.

    Concern mother of two Bijon Frise

  5. joe werner says:

    My dog is a pitbull. very calm. no barks. no bite. when i try putting the leash on him he just lays down and doesnt move. i tried leaving the leash on him to let him get comfortable, but the leash starts putting pressure on his neck and he starts breathing weird when he lays down. i dont know what to do, but i think he was traumatized before i bought him. please help.

  6. Robyn Davies says:

    I just got a 9 month old Chug. She was previously abused by 2 large dogs that ended in an injury. I want her to have a better life. Problem is, she will NOT budge on a leash thus does her business in my home. I tried a harness and treats but to no avail. HELP, I love her!! She’s rightfully scared and I don’t know what to do!!

  7. 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.

  8. Danielle Grand says:

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

  9. 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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