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Why doesn’t my German Shepherd want to go for a walk?

You’re just out with your dog, enjoying a walk, and then SCREEECH!… 3 blocks from home, they hit the brakes and refuse to take even one more step. Why does this happen? Here are ten possibilities

  1. Young dogs have an instinct to stay close to home. It’s a genetic safety measure that prevents puppies from wandering off (much like the following instincts they have at this age). As they become more mature and independent, they are more willing to move away from their base. A young dog may not yet understand how to walk on a leash. (The instinct to stay close seems to vanish overnight! This is why letting dogs off the leash is dangerous until a recall is very strong.)
  2. Fearful, stressed or anxious dogs can use the arrest to avoid scary things.
  3. Your dog may be braking because he knows the walk will end soon.
  4. It could be your walking/training strategy. Often tethering during walks is a consequence of our response to the dog’s attention-seeking behavior. Luring, bribing, begging or negotiating with the dog creates a cycle that is difficult to break. You don’t want to teach your dog to stop mid-walk for a treat. What do you do when your dog puts on the brakes?
  5. There may be a comfort issue or health issue that is causing your dog to stop walking, such as:
    1. Sore hips, back and muscles are causing pain and this can cause stop walking. Check with your vet if you suspect this.
    2. Growing pains. This is most likely if you have a young, fast growing, large breed dog.
    3. Some dogs will stop because the harness used to walk them is uncomfortable, ill-fitting, or has rubbed rough spots under the armpit. See if your dog stops less when wearing a collar vs. harness.
    4. Physical discomfort. Dogs that are too hot, too cold, have an injured nail or a burned paw from hot asphalt or snow and ice will stop on walks.
  6. Did you know that animals are superstitious? Does your dog always stop in the same spot? It could be a point where something wonderful has happened, like finding a half-eaten cookie on the ground. It could happen again.
  7. It could also be something as simple as wanting to smell the bush that every other dog in the neighborhood has peed on. Or squirrels hang around nearby.
  8. Some dogs just don’t feel like walking. I’m looking at you, bulldog.
  9. Excessive exercise. Maybe your dog is just tired.
  10. Your dog wants to greet another dog or a person and he won’t move until he is allowed to. It’s part of his election campaign.

Here’s what to do instead

Call your dog on command come only when you give him a treat.

This means, a tasty piece of candy, a scratch on the shoulder or chest, or a fun game with you.