4 min read

Walking a Dog that Doesn't Want to Walk: Tips for Dog Walkers


Written by Wag! Staff

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/24/2023, edited: 01/24/2023


Most dogs love going for their daily walk! As a dog walker, you'll usually be greeted with excited barks and whines as their butt wiggles and their tails fly when you grab that leash. But on occasion, you may come across a doggo that just won’t budge. Maybe they’re a homebody or just a nervous puppy, or they may not like walking in the dark, rain, or winter, or they could even be in pain. Or maybe your walking buddy is just having an off day. Whatever the reason, trying to walk a dog who just won't budge can be quite the challenge!

Not sure how to get that pup moving? Try these top tips to help you get that resistant pup moving! But first, let's hear from Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Expert Robert Cabral.

Assess how the dog is feeling

When you walk into a pet parent's home, you can often get a sense pretty quickly of how the dog is feeling. Are they energetic or lethargic? Is this a walk with a new dog and you aren't sure how they normally react to walks? Or are they acting off their game?

It's important to get in touch with the pet parent to see if this is normal behavior for their dog, or if it’s possible they’re feeling unwell. There may be something that the pet parent neglected to tell you. If the pup is sick or over-exercised, maybe all they need is a potty break and a snuggle for the day. 

Your furry friend could also be unwilling to walk because of some physical discomfort. Take a quick look over the canine, and check for any sores on their paws, or where their collar or harness may be rubbing. Report back to the pet parent if anything seems off, or if there seems to be anything requiring veterinary care. 

If you’re confident the dog is ok, they may just be feeling like a couch pup-tato. Try the following tips to get them moving and into action!

white and brown bulldog refusing to walk on a leash - Walking a Dog that Doesn't Want to Walk:Tips for Dog Walkers

Coax them forward with light tugs and encouraging words

Try coaxing them forward with gentle tugs on the leash. Call their name and give them a little pep talk in a sweet voice. Don’t put constant pressure on the leash, because this may cause them to dig their paws in and pull in the opposite direction. The last thing you want is for the dog to slip out of their collar by pulling back. Dogs can sense your frustration, so if you yank on the leash, you’re only causing more harm than good. If they seem worried, sit with the dog for a moment and be patient, and let them figure out their surroundings. A few kind words and gentle guidance with the leash might be all they need!

Give them a small taste of a treat

If you have some pet parent-approved treats on hand, this can motivate most dogs to move forward. Of course, you don’t want to be constantly showering them with treats as they walk. Instead, reward their good behavior by offering a treat once they move forward a few steps. Try tossing the treat a few feet in front of you and give the leash a gentle tug. This can reinforce to the pup that going for a walk is a fun, rewarding experience! Give more treats along the walk every so many steps to keep the positive feelings going, just be sure not to give them too many over the course of the walk. You may even have an easier time getting them out the door next time! 

leashed small white and brown dog sitting by front door with parent

Use words the dog might know from training

Going for a walk is a good chance for a pup to show off their skills and utilize their training. If they’re digging their heels in, tell the dog to “sit” or “stay," making sure to reward them for listening. Once they’ve done that, use whatever word the dog knows to signal it's time to move, like “up!” or “okay!” Reward them when they take a few steps forward. This may help the dog focus on pleasing you and take their mind away from whatever fears or qualms are preventing them from walking. 

Get the dog out of sight of their home

Sometimes a doggo just isn’t in the mood to leave their comfort zone. It’s natural for a young pup to want to stay close to where they feel safe. Often, if you can get the dog out of sight from their home, they may be more willing to keep going, or at least walk back home. If the dog is small enough, you can pick them up and carry them a couple of blocks away. If the area is noisy, try a different direction that may be quieter and less intimidating. 

Beagle dog playing with rope toy

Bait them into chasing you

If the little dogster is just having a blah day, try getting them stoked for the walk! Play a little first, jump up and down, run towards them and away. This is how dogs play naturally, and you may be able to bait them into chasing you. Energy is contagious! By jogging a little with them, it could motivate them into running along with you. Exercise and play go paw in paw. 

Bring along their favorite toy

If the doggo has a favorite toy at home, it may be just the trick to get them off their haunches and move. Start by getting the pupper interested in the toy, by playing with it, and by getting them to chase it. By bringing the toy along, you can lure them to stay by your side while you walk. Be sure to take breaks and let the pup play with the toy once in a while so they don’t get too frustrated! 

small brown and white dog taking a relaxed walk

It can be a ruff challenge if the dog you’re supposed to walk won’t remove themselves from the front door or sidewalk. By keeping the walk relaxed and pawsitive, the pup may eventually be excited to get walking!

However, if there seems to be nothing you can do, it's not a dogsaster. Communicate with their pet parent, give the pup a potty break, and make the time special by playing, training, or showering them with affection. After all, bonding will only foster trust between you so that next time, your furry walking pal may be ready for an adventure!

Want to up your Pet Care skills? Check out Wag!'s Safety Center for more videos by experts on all things pet care! 

Comments (0)

Leave a comment

Your name




Add photo(s) of your petoptional