Some days, you might have all the time in the world when you’re taking your dog for a walk, and it won’t matter if they pause for whatever reason. Other times, it can be frustrating, particularly if you’re working or you have somewhere to be, or the weather isn’t at its best.
Learning how to stop a dog pulling on a leash is one problem but learning how to get a dog moving after they stall on a walk is a whole other kettle of fish. It can be easy to label your dog as stubborn or simply give up, but there are ways to get your dog walking again if they pause while you’re out with them. And Juliana DeWilliams, Owner and Head Trainer at JW Dog Training, has shared some advice on Instagram to help.
She promotes “patience, kindness, and smart training” when encouraging dogs not to stop on walks, with three key steps to achieving this. First, be patient, and wait for your dog to start walking again. Then, be kind. Don’t force your dog to move. And then, reward your dog when they’re on the move again.
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Your instinct might be to reach for the bag of your dog's best dog treats to encourage your dog to keep walking, but DeWilliams advises against this, as it can “create a behavior chain of starting and stopping, because that’s what the dog thinks is leading to the treat”. Instead, it’s important to reward the movement itself.
"Part of being a good positive reinforcement trainer is understanding how reinforcement works,” DeWilliams explains in the caption, “Including how it can work against us (dogs are always learning!) and how to use it to our advantage. We are always thoughtful about what behaviors and possible behavior chains are being reinforced in our training”.
Of course, your dog’s health and safety is paramount. DeWilliams recommends consulting a professional if you’ve tried the steps outlined but your pup is continuing to stop on walks – there could be an underlying issue related to pain, stress, or anxiety in dogs is very common and could explain why they’re stopping.
It’s also worth checking your dog’s paws. There could be something stuck or embedded in there that’s causing an issue. Or, it might be a weather-related issue. Dogs might get slow and thirsty if it’s hot, and want to stop more often – it might be too hot, in which case you should walk them when it’s a little cooler instead. Why not read our vet's guide on how to cool down a dog? Meanwhile, some dogs can feel the cold more than others – particularly smaller breeds – and they might be more reluctant to walk.
Or if you’ve got a puppy, it might simply be that they’re not used to walking on a leash, and would rather be at home with their favorite puppy toys!
Whatever the reason, however, it’s worth trying out DeWilliams’ advice first, and see how you and your pup find it. But if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to have a word with your vet.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.