You have experienced a few weeks of organized chaos since your puppy joined your house. Finally, the jabs are done and its time to explore the world outside. Walks with your dog are one of the major pleasures of ownership but sometimes you may experience instances where your puppy doesn’t want to walk. It may be the first time you have experienced it or something of a habit, in this post we will look at the potential reasons your puppy doesn’t want to walk and how these may be overcome.
1. New Experiences & Equipment
Everything is new to a puppy, their senses are bombarded with unfamiliar smells and noises. Most puppies are initially cautious of new environments and experiences, an example of this may be around the introduction of a leash. The unusual sensation of pressure on the neck or the wearing of a harness may create a nervous association with the process of going for a walk. If your puppy doesn’t want to walk in these circumstances then don’t force them as the negative association will only increase.
Assuming you have had your puppy from around the 8-week mark they should not be experiencing a harness or leash for the first time when their vaccinations allow them to ‘go outside’. These should be introduced early in your puppy’s development. You should allow your puppy to smell and get familiar with the leash before you attach it to a collar. It should be noted that the collar and leash should be appropriate to the size of the puppy you have.
Once familiar to the leash, then training (introduction to dog clicker training) will enable your young dog to be, at the minimum, not fearful of having the leash applied. If you are lucky to have a bit of room and backyard then, with training, your puppy should be used to walking on the leash. Don’t be surprised though that when you walk out your front door into the wider neighborhood your puppy will initially behave differently with all the distractions it entails – a new phase of training commences.
2. Fear and Trepidation
Hopefully, you will have socialized your puppy well and it is eager to explore but even the brashest and confident puppy will find some experiences that fill them with some trepidation. This may be something as simple as the sound of traffic being experienced for the first time. They will be meeting different people and dogs it is all a voyage of discovery and acceptance.
It’s not that hard to build your dog’s confidence. Take small incremental steps and remember you are the person they are looking up to for guidance and reassurance. If you transmit fear every time a dog approaches they will pick up on that. Take treats with you, especially in the first couple of months. If you approach a situation where you know your puppy gets anxious such as walking next to traffic, stop periodically and reward them.
This positive association will help them realize everything is good. Perhaps occasionally sit down somewhere and give your puppy a chew toy to play with. This will make them feel at ease and give them the message that good things happen outside just like they do in the house.
3. Medical Conditions
In rare cases, it may be that your puppy doesn’t want to walk due to an injury or illness. Unfortunately, some puppies are not bred and tested in an ethical way.
Your puppy may be experiencing undiagnosed pain that may make it hard to walk around. This may be in the joints affecting walking or discomfort in another area where the act of walking causes transmitted pain.
If you puppy is suffering from an illness they are likely to be tired and lethargic. Look for other signs that may accompany this to try and measure severity. Your puppy is likely to be back on their feet very soon but if symptoms persist see your veterinarian.
Hopefully, your puppy will come to you as a healthy bundle of joy. You should do everything in your power to research breeders when thinking about getting a puppy and ensure that it has received the correct dog shots.
Obviously sometimes things do go wrong, a puppy might bash their leg running around the backyard. Most minor injuries and ailments will be temporary but if any persist then a trip to the vet is your next step.
4. Bad Weather
Some puppies simply don’t like some forms of inclement weather. The likes of rain or snow may have your youngster turning their nose up at the front door. This may be a reaction to how they feel in those circumstances or they may genuinely be too cold or potentially on the flip side too hot.
As with the other aspects we have discussed experience and encouragement is key. Take your dog out in all weather, encourage them to enjoy the exercise in whatever conditions are thrown at them. Use treats but most importantly get yourself out there and don’t be the excuse why your puppy doesn’t want to walk.
5. Reluctance to Leave House
A lot of us like the comfort of our own home, it’s where we turn to if we want to feel safe and secure. Dogs are no different, hopefully your puppy will have settled in nicely, got used to household routines, familiarized itself with the people and surroundings, and effectively become part of the family.
So after its acclimatization period you are now saying “come on” we are off out now. The puppy may not be too keen on following you, he or she is comfortable where they are.
If you find this situation, it may just be the mood the puppy is in that particular day and may pass. If persistent it may be a reluctance to leave the house. Don’t force your puppy, encourage them to take small steps. Even if you just make the end of the street and return that’s progress, again use treats to encourage your puppy to investigate.
Your puppy might not want to leave a particular member of the family. Your kids or partner might want to take it easy but give them a shove and tell them they are coming with you. Your puppy is much more likely to want to be with the gang than left behind on their own.
Time to Explore
Hopefully, armed with some of the knowledge here you and your puppy are primed to leave the house and share the first of many great walks together. Socializing is key from the moment your puppy gets home. Do that well, throw in some training in the 4-5 weeks you are at home before you can leave the house, and you should have a well-rounded puppy eager to discover new things. Have fun together!
Author: Matt Short
Enthusiastic Poochon/Bichpoo/Bichonpoo (how many names) Owner. Husband, father and dog walker extraordinaire.