Why does my dog hate walks?!

Kali collie x sat in fieldThe majority of dogs are more than enthusiastic about daily walks with their family, but there are some dogs that don’t appear to share the same zest for the great outdoors.  Holidays4Dogs investigates the reasons why some dogs prefer their home comforts to the call of the countryside.

There may be a variety of reasons why a dog shows a distinct lack of enthusiasm when it comes to walk time.  First and foremost, if you have a dog that seems lethargic and disinterested, particularly if this has been of sudden onset, it is a sensible idea to get him checked out with your vet just in case there is any physical reason that is preventing him from enjoying his walks.

WalkingOnce you have ruled out any possible underlying health issues and your dog is otherwise fit, it is time to consider why else your dog prefers to be a couch potato. Certainly, some breeds of dog are less energetic than others – see our other Holidays4Dogs articles on this subject; and just like people, there are times when dogs just may not feel in the mood for walking.

The fear factor could be another reason why some dogs refuse to set foot out of the house.  Perhaps they may have been spooked on a previous occasion; and believe it or not, there are quite a few pooches who dislike walks in the rain because their owners don’t like walking in the rain, so they have never got used it.

Thunderstorms, loud traffic, joggers, crow scarers, prams; there are multiple stressors that may cause a dog to want to run back home with his tail between his legs and never leave the house again – particularly so with puppies when they are going through their fear period, which is why it is very important to manage a young pup’s environment carefully so that he is not startled.

It may also be that your dog is just plain tired – if he has already been out two or three times that day, he may just feel too pooped to want to go out again.  Puppies should not be over exercised and if taken for very long walks when they are still little and you may find that they frequently sit down and refuse to move; only because their little legs are just too tired! If they begin to feel uncomfortable on walks, they may show reluctance to leave the house next time.

Small dogs are often very clever at learning how to be lazy on walks; if they get tired and stop, chances are their owners will stop and pick them up.  But this can create a situation that turns into a habit, so it is best to keep walks short when your dog is a puppy and understand the energy levels of your particular breed, building up gradually.

Mary Na Stanley time for cuddlesSometimes dogs just get bored on walks.  Occasionally, I see owners ambling along looking at their mobile phones or listening to music on their head phones without once engaging with their dog, who follows dutifully along the pavement on the end of his lead.  Dogs thrive when their brains are occupied as well as their bodies.  If your dog cannot be let off the lead, consider purchasing a long line so that he can have more freedom to investigate his environment without loss of control.  Try varying the places you walk; it is amazing how many people will do the same dog walk, day after day and just as this becomes tedious for the person, the dog too will be as equally unexcited by the prospect of the same old perambulation around the block.

If you feel your dog has developed a fear of the great outdoors you may want to enlist the help of a trainer or behaviourist to help you desensitize your dog to whatever it is that is bothering him.  Importantly, do not force or drag your dog to walk as this will create further tension and resistance.  You can try using a harness instead of a lead, which some dogs find more reassuring and walk only at quiet times of the day, avoiding any areas which you feel may be triggering your dog’s anxiety.

It can be frustrating, especially if you cannot see a reason for your dog’s lack of enthusiasm for going for a walk, particularly if you yourself are raring to go rambling with your four legged friend.  Patience is the key; make things fun for your dog and with a little time, your dog will soon be happy to accompany you on your walking adventures.  Alternatively, you could always curl up on the couch together – dogs love snuggling up and idling a few hours away just as much as we do!