Refusing to Walk

What if my puppy refuses to walk? 

There’s no “what if” here. You’ll likely experience this when your puppy is 8-16 weeks of age. You’ll notice that your pup is hesitant at thresholds (doorways, driveway to sidewalk, etc) and you’ll notice that they randomly sit and refuse to move.

Whatever you do, do not pull, drag, or tug them along! This is counterproductive and teaches your dog that you are not the person to trust. Don’t bother luring or bribing with food either. If you’re in a rush and you need to get home now, scoop them up and carry them home. They’re not going to work on your schedule right now. 

If you’re crossing a street and this happens, scoop your puppy up to finish crossing. Otherwise, I want you to experience the world through their eyes in that moment. Squat down beside them and look at what they’re taking in. Listen. What do you hear? Are there any vibrations in the ground? Your puppy is overwhelmed and overstimulated or just plain nervous. You can comfort them, speak softly to them, tell them what they’re experiencing (literally name the things – “there’s a truck!” or “hear that airplane?”). It sounds hokey but your soothing voice is often enough to let them know that they’re safe and these things are normal. 

After a minute, stand up and try walking a few steps away, happy-talking to them. You might find that they happily trot along with you (until the next stopping session) or that they need another minute of the same thing. 

If your puppy is showing signs of fear or anxiety, get some space so that your puppy is no longer showing these signs, and then change your dog’s emotional response. 

Let your dog observe their world and learn about it at their pace. Don’t rush a puppy!