If your dog doesn’t like to walk on a leash, you face a common problem.
Whether you’re just missing the right leash for a puppy, have a dog with a health issue, or are experiencing a dog that would prefer to be indoors, there are some methods you can use to ensure your dog will want to walk on a leash in the future.
When a puppy doesn’t want to walk on a leash
“My dog doesn’t want to walk today.” Naturally, most dogs don’t want to walk in rainy weather or if they aren’t feeling well for any reason.
However, dogs should generally want to walk outside — and it might be the leash stopping them. Common training leash puppy problems include:
- Leash biting: Leash biting is a typical puppy behavior — during a walk, your puppy might stop and chew its leash instead.
- Pulling: Your puppy pulls its collar or harness.
- Sitting still: In an obstinate action, your puppy will sit or lay and won’t want to move.
To combat these issues, you must communicate to your puppy that being outside is a positive and rewarding experience.
You can use positive reinforcement techniques with the help of a treat or a ball. When your dog bites the leash, pulls, or refuses to move, toss a toy or a treat a short distance away. They’ll get moving in no time.
Use walks to socialize your puppy
It’s also vital to understand that most things in the world are new to your puppy, which could cause a fearful or timid reaction that looks like the dog doesn’t want to walk on a leash.
Do your best to allow your puppy to approach other well-trained dogs (with their handlers’ permission), people of various ethnicities, ages, and genders (with parental or guardian consent when applicable), and disabled people using assistive devices like canes or wheelchairs.
If the person using a bike or scooter is amenable, allow your puppy to sniff such a personal transportation device on their terms. This causes less anxiety and allows your puppy to keep their focus on exploring the world rather than chewing its leash or being afraid to move.
A standard 6-foot leash for a puppy is best for maximum success and safety.
Puppies aren’t strong enough to break the metal clip and should have limited freedom to explore but not complete control.
Avoid potentially harmful shock collar-leash combos, retractable leashes, and too-long leashes.
At this point in your puppy’s development, they’re relying on you to show them what to do — and a 6-foot leash is perfect for that task.
Inclement weather and temperature
Many dogs hate walking in the rain, hence the joke about rainy days being nice days for poop on the floor. However, rain shouldn’t be a problem for most dogs as long as it’s not too cold.
Hot and cold temperatures are a different story, especially for specific breeds.
While a husky can endure cold temperatures and snow, it might have a tough time in the heat.
Similarly, a Chihuahua might do well in early summer but would be shivering in the cold.
Additionally, brachycephalic breeds like pugs and Boston terriers do poorly in the heat due to breathing problems.
If temperatures are extreme, it’s best not to walk your dog. If they’re typical temperatures for the season, consider a shorter walk.
Dogs can wear raincoats, jackets, and doggie boots if it’s rainy or cold, and when it’s hot, make sure to take a break and provide them with some water.
Should I use a collar or harness if my dog doesn’t want to walk on a leash?
Whether you should use a collar or harness on your dog depends on multiple factors, but generally, harnesses are safer for puppies.
Specific breeds like Yorkies and other small dogs often experience a collapsing trachea, so they must never be in a collar — you have to use a harness instead.
As bigger breeds grow, they might try to drag you along with a harness, so ask your veterinarian about switching to a collar.
After all, many large breeds were created to work and even pull sleds. By combining a harness and leash, you may find that your dog is more or less responsive to leash walking. Experiment to see what works best.
Veterinary issues and medications
Lethargy and general “misbehaving” aren’t things dogs experience without reason.
If your ordinarily compliant dog is biting at the leash more, or if your excitable dog doesn’t want to move, there could be a medical reason behind the misbehavior.
Hip dysplasia and other medical problems affecting mobility can significantly impact your dog’s desire to walk because it could be in pain.
Other common culprits for pain during movement include arthritis and Lyme disease.
Commonly prescribed medications can also make your dog lethargic.
Trazodone is a drug commonly used following surgery to decrease a dog’s activity intentionally, and it’s also used for dogs with fear and anxiety in certain situations, such as when they’re being groomed.
The sedative is doing what it’s supposed to do, which means that even if your dog is perfectly healthy, it may not precisely feel excited about a walk.
Leashes are necessary
Leashes are critical for safety and, in most places, required by law.
Unfortunately, dogs initially see them as a means to control behavior rather than a chance to walk freely in public spaces where they can meet other dogs and more humans.
Bottom line: Work to solve your dog’s refusal to walk on a leash
As your dog’s faithful companion, it’s up to you to help them have positive experiences on walks. Once that happens, your dog will become more attentive and engaging, allowing you to proceed with more advanced leash training skills.
If you’re still experiencing difficulty after reading this article and your dog doesn’t want to walk on a leash, consider a quick veterinary checkup followed by some leash-walking lessons with an animal trainer or behaviorist.