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What to Do When a Dog Refuses to Walk

Is your dog a stubborn Donkey Dog? A lot of dogs pull forward on leash, but some dogs and many puppies pull *backward* or refuse to walk. This happens to French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs all the time! Pulling harder or luring with a treat only makes the problem worse, so what should you do to help your dog or puppy get moving?!

Many of the techniques in my Leash Walking article are still valid, here are some tips just for leash laggers:

  1. Check with your vet to make sure there’s not a health issue going on that is causing your dog to stop walking (growing pains, arthritis, etc.)
  2. Circle around your dog, then walk in the direction you wanted to go. That sometimes gets them up and moving.
  3. Teach Touch (hand to nose) and ask your dog to touch to get him to move. Reward by tossing the treat in the direction you want to walk.
  4. Don’t bring out a treat to lure your dog forward, as that rewards your dog’s stopping behavior.
  5. Just wait. When your dog does move, click and toss a treat in the direction you want to walk.
  6. Teach “Let’s Go” by saying it just before your dog is about to walk anyway. You can make this extra fun by clicking when your dog does move and rewarding with treats or toys.
  7. Use Silky Leash. Teach your dog that light pressure on the leash means to go in that direction using the Silky Leash technique.
  8. Don’t pull with constant pressure on the dog. That just causes your dog to go in the opposite directions. Traditional force-based trainers actually use a similar technique to teach dogs to stay!
  9. Use reverse psychology: tell your dog to “Stay,” wait for a little bit, and then suddenly say, “okay!” and move on. Reward for moving.

The methods I described above assumed that the dog was not fearful, just didn’t want to go forward. If you have a fearful dog, I would teach the Let’s Go cue, but I would also work on desensitizing their fear, so they have less reason to pull back. We have classes for fear and also sell three useful books: Behavior Adjustment Training, Cautious Canine and Help for Your Fearful Dog.

What tips do you have to share? Please post in the comments below. Thanks in advance!