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Dog lays down and refuses to move (old dog, on walks)

It can be concerning when your dog lays down and refuses to move. Perhaps they are simply tired, or perhaps there’s something wrong. It’s important to know the reasons why your pooch isn’t moving, and what you can do about it. 

Why does my dog lay down and refuse to move?

There are many potential reasons why your pooch may lay down and refuse to move. If your pooch refuses to move, there may be a problem that requires veterinary care. However, it’s also possible your dog is simply tired. 


If your dog lays down and doesn’t want to move after intense activity or at the end of the day, they may simply be tired. Some dogs have more energy than others, depending on their breed, personality, and age.

If they had an intense day the day before, they may still be recovering. However, if your pooch won’t get up at all even after resting for a few hours, or isn’t getting up to eat or drink, you should be concerned. 

Injuries or Pain 

Injuries or pain can also cause your dog to not want to move. If you’ve had an injury, you probably avoid any movement that causes pain whenever possible. 

Your dog will do the same thing. Any injury can cause your dog to feel fatigue and move less. However, if they aren’t moving due to pain or injury, there’s a good chance that movement is causing them pain. 

If you notice that your dog is stiff, moves slowly, or whines when moving, this is probably the cause. 

Hip dysplasia, leg or paw injuries, and arthritis are a few common types of pain that can cause your pooch to avoid movement. 

Vestibular Syndrome

The vestibular system includes the inner ear and the brain. It’s responsible for balance in mammals, including dogs and humans. When there’s something wrong with the system, your dog loses their balance. 

If your dog has vestibular syndrome, they may avoid movement because of the loss of balance. Symptoms can include falling or stumbling, head tilting, strange eye movements, and circling. 

It can also cause vomiting and nausea, particularly when your dog is moving.  


Botchulism is a toxin that is caused by ingesting a bacteria. It’s often found in decaying hay or grain, decomposing animals, and rotten vegetables. 

Symptoms occur 12 to 36 hours after consuming the toxin. They include excessive drooling, weakness, trouble breathing, and diffuclty swallowing. 

Paraylisis is a more severe symptom. It typically starts in the back limbs and works its way forward. The facial nerves may also become paralyzed.  

Neurological Problems

There are many neurological problems that can occur in dogs. There are several signs of neurological disorders that can cause your dog to not want to move.

These include loss of balance, loss of coordination, weakness, and paralysis. Confusion, scratching at the air, disorientation, and behavioral changes are other symptoms. 

Causes of neurological disorders include stroke, meningitis, and epilepsy. 


Depression can occur in dogs, just as it can in humans. Symptoms of depression include lethargy and loss of interest in  activities, which can lead your dog to not want to move.

How to get my dog to stop laying down and refusing to move?

How to get your dog moving again varies greatly depending on the reason behind the behavior. 

Visit the Vet 

It’s a good idea to visit the vet, particularly if they aren’t moving for an extended time period, or they are showing signs of illness or injury. If you have any suspicion their may be a health issue, it’s best to get your pooch a check up. 

Encourage Them 

You can entice your pooch to move with their favorite things. This may be a treat, or a favorite toy. However, don’t let them have the item,  particularly a treat, until they are up and moving. Giving it to them before they get up rewards them for laying down, which is counterproductive. 

Sit With Them 

Sometimes your pooch really needs your love. If they aren’t moving because of anxiety or depression, sit down with them. Give them some love, and then get up. Call them, and hopefully they will get up with you. 

Ignore Them 

Ironically, the opposite of sitting with them can work in some situations. If you suspect they are only laying down because they want attention, try ignoring them. 

You may pretend to talk on the phone, or go about daily activities while remaining near them. This can encourage them to get up and come to you, so you’ll pay attention to them.  

Why does my old dog lay down and refuse to move?

Your dog may be laying down and refusing to move for any of the reasons above. However, there are other causes that can appear in senior dogs. 

Poor Eyesight

As dogs age, their eyesight deteriorates, just as it does in humans. Imagine not being able to see very well. Would you be reluctant to get up and move around? Afriad of falling or running into something? 

A dog who is losing their eyesight will experience this as well. If your dog is losing their eyesight, you may notice that they are clumsier or run into things. They may not show interest in things that are far away, and stop making eye contact with you. 


As your dog ages, their energy levels will decrease. They may simply be exhausted. They may have went on a walk or had a play session that made them tired. 

Increased Anxiety

Increased anxiety can also occur with age. This can be because their senses decline with age. This includes hearing, eyesight, and their sense of smell. This can naturally cause anxiety in your favorite canine. 

Cognitive decline is also common in senior dogs, and this can also lead to anxiety. 

If your dog is anxious, they may simply feel safer in their own home, laying down, rather than interacting with the world.  

Why does my dog lay down and refuse to move on walks?

Your pooch may lay down and not move on walks for some of the reasons already mentioned. These include pain, anxiety, injury, depression, fatigue, or illness. However, there are a few other reasons as well.  

Positive Reinforcement

You are probably aware that you use positive reinforcement to train your dog. When you give them praise or a treat, you are using the concept of positive reinforcement. 

However, you can also do this inadvertently. If your dog stops walking and you pay attention to them, this gives them enjoyment. They may learn that laying down gets them attention, and continue to do it for this reason. 

Memorable Spot

If your dog always stops in the same place, they may have a significant memory of something that occurred in that area. This can be  positive or negative. 

Perhaps they found a bone in the area, and they don’t want to move from the area in case another one appears. It’s also possible that something traumatic happened ahead, and they are trying to avoid that area by laying down.  

Doesn’t Want the Walk to End 

If you are nearing the end of your walk, your pooch may lay down because they don’t want to go home. If they lay down, it prolongs the walk until they get up.