It can be frustrating when your dog stops and won’t move when they see another dog. It can even be embarrassing if your dog is blocking a walkway. Why do they do this, and how can you get them walking again?
Why does my dog refuse to move when he sees another dog?
There are a few reasons why your dog may refuse to move when they see another dog. These typically stem from either fear or aggression, but there are a few other potential causes as well.
Fear is the most common reason why a dog won’t move when they encounter another dog. You are probably familiar with the fight or flight response.
This means a person, or a dog, will either fight or flee when they are scared. However, you may be less familiar with the freeze response.
Have you ever been scared, and found it impossible to move? Frozen in fear? This is the freeze response, and it’s fairly common in dogs and humans.
If this occurs, your dog won’t move at all. They will be completely frozen. This may be because it allows them to think and observe, or because they are hoping to be unnoticed.
The other reason your pooch may freeze when they see another dog is aggression. When being aggressive, a dog may freeze and stare at the other dog.
This is essentially a challenge or warning to the other dog. Unfortunately, if it goes unheeded, it can lead to a fight.
Other signs of aggression include growling, snapping, and lip curling or snarling. You may also notice their fur standing up, and their posture being very stiff.
Your dog may stop and refuse to move out of shyness. This is a bit different than fear. A fearful dog will freeze out of fear. A shy dog will stop out of unsureness.
They won’t freeze. Instead, they will not move, because they are unsure if they should move towards or away from the other dog. This causes them to remain still.
Dogs can also refuse to move because they are interested in the other dog. They may want to play, or simply be observing the dog.
Instead of moving, they stay still to take in the things around them, or in hopes the other dog will approach them.
How to get my dog to move when he sees another dog?
How to get your dog moving when they see another dog will depend on the reason for their behavior. The good news is, it’s something that you and your pooch can work on together.
What Not to Do
First, you should know what not to do. Never try to drag your dog or force them to walk, unless there’s physical danger. If your dog tries to step out in front of a car, pulling on their leash is reasonable. It’s not reasonable to pull on the leash simply because you are impatient.
It’s also important not to scold, yell, or otherwise punish your dog. This will only make the situation worse, and can create a power struggle between you and your pooch.
If you feel like you are about to get angry or upset, stop doing anything. Take a few moments to breathe. If your dog is safe, walk away for a moment if you need to. If not, take a few breaths and calm yourself before taking any action.
if your dog isn’t moving because they are afraid of other dogs, the first step is to ease their fear. It’s possible that they have been attacked by another dog in the past. They may also have a submissive personality, which leads to them being fearful of other dogs.
To calm the fear, you’ll need to stay calm. If you are stressed or anxious, your dog will pick up on this. It will increase their own anxiety.
Another thing you can do is help your dog keep their distance from other dogs, until they are desensitized. The first step is avoiding further negative experiences. When your dog is scared, this reinforces their fear.
If your dog is not moving due to aggression, you can try to avoid the situation. Give other dogs a wide berth before your dog hones in if possible. Be sure they are on a leash, in case they try to lunge at the other dog.
Be Supportive and Patient
Remember that your dog isn’t trying to be difficult. They deserve patience and understanding, particularly if fear is the cause of the behavior. Regardless of the reason, being supportive will help them overcome the issue.
Try to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine how they feel. This can help you have the patience you need to get your pooch moving again.
Work With an Expert
If your dog is fearful or aggressive towards other dogs, you’ll need some professional help to get them past it. An animal behavioralist can help your dog become more comfortable or less aggressive around other pooches.
Teaching your dog the touch command can get them moving again. Of course, you’ll need to teach your pooch the command under low pressure circumstances, before you can use it for this purpose.
The touch command is simple. Your dog moves to your hand, touching it with their nose. To teach your dog this command, you’ll need high value treats.
Determine what your command word or sign will be. You can use the word touch, a hand gesture, or any other word that works for you.
Begin by having your dog sit. Use the command, and then bring your hand to their nose. Give them a treat. Repeat this several times.
When you are ready to move to the next step, you’ll simply hold your hand out and use the command. Wait for your dog to touch your hand with their nose, and then give them a treat.
Repeat this until your pooch does it every single time, without hesitation. Then, you are ready to test it in the real world. Try the command at different times, when your pooch is focused on something else.
Now, you are ready to use it when your dog won’t move in the presence of other dogs. When they touch your hand, give them a treat. Continue using treats when you use the command, but only use it when needed once your dog performs the command every time.
Let’s Go Command
The let’s go command is another option. Like the touch command, you can use any gesture or word that you choose. If you want to keep ti simple, “let’s go” is a good choice.
To train your dog to perform this command, you’ll start by saying it while they are walking. Reward them with a treat. After they’ve come to expect a treat after the command, use the command when they are sitting or laying down. When they start walking, give them a treat.
Like the touch command, you’ll want to work with your dog in low pressure situations first. Don’t use it when they won’t move around other dogs until they are consistently following the command in other situations.