Most dogs love to go on walks, so it’s surprising when your favorite pooch simply wants to head back home. Some dogs aren’t a big fan of walks from the beginning. However, it’s more concerning if your previously enthusiastic canine suddenly wants to go home during walks.
Why does my dog want to go home during walks?
There are many reasons your dog may want to go home during their walk. It’s possible they are simply tired or in the mood for a quieter environment. However, it can also be a sign there’s something wrong.
It’s possible your dog is simply tired. Have you ever found yourself on an errand and realized you were tired? You wanted nothing more than to go home immediately. This can also happen to your dog.
Fatigue can occur simply because your dog has had a busy day. Energy levels can also vary with age. Once a dog moves out of the puppy stage, their energy will diminish a bit.
As a dog becomes a senior, their energy levels will decrease as well.
However, illness can also cause fatigue. If your pooch is showing signs of fatigue frequently, or they are not themselves, illness may be to blame.
Walks occur in the outside world. There are often other animals, cars, and other people. Even lawnmowers can trigger anxiety due to the loud noises they make.
If your pooch is prone to anxiety, there’s a good chance this is why they want to go home.
Signs of include drooling, panting, whining, and excessive barking. Your dog may be aggressive when anxious. They may bark or growl unprovoked.
It’s also possible for them to be submissive when anxious. They may crouch, bow their head, or hold their tail between their legs.
Negative associations can also make your dog want to go home when walking. Dogs have a strong associative memory. This means they will remember that something bad happened. When they encounter a similar situation, they will expect the bad thing to happen again.
For example, your dog gets into a fight with another dog. The next time you go for a walk, they may become anxious or scared when they reach the area where it occurred.
Insecurity is similar to anxiety, but it’s a bit different. A dog who is insecure will be easily scared. They may be very bothered by strangers, loud noises, or new environments.
For these dogs, home is their safe place. They may feel scared or insecure anytime they are not indoors. You’ve worked hard to make sure that your pooch is comfortable and feels safe in their home.
This is a good thing, but it may be the only place they feel safe. This makes them want to return home, or avoid stepping out the door in the first place.
If your dog is in pain, this can make them not want to walk. Joint issues are a common cause. However, pain in any area can cause your pooch to not be up for walking.
Watch for signs of pain, including limping, moving slowly or stiffly, or whining when walking.
Should you drag a dog that won’t walk?
Dragging a dog is never a good way to handle the issue for several reasons.
Danger of Injury
It can cause damage to their neck and joints. Young puppies are at a higher risk, because their bodies aren’t fully formed yet. However, pulling any age dog can cause injuries.
Another reason you shouldn’t drag a dog is because it does emotional damage. It’s upsetting ofr your dog, which can make them even more reluctant to walk. It can also hurt their trust in you.
Ignores the Problem
Lastly, when you drag your dog, you are at best ignoring the actual problem. At worst, you are making the problem worse.
How to get my dog to stop wanting to go home during walks?
Getting your dog to stop wanting to go home during walks is a process. There’s no quick fix, but with persistence, you can get your dog walking properly.
Determine the Cause
If your dog normally enjoys their walks, and suddenly wants to go home, there’s likely a reason for this. They may be sick or injured, or experiencing anxiety due to a recent bad experience.
If your dog doesn’t want to walk because they are sick or in pain, this should be treated. Don’t attempt to try to get your dog to walk until the health condition is treated properly. Forcing them to walk can create negative reinforcement which makes the situation worse.
If your pooch isn’t walking because they of negative reinforcement, or they are anxious or insecure, follow the steps below.
Relax and Stay Calm
The first step is for you to relax and stay calm when walking your dog. If you are anxious or stressed, your dog will be as well. No matter what occurs, remain calm. Don’t get frustrated if your dog refuses to walk, or attempts to go back home.
Stay Firm but Reasonable
On the other hand, you are the pack leader. Your dog needs to learn to do what you want them to do. If you allow them to go home when they pull, this will let them know it gets them what they want. They will keep doing it on walks, because it allows them to go home.
Instead, wait patiently for your dog to stop pulling. You may want to bring treats, and reward them when they are walking well. When they pull towards home, entice them with a treat, but do not give it to them until they are walking in the direction you want.
You should keep your dog’s wishes and limitations in mind, however. This means setting reasonable expectations.
Start with shorter walks. As your dog becomes more comfortable, you can lengthen the walks. One way to do this is to walk until your dog begins pulling for home. Walk them a little farther, and then go home. The next time you walk, you go a little farther. This gives you a starting point for how long of a walk they can handle.
Make it Fun
It can help to approach the walk as something fun for both of you. Instead of it feeling like a chore for you, begin with a good attitude. Show excitement about going for the walk, and it will help your dog be more enthusiastic as well.
If Your Dog is Just Tired
If your dog always seems too tired for walks and they aren’t ill or injured, consider changing their schedule. If you walk them in the evening, consider walking them in the morning. This allows them to have more energy for the walk.
Breed should also be considered. A jack Russell terrier will have much more energy for walks than an English bulldog, for example. If your dog is a lower energy breed, you may need to keep your walks a bit shorter.
Again, be sure you are reasonable. Are you expecting your dog to go on a longer walk than they are up for?