Most dogs love walks, so why would your dog lay down in the middle of one? The truth is there are many reasons your dog may lay down in the middle of your stroll, from being tired to encountering distractions. It’s important to know how to handle the behavior so you aren’t accidentally reinforcing it.
Why does my dog lay down during walks?
Your dog might lay down during walks for several reasons. It can be frustrating, and figuring out the cause can take some investigation. The key is awareness of your dog and its signals, and when and where they lay down.
Doesn’t Want to Leave Home
This is common with puppies, but can occur if an older dog is particularly stressed or anxious as well. Puppies have an instinct to stay close to home so they are nearby their mother. This keeps them out of trouble, and out of reach of potential predators.
This instinct can cause your dog to be cautious about walking too far from home, even when you are guiding them. As pups mature, this instinct is often replaced by curiosity and a desire to explore their surroundings. This can lead them too far from home if they aren’t properly leashed on walks.
They Don’t Want to Go Home
Ironically, your dog might lay down on walks to avoid the walk ending. Laying down is essentially pausing the walk. When they get up, it begins again, giving them a few extra minutes of walk time. If it seems far fetched, think about this. Have you ever paused a movie or put down a book because you weren’t ready for the ending?
Stressed or Scared
This one is also more common in puppies, but can occur with dogs of all ages. If your dog becomes stressed or fearful, they may lay down to avoid further exposure. If your dog is easily startled or nervous, this might be the reason they lay down.
Changes to their routine or a new environment can cause dogs to be more sensitive to stimuli. Just like with people, stressors can add up and cause your dog to be anxious about things they normally aren’t.
Ironically, your dog might be laying down because you’ve inadvertently encouraged the behavior. It can be tempting to give your dog a treat or other reward when they lay down. It’s an effective way to get them walking again. However, it can cause them to keep laying down during walks to get a treat. They may also be laying down for attention. If you begin petting or coaxing them, this can also encourage them to continue the behavior.
If something interesting happened on a previous walk, your dog may be laying down in hopes it will happen again. If they are laying in the same area each time, this could be the reason. Have they found a bone or met a new person in the area?
Dogs can be fascinated with things that we don’t even notice. A bird in a bush. The smell of another dog’s calling card. Your dog could simply want to spend some time checking out the area to satisfy their curiosity.
Physical discomfort can cause a dog to lay down on walks because walking isn’t comfortable for them. This can be caused by a wide range of medical issues, including arthritis and injured paws. It’s more likely to occur in older dogs, but puppies aren’t immune either. Puppies can experience growing pains because their body is developing quickly.
Your dog might also lay down because it’s hot. Does your dog stop in an area with shade on a hot day? They likely want to beat the heat.
There’s an Interesting Person
Some dogs love meeting new people or greeting old friends. If you pass a neighbor on the street, they may lay down and refuse to budge until they’ve completed their social interaction.
Tiredness/Not Wanting to Walk
Sometimes a dog is simply dog tired. Even the most active dog runs out of energy, eventually. Your dog might be exhausted from a previous play session. Some dogs just aren’t that interested in exercise, and would prefer to remain curled up on the couch. If your dog isn’t naturally active, they may just not want to walk.
How to stop my dog from laying down during walks?
Getting your dog to stop laying down on walks is easier if you can determine the cause of the behavior. Even if you can’t identify the cause, there are some things you can do to keep your dog walking.
When to Use Treats or Attention
If your dog is laying down because they are nervous or overwhelmed, the best thing to do is comfort them. You’ll need to be reasonably sure this is the reason they are laying down, because you’ll want to avoid rewarding the behavior in most cases.
You can use treats to get your dog walking again. However, never give the treat when they are laying down. Show them the treat and reward them once they are walking again. This can help correct the behavior, even when you can’t narrow down the cause.
Change Things Up
If they seem to favor laying down in a particular spot, then vary your walking route. This can also help keep your dog entertained and wanting to know what’s around the next corner.
If they are usually tired or unwilling to walk later in the day, try walking earlier. If they seem affected by heat, walking early or late in the day will ensure the temperatures are lower.
Obviously it’s not wise to walk away and leave your dog unattended. However, you can turn your back and wait for them to rise. This approach might take a little patience, but it avoids rewarding a dog with attention for the behavior. You can even pull out your phone and make a “phone call”. Your dog knows that when you are on the phone, they are not the center of attention. They may give up on laying down and begin walking again when they realize they aren’t winning your affection.
There are also a few commands that are helpful in this situation. “Touch” asks your dog to touch their nose to your hand. It’s useful for many situations, because it directs their attention and proximity to you. If they are laying down, they must get up to perform the command.
“Let’s go” is another useful command. To teach it to your dog, begin by saying it as soon as they begin to walk. Reward them with praise or a treat. Once your dog associates the command with the action, begin using it when you want them to go.
You can also try kneeling. This isn’t a verbal command. Instead, you use a novel position to encourage your dog to walk. Kneel in front of the dog. In most cases, they will instinctively approach, curious about why you are at their level. Begin moving backwards still in a kneeling position. If your dog stops moving forward, come closer and begin the process again. This one works well for anxious dogs, because they are comforted by your presence.
Gently Coax Before They Lay Down
If you keep a close eye on your four legged friend, you may be able to prevent them from laying down with a gentle tug or command. Once your dog has lain down, they are committed. If you catch it when they pause or begin to lower, you can often prevent them from laying down. This also prevents the battle of wills that can occur when your dog has layed down.
What Not to Do
It can be very tempting to pull on your dog’s leash until they submit and begin walking again. However, if you have a stubborn dog, this will likely make the situation worse. It’s better to completely ignore your dog and wait for them to get going again than it is to try to force them.
If you are pressed for time, take a short walk. If you feel rushed you will be quickly frustrated if your dog lays down, which won’t help the situation.
Why does my dog lay down when it sees other dogs?
Dogs have their own methods of communication. Often, a dog laying down when it sees another dog is it’s way of communicating. A dog that has been well socialized will understand this communication well and act accordingly.
In most cases, when a dog lays down when greeting another dog, it’s their way of soliciting play. The cutest form of this is the play bow. The dog will stretch it’s front paws and lower it’s head, with it’s haunches raised. This is the dog’s way of saying it’s friendly and would like to play.
A dog may also lay down completely as a solicitation to play or interact with another dog. Some dogs will lay down and then spring up, running towards their companion. This might seem aggressive, but it’s usually simply excitement.
Fear or Aggression
Fear or aggression are the other common reasons for a dog to lay down when it sees another dogs. A fearful dog will crouch. It’s tail and ears will be low.
A dog can also lay down as a form of aggression. If this is the case, you’ll notice the ears are perked and the eyes are watchful. You’ll also see tense muscles, particularly in the back legs. This is because the dog is prepared to pounce. In some cases, this is simply a dominant posture. In others, a fight is close.
Why does my dog stop and refuse to move during walks?
A dog that lays down for a minute is one thing, but what if your dog stops and refuses to move? This can be concerning and inconvenient.
If your dog suddenly refuses to walk, it’s important to rule out medical issues. Have you noticed limping or uneven gait? Have they been lethargic or having stomach issues? Check their paws for injury. Even if your dog seems fine, it’s a good idea to get a checkup at the vet.
Not all discomfort has a medical cause. Your dog could simply be too hot. If they’ve eaten recently they may be too full. They could also be tired. Some dogs will refuse to move when they are fatigued.
If your dog doesn’t have any obvious medical issues or discomfort, the problem is likely behavioral. Some dogs are simply more stubborn than others. If you’ve tried to pull your dog when they lay down, they may refuse to move in protest. It could also be a desire to control the walk in a dog with a strong personality.