Dogs are supposed to enjoy walks. The stereotypical dog seems always ready to go out for a stroll, so why do dogs sit down in the middle of the walk? It can be quite frustrating to stop and wait for your dog to get going again, and just as perplexing. 

Why does my dog sit during walks?

You are strolling down the street with your dog. Things are going well, and then they sit down. There are many reasons why dogs sit down on walks. Pinpointing the cause can help provide the solution. 

Fatigue

Some dogs are just naturally less energetic than others, and even the most energetic dog will get tired eventually. If your dog seems to tire easily, consider changing the time of day when you walk. If you walk in the evening, your dog may be tired from playing during the day. If your dog wakes up full of energy, consider a morning walk. 

Don’t attempt to push your dog too far past their comfortable activity level. Exercise is important, but so is listening to your dogs cues. 

Pain or Illness

Pain or illness can cause your dog to sit down during walks. You may notice your dog has an uneven gait, limp, or whines when walking. However, some dogs are masters at not showing pain, so if you suspect a physical problem a check-up is in order. 

It’s common for older dogs to get arthritis, but young dogs can suffer from it too. There’s also a chance that the pain is caused by an injury that needs to be treated. 

In addition to pain, it’s possible that your dog just doesn’t feel well. If they aren’t behaving normally or show signs of illness, make an appointment with the vet. 

Memories

They say elephants never forget, but neither do dogs. A dog can retain vivid memories of a specific place. They may have discovered a bone or been chased away by a lawnmower. Positive memories may make your dog sit to see if something great will happen again. Scary memories may make your dog anxious and afraid to continue walking. 

Distraction

Dogs are easily distractible. If your dog spots something interesting on the ground, he may be inclined to sit down and give it a closer look. This can be an insect, ball, or even the scent of another animal. If this is the reason, you’ll notice your dog is alert and excited. Ears will usually be up and forward, and it will concentrate on the spot of interest intently. 

Boredom

Yes, dogs can get bored. If you walk the same route each day, your dog may be sitting down in protest. In fact, it may be the only way to get any interesting action on their walk. Use your dog’s natural curiosity to your advantage and vary your walking route, so they will be excited to see what’s around the next corner. 

Attention

Some dogs will do just about anything for attention. They may dramatically sit during a walk just so you will coax them to walk again. The problem is, the more you coax them, the more you reinforce the behavior. What could have first occurred for another reason can easily continued because you are unintentionally reinforcing the behavior. 

Overheated

Dogs can become overheated just as a person can. When they get too hot, they will sit down to cool off and catch their breath. If the weather is hot or you notice your dog panting hard, this is likely the reason they are sitting down. 

Anxiety

Some dogs are prone to anxiety. There are lots of sights, smells, and sounds outside your home. These can cause some dogs to become nervous or anxious. They may sit down out of fear or simply being overwhelmed by everything going on around them. 

Why does my dog suddenly sit down?

It can be disconcerting when your dog sits down suddenly. They may plop their butt down like their body just can’t hold it up anymore, which can lead you to worry. The good news is most of the reasons why dogs suddenly sit down are not that serious. However, it should still be taken seriously. 

Irritation and Parasites

If your dog has worms or fleas, they can experience discomfort around their butt. This can cause them to sit down in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. Some types of worms will be visible in poop. A dog with worms may also drag his butt across the floor to scratch the itch. If your dog has fleas, you’ll see frequent scratching and biting as well. 

These parasites aren’t the only potential source of irritation. Skin irritation from a skin allergy or recent grooming can also irritate the area. Your dog may sit down or rub their butt on the ground to find relief. If your dog is suddenly sitting down, check their feces, skin around their butt, and watch for signs of fleas. 

Enlarged Anal Glands

Dogs have a gland on either side of their anus. These glands give each dog it’s signature scent which combines with poop. This is the doggie version of a business card, and some dogs just love passing them out. These glands can get impacted for various reasons. The secretions can’t be expressed, and the glands swell. They also become susceptible to infection and abcess if not treated. 

Signs of swollen anal glands include your dog sitting and doing the butt scoot boogie. They will excessively lick the area as well. The glands may be visibly swollen. Difficulty pooping, bloody stool, and pus from the glands are also signs. You can express the anal glands yourself. If you aren’t comfortable doing so, you can have your vet or groomer perform the procedure. 

Medication Side Effects

Your dog could be sitting down due to a medication side effect. Effects of some medications can include fatigue and dizziness, which can cause your canine to take a seat. Some newer flea medications can cause a dog to be jittery and anxious and behave abnormally, which can also lead to random sitting. If you’ve recently gave your dog a new medication orally or topically, this could be the culprit. 

Nervous System Dysfunction 

Nervous system dysfunction is one of the more alarming reasons your dog may sit down suddenly. If their nervous system isn’t functioning properly, parts of the body may become weak. They may have difficulty controlling some parts of their body as well. The nerves that control the legs may give out, which causes the dog to sit down forcefully. 

Joint or Structural Issues

Joint pain can make it difficult for a dog to sit down gently. Arthritis can cause swelling and stiffness in addition to pain. This makes a graceful move difficult. It may also cause your dog to sit down frequently to find some relief from the pain. Structural issues can also cause your dog to seem to give way when it sits. Injuries or structural misalignment in the vertebrae, shoulders, or hips can be the cause. 

Fatigue or Laziness

As we saw earlier, some dogs tire easily, and some are just plain lazy. Your dog may be sitting abruptly simply because it is easier than a controlled sit. Flopping down seems to be a part of some dog’s personalities. 

Why does my dog stop and refuse to walk?

Your dog stopping and refusing to walk can also be concerning. There are several potential reasons, ranging from pain to simply wanting attention. 

Pain or Illness 

This should be ruled out before you move on to other possible causes. If there are any signs of pain or illness, get your doggy a check up as soon as possible. Don’t push them to walk if you suspect they aren’t feeling well. 

Memories or Fear

Fearful memories can cause your dog to stop right in its tracks. If it’s experienced a traumatic event in the area where it stops walking, this is likely the reason why. Dogs can be frozen in fear just as a human can. 

Stubborness

Some dogs are simply stubborn. It could  be that they have decided the walk is finished. They could want to prolong the walk and use stopping as a means of doing so. They may be objecting to the route you chose to take, because they wanted to go in a different direction. 

Attention

Again, some dogs just want attention. If they find that stopping during the walk is a way to gain attention, you can have quite a battle on your hands. 

Thirst

If your dog is very thirsty, they may stop and refuse to go farther until they have had some water. Dogs are often better at self care than humans, and they can stop simply because they know their bodies have reached a limit. Be sure your dog has water, especially on long walks or a hot day. 

Exercise Intolerance

Exercise intolerance is sometimes mistaken for “laziness” by the owner. Some dogs simply don’t want to exercise, and would prefer to sit around the house all day long. However, exercise intolerance is a medical issue. The dog can become wobbly and collapse. In milder cases, the dog doesn’t have much interest or capacity for physical activity. Exercise intolerance can be caused by serious medical conditons, including anemia, diabetes, heart disease, and pulmonary disease. 

How do I stop my dog from sitting on walks?

Now that you know why your dog sits down during walks, the next question is how do you stop it? There are several options, depending on why your dog is sitting in the first place. 

Change up the Route

If your dog is bored or has strong memories associated with an area, changing the route may be all that you need to do. You can also consider changing when you walk them. If fatigue seems to be an issue, changing the timing and length of walks should be helpful. You may want to do two shorter walks during the morning and evening instead of one longer walk. 

Sit With the Dog

If you are convinced anxiety or fear is the source of your dog’s hesitation, try sitting with them until they settle down. Gentle pets and soothing words can help. Then, give them gentle encouragement to begin walking again. Try varying the route or time of day so there’s less stimuli. 

Ignore the Dog Until It Begins Walking Again

If your dog seems to be sitting for attention or a desire for control, simply ignoring them can work wonders. This is a test of wills, so you will need to have patience. Just turn your back on them and wait for them to get moving again. Don’t attempt this at a time when you are in a hurry. In fact, don’t walk your dog when you are pressed for time, or take a shorter route. Frustration can make the situation more difficult. 

Treat Any Physical Issues

Of course, if there’s a physical problem with your dog, it should be addressed. If your dog suddenly begins sitting on walks, it’s a good idea to make a vet appointment. If a physical issue isn’t the cause, at least it has been ruled out, and you can move on to other methods. 

Teach  “Let’s Go” Command

To teach the “Let’s Go” command, start by saying “Let’s Go” as soon as your dog starts moving. Give them a treat after the command. Once your dog associates the command with the action, begin saying it to prompt them to start moving, and give a treat only when they start to walk. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.