What to Do When You Dog Doesn’t Like to Go for Walks

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The fastest way to generate excitement in my household is to head to the kitchen drawer where I keep the poop bags. Just opening the drawer sends my two dogs into a frantic tizzy as we both anticipate a nice long walk with poop-filled bags. As I reach for their harnesses and strap them in, they can barely contain their excitement which includes silly wriggles and wagging tails. We step onto the porch and they sit on command – panting excitedly.

Yet about 50 feet in, they lose both steam and interest and I find myself walking with two dogs who are dawdling well behind, barely interested in keeping up. If they were kids, I’ve no doubt I’d be listening to the classic “are we there yet”?

Now, I know its not down to age, hot temperatures, icy sidewalks, or joints that ache from too much weight because this doesn’t happen at a leash-free park. In fact, when they see another dog while we’re out walking, they perk right up and trot along like show ponies. My frustration is that when we walk at a snail’s pace, it doesn’t feel like they’re getting the right measure of exercise from our outings. Nor are they engaging in a lot of the interesting sights and scents around them. They’re simply indulging me.

So, what’s the solution to keeping my dogs enthused about our walks – at least to the extent that they’ll actually motor along beside me? It seems to be down to keeping these excursions interesting for Rover. And switching it up to keep your dog on his toes is actually easier than you might think. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Just like us, dogs get bored of the same old, same old. If you have a standard route (I do), and your dog seems to shut down as you turn to head down the usual street, try taking a different route. Either at the start of the walk, or part way through. New sights, sounds, scents are sure to re-engage him.
  2. Why not let your dog pick the route. I’ve often started out and noticed my dog instantly turns in a certain direction before I redirect him. Why not follow him and allow him to lead you along his preferred walking path? And don’t be surprised if you end up at a park.
  3. If you walk at a slower pace, try changing it up to a brisk walk or slow jog for a short distance, then take it back to a strolling speed. It makes it more interesting for your pooch, ensures he gets in a little extra cardio, and can make even a short walk more beneficial.
  4. Bring small treats along in your pocket. Either establish a stop-sit destination where your pooch gets a treat (and can get excited as you near this special spot), or try scattering them in a grassy area so he can play search and rescue for them. If he needs a little extra training, working in a sit, stay, give-a-paw with a tasty reward when done well, is certain to make you his favorite walking partner.
  5. If your dog is like one of mine, traffic makes him so anxious that I ultimately have to pick him up and hold him when we stand waiting at a cross walk with heavy traffic. If that’s your pooch too, fear may be what’s influencing his hesitation to hit the bricks with you. Ensure walks are through quiet neighborhoods or drive to a park and walk there. Which is what I now do.
  6. Invite a friend and their dog to join you on your walk. It makes it more interesting for you, it provides an important opportunity for your pooch to socialize, and you may even pick up some new routes to explore.
  7. When at the leash-free park, and no other dogs are within smelling distance, bring our a few treats and scatter them around for your pooch to “find”.
  8. Use your dog walking time to interact and bond with your best buddy. Leave the phone at home and give your pet your full attention. Seriously, its just 30 to 45 minutes out of your day. You don’t need to hold a full conversation with him, just periodically talk to him to let him know what a good boy (or gal) he is. Those few words will surely get his tail wagging as he strolls alongside his favorite person.