You may think your dog is as stubborn as a mule if he refuses to be leashed, but there are likely other dynamics at play. These dogs are certainly suspect until they are marked as stubborn or lazy. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to when this behavior occurs in order to gain some useful pointers that can provide valuable assistance in the problem-solving process.
Does your dog stop on walks? Sometimes, behind a dog labeled as stubborn, there is a dog who is in pain. Dogs can suffer from a variety of illnesses that can make us cringe (if we stand up to them) and make a doctor’s appointment to stop all the pain.
Dogs, on the other hand, are very stoic creatures that depend on us humans. Deprived of the gift of sound, they can only instinctively communicate their pain in a way that prevents them from exacerbating the situation.
Barking and whimpering usually occur only in cases of sudden, acute pain when a dog steps on a nail or piece of glass. Many dogs suffer pain without any vocalization and only subtle behavioral changes occur, such as a slight change in gait or slowing down.
Thus, dogs that refuse to walk on a leash may suffer from joint pain, back pain, or other pain exacerbated by exercise (e.g., pain from broken nails or paw pad injuries).
Affected dogs will often stop suddenly while walking and look at their owner as if asking for help, and they may even sit or lie down.
If your dog is a puppy or you have just adopted a new dog from a shelter with an unknown history, the reluctance to walk may be caused by wearing a collar and leash or wearing a harness.
Some dogs can be frightened by the feeling of pressure from wearing a collar or wearing a harness with a leash. Pulling them will trigger the oppositional reflex, causing them to slam on the brakes or pull in the opposite direction.
The discovery of the oppositional reflex (also known as the free reflex) is credited to Ivan Pavlov, the Russian scientist who discovered the classical conditioned reflex. In his research, Pavlov found that dogs have difficulty staying quiet and still when they are restrained on a shelf.
Thus, unless otherwise taught, puppies and dogs naturally tend to instinctively pull away when pushed, pulled, or restrained. Overcoming this resistance requires some gradual adjustments to the walking device and some training that focuses on teaching the dog how to “yield” to the oppositional reflex.
How to pick a leash to pull
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Some puppies or dogs may be reluctant to walk on certain surfaces. The next time your dog stops and refuses to walk, be aware of where this behavior occurs.
Some dogs don’t like to walk on wet grass, others may be afraid to walk down a flight of stairs, or they may be afraid to walk over some steps.
In some cases, dogs that feel neglected by their owners or dogs that generally like to interact with their owners may do anything for some interactions.
Therefore, the dog may stop walking because when he does, the owner will eventually stop talking on the phone or stop looking around and pay attention to the dog.
The small interaction of the owner looking at the dog, talking to the dog and maybe even pulling on the leash may be enough to make these dogs repeat the behavior over and over again when they feel the need.
Want to learn more?
Ask the dog gear experts, we’ve put together our Ultimate Guide to Dog Leashes, Leads and Cords to teach you everything you need to know about leashes, and our Dog Mouth Buying Guide contains all the information you need to buy a quality muzzle. If you’re buying a new collar, read our guide on choosing a heavy-duty leather dog collar!
Now you know
As seen, dogs may have several good reasons as to why they refuse to walk on a leash. Therefore, it is very helpful to identify the root cause so you know what angle to take to fix the problem. If your dog refuses to walk on a leash, here are some tips