“My dog doesn’t like to go on walks.”

“My dog doesn’t like to go on walks.”

Ever have someone say that to you?

I have. And obviously recently, or I wouldn’t be spurned to write about it.

My response is usually one of two things:

1. Changing the subject. “Right… so I spent an inordinate amount of time last night trying to ace this quiz where you name all the countries in the world in 12 minutes. I swear it’s impossible.”

Sometimes, I just... can't.

Sometimes, I just… can’t.

2. Challenge it. If I’m feeling particularly spry or comfortable or bored, I’ll be up front: “You’re going to have a tough time convincing me that’s true.”

Because when someone says to me that his/her dog “doesn’t like” walks, my bullshit detector sounds pretty loudly.

will smith bs

Barring some sort of medical condition, or mental condition that should be addressed, I don’t think saying your dog “doesn’t like” walks is entirely truthful.

Instead, I think that statement can probably be replaced with one or more of the following more accurate statements.

  • I don’t like walking my dog. People project a lot of things on to their dogs, and I’d say it’s pretty likely that people who think their dogs don’t like walks are just making excuses because they don’t want to walk them. I mean, dogs spend most of their days confined to a house or yard – of course most of them like to get out and explore and spend time with their family! If you don’t like walking your dog, to that I say: TFB. Who obtains custody of a dog these days without realizing they need regular exercise? Exactly – no one who intelligently pondered the decision. Walk your dog!
  • I haven’t shown my dog that walks can be fun. If you don’t like spending time with your dog, they’ll pick up on it. It’s not necessarily the walks they dislike, it’s the owner begrudgingly doing it. Make it fun – for both of you! Go interesting places, play fun games, meet up with friends, enjoy your time outside. Make the best of it, because it’s your responsibility and a key part of their overall health.
  • Walking my dog is hard. Dog walks can be a real challenge if you’re working through some reactivity or anxiety issues with your dog. That is certainly no reason to make up excuses to avoid it, though. Avoiding walks just ignores and compounds the issues, meaning the fewer walks you go on, the tougher they will be. Seek a good trainer for help with this if you need to.
  • My dog doesn’t like walking in this weather. -25°C in the winter is not a condition all dogs like, or are built to tolerate, and that’s fair. But it’s not the walk they don’t like – it’s the wind or the ice. If this is the case, make sure you keep them active in the house until it warms up. Walk time shouldn’t be foregone, but it should be replaced with something else. However, if you’re trying to claim your dog dislikes the when it’s +5°C in February… well, most any dog acclimated to Alberta’s usually unusual weather should be able to handle that. Grab them a sweater and boots if you must. Or schedule walks appropriately – for example, in the summer when Moses and Alma can get uncomfortably hot, we’ll walk late at night when it’s cooler or ensure there are swimming opportunities on our routes. The benefits of regular dog walks outweigh any initial protests you may get. If they’re physically able to do it, you should teach them they can.
  • I don’t like walking in this weather. If your dog is on the same page as you, fine and see above. If you’re like me, and have dogs that thrive in winter, you’re going to need to suck it up and buy yourself some snow pants.
  • I usually take my dog for short walks and the one time I expected him to go on an usually long walk he got tired and sore. I bet he did! Let’s say I suddenly decided to forego the elevator and take the stairs up to my office on the 25th floor. This is not something I usually do and it would certainly leave me tired and sore. Does that mean I’m not physically built to do it? No. If I did it regularly, I’d have the stamina. The situation with the dog isn’t much different; if they’re not used to exercising, then the one time you ask a lot of them is going to be too much. They won’t be conditioned for it. But that is your fault, not theirs. All dogs were bred for active reasons, whether it be giant working breeds or small rat-hunting breeds. Your dog being out of shape is a sign to you that you should fix it – but don’t suddenly amp it up. You’re going to need to slowly increase their walk distances to something every healthy dog should be able to handle (say, an hour or 5km?).
  • I’ve taught my dog I will always carry them around when they ask. Is your dog begging for attention, whining, exhibiting a learned behaviour, or are you carrying them because you actually observe that they are tired and sore?
  • I interrupt my dog to go for walks. Wake them out of a dead sleep? Take away their toy or bone? Sure, in those cases they might not seem stoked to drop what they’re doing to leash up. Observe their behaviour when out on the walk to determine if they like it – are they engaged, relaxed, interacting, wagging their tails? They may not have wanted to go for a walk in that moment, but I’m sure they enjoy it once they’re out there.
  • I don’t know my dog that well. As I mentioned before, what’s not to love about a walk if you’re a dog? It’s a chance to socialize, check out the scenery, exercise, and spend quality time with their owners. It’s possible that any perception that the dog doesn’t like walking is a gross misinterpretation of something else.
  • I don’t know (or – worse – care) how important walks are to my dog’s mental health. Yes, your dog can suffer from what is essentially cabin fever. A lack of exercise and stimulation can result in all sorts of anxious, destructive, and hyperactive behaviours. They will be as bored and frustrated as any person locked in a confined space for days on end.
  • I don’t know how important walks are to my dog’s training and social skills. Does your dog bark a lot? Chew your shoes? Dig in the yard? Race around the house like a maniac? Lunge at other people or dogs on walks? Ignore you when you want them to do something? There’s a reason one of the first questions most trainers ask their clients is “how often do you walk your dog?” Walks won’t necessarily resolve these behaviours, but they sure do shave the rough edges off undesirable behaviours and make training easier. Spending regular time with your dog improves the relationship you have with them and increases how much they pay attention to you. And getting out and experiencing the world – people, dogs, cars, bikes, wildlife, etc. – is essential to a socially well-adjusted dog.
  • I don’t know (or – worse – care) how important walks are to my dog’s physical health. If not for regular walks, how else would the average pet dog get exercise? Exactly. Regular exercise – just like with people – is essential to their overall health. Obviously regular walks will help prevent or cure obesity, but a dog can be a perfectly appropriate weight and still be out of shape if they’re not regularly exercised. Regular walks help with muscle tone, joint issues, heart disease – the same sorts of things regular activity does for me and you. Every breed has conditions they are prone to, but ensuring dogs are generally healthy with a good diet and regular exercise is your best defence to them.
  • I’m lazy. Or neglectful. Or my dog isn’t a priority I want to make time for. Yeah, I said it. It’s very easy to explain away guilt if you put the onus on the dog – “they don’t like walks anyway, so I don’t have to worry about it.” Wrong! Everyone has busy lives, but if you choose to have a dog, you’ve also chosen the affiliated responsibilities. This should surprise no one. But there are lots of options out there to help if you need it: dog walkers, doggy day cares, several short walks per day, treadmills, or having the whole family pitch in with dog responsibilities.

With all of these potentially truthful explanations (did I miss any?), I find it pretty hard to believe someone’s dog “doesn’t like” going for walks.

Feel free to prove me wrong.

Moses and Alma definitely enjoy walks

Moses and Alma definitely enjoy walks

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About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

37 Responses to “My dog doesn’t like to go on walks.”

  1. kimberlygauthier says:

    I can’t believe anyone would ever say that. Our dogs LOVE to go for walks. Earlier today, I was surrounded by sleeping, snoring dogs – then I said “let’s go outside” they were at the door in record time, running, playing fetch, walking on the trails – we had a blast. Now they’re all sleeping again 🙂

  2. I have someone ask what to do with her dogs who don’t like to go for walks before. Some of your bullet points may have helped her 😉 Donna always wants to go for walks. Always! Always! Always! Hahahaha!

  3. 2browndawgs says:

    Our dogs like walks, although they don’t get a lot of them since we are always busy with something else. 🙂 Usually they get them in the dead of winter when there is absolutely nothing else going on.

  4. Jana Rade says:

    All our dogs ALWAYS wanted to go on walks. And wanted is an understatement. Even when they were sick or hurt. For Jasmine it would take having been near death to voluntarily pass on going for her walk. And I mean that literally.

    Now, Roxy wouldn’t set a foot outside the door if there were fireworks or thunderstorm, and I know dogs who wouldn’t set a food outside the door if it was snowing, blowing, raining, or even drizzling.

    I know one dog who doesn’t really want to go on walks, he’s very obese and generally unhappy. The owner does walk him every day but the dog clearly doesn’t want to be there.

    I imagine there MIGHT be dogs who are couch potatoes and would rather hang around the house than get outside. But I do believe this is “taught” or related to obesity or other health issues.

  5. All 3 of my girls love our walks — even if it’s just around the yard a few dozen times. Of course, with Ducky it’s more like a few sets of zoomies than a walk.
    About the only time they don’t like to be outside is during a thunderstorm — and with all the trees in our yard I don’t blame them — or when someone’s shooting off fireworks. I admit it, there are days when I just don’t feel like getting my fat, lazy a$$ out of my chair. Especially to drive 20 minutes in each direction to walk for 30-40 minutes total.

  6. Jessica says:

    Silas does not like to go for walks.

    There. I said it.

    BUT, that’s “walks” in the conventional sense. Silas would rather die than for me to lace up my shoes, walk him out the front door, and do a jaunt around our city block. The behaviorist had me walk him out of her office, and by the time we were out of the parking lot and five feet down the sidewalk, he had ground his nails almost to the quick.

    I actually struggle a lot with balancing his level of misery otherwise. He does love the park, as long as I stick with parks he isn’t scared of. He hates everything about getting there, though. He doesn’t like having his harness put on. He doesn’t like getting in the car. He doesn’t like being in the parking lot, which we have to cross to get into the park. He doesn’t like to be petted, so we have to dodge people. He panics if we go a different way than he’s used to. He’s anxious if it’s too windy. But, the 20 or 30 minutes he wants to walk? He likes that. Does he like it more than he’s miserable? I don’t know.

    Sadly, I do know how good walks are for him, mentally and emotionally, but it just makes me feel worse.

    Silas is crazy, though, which you excluded at the beginning of your list.

    • ThatJenK says:

      Haha – yes, Silas is a special case and definitely an exemption. And there’s no question you go to well-above-average lengths to make sure he’s exercised and (appropriately) mentally stimulated. But he’s adorable, so there’s that!

  7. Poor Silas. As a crazy-dog owner (but with different issues) I feel for them! But yes, a agree – too old, too cold, too crazy (with a wink to Silas) are all good excuses. Too lazy is not!

  8. lexy3587 says:

    Such a true post – and I’ve definitely heard the ‘my dog doesn’t like’ argument before. My family jokes that Gwynn doesn’t like walks in the rain (or going out to do his business in the rain), but what that actually translates to is that his hair goes all saggy, and gives him this pathetic miserable saggy-moustached expression, even when he’s grinning and wagging his limp-haired-rat-tail when we get back to the house. Though he actually doesn’t like umbrellas, so I come back looking pretty miserable and droopy myself 😛

  9. Jodi says:

    I love walking with my dogs, one of the things I’ve really missed since Sampson hurt his leg. In fact, I was just telling myself that I need to get Delilah out and start getting back into shape. 🙂 My sister complains about her little dog because he barks at everything he sees out the window. I told her to take him out and walk him and maybe he won’t be so scared. I think people who don’t walk their dogs are really missing out on something.

  10. Devon says:

    I only read a paragraph and my bullshit detector went off. You have no idea what you are talking about better not read o. And waste my precious time on ignorant drivel.

  11. Paul says:

    I also agree that you have no clue what your talking about. My Dog HATES to leave the property and she fights me the whole way. I force her to go and she will only get so far before she is whining and crying and dragging me back to the house.

    This is a Bull Shit blog. Maybe you should get your head out of your ass before you generalize!

  12. Mara says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m the person who would say “My dog doesn’t like to walk,” because recently I’ve still been struggling with my depression, and instead of taking her for full walks, I’d opt out and let her play or run outside in the backyard, and let her do her business there. But reading through the bullet points made me realize that I’m truly not doing enough for my dog. At first I got angry, like the two commenters above me, but it takes something like this to slap you in the face and say, “Stop making excuses and take some responsibility!”

    So starting today I’m going to try to be the best owner I can for my dog, and it took some tough words for me to start getting my ass in gear. Thank you, stranger!

  13. James says:

    My dog hates going outside full stop!! Infact it’s that bad she won’t even walk, as soon as I take her outside ‘by having to carry her out of the house… And a gold retriever is not light weight! Her tail goes immediately under she wees herself, normally over me cause I’ve taken her past the front door. Ive tried everything whilst being outside with her, taken her favourite treats even cooked a fresh chicken and steak but she won’t take anything!! , she just shakes, We Have tried absolutely everything but nothing works. we’ve had her from a 10 weeks old, we found out she has never been with her mother, but I can’t see why this would be s reason she didn’t walk, we met her sister at the pet shop and she would so exciteable, complete opposite to our dog! We’ve had a dog trainers but none of them age been able to help they haven’t seen it before! Anothe thing about her is that She doesn’t like other people she would never hurt anyone but won’t even walk around the living room if someone she doesn’t know comes into the house! Help advise tips would be great she’s now 9 months old! And we got a dog to enhance our ur lives go for walks etc, and it’s done the complete opposite we now spend more time in then house they what we ever did before!

  14. Jennifer Mahony says:

    Hi! I know this is an old post but Ive only just found it :p
    Im a dog walker and have been for a year and a half now. All the dogs I walk LOVE being out with me, they have so much fun, they tire themselves out by running back and forth and back and forth in the mud and I just watch them and think “these dogs will sleep tonight!”
    However… I walk 2 female jack russells (3 + 5) from the same home. It isnt a routine we have, she rings me when Im needed and Im not sure if they get walked any other times than the once or twice a week that I take them. When I turn up at the house to collect them they curl up on the sofa with their heads low, I put on their leads and literally have to drag them out of the door to put them in the car. They bark and growl at the other dogs and when we get to where we’re walking I have to drag them out of the car and for the next hour I have to drag them around the walk. It isnt until we head back to the car that they both perk up and start pulling ME back to the car wanting to get home, all the while theyre running away from the other dogs and snapping and jumping if they come to play.

    I agree if dogs are raised and trained correctly they will be happy and healthy and will love their walks! But there are instances where, like these two, a dog has been adoped and kept in the house 24/7, unsocialised, babied and spoilt and when it comes to going to get some exercise and socialise with other dogs, if theyve never done it before, they just wont enjoy it simply because its not the norm and it frightens them.

    Always remember to socialise, exercise and do not baby your dog, otherwise that is a deadly cocktail of anxiety, fear and insecurity!

  15. Ellie says:

    While most dogs who “don’t like walks” might be explained by this, I actually DO have a dog who hates walks (as well as all things outside) which is actually pretty frustrating for me. I have two dogs, Jeeves and Madelynn, Jeeves loves walks, Madelynn doesn’t. we go walking together, we go running, we hike, we go to the lake and parks and my dogs are always included even when I go on vacation (I can’t have kids, so these two are the closest beings I have to that) Jeeves loves all the trips, he loves runs and walks and car rides, but with Madelynn, the moment we walk past the mailbox she attempts to lay down and I have to literally drag her the rest of the way. She’s the only dog I’ve ever had that hides when I pull the leashes out. She also cries in car rides, even though she’s been going in cars on an almost daily basis since she was a pup. When I first noticed her aversion to going outside (she won’t play outside either, she’ll go potty them bolt to the door) I took her to the vet thinking something was wrong, but she came back perfectly healthy. I’ve even tried training get to play outside on go on walks for treats, but treats were apparently not worth it to her, and I’ve done everything else I could think of to try to convince her that the outside was fun (as I’m an outdoor enthusiast) but she really does seem to hate it. So those kinds of dogs do exist, just incredibly rarely.

  16. Patricia says:

    When I first got my dog (cockapoo) she never liked being outside. I always encouraged her to play outside and she would for about 10 minutes then want to go inside. Anytime anyone in my family went to take her for a walk she would start pulling to go back to the house. She’s 5 now and still will not go for walks and she is a bit overweight. She’s on a diet from her doctor but I desperately want her to walk. She has some anxiety issues and I was hoping someone would have some tips to help me get her to walk.

  17. startmotor says:

    thanks for this article. my dog does not like to go on walks when i am in a bad mood (which i am a lot cause of recent reasons), i see that now. guess i tjberkhof@gmail.com have to make in more fun.

  18. Lauren says:

    What a silly, ignorant post. A lot of assumptions made with a very condescending attitude. Dogs who don’t like walks (because as a veterinary nurse I can tell you yes, that is a thing!) are influenced by a variety of complex reasons. Trying to ‘shame’ owners with such generalised, rude assumptions is just plain ignorant. Snobbery at its finest.

    • ThatJenK says:

      Feel better now?

      • Laughing out loud says:

        I’m going to assume you are the writer of this blog… People are entitled to their own opinions. You’re quite defensive. and clearly extremely judgemental toward any other opinions but your own. Maybe you should get out and socialize YOURSELF a bit more. Clearly you need it more than your dog.

        • ThatJenK says:

          I bet you’re fun at parties.

          Perhaps you’re new to how blogging works – you’re not forced to read it. And this post is 2 years old on a blog that’s been dead for over a year.

          Good use of energy, though. /s

          • Mari says:

            It may be 2 years old, but unfortunately its still one of the top searches that comes up when you google “dog doesn’t like going for walks”. I read it cuz I assumed it would have some helpful advice. It didn’t. Everything Lauren said was spot on.

  19. Heather says:

    My dog hates going on walks. He just runs around in tight circles, lies down and cries and jumps on me. I try take him out all the time and he pulls me to go back to the house. I’ve tried coaxing him with treats and talking in a nice voice to put him and ease but he doesn’t seem to feel at ease outside. Fine while in the garden, but step outside that barrier and he goes all funny.

  20. Scott says:

    Got two rescue pups from the same litter. One, starts to follow me when i get home from work as soon as i go pt on my walking shoes, follows me to grab a selection of poop bags, I grab the leash, she follows me to the door sits and waits for me to hook her up and go. Her brother goes and climbs on my wifes lap and whines.

    One most definitely wants to walk the other not so much. Still trying to figure it out.

  21. Zoe Turner says:

    So my dog an entier male border collie used to love going for walks everyday, he is only 4 years old he has been with me since the day he was born. Last year we had to have him mum (my first dog) put to sleep which broke my heart, since then he has changed drastically he growls at me if I get too comfortable with him, he avoids me when he can. When I get him ready for a walk he gets all excited but then the second we walk out the door his tail goes between his legs and he just sort of sulks all the way to the park he still runs around and chases his ball when we get there but then as soon as the lead goes back on he goes back to a sulking boy, this is not like him. He was a complete mummies boy before this happened and would never dream of growling at me. It was hard enough losing one dog but it feels like I have lost them both. What have I done wrong to change him so dramatically? Please help

  22. V stillwell says:

    I am a dog trainer and You obviously are very ignorant if you believe all you have written about walking dogs and it’s just owner laziness that is the problem!! Some dogs are scared to leave the property where they feel safe (rescue dogs, puppies etc!!) . To venture out meeting other dogs seeing buses and cars for the first time or children playing or hear loud bangs . It’s alot to take in and patience and time is all it takes. Let your dog get used to its own environment and be comfortable. Then expand your area but be close to home. Let them explore mark there territory. Make it fun take some toys and treats for when they do something good on the walk. Once they get used to there surrounding area they will become more independent. Some dogs don’t just go and play. Just like some children will go to a party there’s lots going on and they feel a bit scared and won’t leave there mothers side but after a while they start to join in and by the end of the party you can’t get them to leave. 😀 young pups are generally uncomfortable with leads and collars bare this in mind don’t drag them this will only make things worse let them have the lead and play with it. When walking don’t hold it let them wander they won’t go far there puppies and will soon be back at your side if you go to far away. Please don’t be disheartened by this man’s comments he clearly has no idea 😛

    • ThatJenK says:

      You might be surprised (disappointed?) to see we agree – revisit my second and third points about walking needing to be fun, slowly built up, and ask for training if needed. As a trainer, you likely (I hope?) agree with later points about walking being key to physical and mental health (for dogs, but people benefit too).
      Asking owners to recognize and take responsibility for their dogs and the behaviours they as owners support and encourage is realistic, and a little owner introspection would do some dogs a lot of good.
      Seems to me like a lot of the angry commenters here don’t read past the opening paragraphs before commenting.
      Ahh today’s headline-only-then-react culture….

  23. Michael says:

    My uncle left his dog to his brother I don’t like the dog for the pissing she does in the house I got her to stop pissing on the carpet an only do it on the hard floor now I would love it if she would walk with me outside and not stop wanting to pull back to go back inside if my dad don’t want to walk her because it’s cold out I do walk her outside but she don’t like me because I’m a cat guy

    I think she either smells my cats sent on me or she just doesn’t like me she wont enter my room were all my cats are I was in the room she likes to piss in on the hard floor and she saw me then walked back in the other room like how some dogs don’t like walking past cats.

    Well i walk her silly butt she pulls back most the time she should be walking I wish dogs had enough brains to shit in a litter box and piss so what do you have to say to me I’m not the owner of the dog I own cats I wasn’t going to read all of your stuff you wrote because I don’t own the dog now if it was more about cats I would have read it all anyhow she likes it when dad walks her then she’ll walk and pull leading the way when he walks her I won’t allow her to pull me but she won’t anyways she pulls back not willing to walk I say come on to her then she’ll walk I’m just not no dog person so if I’m doing something wrong or not maybe you’ll know.

  24. Elaine says:

    I disagree…. I’ve had dogs all my life and I love going on dog walks. I have currently have four dogs and one of them just doesn’t like going out. She’ll get so far then refuse to go any further until I reluctantly have to turn back and go home. I’ve tried everything, different routes, driving her to the beach etc but it really seems like she prefers being at home. Other than that, she is a really happy dog and gets plenty of exercise playing in the garden. I still try to take her on a walk every day though and will continue to persevere.

  25. Janet Smith says:

    I am hoping for some help…. I have a 2 year old altered male with one under delveloped eye (no vision) and one eye that has a funny pupil (unknown vision but some) Very common birth defects as double Merles. He use to love to go for walks with his two doodle sisters, About 2 months ago he has decided he does not want to go on any walks or even leave the driveway for that matter. He will simple just lye down and not move. if we turn around he will take off running to go home. Not that we ever make it far from home anymore. If I force him to walk it would involve dragging him. I have tried to bribe him with treats, have bought Rex Specs thinking it was the light and shadows that are bothering him but nothing is working. Hoping for some ideas or thoughts as to why he has had this sudden change.

  26. I am a new-ish pet sitter/dog walker, and I have a regular mid-day appointment with a dog who does not like to walk. Her human contacted me because she couldn’t keep a dog walker because they became frustrated that the dog was so resistant to walking. Since taking the assignment on, I can say with confidence that yes…there is at least one dog in the world who doesn’t like to walk.

    She’s not fearful, and she’s happy to go out and do her business and take a quick spin around the block (or more usually, half a block). She also likes to stop and sniff a lot. But then she starts trying to turn towards home, and it takes treat after treat after treat to get her to keep going further.

    I have adopted a “you’re the boss” attitude on most days, meaning I let her dictate the duration and pace of the walk, and if it ends up being short, we go back to the house and play ball inside.
    Today her male human told me that you just have to pull on her sometimes, because she’ll take forever doing nothing but sniffing and trying to turn back towards the house. I don’t like the idea of pulling on her…I want to let her be her.

    I would love the author’s feedback on what I, her humans, and every other dog walker they’ve had are doing wrong.

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