Dog Refuses to Walk in Certain Directions [What’s Up?]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Our dogs are known for their loyalty, affection, and playfulness, and taking them out for a walk is an excellent way to bond with them, keep them healthy, and stimulate their minds.

However, it can be really confusing to us when we see our dog suddenly refuse to walk in a particular direction.

A number of reasons can cause this behavior, for example, a fear response, being bored with the route, or being distracted by something else more interesting. Depending on the situation, there are ways to help it move along though.

In this post, I will share more about the reasons why your dog might choose not to walk in a certain direction and the solutions you can take.

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Dear Dog Owner

8 Reasons Why Your Dog Refuses to Walk in Certain Directions

Reasons Why Your Dog Refuses to Walk in Certain Directions

1. Fear Response

Your dog has sensitive senses. He becomes anxious or scared when he senses unusual stimuli.

Loud noises and intimidating animals or people are some of the things that set your dog off his bearings.

Your doggy’s fear is sometimes the reason why he just stops on their track and refuses to walk in certain directions.

2. Increasing the Duration of the Walk

Dogs are really smart pets, ya know?

Since most dogs enjoy being outside, they think of excuses to lengthen their time outdoors.

And sometimes, to increase the duration of the walk, dogs will refuse to walk in certain directions, especially if they know that way is home.

They’ll just sit on the ground and as a fur parent, you’ll have no choice but to wait until your doggy starts walking again.

3. Bored With the Route

Dogs love exploring. 

If you’ve been traversing the same route, again and again, each time you take your dog for a walk, it will get bored easily.

He already knows the direction you’ll be taking him. He has already sniffed and explored that area. 

Out of boredom, and to avoid going the same route again, he might just refuse to walk in that direction again.

What should you do if your dog refuses to pee while traveling?

4. Negative Associations

Have you ever considered that perhaps the direction you are making your dog walk reminds him of bad memories?

Your dog might have had an experience of that direction being too slippery or rough. Or maybe it is such a busy street that causes too much stress to your dog.

These negative things will definitely curb your dog’s enthusiasm to continue walking in certain directions.

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5. May Have Smelled Something It’s Interested in

Your dogs might have smelled something that caught their attention and they just don’t wanna leave yet for another direction.

It could be someone having a BBQ in the backyard or it could be a female dog in heat.

Smelling something interesting will make your dogs wanna stay where they are to explore the area more before going to a different place.  

6. Health Issues

There could be a chance that the reason why your dog is refusing to walk in a certain direction is that he is experiencing health issues.

Health issues that can cause your dog to stop walking include arthritis, heart disease, and respiratory problems.

7. Exhausted

As much as your dog loves being outside, he can still feel exhausted.

If it had had a long day, chances are your efforts to keep him moving will be in vain.

8. Separation Anxiety

Dog parents usually gush over how adorable their clingy dogs are.

However, clingy dogs (like Chihuahuas) often develop separation anxiety that can be unbearable for them during a walk, and this is especially so when you are not the one walking it.

If your dog has separation anxiety, he will overthink that walking in a certain direction will make him lose you. 

In your poor doggy’s mind, refusing to walk in certain directions will save him from getting separated from you.

Learn: What to do about your neighbor’s dog destroying your fence

What to Do to Help Your Dog Move Along?

What to Do if your dog refuses to walk in a certain direction

Take a While to Wait

Patience is a virtue! 

Having a dog requires tons of patience. When your dog isn’t too forthcoming during your walks, just wait for a while. 

He’ll eventually find it in himself that the new direction might as well be exciting to explore.

Proper Leash Training

Proper leash training helps create this illusion in your dog’s mind that you are the leader and he needs to follow your commands.

So during a walk, he will take your commands more seriously including going in certain directions that he’ll usually refuse to go to.

Carry Your Dog

Say you’ve already exhausted your resources but your dog still refuses to walk. 

Well, throw that doggy in your arms and carry him like a baby that he is to wherever you wish him to go!

If your dog is bigger and carrying him in your arms won’t be possible, a pet stroller will be helpful!

Using Positive Reinforcement

Choose a treat that your dog loves, then walk him in the direction you want. If he follows you, give him some well-deserved treat.

If your dog refuses to budge, have patience and wait for him to move again.

Shower your dog with affection and treats each time he follows.

Hire a Professional Dog Trainer

A professional dog trainer will deliver the skill, experience, and understanding needed to train your dog effectively.

Once your dog undergoes training, he will be more compliant to follow your commands including going in certain directions.

Dog Walking Tools That Can Help You

Collars and Leashes

Collars and leashes are essential for walking your dog.

This combo gives you a chance for a safe and secure way to control your dog’s movement during a walk.

A well-fitted collar and leash let you keep your dog closer to you to prevent him from running off.


If your doggy has respiratory problems, it’s best to secure him with a harness instead of a collar.

If your dog pulls during a walk, he might choke on a collar so a harness is a much better option.

Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes are long and retractable thin cords that will let your dog explore more freely without you losing control over him.

You don’t give up control too as it comes with a quick brake and lock system.

This is one of the go-to tools for leash training.

Treat Pouches

Treat pouches allow you to bring treats while walking your dog in case he needs some positive reinforcement.

These pouches can easily be attached to your belt so you won’t have to worry about getting your hands full!

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Doggy says, check out this article too: Dog skipping when walking?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

My Puppy Refuses to Walk Away From Home. What to Do?

If your puppy refuses to walk away from home, it’s best to shower him with treats and encouragement. Giving treats and petting him each time he takes a walk will give him positive enforcement that walking away from home is safe and fun to do.

Should You Drag a Dog That Won’t Walk?

You shouldn’t drag a dog that won’t walk because it’ll only make your dog more adamant not to walk at all. Dragging him by the leash will only make it worse because he might get choked by the collar, causing him to feel threatened.

Why Do Dogs Always Walk the Same Path?

Dogs tend to walk the same path because they want to stick to their territory. They wanna be as close to where they live as possible. They also like doing so since it makes them well-acquainted with their surroundings.

Do Dogs Like Walking Different Routes?

In general, most dogs don’t like walking different routes because they love routines. They can become overwhelmed when presented with a new environment, which sometimes makes them stop in their track of waking.

What to Do When a Dog Refuses to Walk in the Cold or Rain?

Train your dog with a command that will make him get moving when he refuses to walk in the cold or rain. For example, always use the term “QUICK” during a walk when you want him to walk along with you quickly. 

What if My Dog Refuses to Walk at Night?

If your dog refuses to walk at night, let him sit at the front door facing outside when it gets dark. Then walk out of the house and wave at him happily to show you are safe. Command him to walk towards you. If he follows, give him treats and kisses!

In Conclusion: My Dog Refuses to Walk in Certain Directions

It’s really important to understand the reasons behind your dog’s behavior to keep your walks joyful and stress-free for both you and your furry buddy.

By figuring out the root of the problem, you can then take the necessary steps to help your dog get over their reluctance and continue with you on your walk.

Always put your dog’s physical and mental health first, and cherish the time you spend walking with your faithful friend!

Check out other dog behavior posts we have such as why does my dog look at me when he eats, why does my dog put its head on another dog’s neck, why is my dog licking his paws after grooming, and many more on our blog!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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