Dog Skipping When Walking? [Understand the Causes and Solutions]

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.

Picture this: You’re strolling through the park, leash in hand, when suddenly, your canine companion leaps into an impromptu jig, teaching you the true meaning of “putting a spring in your step.”

While it may look cute or playful, it could actually indicate an underlying health or behavioral issue.

Possible reasons for your dog skipping when walking includes joint problems, a muscle strain from over-activity, or it could be just as simple as a lack of focus. Depending on the cause of this behavior, there are effective solutions for them.

Let’s find out the common causes of dog skipping and what you can do to help your pet feel better and enjoy walks again.

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Dear Dog Owner
Dog Skipping When Walking: Key Takeaways
– This behavior can be caused by various factors including joint problems, muscle strains, nerve damage, pain, fear or anxiety, excitement, lack of focus, or habit.
– Determining the cause can be done by observing your dog’s behavior, consulting with a veterinarian, and keeping a journal.
– Treatment options for dog skipping include medical treatments, surgery, medications, physical therapy, behavioral training, positive reinforcement, counter-conditioning, lifestyle changes, and environmental modifications.
– Preventing dog skipping can be achieved through regular veterinary check-ups, training and socialization, exercise and play, and consistent routine.
– Dog owners should take skipping seriously as it could lead to more serious problems if left untreated.
– Puppies may skip while walking, but if it persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it is best to consult with a veterinarian.
– Dog owners should be patient and consistent

Causes of Dog Skipping When Walking

Your usual walk around the block with your furry friend can be a fun and relaxing way to bond with them.

But what happens when you notice that your pet is hopping or bouncing on one or both legs?

You might think to yourself, “Maybe they’re just feeling extra playful today.”  

However, it may be worth paying attention to if your pet keeps doing that.

Let’s break down the most common reasons why your pup might be skipping during walks.

1. Joint problems

Patella luxation is a common issue in dogs where their kneecap moves out of place, sometimes causing pain and discomfort that leads to a skipping gait or lameness.

Ouch!

It can happen due to factors like injuries or being born with it, and certain breeds may be more likely to develop this condition.

2. Muscle strains

Has your furry pal been running, jumping, or playing non-stop lately?

As fun as these activities can be, they can sometimes lead to muscle strains, which can cause your pet to hop in discomfort.

Muscle strains can also be caused by sudden, quick movements or overuse of specific muscle groups.

Pups who are overweight or out of shape may be more susceptible to muscle strains. 

3. Nerve damage

Dogs, like humans, have nerves that help send messages throughout their bodies.

However, when these nerves become damaged, it can cause problems like skipping while walking.

What causes this?

Nerve damage in dogs can be caused by different factors such as injuries, infections, or underlying medical conditions.

4. Pain

Our pets can experience pain from a variety of sources, ranging from a tiny thorn in their paws to more serious medical issues.

When dogs are in pain, they may change their movement to avoid discomfort, which can result in a skipping or limping gait during walks.

5. Fear or anxiety

Sometimes dogs may start skipping as a way to deal with things that scare them.

They may also do this to try and escape from an uncomfortable situation.

These fears and anxieties can come from different things: loud noises, new places, or being away from you, their owner.

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6. Excitement

It’s no secret that dogs love to show their excitement.

My dogs go crazy when they hear the sound of their leash or the word “walk”. Sometimes they might start skipping or bouncing around because they’re happy or thrilled.

It’s important to recognize the difference between playful skipping and skipping due to discomfort or anxiety.

7. Lack of focus

Is your pet easily distracted during walks?

Dogs are super curious and always looking out for new and exciting things.

New sights, sounds, and smells?

Those are definitely going to catch their attention.

These can cause them to lose focus on their walking and start skipping or jumping around.

8. Habit

Dogs can be creatures of habit, just like us humans!

They may develop a skipping habit as a way to let out their energy or because they’ve learned it from past fun experiences like playing and running around. 

How to Determine the Cause of Skipping

How to Determine the Cause of Skipping

You’ve just learned that there are a variety of reasons why your furry friend might be skipping around.

Now which one of those could be causing your pet to move unusually?

To figure out what’s really going on with your pet, here’s what you should do:

Observing your dog’s behavior

Watch out for things that could be causing your pup to skip.

Check for any signs of discomfort, pain, or distress – like whimpering or yelping – and see if the skipping only happens in certain situations or places.

Notice any changes in their movement or the way they walk and see if there are any bumps or cuts on their paws.

Consulting with a veterinarian 

If you’re worried about your little friend’s skipping habit, whether it’s a health issue or not, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your pet’s veterinarian. 

You might be wondering, what should you tell your vet?

Well, just let them know your concerns and what you’ve noticed about your dog’s behavior.

They might ask you questions like “When does your pet usually skip?”, “How long have you observed this behavior?” or “Have you noticed any other unusual behaviors?”.

The more you tell your vet, the easier it’ll be to provide a diagnosis. So don’t hold back any details. 

Your vet may also recommend some tests or procedures to help determine the cause of your dog’s skipping.

Your pet’s visit to the vet might include a thorough physical examination, and your vet may also recommend further tests to get to the bottom of what’s causing their skipping behavior. 

These tests could include X-rays, blood work, or other diagnostic procedures, all of which can help provide a clearer picture of your pet’s health.

These tests are usually quick and non-invasive, so don’t fret.

After the consultation, the vet will tell you the results and recommend what you need to do next.

They may also provide tips and advice on how to help your dog feel more comfortable during walks and reduce the skipping behavior.

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Keeping a journal of your dog’s skipping behavior

Do you keep a journal for your dreams or goals?

Well, you might want to start one for your pet’s skipping behavior too.

Jot down when your furry friend starts skipping, how often it happens, and any other important details like the activity or environment.

This can be a helpful tool for you and your vet to spot patterns or triggers that could be causing the skipping.

It’s important to be as detailed as possible in your journal entries.

Note the time of day, how long the skipping lasts, and any signs of pain or distress your pet may be exhibiting. 

If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, appetite, or sleep patterns, be sure to include that in your journal too.

Another awesome benefit of keeping a journal is that it allows you to see if the treatment your vet prescribed is actually working for your furry friend. 

Did you notice any improvements in your pet’s condition?

Write that down.

No improvements?

Don’t get disheartened and write that down as well.

It’s a great way to monitor your pet’s health and ensure they’re getting the care they need.

Plus, you can share this information with your vet to see if the treatment plan should be revised or adjusted in any way.

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Treatment Options for Dog Skipping

Treatment Options for Dog Skipping

So, your pet’s vet has figured out what’s been causing your furry pal’s skipping or limping behavior – that’s great!

What’s next?

Now, you’d have to work with your pet’s vet to come up with an effective treatment plan that would address that underlying cause.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure-all for skipping while walking.

How you help your pet will depend on the root of the issue.

But don’t worry, your vet can suggest a personalized treatment plan that will have your furry pal feel better.

Here are some of the treatments that your vet may suggest:

Medical treatments

If your pet’s skipping behavior is caused by a medical issue, your vet may suggest treatments to help them feel better.

For example, your dog may be given pain relievers to alleviate any discomfort.

If there is an infection, the vet may recommend antibiotics to clear it up.

Surgery

If your pet’s skipping behavior is caused by an injury or underlying orthopedic or neurological problem, the vet may suggest surgery to help fix the problem. 

Yes, the thought of surgery can be scary, but in some cases like patella luxations, it is the best way to help your pet feel better and move around more comfortably.

Medications 

Your vet may recommend medications to help manage your pet’s skipping behavior, depending on what’s causing it.

For instance, if the issue is due to inflammation, your vet may suggest anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce swelling.

In some cases, your vet may also recommend muscle relaxants to help your pet move more easily, or anticonvulsants if the skipping behavior is due to a neurological issue.

It would all depend on your pet’s specific needs. 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help your pet get stronger, move more easily, and increase their range of motion.

Your vet may recommend different exercises and techniques to target specific muscles and joints.

They may also suggest other treatments like massage or hydrotherapy to help your pet feel better.

Behavioral training

If your pet is skipping or limping because they’re anxious or scared, your vet might suggest behavioral training to help them feel less stressed. 

During this training, your vet will teach your pet new ways of behaving, like rewarding good behavior with treats or praise.

They might also work on making your pet more comfortable in stressful situations, like when there are other animals or people around.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding good behavior with treats or praise to encourage your pet to keep it up.

It could be telling your dog “good girl” or “good boy” when they walk normally instead of skipping.

This can help them learn what behaviors you want them to repeat and replace any unwanted ones. 

Counter-conditioning

Counter-conditioning is a training method that helps pets become less anxious or scared around things that trigger them, such as loud noises or other dogs.

The goal is to pair these triggers with something your pet enjoys, like treats or toys, to create positive associations. 

For example, if your pet is afraid of other dogs, you could give them a treat every time they see a dog from a distance.

Eventually, this can change their emotional reaction and help them feel more at ease.

Desensitization

Is your pet skipping due to anxiety?

Desensitization can help reduce their fear.

To desensitize your pet, you expose them to the trigger in a way that won’t cause a negative reaction.

Once they are comfortable with that level of exposure, you gradually increase the intensity or duration of the trigger over time. 

For example, if your pet is scared of fireworks, playing recordings of fireworks at a low volume and gradually increasing it can help your pet get used to the sound.

Lifestyle changes

Minor lifestyle changes can work wonders in improving your furry friend’s health and happiness.

For example, you can adjust their sleeping habits, provide them with more mental stimulation, and encourage them to get some daily exercise and fresh air.

Exercise and diet

Is your furry friend skipping around due to a few extra pounds?

Your vet may suggest some lifestyle tweaks to improve their health and well-being.

Your vet may suggest some minor tweaks to improve their health and well-being.

Your vet might recommend reducing the amount of food you give your pet or switching their treats to plain air-popped popcorn to help them shed some weight and reduce the stress on their joints. 

Or, if your pet has joint problems, your vet might suggest some exercises to help them get moving and grooving again.

Environmental modifications

Your vet might suggest some simple changes to ease your furry friend’s anxiety and improve their behavior.

Is your pet having trouble sleeping?

Getting a cozy, plush bed or a snuggly blanket might help. 

Is your pet jumpy because of loud noises?

Try some noise-canceling curtains or simply turn down the volume on your TV. 

And if your pet gets nervous around new people, take it slow and introduce them to a controlled environment, like a walk on a leash.

Routine and consistency

Consistency is key when it comes to keeping your furry friend calm and collected.

By maintaining a routine and keeping their surroundings predictable, you can help reduce their anxiety and improve their behavior. 

For instance, feeding your pet at the same time every day and placing their bed in a comfortable and familiar spot can give them a sense of security.

Preventing Dog Skipping When Walking

Walking your furry friend is one of the highlights of your day, but it’s not always a walk in the park when they start skipping or limping.

What can you do to prevent this?

Below are several preventive measures you can take to keep your pup healthy and happy on your daily walks.

Regular veterinary check-ups

To prevent skipping while walking, there are a few things you can do.

First and foremost, make sure to take your pet to the vet regularly.

Regular check-ups can help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your dog’s skipping behavior.

By following your vet’s recommendations and treatment plan, you can address the problem early on and prevent it from becoming a bigger issue.

Training and socialization

Another important step is to train and socialize your dog.

Proper training can help your dog learn appropriate behavior while walking, such as walking calmly beside you and not jumping or skipping.

Teaching your dog basic commands like “heel” and “stay” can also help prevent unwanted behavior.

Exercise and play

Exercise and play are also important.

Regular exercise can help release your dog’s energy and reduce the likelihood of skipping during walks.

Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your furry friend and keep them healthy and happy.

Consistent routine

Finally, maintaining a consistent walking routine can also help.

Dogs thrive on routine, so by keeping a consistent schedule, your dog will feel more comfortable and confident during walks.

This can also help prevent boredom, which can lead to unwanted behavior such as skipping.

By following these tips and working with your vet, you can help prevent your dog from skipping during walks and make the experience more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

FAQs

What does it mean when a dog skips when walking?

When a dog skips while walking, it may indicate pain or discomfort in the legs, back, or hips. Skipping can also be a sign of anxiety, fear, or excitement. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.

Is skipping when walking normal for puppies?

Skipping can be more common in puppies who are still developing their coordination and muscle strength. However, if the skipping persists or worsens, it’s best to have a veterinarian examine your puppy to rule out any underlying medical issues. 

Can skipping when walking lead to more serious problems for my dog?

Skipping when walking may lead to more serious problems if left untreated, such as joint damage or a worsening of the underlying medical condition causing the skipping. Early detection and treatment can help prevent more serious issues from developing.

In Conclusion: Why is my Dog Skipping When Walking?

With this newfound knowledge, I hope it has put your mind at ease if you find your dog showing this quirky behavior.

Be sure to determine the cause and take the appropriate steps to correct the issue now!

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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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