Achieving Balance and Harmony


Dog disinterested in the walk

Dear Cesar,

My dog is a 5-year-old dog, a lab terrier mix, and has always loved going to walks, but lately he seems disinterested in going. I’ve had to pull him out of the door to go for a walk and then he’ll sit down after we've gone one block and refuses to go another.

Even if I force him to keep going, he’ll pull me back another direction towards our house. I was so concerned that I took him to the vet. They did a blood panel on him, specifically to test for thyroid function, and he tested perfectly! Not a thing wrong.

Here’s where my confusion: he doesn't hesitate to go out when we’re going for a bike ride or in the car to go for a hike or swim. Only when we are going for a normal walk around the neighborhood is when there is a problem. What’s going on here?

S.M.B., Austin, TX

Read Cesar Millan's advice on how to get you dog excited for the walk:

In this case, there are two things going on. First, I think your dog is very in tune to your energy. Something about your energy is different from when you are going for a walk in the neighborhood and going to do an activity outside your neighborhood and your dog is picking up on it.

My suspicion is that you don’t find the neighborhood walks as fun as you do a hike or bike ride and for the dog, it’s the same—not as fun. You need to think about ways to challenge him during the walk to make it more fun, for both you. For example:

    1. Take a different route where there are new smells
    2. Go out the back door instead of the front door
    3. Go out and then come right back in, then go out again
    4. Try adding a jog or run in between walking
    5. Keep him guessing what’s next

You need to increase your dog's level of “wanting” to go on the dog walk. Stop along the way and practice your basic commands with a treat. Challenge your dog's mind. And always end the walk before he’s ready, even if that means only going for 10 minutes. At least for the initial re-training of the mindset, keep the walks short so you always leave him wanting more. This will change his mindset to anticipate the next walk and want to go.

Second, keep in mind that this is a dog that is not saying, “I’m tired.” This is a dog that’s saying, “I’m bored. I want more fun.” The dog is rebelling the structure of the dog walk. Think about it. On the walk, the dog is asked to be calm, to stay with you or behind you, to go at a slower pace. This is structure, and that’s good. Rules, boundaries, and limitations! But finding the balance between that and fun is your challenge.

Does your dog misbehave on the walk? What's going on? Tell us in the comments below.

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