Why Do Dogs Refuse To Walk In Certain Directions? [7 Reasons]

Dogs Refuse To Walk In Certain Directions

Walking a stubborn dog can be a challenging task, especially when the dog refuses to walk in certain directions. In this article, we will explore seven potential reasons for this behavior and provide possible solutions.

Dogs may refuse to walk in certain directions due to anxiety or fear, boredom with the route, wanting to prolong the walk, being reluctant to venture too far from home, or being distracted by a scent. Solutions to this problem can include waiting patiently, picking up the dog and walking, trying a new route, positive reinforcement, and using a long leash.

Observing the exact reasons behind your dog’s behavior will help you find effective solutions more quickly. So, let’s get started and explore this topic further.

Reasons Why Dogs Refuse To Walk In Certain Directions

First of all, good on you for walking the dog!

Even a well leash-trained dog may suddenly refuse to move in the specific direction where you’re leading her on the walk.

However, is she keen to walk in the other directions? If yes, this article is for you!

1. The dog is worried about something in that direction!

Many dogs tend to manifest this behavior when they’re worried about something in that direction where their owners are heading.

Dogs use freezing or planting themselves on the ground in order to manage such difficult situations. Most likely, it can be something associated with sound or sight.

Here are some examples of such situations.

  • Loud bang in that direction.
  • Motorcycle in the distance.
  • A kid acroos the street.
  • A guy is mowing the lawn a couple of blocks ahead.
  • Think if there is scary dog with a really dinky fence. Especially puppies are afraid of other dogs barking.

2. Bored with the route

If your dog refuses to walk in certain directions, she might be bored with that route.

They get bored of seeing the same thing every day, sniffing the same scents, and knowing in advance where to go. It’s really less exciting.

3. Trying to prolong the walk

Suppose the direction you wanna go is the direction where the home/apartment is located.

If your dog keeps putting breaks when you’re heading toward that direction, chances are she knows that this exciting walking session gonna end soon, and she is doing this just to prolong the walking session.

By the way, here is why some dogs don’t wanna go home after walks.

4. The dog knows where the home is.

You know what? Young dogs that aren’t well socialized are a bit reluctant to go far from home, and they have the instinct to stick closer to the house.

Frankly, that’s a wonderful gift given by nature, and it’s a precautionary genetic measure that keeps puppies close to their mother without allowing wandering off.

So, if your dog is still young, perhaps, she needs a bit more training, especially the training combined with strong positive reinforcement would definitely work.

5. The dog Caught a scent.

If a dog refuses to move in a certain direction and is super enthusiastic about walking in another direction, the reason could be the dog caught an exciting scent; probably, she needs to explore it a little bit more.

Perhaps, this scent could be something as simple as wanting to sniff the small rocks, bush every other canine has urinated on.

6. The dog is thirsty.

Think about whether your dog manifests this behavior during hot days. Your dog could just be thirsty. Also, she knows where she can find the water. It’s home.

That’s why it’s always recommended to carry a water bottle and a small bowl when you go for a walking session with your dog. Moreover, ensure not to overwork the dog.

7. Underline health concern.

Reluctance to walk as far from home and if the problem started suddenly, it might indicate an underlying health problem, especially something like arthritis.

Suggested Reading: Should you carry your puppy on walks?

What to if your dog refuses to move in certain directions?

Here we gonna understand 8 approaches to make your dog walk in the direction you want.

1. Try waiting.

I know this is not a magical solution. However, try waiting as the first step. Because if this works, you don’t wanna bother doing other things.

As soon as the dog refuses to move in the direction you want, hover around a little bit there and let her sniff around and be comfortable.

After a while, say “C’mon boy… let’s go…” with a super exciting voice. Maybe she will respond positively.

2. Pick the dog up.

As I mentioned in the above section, she may be worrying about something in that direction, making it plant herself without moving any further.

Even though pushing her bum works occasionally, it may not suffice to subdue a scary situation in the direction you’re heading.

Therefore, consider picking her up and moving a couple of blocks. Then put her down and see if she is happy to move in that direction.

3. Try a new route.

As I mentioned earlier, dogs do get bored with routes.

Therefore, consider going on a slightly different route. Because dogs are interested in smelling new things, exploring a new neighborhood, seeing new things.

So, overall, changing the route is a really exciting thing with loads of sniffs. If this isn’t possible for you, try walking on the other side of the street. Certainly, this can make a whole new walk for your pooch.

Note: In any case, if you decide to walk your dog on a private road, you gotta be extremely careful.

4. Positive reinforcement.

If your dog refuses to walk in certain directions, desensitizing the dog and teaching her to there is nothing to be worried about is super important in order to proceed further.

The positive reinforcement techniques can definitely help you.

Get some high-value treats with you. Start using yummy treats to get her moving in the direction you want to go as soon as she starts freezing herself.

However, the timing of the reward is super important in order to encourage the dog. Release the treat once she is walking so she can understand that she got a reward for walking.

Remember, verbal encouragement is just as important as rewarding her with treats. So, don’t waste a powerful tool.

Not only treats but also her favorite toys will help you with this. Ensure not to reward while she is standing there.

5. Get a long leash.

Get a slightly longer leash instead of a regular short leash. Then out her on that long leash and walk normally.

As soon as the dog stops, hold on to the other end, and just keep heading to the direction you want to go while pretending to ignore her.

The purpose of doing this activity is to teach your dog that you will keep moving, and she’d better walk with you.

If she is appeared not to run and catch up to you, just call her to you. Maybe show her favorite toy or a high-value treat.

Once the dog is back with you, reward with high-value treats. Once again, don’t forget verbal encouragement. Then pick up the excess leash and keep moving.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Rinse and Repeat!

Tip: Consider choosing a quiet street instead of a busy street. Fewer distractions will help her to focus and enjoy every movement of the walking session. However, gradually moved to the regular walking street whenever she has started to show some progress. Of course, the positive reinforcement techniques will help you be successful.

6. Carry water

As I mentioned earlier, your dog may be trying to heading back to the home because of extreme thirst. Therefore, consider taking a water bottle and a small water bowl.

Give her water to drink whenever she exhibits signs of thirst. If you cannot read those signs, consider offering water after about 15-20 minutes of walking.

7. Meet the vet

If a dog doesn’t want to walk in specific directions and is reluctant to walk as far from home might be signs of underlying health issues.

If the approaches mentioned above give no result, consider consulting your veterinarian as soon as possible.

8. Hire a dog trainer.

If these solutions seem beyond your control, consider seeking help from a dog trainer.

Things to be aware of.

Here are a few more important things you need to be aware of.

Don’t pull the leash: If your dog doesn’t wanna walk in the direction you want, never ever try to yank the leash. Instead, try the solutions we’ve discussed earlier.

Provide good socialization: As I mentioned earlier, your dog may do that because she is worried about something in that direction. Therefore, providing good socialization is something you should seriously consider.

Basic obedience training: If your dog doesn’t respond to your commands, none of the above approaches won’t work. Because the interaction between you and the dog is so vital in order to train anything. Therefore, consider providing good basic obedience training.

Understand your dog’s strengths: As I mentioned earlier, your dog may refuse to walk in a direction to prolong the walking session. If this is the case, it seems your dog has more energy and seeking more activities to burn off her excess energy. Maybe playing fetch before the walking session might work.

Try walking with two people: You know what? Some dogs prefer to walk with two people.


Many dog owners are desperate to know why would their dogs refuse to walk in certain directions. Well, in this article, we’ve discussed 7 reasons for that issue and 8 approaches to address it. Hope you found this helpful.

If there is a method that worked for you, would you please comment it down below and share it with us? Because it will definitely help future readers.


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