Why Does My Dog Freeze on Walks

Dogs are highly sensitive to their surroundings, and when you introduce your dog to a new environment in his walk, he may seem unsure and hesitant to explore. This behavior is normal as he freezes in his walk to evaluate the situations.

He may be trying to assess the circumstances, gather information, and prepare for his next move.

His natural instincts will tell him to be wary of what is happening around him and to assess the potential dangers in his new surroundings before moving on.

Thus, it is not surprising that your dog will freeze on occasion during his walk. This is especially so if he is in a busy street or dog park where there are lots of stimuli that trigger his fear and anxiety.

He Feels Threatened By The Situation

Dogs usually freeze when they’re facing threats, such as the presence of a dominant dog in the park, a fast moving car approaching, or an aggressive dog barking at him.

If you hear your dog whining or growling, it’s probably because he’s trying to tell you that he’s scared.

He is also likely to exhibit the following body languages to express his fear and anxiety:


When a dog cowers, he will raise his back end and drop his head low, sometimes even laying down. This is a way for him to make himself look smaller and less threatening. 

He may also shake or tremble excessively. If your dog is exhibiting these signs, he is trying to avoid a situation he doesn’t want to encounter.

Baring Teeth

Baring teeth are another common sign of fear. Dogs don’t usually bared their teeth unless they’re being threatened. 

This could be because they’re trying to ward off the threat, or it could mean that they’re frightened.

Lack Of Movement

A dog will sometimes freeze up or stop moving when confronted with a dangerous situation. His body will be stiff, and he won’t want to move around.

Raised Hair

Raised hair is a more subtle indicator of fear. The dog’s fur may stand on end, and the fur on his face and chest may appear more prominent. 

He may also look around nervously, and will often keep his tail between his legs. He might even have his ears flattened against his head.

Eye Contact

Dogs will look at a person or another animal in a confrontational manner. They may stare, bark and snap their teeth. 

If your dog is behaving in this manner, it’s indicating that he is feeling uncomfortable with the situation.

These behaviors are just a few ways in which your dog communicates with you when he is feeling uneasy.

You’ll know if your dog is fearful because his behavior will change. His demeanor will be tense and guarded. He may also appear confused.

A dog’s natural instincts are to stay in a safe place and to hide from any perceived threat. Once your dog senses danger, he’ll need to get away and hide, and he’ll need to do so quickly. This is why a dog may appear frozen when he’s in a situation that he feels he can’t escape.

It is important for you to understand your dog’s body reaction to his surroundings so that you can help him cope with his fears.

Dogs who are exposed to the world around them will learn to deal with their fears and anxieties in a way that helps them to relax and feel secure. 

When you start to expose your dog to the world around him in a safe setting, he’ll learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

A training program aimed at socializing with your dog will benefit him greatly in this regard. With training on how to respond to his world with confidence, your dog will be able to cope well with any changing environment without fear or anxiety.

As he feels safer and more secure, he is less likely to hide and freeze.

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There Is A Feeling of Fatigue In Him

A tired dog is another reason for his “freezing” behavior on the walk. The more so if he had just been playing vigorously before you took him for a walk. 

So, it is important to plan for a walk before his playtime and to keep the walk short if he shows signs of fatigue.

Plan his daily workout routine in a way that allows him to get adequate rest after his playtime or a walk so that he does not overexert himself.

What is the recommended amount of play a dog needs each day?

Breed plays a significant role in your dog’s energy levels. Dogs, in general, need between 1-2 hours of exercise a day, while other breeds, particularly hunting breeds such as Golden Retriever, Beagle and Bloodhound, may require more than 2 hours of physical exercise, along with mental stimulation daily.

Of course, for a dog that reaches his seniority (more than 12 years old), you should keep his physical workout to less than 30 minutes and go for low – impact activities. 

It may also be the case that your dog is in pain, especially in his paws or joints that causes him to keep freezing in his walk. This is common among obesity and senior dogs.

You could observe the discomfort from his body language, such as:

  • Struggling to walk normally.
  • There may be lameness in one or both legs.
  • Reluctance to climb stairs.
  • Aversion to jumping activities.
  • Inability to get up or down.
  • Swollen, sore, or stiff joints.

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian for a checkup.

Walking on a Leash or Harness Causes Him Discomfort

Leashes and harnesses naturally restrict the movement of dogs during a walk, which makes them feel uncomfortable. Because of this, they are reluctant to take a walk and will freeze occasionally whenever they start to pull against the leash.

As a solution to this problem, you should start your dog on off leash training if you have not already done so.  

When you allow your dog to walk freely and without a leash on him, he will be more engaged in his walking than he would be otherwise.

If you do not feel comfortable with your dog off leash on his walk, then you should probably start him on leash training. This will get him used to being on a leash or harness. 

You should also make sure that the leash or harness on your dog is made of soft material that will not cause any discomfort to him.

Make sure the harness fits snugly on your dog to prevent it from sliding off.

He Is Trying to Prolong His Walk 

Domesticated dogs are naturally inclined to remain active, which is why they are thrilled when they have the opportunity to take walks and get some exercise. 

For dogs, a walk is also an opportunity to bond with you, their pack leader.

That explains why your dog is trying to prolong his walk with you by freezing occasionally in his walk.

There is a good chance that your dog loves his walk so much that he doesn’t want to go back home. He enjoys being one-on-one with you, and he would like to spend as much time with you as possible.  

To resolve this issue, you can play fetch or hide and seek with him before the walk to keep his energy levels down. That way, he will walk for shorter distances and will not be “dragging” his walks.

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He Is Uncomfortable Walking Due to the Weather 

Dogs are very sensitive to temperature changes and can’t regulate their body temperature as well as humans. A temperature reading above 90 °F or under 45 °F can be unsafe for your dog, causing him to come to a halt in his walk.

So, keep the weather in mind when you are taking your dog for a walk.

Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, French bulldogs and Boston terriers are sensitive to the heat. Therefore, if your dog cannot tolerate high temperatures, take him for a walk late at night or in the early morning when it’s cooler.

If you have to walk your dog in temperatures that are too hot, make sure that he has access to shade or a place to rest every 15 minutes and feed him with lots of water.

For increased comfort, you may also want to give him a cooling vest. 

If you take him on a cold-weather walk, you should equip him with an insulated dog coat and a pair of protective booties and keep the walk for less than 30 minutes.

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