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9 Reasons Why Your Dog Walks Slowly (Dangers & 9 Tips)

Why Does My Dog Walk So Slow

Some dogs drag their dog parents during a walk. But with you, it’s the other way around. 

Your dog has slowed down their pace. And this puzzles you. 

It’s time to stop beating your head against the wall.

Read on to learn:

  • What makes your dog scared and why they slow down.
  • How parasites and infections could affect your dog’s energy levels.
  • 9 simple tips on how to make your dog speed up at the end of a walk.
  • Bonus: What trancing is and how to fix it asap.
  • And much much more…

Why does my dog walk so slow?

The reasons why your dog walks so slow could be that they’re afraid of something and are trying to avoid it, don’t like walking on a leash, are in pain, have an infection, suffer from parasites or kidney cancer, lack proper early socialization, or are old and not as energetic as they used to be. 

9 reasons why your dog walks so slow

#1: Your dog is afraid of something

If your dog senses something bad or scary awaits them, they might slow down the pace. In an attempt to avoid what’s coming. 

It might be that your dog has a fear of public places. Typical behavior in such cases includes the dog walking behind you, hesitantly. 

Here you can see a video of a dog that’s being told off. The dog can clearly tell the owner is unhappy by the tone of voice. Hence, they slow down to avoid what’s about to happen…

#2: Your dog wants to extend the walk

You had a walk with your dog. And you’re just around the corner of your house. When you notice your dog starts sniffing and slows down the pace. 

This is pretty straightforward of your dog. What they’re saying is “I want to keep walking.”

#3: Pain

If your dog started walking slow suddenly, then you could have a medical issue on your hands. 


Arthritis often affects elderly dogs. But even young dogs can get it. 

According to CARE (Canine Arthritis Resources and Education):

“Canine arthritis affects at least 1 in 5 dogs.”

What this means is that they’re even more dogs who get it.

Signs of arthritis are: 

  • Irritation.
  • Lethargy.
  • Poor mobility.
  • Avoidance of touch.
  • Slowing down on walks.
  • Enlarged or swollen joints.

Here’s one example. If your dog was previously going up and down stairs, but now isn’t, arthritis might be the culprit.

Note: Arthritis can’t be cured. But it can be managed with proper medication, nutrition, natural supplements. And by controlling your dog’s weight.


Your dog could have injured themselves while playing. Naturally, while the injury lasts they’ll want to take it slow. 

#4: Infection

Infections such as parvovirus or kennel cough can make your dog lethargic. 

Other kennel cough symptoms include: 

  • Sneezing.
  • Low fever.
  • Runny nose.
  • A cough that sounds like a goose honking.

Signs your dog has parvovirus are:

  • Fever.
  • Vomiting.
  • Collapse.
  • Loss of appetite. 
  • Bad-smelling diarrhea (could be with traces of blood).

#5: Parasites

Parasites such as ticks and fleas can cause anemia. Your dog can then lose red blood cells. 

Signs of anemia are:

  • Low energy.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Reluctance to exercise. 

Warning: Some dogs with anemia might not show any symptoms at all. If anemia is caught early, treating it is easier. But if caught later, it might put your dog’s life at risk. 

#6: Kidney cancer

According to PetMD kidney cancer, a.k.a. Adenocarcinoma, affects mostly middle-aged and older dogs. 

Symptoms include:

  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Depression.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Urine with blood.

#7: Improper early socialization

Socially Awkward Dog Lacks Socialization Meme

Lack of sufficient socialization could cause a dog to be insecure. And even react defensive towards strangers-human and canine alike. 

That’s not because the dog is aggressive. But because they’re afraid. 

This happens to small dogs. The reason is that some owners don’t see the need to walk a small dog a lot. Or to even let their dog walk on their own.

Hence you often see small dogs being treated as accessories or puppets, but less as dogs. And that affects the dog’s psyche. They might feel uncertain on walks. 

Research shows that the socialization period in puppies happens between their 12th or 14th week.

It’s a very important period because it determines what kind of adult behavior the dog will have. 

It is during this time when the puppy forms a strong attachment to their mother dog. And they’ll follow her around. 

Meanwhile, the puppy will show fear of new objects, people, and other animals. Hence the pup will growl, squeak, try to hide, or run away. 

According to Donald D. Draper, from the Iowa State University:

“The way in which the bitch or human caretaker responds to a puppy’s distress vocalizations and general behavior may determine how the puppy reacts to stressful situations in later life.”

#8: Your dog dislikes walking on a leash

How can you tell if your dog dislikes being leashed?

Easy. Just compare how they walk when leashed. And how they act when unleashed. 

If your dog walks hesitantly while on a leash, it’s an indication. And if they run like crazy and go explore when unleashed, then you can be sure their behavior has something to do with the leash.

#9: Age

Is your dog a senior citizen (above 7 years old)? 

Some large breeds become seniors earlier. 

If your dog has slowed down the pace due to old age, that’s not necessarily alarming. But if there are accompanying signs, you should see the vet.

Older dogs are prone to developing:

  • Cancer.
  • Arthritis.
  • Diabetes.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Cognitive dysfunction. 
  • Loss of vision or/and hearing.

#BONUS: Your dog is trancing

Dog trancing means your dog is moving slowly under a surface that’s slightly touching their back. It could be a tablecloth or a plant.

Some people think their dog is doing this because they’re having a seizure. That’s not the case. Trancing is not linked to seizures or neurological problems in any way.

What’s more, you can help your dog to “snap out” of it by calling their name. Then it should take no more than a few seconds until your dog is back to normal. 

Trancing is more typical of some dog breeds like Bull Terriers and Greyhounds. Researchers concluded that trance-like syndrome (TLS) closely resembles canine compulsive disorder (CCD) after examining 84 dogs.

How can I make my dog walk faster? 9 tips

It’s not uncommon for our furry friends to want to extend their walking time. And we shouldn’t blame them. 

If your dog lags at the end of your walk, so they won’t have to go home just yet, these tips are for you. 

Here’s what you can do to make your dog speed up at the end of a walk:

#1: Exercise your dog more

Exercise Your Dog Funny

Maybe the time you spend with your dog is not enough to tire them out. Or, you’re not using it to its full potential. As a result, they feel the need to be outside longer.

So, forgive me the cliche but… It’s not just what you do, it’s how you do it.

There’s a difference between a 30-minute chill walk and a 30-minute exercise session (with small breaks in-between).  

Sure, you need to walk your dog so they can do their business. But after they’re done, why not introduce some games?

Dogs love to fetch. So you’ll be doing your dog a favor. And the gift of spending quality fun time with them. Make sure to bring some water with you though. 

This is an easy and enjoyable way to bond with your dog. To tire them out. And to make them enjoy the rest they’re gonna get. When they come back home. 

Other options include taking your dog for a run. Or training them for agility in a nearby dog park. 

#2: Make going home fun

Right now your dog is convinced that all the fun they can get is out of the house. It’s like a kid who gets to visit a party and has to leave soon after. One word – reluctance.

That’s why your job will be to make going home one of the coolest activities your dog can do. 

But how?

Through positive reinforcement. Because it’s easy and effective. 

Something else. You’ll have to persuade your dog that going home is even better than being outside. That’s it’s the cherry on the cake. 

It’s possible to make your dog eager to go home.

Especially if they get a treat in front of the door. Or immediately after they walk in. This will be a nice surprise that awaits them. 

Don’t forget to also show plenty of love and affection to your dog. I mean right away after you come back. This is a form of feedback on how well they did on the walk.

Another option would be to give your dog a task once you get home. Get them a rawhide calf hoof to chew on. Or a Stuffed Kong that will release treats once your dog chews it the right way.

#3: Treat distraction

If your dog hasn’t had enough of the walk, they’ll try to prolong it. That’s what they’ll focus on. 

But what if something else gets their attention?

Something like a favorite treat of theirs…

Keep it in one of your hands. As soon as your dog starts slowing down, show it to them. Once they fasten up the pace, let them have it. 

This will create positive associations with walking fast, or at least at a normal pace. 

#4: Use reverse psychology 

One thing you should never forget is that dogs are pack animals. They move together in the wild. And with their human pack in urban environments. 

And what’s the one thing that goes against pack mentality? 

Splitting up. Or leaving pack members apart.

Use that to your advantage. 

Instead of trying to pull your dog, let go of the leash. If your dog is unleashed, don’t wait for them. Don’t call them. Just start walking forward. As if you’re going to continue no matter what.  

Your dog’s pack instincts will then kick in and they will follow you. Because they’ll hate the thought of being left out. 

Do this several times during a walk. Just walk in one direction. Then suddenly turn and start walking in the opposite one.

This will have your dog guessing. And keep their mind sharp so they don’t let you out of their side. Or dare to slow down their pace and lose you.

#5: Extend the walk

Ok, say you have a high-energy dog. And you’re not exactly a marathon runner type of person. No shame in that.

If you don’t like taking brisk walks, that’s fine. But you could extend the time of the walk. So your dog gets enough physical and mental stimulation at the same time.

Maybe your dog craves social contacts. Meaning, to sniff another dog’s butt. 

Or, the pooch wants to feel that enrichment of surrounding smells. Those are not accessible indoors. 

So, in case unleashing your dog is not an option for you, you might as well walk longer. And give your dog time to sniff. This way, the walk will be really about your dog. And they’ll be grateful.

#6: Figure out what is it that scares your dog 

Ok, let’s say your dog could be afraid of public spaces. But how can you be sure?

Try this: Take your dog to a dog park. Preferably in a closed-off one. Let them roam free. And monitor how they get on.

Does your dog run like an arrow, eager to explore the environment? Or are they cowering behind you? 

Also, note what happens when another human or canine approaches your dog. If your dog ducks, it indicates they’re uncomfortable in the situation.

You can view it like this: Imagine someone who has stage fright. All of a sudden they must go on stage. Just like that, no preparation, no nothing. Not a great combo, is it?

In this case, your dog could be using you as a shield. Between themselves and the world. 

Like warriors in the past would do. No one would expose themselves because that would mean getting hurt or killed.

If you could see the world through your dog’s eyes several things will become clear. Maybe the loud traffic noise is too much. Or so many unfamiliar people and their dogs. 

The next step then would be to…

#7: Expose your dog to a multitude of situations and people

You’ll have to help your dog build confidence. Gradually though. Otherwise, this approach will backfire.

Introduce your dog to new places, people, and other dogs step by step. And give treats to create positive associations with the new situations. 

Over time, this should eliminate your dog’s worry. And they’ll start seeing strangers as something normal, even nice. 

Eventually walks around the neighborhood will become a fun and safe activity for your dog.

#8: Don’t pull your dog on the leash, instead do this

There’s a danger to pulling your dog on the leash. It’s that your dog could start associating the walks with unpleasant feelings.

Instead, start working with your dog. Teach them that the leash means good things. Show them how to be excited about it.

Here’s how to do that:

Put the leash on and start playing with them

It’s crucial that your dog is okay with the leash. That they don’t try to bite it or get out of it in any way. In short: they shouldn’t see it as a burden or some kind of punishment.

Let’s take for example shelter dogs. 

Shelter dogs need a home. But if they don’t know the basics – such as leash training, and acting calm and collected, they rarely get adopted.

That’s why volunteers must make sure these dogs get familiar with the activities. So when someone wants to adopt them, it’s easier to work with the dog they’ve got.

This also reduces the chances that the dogs would be returned to the shelter. 

So what we’ll do anytime during a visit, is to put a lead or a leash on the dogs. Then we let them roam in the shelter yard. And we give them dog snacks, affection, and play with them.

This might seem like something small. And it is. But it makes a big difference over time. All of this teaches the dog that having a leash on is not just normal, but also fun.

Put peanut butter on the leash

Dogs are fond of peanut butter. Putting some in a bathtub while you bathe them for the first time can do wonders. They focus on it and take the bath easier.

But peanut butter can be used as a treat also when leashing your dog. For them, it would be pleasant to lick it off the leash. Nice bonus, isn’t it?

Give exclusive treats

Select a special kind of tasty treats when you leash your dog. Don’t give these on any other occasion. 

Take the leash off and ignore your dog

After you “throw a party” with the leash on, remove it. And stop interacting with your dog. 

That will show them that all the attention and surprise treats they got are directly related to the leash.

#9: Monitor your dog

The cause of moving slowly could be a small injury. Or a serious medical condition. 

If you suspect an injury, keep an eye on your dog. If you don’t see your dog getting back to normal in 24 hours, give your vet a visit.