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9 Things That Make Puppies Lay Down on Walks: (Explained)

Does your puppy lay down during a walk?

This bizarre behavior causes pup parents to scratch their heads in confusion, wondering why their pup no longer wants to continue on. 

Puppies may do this as a result of everything from passing distractions to exhaustion, so it’s important to understand your canine friend if this behavior occurs. Let’s discuss the many possibilities below!


What Does This Behavior Mean?

While every puppy is different, this behavior is typically your puppy’s way of telling you something.

Most puppies are curious and want to explore their surroundings, so suddenly laying down on their walk often comes with an explanation.

Instead of simply forcing your pup to move along, we challenge you to better understand the reasons why your pup has suddenly pumped the brakes. 

9 Reasons Why Puppies Lay Down on Walks

  1. They can smell something
  2. They want to go in another direction
  3. They are scared
  4. They don’t want to go back inside
  5. They remember something interesting
  6. They want to play
  7. They are too tired
  8. They are too hot
  9. They’ve injured themselves

As we mentioned above, there several reasons why your pup has suddenly plopped themselves down on a walk. Ranging from an interesting scent to fear of what’s ahead, let’s discuss the most common causes below.

1. They Want To Soak In The Smells

The canine friends in our lives have an impressive nose. If they pass an interesting scent that pulls them in, they may lay down in an effort to get up close to the smell and soak it all in. 

If the scent is intoxicating enough, they may fight their owners as they attempt to pull them along. If this is the case, you will typically see your pup burrow their face into the area. 

More info: VCA Hospitals: Dogs Sense of Smell

2. They Want To Go In A Different Direction

While you may have a set path on your daily walks with your pup, there may be times in which your furry friend wants to explore a different route. If this is the case, you may notice your dog either pulling in another direction or even laying down in an effort to protest your current plans. 

This is even more possible if they have gotten their way by doing this in the past, as they will be encouraged to give it a try at any given chance. 

3. They Are Scared Of What’s Ahead

If your puppy sees something ahead that makes them nervous, you may see them plant their feet in the ground or lay down in refusal to move forward. This can be your pup’s way of saying ‘no way’!

This is most common in young dogs that have not yet been fully socialized, as they may not feel entirely comfortable in their new skin. As they get older and are exposed to different surroundings, they will be less likely to behave this way. 

However, if your puppy seems truly afraid of moving forward, it may be best to either go a different direction or focus on desensitizing the fear they are experiencing. This doesn’t happen overnight, and you may need to work on this fear moving forward. 

4. They Don’t Want To Go Back Inside

If your puppy is having too much fun outside, they may refuse to head back home altogether. These pups may pull on their leash, whine, attempt to move in another direction and even plop down in a strike.

If your puppy has a habit of doing this, you may need to implement a reward system when they come inside from their walks. 

5. They Remember Something Exciting

Some canine friends have an impressive memory! If they encountered a particularly interesting spot on their last walk, they may remember this area and gravitate toward it again. They may pull their owners toward this spot again and promptly lay down once they have arrived. 

You may see your pup sniffing the area intently, and they may even refuse to walk away when you encourage them. 

6. They Want To Play With Another Person Or Dog

If your puppy is having fun with another person or dog on their walk, it may be hard to get them to leave. Puppies can be very similar to toddlers in this sense, and they may lay down as if they are throwing a tantrum. 

If your puppy only does this when they see other friends on their walk, it may just be their way of saying they are not yet ready to say goodbye. These pups can be challenging to convince, but you can typically get them to head home after a bit of coaxing. 

7. They Are Tired From Their Walk

If your puppy is still building up their stamina on walks, they may lay down periodically when they are in need of a break. Long walks can be strenuous on some furry friends, and the occasional break along the way can help them continue on. 

Many dogs will push beyond their limit if they are having a good time, so it’s important to listen to these behaviors when they display them. This is especially important in puppies, as their growing bodies can’t always keep up with their adult canine friends. 

8. They Are Too Hot

If you are walking your puppy in the summer heat, you may notice them asking for breaks more often. These pups may either sit or lay down if they are feeling a bit too hot, which is often a sign that they are becoming overheated. 

If your pup does start to lay down on their walk when it is hot outside, this is typically a sign that it is time to go back inside.

Our canine friends do not sweat as we do, so they can easily become overheated on a standard walk.

Exhaustion is one of the first signs of impending heatstroke in dogs, so we always suggest bringing your dog to a cool environment if they show any signs of overheating. 

9. They Have Injured Themselves

If your puppy begins to act unusual on their walk and they insist on laying down, it could be a sign of injury. This is even more true if they display other symptoms such as limping or crying out, as this could be a result of an injury they acquired on their walk. 

If you think your puppy is laying down on a walk as a result of hurting themselves, we suggest reaching out to your vet for guidance. You should also end their walk immediately and allow them to rest until you figure out your next move.

Should I Be Worried?

While this is typically a harmless behavior in our furry friends, there are times when it can point to something serious.

As we mentioned above, it can be a sign of heat exhaustion or potential injuries when the outside factors and additional symptoms align. 

However, even if these other factors are not present, we always encourage you to reach out to your vet if it seems like your puppy is always laying down on their walks.

This could be a sign that your puppy is struggling with stamina, which can point to an underlying complication in some cases.

If it seems like your pup just tires out way too quickly, we always suggest having them seen by a vet.

How Do I Stop This Behavior?

If you are struggling with a stubborn pup that always lays down in protest, there are a few ways to tackle the behavior moving forward! To help you get your pup on their feet, let’s list a few of our favorite tips below. 

(Keep in mind that this only applies to puppies that are not struggling with the heat, stamina, or underlying illness)

  • Carry a few of your pup’s favorite treats in your pocket. If you need a bit of help encouraging them to get up and start walking, you can always offer them a treat incentive. Just be sure to not offer this immediately after they stand up, as they may equate laying down to receiving a treat.
  • If you have a hard time getting your pup inside after their walks, it’s helpful to offer them a treat or reward once you arrive back home. After time, your dog will begin to expect this treat and hurry home with ease. 
  • Try switching up your walking route if it seems like your pup is getting increasingly stubborn. This can help to keep your pup engaged and less likely to plop down and refuse to move. 
  • Be sure to never yell at your pup or drag them by their leash if you are having a hard time getting them up. This can seem like a game to some dogs, and others may begin to associate fear with their walks. We know it can be frustrating when your dog refuses to get up and walk, but handling this appropriately will only help you in the future. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a puppy suddenly laying down on a walk is often trying to tell their owner something.

Once you begin to understand the reasons behind this canine behavior, you can get your pup up and moving in no time. 


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.