Why Does My Dog Freeze During Our Walk?

Andrea's 7-year-old Pit Bull, Baby, frequently "freezes" during walks: She suddenly stops walking, puts her tail between her legs and shivers. Andrea shares her dilemma with Vetstreet — watch the video to hear her explain her situation. Below, trainer Mikkel Becker provides a helpful response to the frustrated pet owner.

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Why Does My Dog Freeze During Our Walk?

Dear Andrea,

Walks provide enrichment and exercise for your dog and promote bonding between the two of you. However, if your walks frequently result in Baby responding as if she’s in the middle of a war zone, this is a serious problem.

Identifying the Trigger

Baby’s body language clearly indicates stress and fear: Her posture is low and she’s frozen in place and shaking. In addition, her ears are back, her tail is tucked, her mouth is tightly closed and her brows are furrowed.

Though it would seem that since Baby has walked the same path for so long she should be comfortable there, sometimes the opposite happens. Dogs have an incredible ability to store memories, especially those linked to strong emotions like fear. Repeated exposure when a dog is afraid — or just one particularly frightening experience — can teach her to react with heightened and more immediate fear in the future.


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