Maya Rae McCallum MISAP 

Helping dogs and people stay together


When is 

a Dog



a Dog?

When He’s a Plant!

For quite a number of weeks now Fluffy has developed a strange habit.  When we are out walking on the lead he simply stops and refuses to budge!  The stranger thing is that can happen just 30 seconds into the walk or it could be after a half hour or an hour. Normally it will happen on average 5/6 times during a walk of say 1.5 hours.  And he is a heavy obstacle to move!

But before we write Fluffy off as a stubborn hound we should remember a dog presenting as stubborn is more likely to be:

  • Worried/afraid
  • Uninterested
  • In pain
  • Clueless as to what behaviour is wanted

So there are several things that could be going on with our Fluffy:


A common complaint in hairy dogs who use frequent stoppages as a way to get their second wind. It usually occurs when walking on leash in warm weather as hot pavements exacerbate  heat on the paws. This can be accompanied by panting and rapid heartbeats. 


Another obvious one but don't just reply on a limpy leg or paw. Check Fluffy’s joints by offering a gentle massage and if he is in any way reluctant to be touched get him vet checked.


Dogs who feel over threshold often choose to opt out by planting, that is sitting or standing still and refusing to move. To find out if this is happening, mark Fluffy’s critical distance to triggers which worry him. Is he better/worse/the same as he was before? Is his behaviour more or less reactive than previously? Have the triggers changed? If so how?  If the cause is overstimulation with an unknown trigger this needs to be identified before moving forward. It may be something as simple as an anticipatory tactic on the part of the dog (a truck with loud air brakes frightened him at a particular juncture - or when he saw a specific type of dog/person/whatever and now he is on guard so as not to be shocked or afraid again...

If we can rule out any physical issues including fatigue, the best way to help Fluffy in terms of overstimulation is as follows:

  • Identify the triggers/location/weather/time of day and any other information that might be useful in helping 
  • Learn Fluffy’s behaviour so we know when he is about to plant
  • Timing is everything so that as soon as he has planted ask Fluffy for another behaviour - one that he enjoys  and can do very well
  • Treat/praise accordingly and walk on

These 4 steps let your dog know that:

  • You know exactly what's going on in his world
  • You know what's going on with him
  • You can change the scary things (things he is worried about) into rewarding things (things he can do easily)
  • Everything good comes from you