Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer: Stubborn puppy

What do you do when your dog just doesn't want to budge? -Tom Shelby

Dear Dogcharmer,

When I am ready to head home from a walk, my 3-month-old puppy will lie down and refuse to turn around. My dog is too big now to pick up and carry, which is what I did when she was little. How do i get my dog to follow me back home?


Dear RaeAnne,

You’re not the first person a dog converted from owner/dog walker to personal transport person. In my experience it’s mostly young puppies, 16 or 17 weeks and younger, that simply “shut down.” You go about 50 yards or 50 feet, and then you get the feeling that your puppy is really a mule parading as a dog, as she suddenly lies down and becomes a slab of lead with absolutely no intention of movement, no matter what. It took me about an hour to walk around a Manhattan block with a mule pretending to be a Dachshund puppy. He’d go about 25 feet between shutdowns! I’d step in front of him and squat down, offering a treat, and when he started coming forward for the treat I’d pop up and keep moving, luring and praising. When that stopped working, I lifted him by the harness and set him down on his feet after a few steps, continuing to lure him as best I could. Wasn’t easy or a lot of fun, but by the fourth leg of the block he was much more cooperative. At about 4½ months he had his epiphany, and realized he’d rather keep moving to follow his nose looking for gossip, and the problem was over. Of course, possible health issues causing what I call the “mule shutdown syndrome” have to be ruled out, but I have seen quite a few pups exhibiting this behavior for short periods of time, then quitting on their own. Hang in there. Time is on your side.

 The Dogcharmer

Have a question for the Dogcharmer? Write him at