Escaping And Running Away
Dogs that escape or run away may get into difficulties or get injured on the road. They may also cost their owners considerable amounts of money if they cause an accident while loose so it is a good idea to look at why they do it and find a way to stop them.
Why do they leave?
Dogs that leave home or run off on walks usually have a good reason. Finding that reason is the secret to solving the problem. Dogs may leave you:
- to find excitement as nothing much is happening where you are
- to look for someone or another dog to play with
- because they are lonely
- to explore or run free
- to look for mates
- because they are frightened of being in the house/garden/park and needs to feel safe
Until you can solve the problem, reinforce fences and ensure they are high enough, or escort your dog to the garden so that he cannot escape. On walks, keep a close eye on him and teach a good recall, or keep him on a lead or long line.
It's good to be with you
If your dog leaves home or runs off on walks to find company or entertainment, you will need to work harder at building the relationship between you and your dog, paying him more attention, and playing games with him with toys more often. Give him a reason to want to be with you. If he is always waiting for the next moment of time you can spend with him, and truly feels part of your family, he will want to stay around you rather than wanting to find enjoyment elsewhere.
Look at the number of times you interact with your dog throughout the day or on a walk. Can you find the time and energy to interact with him at least every 15 minutes? Even if it only for a brief cuddle or a quick game, or to offer a tasty treat or a chew.
If he lives outside, ask yourself why you don’t want him in the house. If he is bad mannered, teach him to behave – go to ‘Bad Manners’, or if he is problematic when left, why not solve the problem – go to ‘Separation Problems’.
Is your dog getting enough chances to explore and run free? Do you take him on long walks, or walks that are new and different? If not, try to get out and about more with him, especially if he is an adolescent or a young adult. If you cannot do this, consider employing a responsible dog walker to do this instead. Teach your dog a good recall so that you can let him off lead to explore and run (go to ‘Instant Recall’).
Looking for mates
Males dogs will try to escape or may run off on walks if there is the smell of a bitch in season nearby. Females may escape from home or run off on walks during ovulation, which usually occurs on about day 10 of their season.
If your dog is escaping or running off to find a mate, consider having him/her neutered as this will remove the motivation to do so.
Too afraid to stay
If your dog has become afraid of being in an area or has just heard a loud noise, he may leave the area to get to a place of safety. For example, your dog may previously have been out in the garden when a firework went off and now is afraid to be in the garden. If the door to the house is shut, he may decide to escape from the garden to go somewhere more safe. Similarly, if you are out on a walk and your dog is scared by another dog or hears a loud bang, he may run home or away from the area to a place of safety.
If your dog is afraid, you will need to find out what he is afraid of and then desensitize and counter-condition him to help him recover – go to ‘Fear And Anxiety’.
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