My Dog Runs Away: What Should I Do?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. October 2, 2016
My Dog Runs Away: What Should I Do?

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It is very common for dogs to run away when we let them off the lead, open the door or when we go to put the lead back on it in the park. This has been a problem for many owners, especially those of young and inexperienced dogs.

A walk is a special moment for a dog, in which it wants to enjoy itself as much as possible by running around - in an off-lead area, if possible. If your dog runs away and you're wondering what to do about it, keep reading this AnimalWised article.

You may also be interested in: Should I Walk My Dog Before or After Meals?

Train your dog at home

If you've had a bad experience in which you found it difficult to put the lead on your dog in order to return home, you should practice basic obedience training. Educating your dog is your responsibility as an owner. Be aware that not having control over your dog can result in it getting lost, getting scared by unfamiliar surroundings, and even getting hit by a car.

For starters, your dog must learn the command "come" or "come here", which you should start practicing at home in the following way:

  1. Get hold of some treats that it is interested in, always small in size.
  2. Move away from your dog and call it, as in "Max, come here", always in a firm tone.
  3. When your dog comes, praise it and reward it with a treat.

It's likely that your dog wont listen to you on the first few times, although it should work at the beginning when done with positive reinforcement. Repeat the process at home on a daily basis - you should spend at least 15 minutes a day - until it understands the command.

My Dog Runs Away: What Should I Do? - Train your dog at home

Keep training outside the home

Once your dog responds actively and positively to the command "come here", you should raise the level of difficulty. Your dog obeying you at home, with treats and a calm environment, is not the same as it obeying you outside the house when presented with all kinds of stimuli.

To do this we suggest that you get hold of a long lead which, besides being very beneficial to improve the quality of the walk, will allow you to control your dog by giving it greater freedom during the training process.

Try practicing the command in different environments with varying levels of noise. Look for areas such as the beach, a pedestrianized street or any park, or even go to the forest.

Remember to keep using positive reinforcement with treats and snacks, although petting or praising with a cheerful and warm voice can also be used. All of this cements your relationship with your pet.

You can also take advice from our article on how to teach your dog to walk beside you.

My Dog Runs Away: What Should I Do? - Keep training outside the home

Practice without the long lead

If you still worry that your dog won't obey you, we suggest that you look for a fenced area such as an off-lead zone in order to start practicing without a lead. This way you can guarantee that your dog will not have any accidents if it decides to run off by itself.

Just like before, keep praising your dog each time it returns to your side. Even if it seems repetitive, this is very important for your dog as you are helping it to learn.

My Dog Runs Away: What Should I Do? - Practice without the long lead

You should also know...

If, after practicing the whole process, your dog starts running away again, don't run after it, as it will think that it is a game and will try to outrun you. Stand still and call it over with a strong, firm voice - no need to shout too much - so that it understands what it is you expect from it.

If it doesn't decide to return, you should slowly make it seen that you are going home. Just don't lose sight of your pet while you're pretending to leave. Normally any dog will follow you rather than be left alone and helpless, but you should understand that you should never tell it off or hit it when it returns to your side, since the dog might think that returning to your side is a bad thing. Don't make your dog confused or use negative behavior, as it only makes your dog stressed which can lead to serious behavior problems.

If, even after all the training, your pet still doesn't return to you once you take the collar off, we only recommend only doing so when you're in a secure enclosure where it cannot run away. You might consider hiring the services of a dog trainer to explain what to do.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Runs Away: What Should I Do?, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.

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