As a responsible dog owner, one of the worst feelings in the world is finding the gate open and your pet was gone. So how to stop your dog running away – and why does he do it in the first place? He or she has loving owners, they get fed regularly and love to be with us. Why then do some dogs take every opportunity to escape through a door or gate inadvertently left open.
Of course, dogs don’t understand danger so they don’t know they could get hit by a car, attacked by another dog or even by a human who isn’t so fond of animals as you. All they know is that they can smell a whole new world which reminds them of when they are being taken for a walk and are having fun with you. The problem is too, that once a dog has escaped one time, he will more than likely try to do so again and again because he loved the feeling of freedom.
So what sort of things should we do to stop our dog running away?
Set Household Rules
You must establish household rules and make sure that everyone knows and understands them. Not only understands them but will practice them all the time.
These should be things like not opening the door or gate until they know where the animal is, and they have made sure that the dog is out of range of the open door. Possibly someone may have to hold the dog to stop it running away while the door is opened.
Make sure that any visitors know the rules. Not everyone has a dog, and not all dog owners have dogs who run away, and it may not even occur to them that your dog will try to escape.
In the meantime, you may have to reinforce your yard – make sure the fencing is strong enough, that your dog can’t get through it, over the top of it or dig under it! Perhaps you need to make it higher, or possibly put in a concrete strip or place heavy logs along the bottom of the fenceline. Electric fences set on a minimum setting often work well, and after dogs have been ‘zapped’ a couple of times, you will find you can turn it off, as just seeing the tape is enough to stop him going near it.
Make sure he is getting enough exercise – depending on his size, 2 walks a day if time permits. If your dog is alone all day while you are at work, get him some play things which stimulate him. One of the toys you fill with treats are always popular, a sandpit he can dig in (you can even bury bones or toys in it for him), and in warmer climates, a kids paddling pool is often popular.
If your dog is an entire male, getting him neutered will probably help.
Make a time to play with him each day – throw a ball or Frisbee, play hide and seek etc. All these things will help the bonding process and reinforce your position as Alpha Leader.
However… if despite all your best efforts your dog has still got out, PLEASE – when he returns home, do not chastise him, but make him feel he has done a good thing by actually coming home.
Always remember dogs are pack animals, and by communicating with him in a way he understands, you will get a better result for everyone concerned.
It is important that training starts as soon as you get your dog or puppy home. Puppy School helps socialize your dog, plus there is plenty of information on the internet about training dogs.