Is your dog prone to bolting whenever your home's gate is left open? Such behaviour can expose them to injuries, potential dog attacks, or even ending up at an animal shelter. To prevent these situations, it's advisable to seek guidance from a dog behaviorist and provide your dog with the necessary training to deter them from running away.
Why do Dogs Run Away from Home
Staying in the same environment for extended periods can lead to boredom, and just like humans, dogs can become restless. Unlike humans who can go out or take a vacation for entertainment, dogs rely on their owners to take them for walks or provide opportunities for outdoor activities. This limitation is one of the primary reasons dogs run away from home. There are several other factors that may drive dogs to escape from their homes:
- Fear of loud noises: Dogs are often frightened by loud sounds like fireworks, balloons popping, sirens, and thunderstorms. To cope with these overwhelming triggers, they may attempt to flee or hide.
- Learned behaviour: Some dogs learn that running away from their owners can turn into a fun game. If their owners chase after them, this playful behaviour can reinforce their inclination to run away.
- Mating: When dogs are in heat and have no mate available, their strong urge to mate can lead them to run away from home in search of a partner.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Running Away
To discourage your dog from running away, consider these strategies:
Familiarize your dog with the environment:
When introducing a new dog or puppy to your home, allow them time to explore, sniff, and get acclimated to the new environment. This helps them feel secure and part of the family. Remember, dogs are social animals, so it's essential to allow them to interact with other dogs and people. But always use a leash when introducing your dog to new dogs to prevent potential fights.
Spaying or neutering your dog:
These procedures can help reduce your dog's mating instincts, preventing them from running away to find a mate and decreasing the chances of unwanted puppies becoming strays.
Consider that some dogs run away simply because they need to release pent-up energy. Regular, extended walks and outdoor playtime can help prevent this restlessness.
Reinforce a positive return:
Ensure that your dog associates coming back to you with positive experiences. Praise and treat them when they return. Avoid punishing or scolding them for taking too long to come back, as this can make them less likely to return in the future.
What to Do When Your Dog Runs Away
If your dog does manage to escape, remember these tips:
Chasing your dog can turn the situation into a game, making it even harder to catch them. Instead, make yourself more enticing by running away from them with treats or their favourite toy. When calling your dog, use a cheerful voice to encourage them to return to you. Avoid shouting, as it may frighten them. Employ a recall word like "come" with your dog's name and reward them with treats when they come back.
To prevent future escapes, always use a leash when walking your dog outside. Additionally, ensure your dog has a name tag and a microchip for easy identification if they do get lost.
How to Train Your Dog Not to Run Away
One effective technique for preventing your dog from running away is clicker training, a positive reinforcement-based method. Follow these steps to teach your dog to respond to your calls:
Choose the right space:
Select a controlled environment for training, ideally a fenced yard where you can keep your dog on a leash. Attach a fifteen-foot long line leash to your dog to maintain control during training.
Familiarize your dog with the clicker:
Before beginning training, help your dog associate the clicking sound with treats. Play with your dog and, after clicking, immediately reward them with a treat. Further, allow your dog to explore while on the long line leash. Once they have had their time, call them by name to come back.
When your dog responds correctly, click to acknowledge their behavior, followed immediately by a treat. This teaches your dog to associate the click with receiving a treat. Continue this clicker training process over multiple sessions.
Once your dog consistently responds to the clicker, replace it with verbal commands. Always reward your dog with treats when they obey your verbal cues to reinforce the behavior.