When your dog escapes the back yard or dashes out the door, it’s frustrating for you and unsafe for your dog. A runaway dog could be hit by a car, be injured by another dog, or hurt someone. Almost every dog runs off once in a while, but if your dog keeps running away daily or weekly basis, it’s time to figure out how to keep your dog safe inside your yard or home. While you’re here – learn how to keep outdoor dogs safe.
Why is your dog is running away?
Dogs escape for a variety of reasons. They may run away because they see a squirrel and their natural hunting instinct kicks in. Your pup may run off to start a playful game of chase and expect you to follow them. The dog may know of a secret escape route through a hole in your fence. Or there may be a fun destination that your pup wants to visit – such as another dog or a neighbor who hands out yummy treats. Discover the six reasons why dogs run away.
If your dog is a chronic runaway, they are not going to stop this behavior on their own. It’s up to you to create a safe, enjoyable environment in your yard and reinforce positive behaviors so your pup will never run off again!
Check your fence and gates to tighten security and prevent dog escapes
If your dog frequently escapes from a fenced yard, carefully inspect the physical fence for damage. Dogs can squeeze through smaller spaces than you might expect! Look for places where your pooch has dug a hole beneath the fence. Block any holes with lumber or chicken wire to prevent future dog escapes.
Your dog may be stepping on patio furniture or toys to climb up and over the fence. Move these items away from the fence.
Some very athletic or highly motivated dogs can jump over a fence. They take a running leap and over the fence they go! The best way to keep jumpers inside a fenced yard is to extend the height of your fence.
Be sure to check the latches on your fence gates. Does the latch click shut when you close the gate behind you? If the gate doesn’t always latch securely, you can bet that the dog knows it and is planning an escape from the yard.
Dog training can stop your dog from running away
By training your dog to follow basic commands such as Sit, Stay, or Come, you can easily avoid the frustration of constant dog escapes. Dog obedience school is a great way for you and your pup to learn dog training techniques together and build a lifelong bond of loyalty. Most importantly, you will keep your furry friend safe from the many hazards they may encounter during an escape. A well-trained dog is a safe dog.
Effective dog training uses positive reinforcement. This means that when your dog does the right thing, you offer praise or treats. When your dog does the wrong thing, ignore it (unless the dog is in danger).
Dog training changes not only your pup’s behavior, but your behavior, too. Do you run after your escaped dog? If so, your dog may view this as playtime and escape over and over just for fun. Do you drive the neighborhood and collect your escaped dog into the car? If your dog enjoys car rides, this technique may reinforce the escape behavior. Think about it – your dog may have trained you instead of the other way around!
Training your dog requires consistency and patience, but the results are worth it. Time spent training your dog builds trust between you and your dog, improves safety for all, and cements your relationship with your pup in a positive way.
Should you punish your dog for running away?
Punishment may not be an effective way to keep your dog from running off. Dogs associate punishment with whatever they are doing at the moment the correction is delivered. If you punish your dog when they arrive back home, the dog will associate being punished with returning home. As a result, your pup may become afraid of you or your home. Unless you catch your dog in the act of escaping, punishment is unlikely to reduce runaway behavior.
Instead of punishment, train your dog using positive reinforcement techniques.
How to stop your dog from running out the door or through an open gate
Always put your pup on a leash and hold the leash securely in your hand before opening the door or gate to avoid having your dog run off. Basic dog training will help your dog learn to Come and Sit while you attach a leash securely to the dog’s collar or harness. When you need to open your home’s front door to grab a package or welcome a visitor, teach your dog to Stay while the door is open.
Avoid multitasking when you open the door or gate. Keep your eyes on your pup and watch for behavioral cues. Put down your phone until your dog is leashed or following your commands so you won’t be distracted.
If backyard escapes continue to happen when you open a fence gate, consider adding an airlock or vestibule to your fence. This system creates double-gated entry and exit from your yard and a safe, enclosed area where you can leash up your dog before heading out.