Why is My Dog Running Away & How to Stop Him from Escaping
There are different reasons as to why your dog may be trying to run away, and no one of the reasons is not that he doesn't like you and is trying to get away. For the most part, some dogs just like to get out, and typically there are breeds that are notorious for that. Huskies are one of the many breeds that are bad about escaping the fence or the door.
But, for the most part dogs are the descendants of wolves which in the wild walk and roam miles and miles a each day. You dog still has some of that inbred in him. So what I'm saying is that roaming is completely natural for your dog and the entire roaming process involves several other natural behaviors such as scouting, exploring, and hunting, but that doesn't mean that you want your dog to roam out into your neighborhood and get lost just because it is natural for him to want to roam.
Now, although some dogs will be able to find their way back home, you don't want to leave your fence open to let your dog roam because your dog may not be one of those dogs. Plus because our world is made or concrete and tar, it can be hard to find the right scent to find a way home.
I'll tell you if I were to try that, my yorkie would get bored and find his way back after traveling as far as the front yard probably, whereas my American Pit Bull Terrier would probably just keep going. She'd probably eventually run into something that spooked her, turn around, and not know where to start.
But, anyway, you don't want to hear about my troublesome mutts, you want to find out why your dog is running off and how to stop it. Right?
Why Your Dog Runs Away
There are a number of reasons as to why your dog keeps running away, and as I said above, it's not that he doesn't like you. The first step to stopping your dog from running away is to figure out why he's running away.
First off consider whether or not your dog is neutered, and yes unaltered male dogs have a strong propensity to roam. It's his drive to reproduce, so if you get him neutered you will reduce your male dog's "need" to roam in about 90% of males, which means in about 10% of males it may not change the roaming habits.
Consider whether or not your dog has enough stimulation. For the same reason your neighbors dog digs, you dog may be trying to run away to find something to do. Boredom will do wonders for the human brain, just as it will the canine brain, so if you know that you dog is naturally curious and active, you want to make sure that you provide plenty of stimulation, which typically means runs in the morning and at night.
Another strong drive, is the predatory one. If your dog has a strong predatory drive, he is likely to see a squirrel, rabbit, or even another dog, and take off after it. This is one of the harder causes of your dog running away to correct because the predatory drive is a self-rewarding natural drive; the dog takes after what he wants and when he catches it, he's automatically rewarded.
You will notice that like their ancestors, dogs have their home, or den, but some dogs will have a secondary one, and if they have the ability to do so, they may run off to their secondary den, so to speak. For example, when my grandmother's Dalmatian was younger, every chance he got he would run off and always end up in my yard. I've also heard of dogs going missing and always going to the same spot each time, and although this makes finding the dog easy, it can be a pain to go pick them up.
And, similar to the second home cause, if a dog knows where he can get rewarded, such as a source of food or attention, he may escape to that area when given the chance.
Fear is another big one. There are so many dogs that are terrified of thunderstorms, which is why after a big storm, you will find the local ASPCA's and animal control facilities packed. If something spooks the dog, such as a big storm, the dog may find a way out and just keep running until he feels safe. If you know what you dog is scared of, it will be easier on you to prevent your dog from breaking out of the yard or house. For example, if your dog is scared of thunderstorms and loud noises, you probably want to find a safe place inside to put your dog on the 4th of July when you know that fireworks will be booming all around.
Stop Your Dog From Running Away
Depending on what reason you've concluded as to why your dog is running away, will vary your end result of fixing the behavior. So, it is very important to figure out why your dog is running away in order to figure out how to fix the problem.
There is no one answer for everyone or every dog, and you may have to try many different things before you can figure out the best method for your, your family, and your dog.
First, if your dog is a male, I'm going to assume he's unneutered, which leads to the first fix to get him neutered. I wouldn't expect results the day the dog comes home from the vet, but given a few weeks or months, I'd say 90% chance of stopping the problem is pretty good odds that your dog will stop trying to get out of the fence. Now, if neutering your dog still doesn't help the problem, don't think that the surgery was a waste, because you've taken the first step towards preventing prostate cancer as well as an unwanted litter.
But, if neutering the dog didn't really help, you want to make sure that you have a strong, sturdy fence with a gate that your dog can't push open or kick out. Having a good fence will prevent dogs from coming in your yard, as well. Plus, if you put your dog on an outside tie, run, or within an electric fence area, you're not using a real fence; all that you're doing is increasing the potential for territorial aggression and sometimes your dogs want to get out.
You want to make sure that your dog's environment, yard and overall way of life is 'dog friendly,' which means make sure that your dogs basic needs are met. A dog's basic needs includes: food, shelter, and plenty of enrichment.
If your dog runs when he is frightened, you want to figure out what is scaring the dog, and go from there. Like a mentioned above, if you dog is scared of thunderstorms and loud noises, bring the dog in when it's going to storm or during times when you expect loud noises such as fireworks. You also want to consider other methods of helping your dog get over his fears, and if that doesn't work, you can always try anxiety medications, but ask your vet first!
- Check out Dog Fears and Phobiasif you want to find a few methods of helping your dog get over his fears before trying to put him on meds.
- Check out Games to Play with Dogs if you want more information about stimulation for your dog. Remember that a good long game of tug of war is still no replacement for a good ole run