Is your Fido an escape artist? And do you find that you can’t trust him with even the smallest hole in the fence or a slightly open door? Take heart. You’re not alone. Dogs are curious creatures and love exploring. And that teeny nose on their face is a huge magnet pulling them to the great outdoors. A small break in the fence is sometimes all they need to pursue whatever it is that they want to chase, without the slightest care in the world.
But all is not lost. We can actually curb this extremely dangerous behavior with a little consistency and a lot of patience. Let’s find out how. But before that, let’s try to understand why our dogs run away in the first place.
Why Does Fido Run Away?
Dogs run away for several reasons. They run away when they see something they want or when something is bothering them at home. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Your dog may be bored at home in your absence. Dogs are explorers by nature and the sedentary life most of them lead today hardly keeps them happy and in fact, leaves them bored. If you leave him alone for long periods of time, he may even start feeling lonely.
He may have a lot of pent up energy as he doesn’t have toys or playmates to use it on. Or maybe he finds your neighbor’s house more fun as there are dogs or kids to play with.
2. Separation Anxiety
Your dog may take to the road as he’s stressed out from missing you. He may show other signs of separation anxiety like whining as you begin to leave, chewing and destroying things in your absence or have accidents in the house despite being toilet trained.
3. Fear Of Loud Noises
Some dogs may run away during an unexpected event like a thunderstorm or fireworks and may seek safety somewhere away from the event.
4. Wanting To Mate
Another reason why a dog runs away is related to its reproductive instinct. A dog who hasn’t been neutered may run away in search of a mate or if he smells a bitch in heat nearby. Dogs attain sexual maturity at 6 months and it’s hard to keep them confined when their sexual urge runs high.
Take The Fun Out Of Running Away
One of the biggest reasons it’s so difficult to dissuade your dog from running away often, happens to be the fact that the act in itself is positively reinforcing for him and he gets rewarded (with whatever he is running after) every time he runs away.
If you’ve figured out what it is that your dog runs away for, it may help to remove the trigger from the scene. For instance, if it’s the neighbors trash bins that he’s after, make the bins tamper proof. Then he’ll have nothing to run away for. He will simply stop after a few unsuccessful attempts.
Other Ways To Keep Him Home
To keep Fido home, while you’re away or not watching, you will need to make staying at home more fun than running away. Here’re a few things you can do.
1. The first thing that you need to ensure is to give your dog access to a comfortable bed in a quiet area inside the house. He would also need access to clean water and good food, if you’re going to be away for long.
2. Before you leave the house, make sure he’s exhausted after a long walk or a fun session of fetch or Frisbee with you. He needs the mental and physical stimulation to stay out of trouble for the rest of the day. Spending one-on- one time with him also makes him feel that he’s part of the family and cared for.
3. Ensure that he’s socialized with other dogs and people or taken to the dog park often.
4. Invest time in obedience training, which is essential for the safety of your dog and others around him. Obedience training lets him get comfortable with the idea of you being a fair leader of the pack and strengthens his bond with you.
4. Give him interesting toys that can help him keep himself occupied while you’re away. Rotate the toys to keep them interesting. Toys which can be filled with treats are a great idea to keep him stimulated for hours.
5. Make your yard extremely difficult to jump out of. This way you take away the biggest reason for his running away.
6. Think about installing self-closing doors and gates.
7. Block the outside stimulus from his line of sight, as much as possible.
8. Get him spayed/neutered.
9. Call animal control if stray dogs are a problem in your area.
10. If you find yourself pressed for time, employ a dog-walker to come in and walk your dog while you’re away.
11. Think about leaving your dog at a trusted daycare facility if your dog suffers from excessive separation anxiety. A change of scene and company of other dogs will keep him engaged.