How to Stop Your Dog from Running Away
Training Advice for Dogs That Keep Running Away
Rescue dogs are at a high rate of running away from their new homes, simply because they do not know it’s their home. Then we have dogs who have lived in their home for years, but will still take off as soon as they have a chance. So how do we go about fixing this problem behaviour?
We need to put ourselves in our dog’s mind for a bit. Why would they want to leave their home? Are we giving them enough one on one time? How is your relationship with the dog? Are they after something they don’t have at home?
When digging into behaviour problems, instead of looking at the exhibiting behaviour and trying to fix it with band-aids, we need to fix the root of the problem.
Dogs have basic needs that need to be met: Social Interaction, Physical Stimulation, Mental Stimulation, and Exposure and Socialization. I go over those in my video here: 4 Musts to a Happy Dog. If we know we are satisfying all of our dog’s needs and they are still taking off, we move on to a training approach to fix the problem.
With dogs that take off, you NEED to be able to manage them for a temporary period of time where it is impossible to escape.
INDOORS – if your dog is escaping through the door when it’s opened, you will need to install baby gates to prevent the dog from sneaking through the crack of the door when it’s opened.
If this isn’t possible, such as when someone is leaving, another person will need to hold the dog until the door is closed. Remember, this is only temporary until training can be generalized into that situation.
OUTDOORS – if your dog is escaping the backyard, the dog will need to be supervised at all time when outside, OR not outside at all without a long line attached.
(Training New Cues and Behaviours)
This is an obvious cue to train, but it must be trained intensively and thoroughly. Please read my article on “Recall– Coming When Called”.
Working with your dog everyday on a recall is key to success. Your dog must know that coming when called IS THE BEST THING.
This training is to teach the dog that when the door is opened, you do not pass. The door opening itself will cue the dog to “stay put”.
Watch my video on the following steps here: Train Your Dog to Wait at the Door
Step 1: Have your dog on leash at the door (give some room to open the door).
Step 2: Open the door VERY SLOWLY
- If the dog moves (most likely), close the door immediately. Don’t say anything or pull the dog back, simply close the door.
- If the dog doesn’t move, keep opening the door.
Step 3: Repeat over and over until you can open the door ALL THE WAY without the dog moving. For older dogs, this can take 15 minutes the first time.
Overall Obedience and Listening Skills
With a dog that is taking off so much, I would highly recommend joining a positive-based training class to increase better communication between handler and dog, focusing solely on how your dog learns and what drives your dog to do what he or she does.
Kris Crestejo, CDBC
Meet Our Evangelist