Reasons Why Dogs Run Away And How To Stop It
Does your dog make a run for it as soon as you open the door? Perhaps they relentlessly dig under the edge of the fence in a bid to make their escape?
When dogs run away, it can not only be a confusing behavior, but a worrying one, too. Out and about alone, they could be stolen, hit by a car or attacked by a wild animal.
Why do some dogs try to run away? Here are several common reasons for this behavior, as well as tips for how you can stop it.
Trying to return home
If you have recently moved, your dog may not have adapted to the change as quickly as you have. All they know is that they are in an unfamiliar place and they may want to try and get back to the place that feels most like home.
How to stop it: Firstly, before you move, it is ideal if you can walk your dog around the new space to familiarize them with it, allowing them to sniff around and get acquainted with the new smells. Additionally, try to make your new home feel as familiar as possible to your pup by surrounding them with their favorite belongings from the previous house. Lastly, it may be necessary to carefully limit your dog’s freedom for a little while, until they have a chance to settle in and you can walk them around on their leash to get them fully acclimated to the new surroundings and neighborhood.
Boredom or loneliness
Dogs are social creatures, and they need regular attention and something to keep them occupied. Unless you regularly engage with your dog, they may become bored or lonely, and even start trying to run away.
How to stop it: Pay attention to them! Find new ways to interact with them in a fun way. It isn’t always easy to juggle work and family life etc., but so long as you make a plan and stick to it, it should be possible to schedule a daily walk, a bit of play time and some affection. It can be all too easy to make excuses, but as little as 5 minutes here and there can go a long way and should be a welcome break for you, too.
If you have a dog who scares easily, you may find that a sudden loud noise or strange sight is enough to have them bolting out of the door to escape.
How to stop it: If you notice that there are unavoidable sounds or sights that regularly startle your dog, it may help to work on helping them to relax by conditioning them through familiarization - basically training them to no longer recognize it as a threat, or at least to not feel the need to make a run for it. It’s also common for dogs to be afraid of sounds like fireworks and thunder, so wherever possible, prepare a comforting, safe area for them in advance to help them to stay calm and avoid them trying to escape.
If your dog is having to adjust to a considerable lifestyle change, such as moving from a rural property to the suburbs, it may take some time for them to get used to such a dramatic change in freedom. It may be that your dog tries to roam free because that is what feels most natural and normal to them.
How to stop it: It can take some time for a dog to adjust to such a change, especially if they have grown up with much more freedom than they now have. You will need to train and teach your dog that it is not ok to take off as they perhaps did before. This may take some time and lots of positive reinforcement. If it continues to be a problem, it may be best to engage with a professional trainer to help make the change.
Tracking your dog
In some circumstances, it can be almost impossible to prevent your dog from escaping completely, in which case the most important thing becomes being able to track them. Technology like the FitBark Tracker allows you to track your dog’s whereabouts, as well as setting it up to receive alerts the moment your pup leaves any safe zones you have created. These tracking devices perform a variety of other useful functions too, such as monitoring activity, sleep, and even stress and anxiety. Better still, there’s great Fitbark coupons available if you want to save some money when buying a Fitbark tracker for your dog.
These are just a few of the common reasons that can cause a dog to run away, and if you are unsure or concerned, it is best to seek professional advice from your vet or a local dog trainer. It can be a stressful and worrying behavior to manage, but with the right approach, it should be possible to turn it around.