Some dogs are true escape artists. No matter how hard you might try to pen them in, these dogs have an amazing ability to get out and roam around your neighborhood at will. This is not only a frustrating thing with which many dog owners have to deal but also one that can be very frightening.
The truth is that a dog who escapes is more than a nuisance; instead, this type of dog is one who could very well end up lost or hurt. If you have a dog who has the tendency to get out, you might not be lucky enough to find him or her before things reach a tragic end. In fact, you might find yourself not only having to deal with the very real possibility of something bad happening to your dog but also with your dog causing harm to someone else or their property.
So, how do you keep your dog from escaping?
If you’re really looking to make sure that your dog won’t escape your home or yard, you’re going to have to address two problems at the same time. The first, and often easiest to deal with, is figuring out exactly how your dog manages to get out in the first place. The other, which tends to take more effort, is figuring out what drives your dog to keep running off.
Reasons Why Dogs Escape From Home And How To Address Them
There’s no one single reason why dogs might try to get out of your yard. There are, however, a few basic categories into which those reasons might fall. While some dogs might have a combination of several of the reasons discussed below, almost all dogs will be spurred on to running by factors that fall into at least one of these categories. We’ll also discuss the solutions to each of the following reasons.
One of the most common reasons why a dog tries to get out of his or her yard is because the dog is lonely. This tends to occur when dogs have to stay by themselves for too long, especially if they don’t have anything to play with or interact with while they are stuck in the yard. Younger dogs tend to be especially apt to do run away for such reasons, as puppies and adolescent dogs really crave play as a primary way to get rid of excess energy.
Sometimes dogs simply run because they’re seeking out some kind of stimulus. Working breeds are frequent runners because they need something to do to stay happy, so it makes sense that they would tend to run away to places that would give them a little more of what they need. Dogs who run away because of loneliness tend to go to places that are full of people, other dogs, or things that will allow them to indulge their own imagination.
So, how do you deal with dogs who run away because they’re lonely?
Simply put, you need to increase the amount of time they spend getting some kind of interaction. For some dogs, it’s enough to make sure that daily walks become part of their routines. After all, a good walk not only helps your dog get some energy out but also gives him or her a chance to see new things at the same time. For others, the key might be to spend more time playing with your dog. Working breeds might enjoy participating in some kind of organized activity, for example, while other dogs might be perfectly happy spending some time playing with a ball.
If you can’t spend more time with your pup, you can try to make sure that he or she has more to do while you are gone. There are plenty of toys out there that are made specifically to keep dogs engaged, and rotating a few of these toys in and out over the course of a few weeks can give your dog a series of novel interactions that help to keep him or her happy.
If your dog is a runner despite all of this, you’ll want to keep him or her inside whenever you can’t be home. Though this might not be ideal, it will keep him or her from running. If you need to be gone for a lengthy period of time, it’s a good idea to get your dog a pet sitter or to check him or her into a good ‘doggie day care’ in order to make sure that all of his or her needs are met.
If you have a male dog over about six months old who has not yet been neutered, you’re going to have to deal with a phenomenon that is known as ‘sexual roaming’. This type of roaming is driven by your dog’s instinct to find female dogs and mates. As you might expect, this is a very strong instinct and your dog will be particularly motivated to try to get out once he or she hits this age.
Obviously, the best way to deal with this type of behavior is to have your dog neutered. Neutered dogs don’t participate in sexual roaming behaviors for the most part, and getting your dog neutered should cut down on his or her roaming instinct. With this said, dogs who are already engaging in this type of behavior tend to keep roaming even after they’ve been neutered, so make sure that you get your dog neutered as early as possible.
While we generally think of sexual roaming as a problem for male dogs, the truth is that you need to pay attention to your female dogs as well. Make sure that you get your female dog spayed as early as possible, as an unspayed female who runs away from your property is very likely to end up coming back pregnant. Even worse, you may have to deal with unwanted pregnancies even if your dog doesn’t get out because intact males will do their best to get into your yard! If you must keep your female dog intact, make sure to keep her inside or otherwise under supervision whenever she is in heat to make sure that you don’t have to deal with unwanted puppies.
Some dogs don’t run away because they are particularly unhappy with where they live. Instead, they tend to run away because they are afraid of something in their general vicinity. Loud noises, other dogs, fireworks, or even an unexpected visitor can cause some dogs to run away, and dealing with this issue is a must for any dog owner.
The good news is that it’s very easy to identify if your dog is trying to run away because he or she is scared. Once you figure out the stimulus that is scaring him or her, the best thing you can do is to find a way to make your dog less afraid of that stimulus. Unfortunately, this often takes the help of a professional trainer to accomplish but it is becoming more and more common for vets to prescribe anti-anxiety medications for dogs that can help them stay a bit calmer while you search for a way to help them deal with their fears.
If you can’t desensitize your dog to the stimuli that scare him or her, you can cut down on the chance of escape by making sure that your dog stays inside whenever the stimuli present themselves. This is usually the easiest way to deal with infrequent problems like thunder or fireworks, for example. You should also think about creating a place for your dog in your home to which he or she can retreat when these issues come up. Quiet spaces where your dog feels comfortable can be incredibly useful for nervous dogs.
Some dogs do suffer from very real separation anxiety. You can usually tell that this is the case when your dog tries to run away every time you leave the house or if your dog constantly follows you around whenever you are at home. Dogs who get anxious when you are getting ready to leave are often potential runners, but the good news is that most of the dogs who exhibit this kind of behavior will generally tend to stick around your house if they do manage to run away. This doesn’t stop unfortunate incidents from happening, of course, but it may make these dogs easier to happen.
There are many issues that can suddenly cause your dog to start exhibiting separation anxiety behaviors. This is common if you suddenly have a shift in your schedule that causes your dog to spend more time alone, for example, or if you move to a new place where your dog feels less comfortable. Some dogs become very anxious if a family member leaves the house or if another pet dies, while other dogs seem to have long-term separation anxiety problems if they spend a lengthy amount of time in a shelter.
Solving this problem is similar to solving the problem of any other fear reaction. You’ll want to work with a dog behaviorist to address the root causes of the behavior and find new ways to deal with those issues that are less dangerous for your dog. The truth is that separation anxiety is a hard problem to deal with but that it’s also one that can be lessened to the extent that you don’t have to worry about your dog trying to run away when you are not around.
It’s vital that you understand why your dog tries to run away if you want to make sure that he or she doesn’t continue this kind of dangerous behavior. While certainly, root causes are easier to deal with than others, you’ll be able to make a major impact as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. In time, you can make your dog less of an escape risk and feel much more comfortable leaving him or her on his or her own.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you train a dog to stay in an unfenced yard?
While it’s possible to train a dog to stay in an area without boundaries, the truth is that it’s not only incredibly difficult to do so but also that doing so is always going to be imperfect. No matter how well you happen to train your dog, there will be stimuli that he or she just won’t be able to resist. As such, it’s best to find ways to keep your dog on your property that do not require you to depend on your dog behaving perfectly no matter what else is going on around him or her.
2. How do I keep my dog on my property?
The best way to keep your dog from escaping and to stay on your property is to set up a permanent fence. This is not possible for everyone, though, so it’s good to have backup ideas. For some, the best way to keep a dog on the property is to use an invisible fence. For others, it’s setting up an enclosed area where the dog can run. Even keeping your dog on a lead for a limited period of time is a better idea than letting your dog run around without boundaries.
3. How to keep a dog from jumping the fence?
The best way to keep your dog in your yard is to address the reasons why he or she is trying to run away. This might mean getting your dog neutered, spending more time with your pet, or making sure that your pet has somewhere safe to hide if he or she gets scared. If you can’t fix the behavior, though, you might need to fix the fence itself. A taller fence might be your best bet in some cases, while simply making sure that you add something to the bottom of the fence to prevent digging might be the better choice in other situations.