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Preventing Your Dog From Running Away
April 25, 2012 - Kari Rose
A friend recently asked me how she can make sure her dog knows what home is and how she can keep her there. Her dog, like numerous others likes to engage in a self-rewarding behavior of running away. To dogs this is a completely normal, natural, instinctive, and acceptable behavior. They are not aware of all the possible dangers of roaming that their humans worry about. In a dog's mind they are being rewarded when they run away because of all the interesting things they get to see, smell, and experience. If it's rewarding for them they assume their human is supporting this behavior if it is left unchanged...and the cycle continues.
There are many reasons as to why a dog will run away and wander about and they almost always boil down to trying to get to something or trying to get away from something. A very understimulated dog will look for adventure of their own to occupy them both mentally and physically. Dogs with seperation anxiety are also more likely to run away, especially when there are loud sounds indoors or outdoors, such as thunder or firecrackers. Other dogs will pick up on a scent and follow it. This is very typical for hounds, some terriers, beagles or any other scent dog. Dogs used for hunting or that have characteristics bred into them making them desirable hunting dogs may be running off to follow their predatory instincts. Other reasons for dogs to persistantly run away are mistreatment, psychological problems, and a need for socialization and or a lack of obedience training. If a dog is not spayed or nuetered they may be running off to search for a mate. It is extremely important to spay or nueter your dog!
A huge step in keeping your dog in doors and also in your yard is figuring out what triggers them to run away. If your dog does not get a lot of alone time with you they may feel bored and isolated and possibly resentful. It is always a good idea to have many different kinds of toys both inside and outdoors. Many companies also sell dog toys that will occupy your canine companion for a long time such as puzzles or puzzle type treats or stuffed Kong brand toys. Experiment with different types of toys to find out what your dog is most intrigued by. It is also a good idea to always have something for your dog to chew on such as a rawhide, antler, pig ear, hoof, etc. Take time out of your day to play fetch or frisbee with your dog and be sure to give them a set amount of time every day to be with you and get lavished with attention. In our busy lives even ten minutes a night may seem like a lot but your dog will view this as a wonderful bonding experience. Another thing that can work towards preventing your dog from leaving your yard is to take them on long leash walks so they can safely explore their surroundings but realize you are the one in charge. Make sure to praise and reward them so they associated listening to your commands and responding to you as pack leader as a good idea. Try mixing things up and taking different walking routes to prevent boredom from routine. You may find that a dog park is a wonderful place for your dog to socialize and look forward to visiting. If you are extremely busy you may wish to hire someone to come and walk your dog or you may choose to opt for a doggy daycare. Pups Playland in New Ulm, MN offers doggy daycare services at extremely reasonable prices along with the opportunity for your dog to socialize and play in a secure and safe environment. Also remember that it is never too late to take a dog to obedience classes or to a refresher course if they have been through them already. This is a wonderful idea both for training purposes and for human/dog bonding.
If you have tried all of these things and still cannot prevent your dog from running away, you may need to invest in fencing off an outdoor area for your dog. Make sure your dog will not be able to jump over it or dig under it, and that the gate is always secured or locked. Some people have had success in using an invisible fence.
With a lot of time, consistancy and patience your dog will start to realize all the wonderful things she has in her home (which includes her human/s) and in her front yard and should start wandering less. This is not an overnight process but eventually you will be able to keep your dog safe and in sight.
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Kong offers many toys that you can fill with either solid treats or a soft treat filler which they also sell. These toys should keep your dog busy and stimulated.