The heart and soul of a wolf lies within every pet dog!
Running Away is Instinctual behavior as opposed to misbehavior. There are many reasons why dogs may bolt from the house, the yard or the dog park and they could include open doors in the home, unlocked gates, the smell of food, other animals, females in heat, untrained in the stay command.
Tips to Control Running Off
Here are some tips to control Running Off from home and Running Away when off leash.
Prevention is the best solution. Make sure all family members keep the doors to your home closed when they enter and exit.
Also keep the gates to the yard closed and locked at all times. Avoiding human error can go a long way in solving this problem.
Another tip involves training. When you take your dog out, first open the door and make him pause and use the ‘Stay’ Command. (The Stay Command is covered was covered in Beginners Obedience Commands Part Two)
The next step is to give him permission to exit by saying ‘ok’ or some command of your choosing and then praising him as he exits.
He will eventually look to you for permission to exit an open door. Some people even take this a step further by exiting out of the door first themselves before releasing the dog from the ”Stay’. This helps indicate that you are the leader of the pack because leaders always go first.
Read Also: Major Benefits of Dog Training
This next training tips are for dogs who bolt when they are walking with you off-leash. If your dog does this then, guess what, he is Not ready to have such freedom. He needs advanced Obedience with Distractions lessons. and off-leash training.
Until you get to that level of training, the advice for a beginner would be to not walk off leash until your dog is more reliable in the Sit Stay Come beginners obedience combination. These are basic control commands.
Connect Long Leash
Another tip would be to connect a long leash to your dog’s collar and loosely place it on your shoulder to give your dog the illusion of freedom. You appear hands free and the dog does not feel the strain of the leash upon him. Yet you still can just grab onto the leash if the dog tries to bolt.
Do Not Give Negative Reinforcement if he comes back on his own
Voice Tips for running away can be tricky. If your dog runs off, do not give negative reinforcement if he comes back on his own. Even if he ran off for 20 minutes and you did not catch up to him, rather he came back to you, praise is in order.
This is because the last thing he did was the right thing. You would essentially be punishing him for coming to you. If you were to catch up to the dog in this scenario, then a harsh “No” and a shake by the scruff of the neck are in order. It is okay to apply negative reinforcement if you catch up to a dog who has run off.
If the dog starts to run off and you shout “No” in a low voice and he starts to come back to you, be sure to praise him as he comes running back.
Tasty Treats & Welcoming Voice
Always use delicious treats and a welcoming voice whenever your dog is coming over to you. In fact, some people will use a special high status treat that their dog only gets for ‘coming when called’, such as chicken or cheese. Finally, the come command is one of the few commands that you should give your dog a treat for executing 100% of the time.
After all, you are competing with the birds, the flowers, the butterflies the sights the sounds and the smells of the great out doors. You need any advantage you can get when it comes to gaining consistency with this command.
Use Higher Pitch Especially Men
This tip is especially for men! Men obviously have a naturally low pitched voice . Sometimes dogs can be fearful of coming when called to men due to this low voice.
Men, be sure to strive for a higher pitch in your voice when calling your dog over to you. This is especially important if your dog has run off and you are calling him because your anger or frustration at that moment may drive your voice even lower.
Other Recall Tips include:
Anticipate Running Behavior and correct it before it happens
For example, you may see your dog fixated on a squirrel or cat or some other distraction. Perhaps his ears have perked up and he is momentarily stiff and staring, the odd are very likely that he is going to bolt away from you to seek out the object of his interest. In this case, break the fixation and therefore the bolting behavior by saying ‘No’ or Stay’ in an abrupt low voice.
You can also try redirecting the behavior by saying Watch Me with a treat in a high inviting voice. The dog is ‘thinking’ bolt but his brain has not yet caught up with his body. Correcting or redirecting him right before he commits the act is more effective than correcting him during or after the act. You are teaching him what ‘not to do’
This tip takes advantage of canine instinct. Dogs react to ground motion (squirrels and all!) This is due to prey drive.
Prey drive is an instinctual tendency for a dog to want to seek out, chase and capture prey. This is one of the reasons a dog will run off in the first place.
So sometimes it helps to offer your dog body language that takes advantage of this instinctual inclination in an effort to entice your straying dog to come to you. Techniques that help are to lower your body, open your arms, wiggle your hands and fingers or even move backwards to attract the dog who has run off.
Teach a variety of commands related to “Coming When Called”
Another tip would be to teach a variety of commands related to coming when called in order that you will have some other tricks up you sleeve to achieve your goal. The Freeze Command teaches your dog to stop in motion, You can use this if the dog begins to bolt. The Turn Command trains your dog to perform a 180 degree turn when running ahead of you. When performed, the dog unwittingly is coming back to you in a way that still smacks of freedom.
Advanced Commands Freeze & Turn
Freeze and Turn are more advance commands. They and other more advanced coming when called techniques are presented in other sections of this website. Since these recall tips are being presented in a beginners level format , it is important to remind you of the most obvious tip. Practice your beginners obedience commands at the dog park including Sit Stay Come.
The point is to get your dog in the habit of listening to you in places other than the quiet of your kitchen! Any adventure outside should involve engaging the dog in at least one mini-session and ADL training (Activities of Daily Living).
Our last Pet Tip for Running Away /Coming When Called is to Be Patient. This is the most difficult behavior to obtain perfection on. It takes time and practice.
And remember, if your dog will not perform the easy things like Sit or Down on command, then don’t expect him to perform something so difficult like coming when called or not running off . .