What To Do When Your Dog Runs Away From You

When you're out on a walk, your dog escapes by slipping out of his leash. He also likes to run out of the yard when the gate is open and door dash when you open your front door. These are scary moments, because your dog runs out into the street, putting himself in danger. However, you aren't sure what to do to get him to come back to you.

Dog waiting for walk with leash in mouth
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There are a few reasons why your dog may be running away from you. By figuring out why this is happening, you can then train him not to do it in the future and feel safer when you open the door or gate or you're walking him.

Why dogs run away from their owners

If your dog runs away to chase something like a car, a squirrel, or a cat, he may have a strong prey drive. This is the natural instinct to chase things to try and catch them. It may be harmless when he's chasing a small animal around your yard, but if runs away from you on a walk or bolts out the front door to go after something, this is highly dangerous.

Another reason your dog escapes is the thrill of going out into the world. When he leaves your home or yard, he may bark at other dogs in the neighborhood, explore your neighbors' lawns, or run until he's out of breath. All of those activities are rewarding to your dog.

If you have a male dog, he may run away because he senses a female dog in heat and wants to mate with her. This can cause many problems if the female dog becomes pregnant, so it's best not to go near female dogs if your dog isn't neutered.

Vizsla dog running through trees
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Your dog could also run away when he's scared. Perhaps you yelled at him, he heard a loud noise like fireworks, or he's trying to get away from a large crowd.

What not to do when your dog runs away

Dog owners make the mistake of screaming at their dog to get it to come back, but in actuality, a happy voice is much more effective. Your dog may be scared of you if you start yelling, so avoid it altogether.

When going after your dog, you shouldn't be empty-handed; that means you need a high-value treat and a leash on you to catch him. You also shouldn't run and grab at your dog because he may run away again. He might think you're playing a game with him or he could be scared of you. Don't stand over your dog or try to be intimidating, because that will scare him.

small dog playing off leash dog chasing bird in park
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What to do when your dog runs away

If your dog runs away, the first thing you'll need to do is stay calm. Overreacting is only going to make it worse. Again, avoid yelling and, when calling the dog, use a soothing voice to get him to come to you. Have that treat on hand and his leash so that you can securely take him home. Try to get your dog into a confined place like a neighbor's yard where you can corner him and get him to come to you. It's also best to get on his level on the ground instead of standing over him.

To prevent your dog from running away in the future, make sure you do recall training so that he comes to you immediately when you call him. Also, you need to invest in a sturdy leash and collar that he won't slip out of. Reinforce your home – install some extra gates and fences if you have to – and give your dog plenty of exercise every day so that he isn't bored and aching to go outside every chance he gets. With a little bit of time and training, you can ensure your dog won't run away from you in any situation.