Your energetic puppy may love running away from you to tempt you into playing a game of chase, but that can be dangerous when you're outside together. That's because a puppy who runs away when you approach may end up in the middle of the road or lost with no way to find his home.
Teaching your puppy to come when called is one of the most important lessons he can learn. The challenge with teaching your puppy to have a reliable recall is that many puppies view it as a game and will run away, hoping for a round of tag. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to stop your puppy from running away when you approach him.
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My puppy runs away from me
If your puppy runs away from you when you approach her, keep her on a leash. This way, you can motivate her to immediately return to you with a quick tug of the leash and the lure of a tasty treat. Until you are confident that your puppy will come to you immediately when you call her name and say "come," she needs to be on a leash when she is outside.
A leash allows you to reinforce the fact that she needs to come to you when you call, not ignore you or run away. Each time she comes, whether she comes on her own or after you tug at the leash, praise her and reward her with a really good treat. Once your puppy has learned the basic idea of coming when called, attach a longer tracking lead or piece of clothesline to her collar so she can roam farther away before you call her.
Practice the "come" command
Once your puppy comes reliably when attached to a long lead, it is time to challenge him a bit. Let him loose in a securely fenced area and allow him to explore. Once he is not paying attention to you, call him using the "come" command. Ideally, he will come immediately, and you can reward him with treats and praise. If he doesn't come, don't keep calling him. Either run the opposite way to attract his attention or walk over to him and attach the leash.
Play with your dog
Call your puppy and then take off running in the opposite direction or collapse on the ground and make sad, crying noises. Either will grab her attention and send her your way. When she comes over, reward her generously with treats and praise. Playing with your dog not only practices the recall command but it also encourages bonding. It is a great way to strengthen your relationship and lets your puppy know that you aren't something to fear but someone they love and want to be around.
Don't chase your dog
You may be thinking, "My dog runs away from me, and I'm so frustrated." The one thing you don't want to do is to chase your dog. The reason for this is that you are teaching your dog that you are willing to play a fun game of "chase" with him if he runs away.
Indoors and outdoors, if your dog starts to run away, simply ignore him. Do this in the safety of your home or in a secure, fenced yard so your puppy can't actually escape and hurt himself. Pretty soon, he'll learn that running away stops any potential fun.
Never punish your dog for running away
It can be very annoying when your dog runs away from you, but never punish your dog for this behavior. If anything, this will simply cause your dog to fear you, and she'll start running away from you all the time.
You also don't want to give your dog the "come" command and then punish her for running away in the first place. This teaches your dog that when she hears this command, punishment will follow. Instead, always give her lots of love, praise, and yummy treats for coming when called.