How to Train Your Dog to Not Run Away

Hard
1-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Does your dog hit light speed on his way out every time you open the door? Or is he a fence climber that clambers up and over to make his great escape? No matter how your pup manages to get out, it's nothing to laugh about as he could get end up being injured, killed, or captured by animal control and sent to a shelter.

There are many reasons why dogs like to "pull a Houdini" and escape as often as possible. These include boredom, loneliness, the desire to mate, being scared, becoming over-excited and many more.

But far and above, the most common reason why dogs love to run away is quite simply because they can. If there is any way he can get out the door, go over or under the fence, or bolt out of your yard, you can bet your furry friend is going to take advantage of it.

Face it, you wouldn't be too happy if you had to spend your days cooped up in a very small area. But if you could find a way to escape, you would take it in a heartbeat.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog not to take off at every opportunity is going to be challenging. One of the best ways to do so is to give your dog a better reason to stay home than to run away.

You should never chase after your dog as this will only make him think you are playing a game and he will just keep running. Also, never punish your dog for what is, in essence, a natural behavior or for when he gets things wrong during training.  

Training your dog not to run away can help keep him in the yard, keep him next to you in the park, or close to you on walks. But most importantly, it could save his life.

Getting Started

To get started, you don't need very much in the way of supplies. You simply need a package of your dog's favorite treats, plenty of time and patience, and a strong desire to succeed. Depending on the training method you choose, you may need a long-line leash to help keep your pup under control should he decide to try running away during training.

Be prepared to work on his training in three sessions of five to ten minutes at a time. This will help work within your pup's attention span. If you go much longer, you will lose his attention and any efforts you put into training are going to be wasted.  Try to find a quiet area to work in or a quiet spot in your yard for his training to avoid any potential distractions and speed the training process.

The Playtime Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
It's playtime
Take your pup out in the backyard or a quiet open field to play.
Step
2
Use the 'come' command
When he starts to run away call his name and tell him to "come."
Step
3
Time for rewards
If he comes, reward him with lots of love and a treat.
Step
4
The halfway point
Repeat this process halfway through your planned playtime.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat it again at the end and continue this cycle every day until he understands what you want and comes back every time you call him.
Recommend training method?

The Back Up Method

Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Go for a walk
Take your dog out into the yard on a standard walking leash.
Step
2
Back away
Back away 2 or 3 feet from him.
Step
3
Call your dog
Call him to you.
Step
4
Reward
If he comes, shower him with praise and give him a treat.
Step
5
Repeat with distance
Repeat this training method, gradually moving farther away until he comes every time.
Recommend training method?

The Gatekeeper Method

Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Work at the door
Lead your dog to the door on a leash so he can't bolt when you open the door.
Step
2
Sit first
Have your dog sit. Reach for the door handle.
Step
3
Watch for movement
If your pup starts to get up, take your hand off the handle and make him sit again.
Step
4
Time to pay up
If he lets you open the door without moving, give him a treat.
Step
5
Practice
Repeat this process until you can leave the door open and your dog will look to you for permission to go through it.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Juniper
Border Collie
7 Months
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Question
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Juniper
Border Collie
7 Months

My Dad and I got two female puppies from the same litter. We live on a ranch were there is plenty of place to roam. If only one dog is off the leash then the other will come back perfectly fine every time, although when they are off together they run away and we have to go find. Please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
465 Dog owners recommended

Hello Patricia, I suggest teaching an e-collar come and teaching th dogs that the collar vibration means come so that you can simply vibrate the collar when they should come back - and only correct with stimulation if they ignore the vibration. To teach come, start by teaching a normal come using a long leash and the reel in method from the article linked below. Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall E-collar come info: https://youtu.be/rtJxSXu4rfs James Penrith from take the lead dog training has several recall videos on his YouTube channel to learn more about e-collars, working levels, and teaching come. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Tito
Pit bull
6 Months
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Question
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Tito
Pit bull
6 Months

I have a 6 and a half month old pit bull mix and we got him free from breeders at only 3 weeks, he is my baby and is always by my side when we’re in the house, and when we go to play in our field, but when it’s time to come inside because we are all tired he will just sit in the middle of the field and taunt me while I call him. We live next to a busy road and I don’t want him to get run over, and he weighs 65 lbs of pure muscle, so I can’t always catch him, how do I get him to come into the house when I do???

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
465 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alyssa, Practice the reel in method from the article linked below. Once he knows the basics of what Come means from practicing that, when you play with him in the yard, keep a long leash on him during play (just let it drag as long as you are there to supervise and the area is safe). When you are ready to go inside, go over to the end of the leash and casually pick it up, then call him saying something like "Inside" and if he doesn't come, reel him in with the long leash. Practicing Come and Inside with the long leash teaches him he needs to obey those commands even when he doesn't feel like it, using Inside instead of Come to get him inside, keep Come a more fun command - so he will be more likely to listen to it in emergencies. When he obeys without having to be reeled in, give a treat when he gets to the door or comes to you. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tucker
Miniature Goldendoodle
1 Year
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Question
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Tucker
Miniature Goldendoodle
1 Year

What do you do if your dog runs away when he gets out and won’t come to you at all to be rewarded for the behavior?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
465 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, In an emergency situation excitedly call your dogs name, wave your arms, make fun noises, and run AWAY from your dog so that they will chase you. When they get to you, feed a really fun treat while you calmly slip your fingers under their collar. This should work a few times but eventually your dog will catch on, so you really need to practice the following as well: Most importantly, work on Come and door dashing. Check out the article linked below and the Reel In method for teaching Come. Once your dog has learned what Come means, practice it on a long leash in your house with your door open, and in your yard, and in your neighborhood, where you dog tends to escape to. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Also, practice not dashing through doors. Use a long leash to attach your dog to something secure inside the home, like a stairs banister. Practice opening the door and closing it in your dogs face (you aren't trying to hit them just surprise them) whenever they try to go through without being told "Okay" or "Free" or some similar word you choose. If they slip past you, the long leash will ensure their safety and prevent them from thinking they got away with it. When they can stay inside while the door is open, then practice going outside without them while the door is open. If they try to follow you without being told to, put your hand out like a stop sign and quickly run toward them until they back up into the house again. If they stay inside with the door open, praise them and toss treats inside for them as a reward. Once they can stay inside while you are in the yard and the door is open, have a friend walk down your sidewalk and practice with that distraction too. Finally, have a friend walk their dog down your street and practice around that as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Thank you for the advice and sorry for the bad spelling. This will do alot to keep him safe.❤💜

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Question
Maeve
Husky
4 Years
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Question
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Maeve
Husky
4 Years

I have the hardest time taking my dog outside. I take her to a park with an enclosure because she won't stay by my side and my biggest fear is her getting hit by a car or something because when she's outside nothing else matters, and I don't exist. (Unlike inside, she responds to all commands very quickly and efficiently). I know quite a few people that can just walk outside and their dog follows them, why doesn't my dog? LOL! When she was a pup we lived in an apartment right in front of a super busy intersection so we could never practice being off leash when we would take her to the bathroom, but I spent hours and hours per day just teaching her to listen to commands. I don't know what to do anymore, I feel so bad having her on a leash all the time and she always is pulling so hard against me. Please give me some advice.

Thanks in advance.
Aly

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
465 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aly, I suggest joining an intermediate obedience class. A basic obedience class teaching the meaning of commands in calm environments, like you have done. An Intermediate obedience class works on those commands in distracting environments, around things like dogs, people, and smells. A good intermediate obedience class will provide an environment to do that with her. Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. Once a dog understands what Come means, a long leash is used to enforce the command, to teach the dog that they have to Come around distractions, even when they don't want to - since there are times when she doesn't want to come. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Since she is pulling on the leash still, I suggest changing the way you walk her. Check out the video and article on heeling linked below. Follow the Turns method from the article: Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Finally, work on teaching her to automatically check in. On a long leash practice walking around in open areas like the fenced park you take her to (this will be easier once she walks better on a leash). Whenever she comes up to you without being told to, praise and give her a treat. This is an optional thing for her - you are simply trying to convince her that it is worth her while to occasionally check in with you. The more of a habit this automatic checking in becomes, the better she is likely to pay attention to you and keep track of where you are. Husky's tend to be very independent and were bred to pull and run. Some breeds naturally stay with their owners because they were breed to keep a close eye on their masters for the sake of their job. That characteristic can make off leash training them a lot easier. Since you don't have that natural tendency with her, you will honestly have to work more to gain off leash reliability and it won't look the same as some other people's training - that 's alright. That doesn't mean anything is wrong. It simply means that you have different dogs from each other and with each breed comes unique gifts and unique challenges. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Honey2
Pit bull
2 Years
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Question
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Honey2
Pit bull
2 Years

We got Honey from a shelter about 3 months ago. The shelter said that she had run away from her previous owner andtheyyy couldnt get ahold of them so they put her up for adoption. Ever since we got her, we have to hold her down when the door opens or she'll bolt. I live close to a very busy street with cars going up to 50 or 60 mph and im scared she will take off and get hit. She knows sit and stay, but if shes not on a leash, she will bolt. How do i prevent this from happening? I use a clicker for my training method. And ive been working on her staying since we got her. I just feel like im not getting anywhere.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
465 Dog owners recommended

Hello Terra, First, start working on a reliable Come. Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. The Reel In method is sufficient for most dogs but some dogs do need to be e-collar trained afterward as well to teach reliability around high distractions also, but either way the foundation of Come and practicing the Reel In method on a long leash is needed first. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall E-collar Come info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJxSXu4rfs&t=331s While working on Come also work on the door bolting itself. Attach a thirty or fifty foot leash to a padded back clip harness that he can't slip out of. Attach the other end of the leash to something sturdy like a stairway banister (the leash is a safety measure). With the leash slack and only there "just in case", act like you are going out the door. Start to open the door and whenever pup tries to go toward it quickly close it. Your goal isn't to hit him but he may get a slight bump if he is especially pushy. Practice opening and closing the door until you can open it and he will wait until it is open further. When he is waiting a bit, then get between him and the door and play goalie with the opening. Opening the door wide enough for you to get through, then whenever pup tries to get through firmly but calmly take several steps toward him to make him back up. By doing this you are communicating that you own that space and asking for his respect. Don't worry about bumping into him a bit if he won't move out of the way - your attitude needs to mean business without being angry at all. Once you can open the door and he will stay back and not try to rush through, then you can click and toss a treat. You will gradually practice opening the door more and more and blocking him from getting through and walking toward him to make him back up and wait. Take steps toward him until he is at least two feet from the door AND two feet away from you - those two distances often equal him giving you respect (and not simply waiting to get past you when you move), and waiting at the door (instead of trying to bolt). It will feel a lot like you are a soccer goalie, having to be quick and focused. When you can open the door completely and he will wait, take a step through the doorway. If he tries to follow, rush toward him, making him backup again quickly. This serves as a natural consequence and encourages him to stay back. If he waits patiently, then click and toss a treat as his paws. Practice at that distance until he will stay back. As he improves, take more and more steps, moving outside, onto your porch and into your yard eventually. Be ready to quickly rush toward him as soon as you see him start to move, to keep him from getting outside (this is why you back the long leash on him, just in case he gets past you, but for training purposes the goal is to keep him from getting out so he isn't rewarded for bolting). When he will stay inside while you stand in the yard, then recruit others to be distractions outside. Expect to stay a bit closer to him when you first add a hard distraction - like another dog walking past, a walker, kids playing in the yard, balls being tossed. Imagine what types of things he may one day see outside and choose distractions that are at least that difficult to practice this around. Expect to practice this as often as you can, along with Come for several weeks, not just a couple of sessions, until you get to where he is completely reliable with distractions like dogs and kids in your yard and the door completely open. A final activity you can practice is walking around places like your yard or a field and changing directions frequently without saying anything. Whenever he takes notice (at first because the leash finally tugs, but later just because you moved), then toss a treat at him for looking your way or coming over to you - without calling him; this encourages him to choose to pay attention to where you are and associate your presence with good things on his own, so he will want to be with you. The combination of practicing door manners, Come, and willing following works best. For many dogs practicing door manners with the long leash the was I described is sufficient but some dogs also need e-collar training not to bolt through doors to gain reliably. The training is done the same way with a long leash, but every time the dog crosses the thresh hold or tries to bolt, while you are rushing toward them to get them back you also stimulate the collar to give a well timed correction. In that scenario you would also use clicker training and rewards for staying inside to teach him what NOT to do (rush outside) and what he SHOULD do instead (stay inside). Anytime you want him to go outside with you, give him a command at the doorway that means it is okay to exit, like "Okay", "Free" "Outside", "Heel", or "Let's Go". Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Aspen
Bichon Frise
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Aspen
Bichon Frise
1 Year

Aspen is a good dog whe he is in the house. Today my sister left the garage open and he ran out .whe had to chase him but we had treats so we were able to get him. But now my brother left the door open and he ran out again in to the street and this time the treats did not work he new what we were going to do i had to run and get him im happy to say aspen is so friendly he went up to a lady and she disrespected him so i could grab him ....can u plz help me im afaid he i wont be that lucky next time

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
465 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jesseca, Purchase a thirty-foot leash and practice the Reel-In method from the article linked below. Reel In method for teaching Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Using the long leash, also walk around outside in an open area like a cul-de-sac and practice his Come and reward him when he comes. Whenever he comes without being called also or chooses to stay beside you instead of get further away, give him a treat too - you are also rewarding him for choosing to come on his own so that he learns to want to be close to you when he has the option of exploring. Practice this on a lightweight 30'-50' foot leash to keep him safe. Make sure he cannot slip out of his collar or have him wear a harness that's fitted correctly. Finally, work on him not bolting out doors. Attach the long leash to him and tie it to something secure right inside the door, like a stairway banister, so that he thinks he can get out the door but the leash will stop him from getting too far if he goes through the door. With the leash in place for safety, stand in front of the door and practice opening and closing the door. Whenever he tries to rush out, quickly close the door again (careful not to let him get caught in the door). Use your body to then get in front of him, between him and the door, and walk toward him until he backs several feet away from the door and a couple of feet away from you - you are telling him with your body language to give the door and you some space. Practice opening and closing the door and walking toward him to get him to back up from the door; do this until you can open the door all the way and he will wait. When he will wait, toss him a treat for waiting. He is not allowed to go through the door without being told "Free" though. Work up to stepping onto your porch and going further and further outside as he gets better at staying inside with the door open. Return to him and toss him a treat when he stays inside and watches you walk outside. When he tries to follow you outside with the door open, tell him "Ah Ah" and quickly rush toward him with your arms out like you are blocking him to get him to go back to where he is supposed to be. Only reward him for staying where he is supposed to be and not for getting up then going back - you don't want him to purposefully get up and then go back just to get a treat. You want him to stay there without leaving at all. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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