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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.
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.
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
Take your pup out in the backyard or a quiet open field to play.
Use the 'come' command
When he starts to run away call his name and tell him to "come."
Time for rewards
If he comes, reward him with lots of love and a treat.
The halfway point
Repeat this process halfway through your planned playtime.
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.
The Gatekeeper Method
Work at the door
Lead your dog to the door on a leash so he can't bolt when you open the door.
Have your dog sit. Reach for the door handle.
Watch for movement
If your pup starts to get up, take your hand off the handle and make him sit again.
Time to pay up
If he lets you open the door without moving, give him a treat.
Repeat this process until you can leave the door open and your dog will look to you for permission to go through it.
The Back Up Method
Go for a walk
Take your dog out into the yard on a standard walking leash.
Back away 2 or 3 feet from him.
Call your dog
Call him to you.
If he comes, shower him with praise and give him a treat.
Repeat with distance
Repeat this training method, gradually moving farther away until he comes every time.
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 12/28/2017, edited: 01/08/2021