How to Train Your Small Dog to Not Run Away

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You love opening the door after a long day of work to be greeted by your small dog jumping up and down to see you. He instantly puts a smile on your face. Plus, guests are always quick to highlight how cute and cuddly he is when they come round. Yet despite everyone loving him, he seems determined to run away whenever he can. The problem is, because he’s small, he can sneak out of gaps in your yard. If you let him off the leash when on a walk, he will make a run for it.

Training him not to run away is essential. If he manages to escape he could quickly end up on a road and in a traffic collision. Not only could this cause serious injury to someone else, but he may lose his life. So, this training is vital if you want to keep him alive and well.

Defining Tasks

Training any dog not to run away can come with its challenges. With small dogs, it can be even harder because their size allows them to squeeze through small gaps that larger dogs simply cannot. Training will consist of trying to identify what is the cause of his running away. Different methods will tackle different motives for trying to escape. You will also need to take a number of steps to deter him from running away in the first place. Obedience commands will then be needed to retain control. 

If he’s a puppy, he should still be finding his feet and be fairly receptive. You could see results in just a week or so. If he’s older and this habit has been in the making for many years, then you may need several weeks. However, get this training right and you will no longer have to worry whenever you lose sight of him.

Getting Started

Before you can start work, you will need to get your hands on several items. Fencing will be needed to secure your yard and baby gates may be needed to control his environment inside. You will also need a long, secure leash.

On top of that, make sure you have plenty of treats or break your pup's favorite food into small pieces. Toys and food puzzles will also be needed for one of the methods.

Once you have all that, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!

The Deterrence Method

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Step
1
Secure the yard
Use fencing or bushes to make sure there are no escape routes when he is in the yard. It’s important there are no gaps, as he may well be able to squeeze through due to his size. Also, try to use fencing and bushes that obscure his view. If he can’t see what’s out there, he will be far less tempted to run away.
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2
Baby gates
If he manages to get through doors or windows in the house, try fitting baby gates. They are easy to install and will seriously reduce his movement. Again, this will remove the temptation.
Step
3
Long leash
You may also want to tether him to a long leash when he is outside in the yard. This will prevent him running away altogether.
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4
Deterrence collar
These remote controlled collars emit an unpleasant spray of citronella whenever you hit the button. So, as soon as you see him trying to escape, hit the button. This will soon get him associating escaping with negative consequences.
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5
Leash on walks
Until you have his running away under control, make sure you always secure him to a leash when you leave the house. This will prevent any accident taking place during training. Use any combination of the steps above and he will soon give up trying to run away altogether.
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The Routine Method

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Exercise
Even small dogs need a decent amount of exercise. If he’s running away because he’s restless, then taking him on a longer walk or throwing a ball for him as you go may help. A tired dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog doesn’t try to escape.
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2
Attention
His running away may be attention seeking behavior. So, make sure you spend a few minutes each day giving him the love and attention he needs. Even stroking him quietly and gently in the evening will help him feel content and relaxed.
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3
Food puzzles
He may be trying to run away because he’s bored. So, try leaving him food puzzles to get through in the day. This is particularly useful if you are often out at work. Food puzzles will keep him content and occupied for hours.
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4
Toys
Introduce some new toys into his life. Then spend some time each day playing around with them. Dogs often love fetch and tug of war. Also, make sure you leave them in his bed overnight. This will keep him occupied and help him associate home with fun things.
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5
Never punish him
It is important you never punish him when he runs away. If you do, he may only become more scared of you and more determined to run away. You need to remain calm and bring him home quietly with you each time.
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The ‘Come’ Method

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Setting up
Take your little dog into a quiet room with you by luring him over with a treat. You’re going to get him into a routine of always coming to you when called. Over time, this will make him feel like he needs to always be close to you.
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2
‘Come’
Stand just a few feet away from him and then issue a ‘come’ command in an up-beat voice. It’s important he thinks this is a big game. So be as playful as you can. You can also pat your legs and get down low to encourage him to come over.
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3
Reward
As soon as he does come over, hand over a tasty treat and give him some verbal praise. The happier he feels, the more likely he will be to respond to the command next time.
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4
Increase the distance
Over the next few days, practice this command regularly. However, start increasing the distance between you when you call him over. Continue doing this until you can call him to you even when you aren’t in the same room.
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5
Consistency & distractions
After several days of successfully doing this inside, practice the command on walks too. Start by giving the instruction when he is still on a long leash. If you do this consistently each day, he will soon begin to feel like he needs to stay close to you. Furthermore, he will associate you with food and why would he want to run away from that?
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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