How to Train Your Dog to Stop Escaping

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’re hard at work when you get a call. The neighbors have found your dog roaming the streets... again. He has a creative way of escaping the confines of your home. When you’re out gardening in the summer, he’s lying next to you one minute and then he’s vanished the next. He’s frequently returned by neighbors and friends who have seen him wandering around town on his own. 

This is a serious problem, if you can’t train him to cut this deserting habit he may get himself into serious trouble. He could be involved in a traffic accident, possibly losing his life and also endangering other people. He could also get lost, or even worse, taken by someone else. You don’t want to lose him so you need to get a handle on this situation. 

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to stop escaping isn’t always straightforward. You need to address the underlying reason behind his escaping and tackle that. You’ll need to undergo training with him to show him where his territory ends and motivate him to stay within it. You will also need to follow some of the measures below to prevent him escaping in the first place. Changing up his routine and another of other factors may help you put an end to this behavior. Whether he is a puppy or an older, wiser dog, training could take anywhere from a week to several weeks. It will depend on your consistency and how deep his mischievous streak runs.

Get this training right and you’ll never need to worry about losing him again. You can stop looking over your shoulder and frantically rushing around the house when he doesn’t respond to his name within a couple of seconds.

Getting Started

You’ll need several things to be successful with this training. Break his favorite food into small chunks and stock up on some treats. You’ll use these as an incentive during training.

For some of the methods, it could be worth investing in a loud pitched deterrence horn and a remote-controlled collar that emits water or a citronella spray. A long leash and a collar with a tracker will also be needed for one of the methods.

Once you’ve gathered all of the above, you’re ready to start!

The Broaden His Horizons Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Get stepping
Some dogs try to escape out of sheer boredom. If this is the problem, you need to introduce your dog to new and stimulating experiences. This should keep him content and occupied, keeping escaping firmly off the agenda. Give him an extra walk, or walk him for longer, this will help dispel energy and keep him happy.
Step
2
Play games with him
Tug of war, fetch, football--all will keep him excited and content. If he’s tearing around with you he won’t think of the house as a prison. This will also strengthen your bond and make him less likely to want to leave you.
Step
3
Teach him a few commands
Teach him to ‘sit’, ‘roll over’, ‘wait’ and anything else you deem handy. This will channel his energy into something productive and away from escaping. The treats and time spent with you will also make him more eager to stay put.
Step
4
Take him to training classes
This interaction with other dogs and this new world will be captivating and stimulating. He’ll be happy during class and tired afterwards. A content and sleepy dog isn’t looking to escape.
Step
5
Change up his toys
If he’s looking for new thrills, give them to him at home so he doesn’t have to try and escape to get them. That means giving him new toys every now and then to keep him entertained.
Recommend training method?

The Security Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Keep him inside when you’re out
He may be able to escape with ease when he’s in the yard, but the confines of the house should keep him locked in. Make sure when you go to work or out with friends that the doors and windows are properly secured.
Step
2
Keep him busy when you’re away
If he’s restless when you’re not there he may look to escape, so have a friend or a service walk him. Alternatively, leave him at a doggie day care center. This will keep him happy and give him interaction with other dogs, so he won't be interested in escaping.
Step
3
Consider neutering or spaying
If they’re highly sexually stimulated, dogs may try anything to get out of the house to find a mate. Spaying or neutering will prevent them having future puppies and will remove that motivation if it’s driving escape attempts. Only pursue this if you already know you don’t want them to have puppies and were considering it anyway.
Step
4
Consider a deterrent collar
You can get remote controlled collars that give an unpleasant spray of water or citronella. If you see him trying to escape, hit the button and he’ll quickly re-think what he was doing and send him back to his bed with his tail between his legs.
Step
5
Invest in a tracker
Until you’ve got his escaping under control, get a collar with a tracker in that you can easily monitor. That way you’ll be able to see where he is from your computer or phone. If he does escape, you’ll be able to find him and bring him home quickly before anything serious goes wrong.
Recommend training method?

The React Appropriately Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Be firm
When he does escape, be sure to react in the correct way when you find him. Secure him to a leash and take him home, but stay silent the whole time. Many owners shout and scream, but this will just scare your dog, who then might want to escape even more. So keep a cool head.
Step
2
Be vigilant
It’s important you’re always on the look out to start with. If you can’t keep a watchful eye on him, keep him inside. If he is in the yard, watch him closely and be ready to react if you think an escape is imminent.
Step
3
Use a horn
Bought from online stores, they emit a high pitched sound that will scare your dog if you sound it near him. If you see him sniffing around outside and looking for ways to escape, then get over to him quickly and blow the horn. He’ll learn to associate that sound with trying to escape. Then bring him back inside and distract him by playing a game or just giving him some attention.
Step
4
Positive reinforcement
When he does comes away from the boundaries, give him a treat and some verbal praise. It’s important there is a motivation for coming away from the fence, gate or bushes. If he always gets a tasty treat, there’ll be an incentive NOT to escape.
Step
5
Secure him to an extra long leash
To start with, secure him to a really long leash in the yard. Make sure he can get close to the edge of the yard, but not out of it. That way he can’t physically escape but you can still treat him and reward him when he comes away from the edges of the yard.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Felix
Mixed breed
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Felix
Mixed breed
5 Months

Hi! My fence at home has a gate that my puppy can slip under. I've pretty much gotten his escaping-out-of-boredom controlled, but he is still wanting to escape when he sees dogs or people walking past so he can go say hi. When I catch it and call for him, he runs back to me. However, sometimes he does run across the street, which is a clear safety problem. What is the best way to untrain this behavior?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Allie, First, I wouldn't allow pup out in the fenced area without you out there to enforce any training you do, unless you have placed something at the bottom of the gate to prevent pup from escaping when you aren't there. As far as training, start working on a reliable Come, progressing to practicing around other dogs. Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall While working on Come also work on the gate 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 tree (the leash is a safety measure). With the leash slack and only there "just in case", act like you are going out the gate. Start to open the gate 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 gate 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 gate and play goalie with the opening. Opening the gate 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 little bit if he won't move out of the way - your attitude needs to mean business and be calm without being angry at all. Once you can open the gate and he will stay back and not try to rush through, then you can praise and toss a treat. You will gradually practice opening the gate 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 gate (instead of trying to bolt or crawl under). It will feel a lot like you are a soccer goalie, having to be quick and focused. When you can open the gate completely and he will wait, take a step through the gate to the outside of the fence. 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 praise and toss a treat at his paws. Practice at that distance until he will stay back. As he improves, take more and more steps, moving outside, further away into your unfenced yard eventually. Be ready to quickly rush toward him as soon as you see him start to move, to keep him from getting outside the fence (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 the fenced yard while you stand in the unfenced 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 with the gate completely open - but long training leash on during practice for safety. I would also find a way to secure the gate so pup can't slip under it if at all possible. The above training will help pup stay in the fence better, especially when you are around, but it won't guarantee it, especially when you are not around. If you absolutely cannot change the yard or gate to make the gap smaller, I would look into a pet barrier device that will correct pup for approaching the gate automatically, and add that after pup has learned through your training with the long leash to not bolt through the gate. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Twix
Husky
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Twix
Husky
2 Years

She escapes almost every day and she unhooks her dog run and we also have a fence but she keeps finding new ways to get out. The dogrun is now a chain because she showed through her other one.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Raquel, First, I recommend teaching a reliable Come command. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Second, assuming pup is staying outside in a physical fence - and not just a small kennel enclosure right now. If so, I recommend installing an invisible fence two feet inside of your physical fence around the yard. The electric fence should help pup not to even approach the physical fence so that he won't have opportunity to dig or climb it. The invisible in-ground electric fence should only be paired with the real fence and not in place of it, or it will not be effective. There still needs to be a physical barrier so that pup can't just bolt through the electric fence quickly. If pup is a fence climber and not also a digger, then you may want to consider this option. https://easypetfence.com/products/6-cat-fence-post-with-extender-and-sleeve?variant=37536085322&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping&gclid=CjwKCAiA8Jf-BRB-EiwAWDtEGiQ2lkQobdPfwxU3h2oWwLW7EZVYOBxOgyHWPGAgtgNp8SJy1YkRdhoCTpMQAvD_BwE Either way, I highly recommend working on stimulating pup mentally and physically too. Spending at least thirty minute a day teaching pup new commands or tricks or working pup up to a higher skill on current commands, giving pup interactive toys, and finding ways to make life outside less lonely for pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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