FREE dog training advice from a pro!

How to stop your dog from running away

Does your dog bolt out of the front door? Escape your fence? Stop this dangerous habit now!

Running away is one of the most frightening and dangerous decisions your dog can make. Even if your dog wears tags or is microchipped to help find his way home, he still runs the risk of being hit by a car, attacked by another animal, or "adopted" by someone who may or may not provide the same level of care you do.

So, if you've got a dog who likes to run away, it's time to put an immediate stop to the behavior! I've seen too many clients in this situation dally until it was too late. I guess they hoped that the problem would solve itself, or they figured that their dog would continue to return home from his unauthorized excursions. Unfortunately, running away is not a problem that solves itself; instead, when left unchecked, it usually ends in tragedy.

SUGGESTION #1: Install an electronic pet fence

Installing an electronic pet fence (also commonly called an Invisible Fence® or a dog fence) is by far the most effective way to keep your pet in your yard — period. Electronic pet fences use a combination of audible tones and static correction to teach your pet the limits of his boundaries. They are effective for dogs of all breeds and sizes, and they stop problems ranging from escaping an existing traditional fence to bolting through doors and gates.

You can buy do-it-yourself (DIY) electronic pet fences from your local hardware or big box store under many different brand names including PetSafe®, SportDog®, and Guardian®. If you're experienced with power tools and electronics and have a good grasp of dog training, one of these products may be a good solution for you. If you're not particularly handy, you should consider contacting a pro from a company like PetStop® or Invisible Fence.

To learn more, read my article on electronic pet fences.

SUGGESTION #2: Only let your dog outside under your direct supervision

If you decide that an electronic pet fence is not right for you, your next best option is to let your dog outside only under your direct supervision. Whenever your dog approaches your fence, immediately call him back to you (read my article about teaching your dog to come to you on command). Eventually, you'll get your dog in the habit of avoiding the fence when you are outside with him — but don't expect him to maintain this behavior when you're not around!

If you do not have a traditional chain link or wood fence — or if your dog is particularly adept at escaping — then you should always take your dog outside on a leash. If your dog is directly attached to you, he won't have the opportunity to run away.

SUGGESTION #3: Build a large dog run or kennel

Recommended Product
PetSafe Chain Link Dog Run

A final option to stop your dog from running away is to confine your dog to a large dog run or kennel when he is outside. This is my least favorite option because it is not foolproof (a motivated dog can still dig out or possibly climb over the run) and it limits your dog's opportunities for exercise.

But, if you do decide to solve your problem with a dog run, follow these guidelines:

  • Design the kennel to be as indestructible as possible, including laying a trench of cement or a barrier of cement pavers around the base of the run.
  • Make sure the kennel offers plenty of shade and protection from the elements. It's a good idea to include an automatic watering system to ensure your dog has constant access to fresh water.
  • Only keep your dog in the kennel when you are unable to directly supervise him. When you are home, integrate your dog into your family.
  • Take your dog out for a long walk or game of fetch every single day to ensure he gets enough exercise.

REMEMBER: If you're planning to build a dog kennel because you think it's your least expensive option, you''' likely be disappointed. A well-built dog kennel usually costs at least as much as an electronic pet fence, and it offers a much lower quality of life since it doesn't provide the freedom to run and play. Using a kennel also creates more work for you, as you must make more time in your schedule every day to ensure your dog gets the attention and exercise he requires.

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