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Pooches On The Run: Why Dogs Take Off And How To Keep Your Escape Artist Safely Sequestered

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It is not an uncommon scenario. The door to the home opens, the family dog makes a hasty beeline toward the great wide open and off he goes into the woods or down the neighborhood street. Such escapades can lead to heartbreaking consequences. Find out why some dogs take off, which dogs are more likely to run out in search of adventure and what you can do to prevent the great escape.

Gambling with Luck and Life

Perhaps your dog has escaped before and safely returned. Whether this was the welcomed ending once or on multiple occasions, counting on this outcome every time is gambling with your dog's life. Sooner or later, his luck may run out. Each time your dog escapes and takes off running, he is at risk for one of the following perils:

  • Getting struck by a moving vehicle
  • Being harmed by annoyed neighbors
  • Being collected by local animal control
  • Getting attacked by other dogs or by wildlife
  • Becoming lost
  • Being stolen

If your dog has escaped before, considering some common reasons why dogs run out may be helpful in understanding how you can prevent future risks for tragedy.

Dogs That Dash

Some dogs are more likely to make a mad dash out the door than others. Such behavior is not a spiteful act to misbehave. Some dogs that are flight risks carry these tendencies as part of their genetic background. Breeds that were once developed to serve strictly as companion animals, such as some of the toy breeds, are not likely to take off from their owners' sides. However, the following breed types are more likely to escape and run from their masters:

  • Scent hounds and sight hounds, both of which were developed for hunting, have strong prey drives that launch them into focused states of hot pursuit when they catch a whiff or visual that piques their curiosity. Scent hounds include beagles, bloodhounds and basset hounds, and sight hounds include greyhounds, Afghan hounds, Irish wolfhounds, borzois, salukis and whippets.
  • Terriers, which were also developed to hunt, were bred to hunt independently of human sportsmen. Terriers are also notorious for digging and tunneling, which means that they will escape by tearing through a screen door or digging their way underneath the confines of a fence.
  • Working breeds and sporting breeds that possess high levels of energy may escape for the thrill of a run and physical stimulation when they are not adequately exercised at home.

Other reasons why any dog may show determination to escape include the following:

  • An unneutered male dog will try hard to escape in pursuit of a local female dog that is in heat.
  • Dogs with severe separation anxiety want to escape from their perceived isolation.
  • Nervous dogs that are frightened by loud noises, such as fireworks or thunder, may seek to escape in an attempt to retreat from the sound that has scared them.

Whatever the reason for your dog's escape, he will see no reason not to repeat the jaunt through your neighborhood if he lucks out and no harm comes to him.

Tips to Ground Your Furry Delinquent

Punishing your dog is not an option because he is not able to associate the reprimand with the reason that you are upset. He may even associate the punishment with his return home. Instead, you will have to train every household member to carry out these tips to prevent escapes altogether:

  • Enforce a house rule that no resident or guest is to ever open a door without confirming that the dog is either confined to an enclosed room or tethered to a leash that is held by a strong individual. This same rule must apply to the door that leads into the garage.
  • Enforce a house rule that no resident or guest is allowed to open an outside gate without confirming that the dog is securely sequestered indoors.

Other things that you should do include the following:

  • Have your neutered.
  • Train your dog in the stay and back obedience commands.
  • Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise to expend excess energy.
  • Provide your dog with plenty of toys and puzzles to keep him mentally stimulated and active in the home.
  • Provide your dog with daily social interaction and playtime.
  • Address your dog's separation anxiety or fears of loud noises to your veterinarian.

Talk to your veterinarian about having a microchip implanted in your dog. Identification is essential in providing a better chance of reunion with your family if an escape should occur.