One of the most frustrating things a pet owner might have to deal with is when their dog always tries to run away whenever they get the chance to. But why do some dogs do this and how easy is it to stop them from bolting out of the door as soon as it is opened? This could be car door, the front or back door – in fact, as soon as they see an open space, they are off!
Dogs by nature are curious creatures, they like to investigate and explore new things. They adore discovering new smells and scents which means their noses can take over as they track down something they find interesting or even appetising. Many dogs are very happy in the home environment and adore their owners, yet as soon as they get a chance, they will disappear off into the distance on a journey of discovery much to their owner's surprise!
More often than not a dog will do this because although their owners take their pets out for quick 10 minute walks so they can do their business this is all they really get to do although their noses are working overtime. If they are allowed off their leads or escape, the first thing they will do is seek something exciting because they are off in search of some sort of stimulation. However, not every dog will run off, even if they are only taken on short regular walks every single day – it really does depend on many factors, one of which is their early socialising and training.
Many canine behaviourists put the fact that some dogs won't run off even if they are given the chance, down to their individual temperaments. Some dogs regardless of their breed, are more "home doggies" and are quite content with their lives because they feel secure and comfortable in the familiar surroundings of their home.
Then of course, there are some dogs that don't boast having the right physique to get away! The fact they might have very short legs works against them when it comes to being a talented "escape artist" because they just cannot run fast enough to get away from their owners. However, the most important factor as to why some dogs will run off and others will not, is put down to their initial training.
If a puppy is taught things early and well socialised right from the word go, the chances of them developing the need to "run off" whenever they get the chance is reduced or eliminated altogether. The reason being they feel comfortable and content in their surroundings and don't have that strong urge to get "out there" to explore the world around them. On the other side of the coin, a puppy that lives in an environment where nothing ever happens and where they are very often on their own, are very likely to be extremely timid dogs simply because they have not been exposed to the every day things they would encounter in the world around them.
If you have adopted a dog and one that has a tendency to run off whenever they can, you would need to show them a lot of patience and never get annoyed with them for wanting to do so. It is far better to create an environment they will adore being in which means providing them with an interesting and engaging place to live. On top of this, you should take your new pet out for nice long walks which will not only tire them out physically but mentally too. Invest in a few stimulating toys which your dog would need to figure out and this could include toys you can hide food in. It's all about improving their quality of life so they feel they are comfortable and content where they are which is with you and in your home.
A dog is never too old to learn the "rules", it just takes longer with more mature dogs and this in turn means showing them a lot more patience and understanding. The first rule is to get your pet's attention because without their focus on you, the boss, you will find it virtually impossible to teach any dog anything. Once this is achieved, the next lesson is to teach them the "recall" command. You have to be prepared to practice this many, many times! The old adage of "practice makes perfect", could never be truer than in this instance.
A dog needs to "want to come" back to their owners, which means you have to give your pet a very good reason for doing so. Positive reinforcement training is brilliant, it's the best way to give them the reason they need to be with you. Every time your pet obeys the command to come back to you, it's really important to reward them with a favourite treat to begin with. Once the command has been learnt and your pet automatically comes back without any hesitation, then a simple verbal reward and a pat is just as good.
However, if your dog does not come back, never ever punish them or get angry as this will have a very adverse affect on your pet. If you raise your voice, your dog will interpret this as being reprimanded which could make them even more reluctant to come back to you the next time. In short, telling your dog off in any way for not coming back to you will just make the situation even worse. Patience really is a "virtue" when training a dog to come back to you whether they are at their puppy stage or in their senior years.
It is far better to catch up with your dog and then praise them when they let you put their leads on. You should even give them a favourite reward because you need for them to understand they are being praised for being caught – even if you had to walk a distance to do so! This will be the beginning a what could be a long or short process of teaching your dog that if they come when called, they will be rewarded which is the reason they need to come back to you.