Friday, April 8, 2011

Why do dogs run away?

Does your dog bolt out the door the second you open it?

Have you ever had to chase your dog to get her back?

Has your dog passed all of her obedience training but you still don't feel comfortable taking her off leash?

Do you arm yourself with treats every time you go out to keep your dog's attention focused on you or in case she gets away?

Do you use your dog's breed to excuse her desire to run away?

If your dog is running away from you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I give my dog enough exercise?
  • Do I give my dog enough mental stimulation?
  • Do provide my dog leadership?
  • Does my dog trust me?
  • Do I have a bond with my dog?
  • Do I play with my dog?

These are valid questions. Your dog may need more exercise than you are giving her. She may be bored and the open door leads to fun, adventure and yummy smells. Dogs don't understand the possible consequences of bolting out the door. So it's up to us to teach them that it's not acceptable behaviour.

When you meet your dog's needs of exercise and leadership, she will naturally follow you. But also teaching her about patience and rules will solidify your bond when she is faced with distractions, whether it is another dog, a cat, squirrel or any scent that might catch her attention.

Many owners think their dogs are well trained until they get out in the real world where the temptations and distractions are everywhere. That is why it's important to practice basic training (sit, stay, wait, and stop) anywhere and everywhere you go.

Respecting the front door

Use commands your dog already knows like "sit" or "stay" before you open the door. Ask someone to ring the doorbell or knock so you can practice. If your dog breaks the command, calmly go get her, and gently lead her back to where she was and do it again.

Corrections at the door

Use a leash, but have no tension. Open the door just a crack and the second your dog moves towards the door, give a quick correction with the leash to get her attention back on you. Do this several times until she does not move when the door opens a crack. Now practice the same exercise but this time open the door wider.

Claim the door

If your dog is at the door waiting for you to open it and dash away, walk in front of it and move her with your body language and the command "back". Be assertive and don't yell. You are asking for space around the door. Do that over and over and eventually your dog will move back as you head to the door or when you say the command.

* If you have a fenced back yard, start practicing these exercises at the back door so that your dog will be safe if she makes mistakes while learning.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

Please don't fall into this mindset. So many owners think their dog's behaviour is "just the way she is" and never try to make a change. The truth is dogs are never too old to learn. They live in the moment so it's never too late to educate and train them. The same goes for adopted dogs. Don't assume their current behaviour cannot be changed.

Blaming the breed

Give your dog a fair chance and don't use her breed as an excuse. Yes a dog's breed can give you insight to her natural instincts and they do differ however every dog has the potential to be well mannered and balanced. It's up to you to make sure that happens.

What you can do when your dog gets away

Never yell if your dog has run away from you. No matter what you always want to associate coming to you as something positive. This can be very challenging as we often get very frustrated and angry when our dogs run away. So strive to always remain calm and in control.
  • Run in the opposite direction while calling her name
  • Whistle (make it unique so your dog will recognize it)
  • Crouch down and open your arms wide (this is a positive invitation)
  • Clap your hands on your legs or in the air
  • If all else fails, go and get your dog as calmly as you can

No comments:

Post a Comment