Dealing With A Runaway Dog

by Nancy Boland

Is your dog scrambling to get out of the house every time you open the door? Does he sneak off when you aren’t watching? This can be a worry as a dog owner, and quite insulting if it happens often enough! Dealing with a runaway dog.

Dealing with a runaway dog

In order to deal with the problem, it is important to teach your dog the distinction between discipline and good training so that you can quickly nip the problem in the bud, without getting too frustrated with your dog.

Firm Discipline

Discipline involves teaching your dog about correct behaviours, and rewarding for good behaviour. This is the basic formula for training, and should be utilised at all times when working with your dog, but especially when training a dog that likes to escape and run away because it’s very easy to get frustrated out of fear for your dog.

Utilising discipline

Before you start working with your dog and training and correcting them using disciplinary principles, it is important that both you and your dog are in the right frame of mind to begin!

Taking your dog for a long walk before beginning training will always benefit them.Walk your dog out on the lead to prevent them taking off on you, and use the walk to both let them burn off some of their energy, and to get them in the right frame of mind, thinking and responding to you in response to your commands and lead directions during the walk.

Not only does this get them in the right frame of mind for training, but the less energy they have the less likely they will be to run off.

Where to begin

With a dog prone to running off, training location is key for optimum results and safety. You need to find an open area big enough that you can judge your dog’s responses and likelihood to respond to you, but not an area too spacious they will have free reign.


It is important to teach your dog the recall command until it is firmly established in their minds, and associated with good things so that they respond instinctively and instantly. Keep your recall command to one very clear and distinctive command, such as “come” or, “here” followed by your dog’s name, or whatever feels natural to you.

Dealing with a runaway dog
Let your dog off lead in your chosen enclosed space and use the recall command regularly. When your dog looks at you or makes moves to return, encourage them using a positive tone of voice and open body language, and when they do come back to you) give them a treat and lots of praise. This may take several attempts so don’t get discouraged, your dog will respond eventually and once they begin to understand, they start to react instinctively.

Keep repeating this procedure several times, and work on it every day. Be patient and positive and prepare to reap the benefits!

Environmental Changes

Once your dog has mastered recall in the initial environment you chose, it’s time to expand further afield. Try another enclosed area to get him used to achieving the same results in a different environment. Then, once you’re confident with the results your dog is displaying, choose a semi-enclosed area and then eventually an open area. Once you both feel confident with this training and your dog is reliably responsive every time, you can go back to your regular routine in open spaces and gradually working up to allowing your dog off lead in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar places.

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