Dogs are instinctively curious and instinctively social. These are two factors that could cause any dog to try and run away. It’s the dog owner’s responsibility to ensure that their dog is protected at all times. This doesn’t mean never letting the dog run free, rather it means picking and choosing when to allow the dog to roam freely and when to restrict his movement. Training your dog to come when called gives your dog more freedom, while giving you more control.
The most important step any dog owner can take to prevent their dog from running away is to ensure the yard and home are secure. The level of security required depends entirely on the dog and his environment. This will give the owner the peace of mind to let the dog roam freely. Owners can take simple steps to increase security, such as blocking up holes in the fence, fixing locks and remembering to close gates. But for persistent dogs, a more advanced solution may be appropriate. High-tech solutions include electric perimeter fences that send an electronic impulse to a special collar worn by the dog to distract and discourage him from approaching the boundaries of the yard. An alert warns the owner if the dog breaches the perimeter.
If your dog can see through the yard fence, block his view. You can do this using shrubs, by moving the trash cans, rearranging garden furniture or by planting trees. Dogs often escape the yard because something has caught their attention. Similarly, if he’s capable of climbing the fence, place obstacles in the way to ensure he doesn’t get a sufficient run up.
When out and about in public, it’s essential to keep your dog on a leash. This is for his protection as well as others'. While using a leash limits the range of activities your dog and you can do together, you give yourself an almost fail-safe mechanism for preventing him from running away. While he is on the leash, you can train him to walk to heel and demonstrate the importance of remaining close to your side. This education will form the groundwork of teaching the recall, or coming when called. Naturally, if you are in open land, far from roads and free from other people, it may be appropriate to allow the dog off leash. But only if you’ve taught him the all-important recall command.
The recall command is one of the most important commands to teach. Start by allowing your dog to wander away from you while on leash. Call his name and if necessary, gently guide him back to you by pulling the leash. Once he returns to your side, give him a treat. The important thing here is to make returning to you when called as pleasant and rewarding for the dog as possible. Gradually increase the leash length and the duration in which the dog can wander freely. With sufficient repetition and practice, your dog will learn that when he hears his name and the recall command, it is in his best interests to come back to you.
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