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Your Canine Escapee - Understanding And Preventing

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If your dog happens to be a runner, he will most likely get very creative when plotting his escape. Dogs that do exhibit the characteristics of a runner will escape by climbing the fence or digging an escape tunnel underneath the fence. Unfortunately, you may be harbouring your own little Houdini of the canine world.  Dogs can escape from their yard in any manner that they possibly can, and for a number of different reasons.  Understanding the cause of those daring doggy-breakouts goes a long way to curbing the behavior and keeping your dog safely within the confines of his own yard.

A well looked after dog does not run away from home because he is unhappy.  Any can feel the need to escape just to satisfy his natural instincts to explore his environment.  Sometimes, the boundaries of the yard and an occasional walk around the local park on a leash aren’t enough to satisfy the urge to investigate the smells and activity that are just beyond his boundaries.

Reasons your dog may try to escape your yard are:

  • Social contact – if your dog has been left alone for a long time, he may go looking for some company.
  • Search for a mate – entire dogs will do whatever it takes to get to a female in season.
  • Bored – a lack of play toys in the yard will encourage your dog to look for toys elsewhere.
  • Energetic – if your dog needs more exercise, he may take himself for a walk.
  • Separation anxiety – dogs with this debilitating condition will escape to search for their owner.

The problem for dogs, when they escape is that they have no concept of the dangers they may face in the wide world.  They have no understanding of the difference between roads and pathways, or the injuries they risk by stepping in front of a moving vehicle.  What does concern them however, are the distractions such as socializing with other dogs; chasing smaller animals, and raiding garbage bins in a quest for leftover food.  These positive rewards only reinforce your dog’s desire to escape, making it difficult to break the habit once it takes hold.  

How to Escape Proof Your Fence

Obviously, ‘plugging the leaks’ goes a long way to stopping the escapes, as does an understanding of the underlying causes listed above. Your fence may need to be reinforced both above and below, and any gates with loose latches will need repair. Move any items that your dog could climb on well away from the fence.

If you are struggling with your dog’s need to wander, there are several things that you can do to reduce the number of escapes, or even prevent them altogether. These include increasing the level of physical and mental stimulation through walks, games and interactive toys, providing clean and comfortable bedding, initiating regular feeding times with a well-balanced diet, obedience training to keep your dog’s mind active, and ensuring that all gates are locked and obvious escape routes blocked. If your dog is not neutered, then this would be a good way to reduce his efforts to woo a lady dog.

The sooner the reason for your dog’s escaping is identified and managed, and the more secure your back yard, the less you’ll have to worry about him. You will have peace of mind when you’re not home, knowing that your canine best friend is safe in your yard and not at risk of coming to harm.

Amanda Davis is a service dog trainer and a freelance writer. Amanda uses her love and talent for writing to share dog training and behavioral tips for dog owners.