Why Do Dogs Run Away From Home (And How to Prevent It)

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One of the most common concerns of a dog owner is that his pet runs away from home and gets hurt or lost.

This problem is more common than you think. Some dogs like to run away sometimes, but others do it all the time.

We know that our dog can be in danger if he runs away, especially in urban areas.

The most frequent questions we have to ask ourselves when this happens to us are: Why does my dog run away from home? What can I do to prevent him from escaping again?

Therefore, the first and most important thing is to be able to prevent our dog from rescaping. The first step to prevent it is to know the reasons that motivate him to do so.

8 Reasons Why Dogs Run Away From Home

Why does my dog run away from home

The most common reasons dogs run away are:

In Search of a Mate

One of the most common reasons dogs run away, especially males, is because they are looking to mate.

If your male dog smells close a female in heat, his sexual impulse will be so high that it can be difficult to prevent him from looking for a way out to find a partner.

Also females, especially if they are in heat, tend to escape to find a mate.

After Moving to a New Home

Moving to a new house is very stressful for everyone, including your dog. It’s difficult to get to live in a place where everything is different: new smells, sights and sounds. It’s not easy or fast for a dog to feel at home again.

For this reason, it’s common for many pets to run away to try to find their way to their old home.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise is essential for a dog to be physically and mentally healthy.

Dogs are active animals that like to explore, play and run.

Although the needs for physical activity and energy vary greatly from breed to breed and from dog to dog, every pup needs to have some type of activity.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure that they use their energy in positive activities and behaviors.

If a dog has a lot of energy, he will always find ways to channel it. This can be from chewing furniture to finding ways to go outside to run and explore.

Making sure that our dog has regular physical activity is one of the most important ways to prevent him from escaping.

Boredom or Frustration

If your pet spends a lot of time alone or does not have enough attention, entertainment and stimulation, he will feel frustrated or bored.

These dogs will always look for ways to escape in search of adventures and friends with whom to play in the outside world.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs are pack animals and it is not normal for them to be alone. For this reason, it’s common for many dogs to develop separation anxiety when they separate from their family members.

These dogs show symptoms of distress and can’t find comfort when they are left alone.

A dog with separation anxiety tends to escape when left alone with the intention of searching and reuniting with his family.

Related Article: How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Fearful Dog

When a dog is scared, he can react by running away, trying to get away from what causes him fear.

The most common fear is to loud noises such as fireworks or thunder. These loud noises tend to scare a dog so much that there’s a good chance they will try to run as far as possible, making it almost impossible to stop him.

Related Article: How to Help a Fearful Dog Gain Confidence

Dog’s Chase and Hunt Instinct

Many dogs were bred to hunt and have a strong chase instinct. These dogs at the slightest sign will try to chase or hunt small animals or to follow a smell that catches their attention.

If your dog has a high prey drive, he will do everything necessary to reach his goal. No matter how far he has to go.

It’s Easy to Escape

This will seem very obvious, but it is important to remember. 

Many pets usually escape when it’s easy to do and the opportunity presents itself. That is, they escape because they can.

If the door is open, the fence is very easy to jump or there is a space where he can dig to go outside, your dog will most likely take the opportunity to explore the outdoors.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Running Away

How to prevent your dog from running away from home

Some things you can do to prevent your pup from escaping are:

Obedience Training for Dogs

In addition to creating a stronger bond between the owner and his dog, obedience classes help dogs learn and respond to basic commands, even in situations with many distractions.

Make sure to teach your dog a proper recall. It’s essential for his safety that your dog comes when called, regardless of the distractions or situations.

Neuter And Spay Your Dog

Neutering or spaying your dog is important to control his or her sex drive.

This has different positive effects on your dog’s behavior. Among other benefits, it helps stop your dog’s strong need to escape to find a partner.

Related Article: Neutering a Dog: Pros and Cons You Need to Know About

Offer Your Dog Entertainment When You’re Not Home

When your pet is left alone for a long period of time, make sure to offer him ways to manage that time constructively.

  • Leave him puzzle or food-dispensing toys to keep him busy and mentally stimulated during the time that he is alone.
  • Take him to a doggy daycare so he can socialize and play with other pets.

Related Article: 11 Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone While You’re at Work

Give Him a Safe Place

Create a special space in your house where your dog feels safe and can rest or, if scared, can feel more secure.

A closed and comfortable space helps your pet to handle better moments of fear. Having a space will allow him to take refuge there instead of trying to escape of what scares him.

Daily Walking Routine

Daily exercise, in addition to keeping your dog physically healthy, has positive effects on his behavior and general well-being.

Dogs need between 30 minutes to 2 hours of daily exercise. Taking your dog for a walk a couple of times a day helps him burn his energy and satisfy his curiosity to explore the outside world.

A daily walking routine is one of the best things that can be done to prevent your dog from escaping.

Secure Your Home and Garden

You need to check your house and garden to determine what easy escape routes your dog can use.

Doors, windows and gates must be checked and in each case we have to adapt our home so that our dog cannot run away.

Tips to Help Keep Your Dog Safe

What to do if your dog ran away

Some tips that can help keep your dog safe and help you in case he runs away or gets lost.

  • Make sure your dog is always up to date with his vaccinations.
  • Your dog should always wear a collar with an ID and your phone number.
  • Have your dog microchipped as a permanent form of identification.
  • Always check that the doors and gates are properly closed. Especially after having a visit.
  • Don’t chase your dog when he runs away. He will think that you are playing and will continue running. It’s better to sit on the floor and call your dog to come.
  • If your dog returns after escaping it’s important not to punish him. By punishing him, he will relate to returning home with something bad and may not return if it happens again.
  • Reward him with treats and affection when he returns home. Let him know that returning is a good thing.

Related Questions

How Far Will a Dog Run Away From Home?

A dog can run from half a mile to five miles away, depending on the breed and size. Although, most of the dogs that are found after running away are found within a two-mile radius of their home.

Can a Dog Find Its Way Home If Lost?

Some lost dogs may find their way home through smell, but they are not the majority. Dogs rely on traces of familiar scents to find their way back home. Although they can follow a scent for a long distance, the trails don’t last forever and depend on factors such as wind and weather.

Final Thoughts

When a dog runs away from home it is one of the most stressful situations a dog owner can experience. 

That is why it is important to do everything in our power to prevent it.

The best way to keep your dog from escaping is to make him feel happy at home. 

You have to create an environment where he feels loved and safe. You have to offer your dog everything he needs to have a healthy and happy life.

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