When I sat down to write this article, I couldn’t help but think of my friend Faith and her dog Zach – a Chocolate Lab/Terrier mix she had rescued from the local Humane Society. Zach had been abandoned and suspected to be previously abused. But he has a forgiving heart of gold, is energetic, extremely intelligent and the wackiest mutt you could imagine. Indeed, he has proven to be a rewarding pet. However, it hasn’t been without a few challenges along the way.
You see, while Zach irrefutably worships the ground she walks on and vise-versa; that boy will take a mad dash out the door every chance he gets. Once his feet hits the ground, he jets off like a rocket sled on rails and it’s game on! So, it got me thinking. Why would this loving, well-trained dog with tons of attention, toys, food and large yard to play in want to take off? It just didn’t make sense! But then, I dug a little deeper into the nature of the beast. And what I found was that Zach is in pretty good company.
There are many dogs that run out doors, gates, cars or any other place that could be considered a boundary. They are commonly known as runners – and their flight for freedom can be downright frightening and dangerous. As pet owners, we question whether we haven’t loved them enough or they don’t love us. But that couldn’t be further from the the truth. Dogs are runners for three basic reasons;
Unaltered dogs can be a hormonal driving force behind your dog’s bold escape – especially when a neighborhood dog is in heat. But if your fixed dog is still acting out, then it’s time to consider their breed and personality.
Terriers and other hunting breeds (like Zach) are bred for tracking and innately hardwired to bolt and hunt when they catch sight, sounds or smells that peak their interest.
While dogs are noted to be social creatures, their personalities are regarded as either outgoing or reserved. Outgoing dogs feel comfortable to venture out and explore without their owner. Alternatively, reserved dogs tend to stick to their owners like Velcro.
Problem solving to stop these runners always proves to be a challenge. The good news is, it’s not impossible! Just remember to always reward good behavior. Seriously consider micro-chipping and keeping a leash and shoes by the door as a precaution. Viable options vary on your housing situation like apartment or house, city or rural neighborhood as well as housing community regulations. Here are some suggestions:
Utilize a pet gate to prevent access to the doorway area
Erect an adequate size fence and gate where your main exit/entry point is located
Train them to go to designated spot when someone comes or goes. This is their ‘place’ and hence the command word.
- Initiate a training command ritual to sit and ‘wait’ at all entry/exit points like doors, gates, and the car.