One of your worst nightmares as a dog owner may be when your dog runs away from you. It’s an incredibly frustrating situation, especially when you’re calling your dog over and over again and being ignored as it keeps running in the opposite direction.

Besides the fear of losing your dog, there’s also a risk that it might get into some serious trouble like being hit by a car, attacked any an animal, or putting someone else in danger. When this happens it’s almost impossible to think about what you should be doing to get your dog back. If you prepare yourself for this scenario in advance you’re more likely to know exactly what you need to do to get your dog back safe before you lose sight of it.

1. Never run after a dog

This goes against every instinct dog owners have but this is the first rule you need to follow when your dog runs away from you. Unless they have a couch potato for a dog, it’s unlikely that dog owners are able to outrun their dogs, which is why it’s useless to run after them. When dog owners run after their dog, they’re just joining in on a game of catch that they simply won’t be able to win.

Regardless of if the dog is runnign away due to fear or because they think they’re playing a game, running after them will only make things worse. It can even lead the dog to pay less attention to whatever is happening around them.

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2. Stay calm

Again, going against every instinct, you should do their best to stay calm. As soon as their dogs start sprinting, dog owners usually yell which only adds to the dog’s excitement or fear. Yelling will only your dog think you’re are angry and that they’ll be in serious trouble if they come back. Therefore, if your dog starts runnign away, should try your best to call your dog in a happy voice, and by making the sounds when you give your dog a great reward. There’s plenty of portable dog treat bags that allow you to carry dog treats while out with your dog. 

Think about it, would you run towards someone that sounded angry or towards someone that sounded like they’re going to give you a great treat? Speaking of which, to give their dogs an extra incentive to come back, dog owners should get their dogs’ favorite treats. If they’re too far away to see it, the sound of a bag of treats also does the trick and triggers their interest.

3. Turn away from your dog

Turning away from the dog may sound counterintuitive at first, however, if you notice your dog runs away from you because it’s playing, try to turn the game around and have your dog chase you instead. To do this, dog owners can grab their dogs’ favorite treat or toy and start running away from their dogs in the opposite direction.

Acting like you’re heading back to the house while you’re having the time of your life doing so can be enough to spike your dog’s interest and get it to want to join in on the fun. Think about what gets your dog all excited and ready to play. You’ll want to make your dog think that there’s something even more interesting than what it’s doing where you’re going so your dog runs towards you instead of away from you.

4. Use your recall command

Many dog owners underestimate the importance of teaching, training, and consistently brushing up on their dogs’ recall. There aren’t a lot of steps necessary to teach your dog a reliable recall but it does take a lot of training, time, and effort to have your dog come to you in every kind of environment.

When training dogs what the word “come” means, dog owners should strive to teach their dogs that they’re going to get a treat or praise as soon as they return to their owners. However, in order for this to work when your dog runs away from you, it needs to have been trained consistently beforehand.

If you’ve gone through a good amount of training and your dog runs away, focus on using the word you used during training. If you used the word “come” as the cue, then use that word and don’t use anything else if you want your dog to clearly understand what you want from it.

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5. Praise

Finally, when your dog comes back to you, it doesn’t matter how scared, frustrated and angry you are, you’ll want to praise your dog as much as you can and give it a good treat. Remember that your dog won’t interpret your response as a consequence of it running away but instead, it’ll see your response as a consequence of it coming back.

If you scold your dog as soon as it reaches you, you’ll be teaching your dog that when it comes back to you the fun will be over and you’ll be yelling. That’s not what you should be aiming for. You’ll want your dog to understand that good things happen near you and not away from you. The way you act when your dog comes back will dictate how much easier or harder will it be to get your dog back next time this happens.

Making sense of it all

Prevention is always the way to go and unless your dog has an amazing recall trained, it’s best to not go off-leash with your dog in an area that isn’t confined. Try to stick to fenced backyards or enclosed dog parks. Unfortunately, however, accidents can happen and it’s impossible to prevent any and every situation. That’s why you should be prepared for when it happens and prepare yourself for the eventuality of having your dog run away from you.

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