Chris Walton, who has adopted one of our many semi feral dogs and turned him around, has written this blog to help others.
Below are some tips which may help you not only prevent a dog escaping, but also slowly start to prevent the dog wanting to in the first place.
Tip 1 – Safety first – secure home
You can’t improve the situation if your dog is not with you. When in the house always keep in mind that your dog is a fast and it only takes a second to escape. A few things I’ve changed since adopting Monty.
- Front door locked if I’m expecting visitors. We all have family and friends who are free to enter our homes without knocking. However they will not always remember and could walk in and before you know if your dog is gone. By locking the front door this prevents this accident
- Close door / gate signs. This is a reminder to me and my wife. We have for 30+ years not had to worry about closing side gates or front doors if nipping to the car, chances are we would still forget despite our best efforts. By having a sing on the door – gate it’s just a gentle reminder.
- Triple check – Check check and check again. Are you sure you closed the side gate before you’re going to get your dog outside to use toilet? Did the door fully close and is not slightly open?
Tip 2 – Get your dog a friend to learn from
If you already have a dog that’s not a flight risk then this can help for a number of reasons. Firstly as dogs are pack animals they like to be around each other which can sometimes help to be a calming influence of a dog who thinks they need to escape. Secondly is helps teach the dog how to be balanced, they will see your “balanced” dog does not try to run every time a door is open, they basically look to them to learn how to behave in the given environment.
Tip 3 – Practice in a controlled environment
Start to teach your dog how they should act when door are open. There is nothing wrong with locking your dog in a room when you answer the door to deal with someone. However you should also practice opening your door to help train your dog. If you are scared to do this alone enlist the help of someone.
What I do is open the front door just a little so Monty can see outside. I then tell him to stay so he learn an open door does not mean run free. If he does bolt towards the door then I will quickly shut and correct his behaviour so he understand that was not acceptable. This can be a firm “no” and standing your group until he moves back away.
Tip 4 – Safety when out on a walk
To help ensure your dog does not escape when on a walk try the below tips
- Always use a collar which is securely fitted. It needs to be tight enough so that it cannot slip over your dog’s head. Try and pull the collar over your dogs head, it should not come off. Don’t feel bad about having a tighlyt fitting collar, its nessciary and as long as its not hurting your dogs breathing it will cause no harm.
- If using a harness then also attach this to the collar. Harness can easily be slipped out of by dogs as the pull backwards. Ensure this doesn’t happen to you by having the harness attached to the collar also
- Metal lead – If your dog will chew threw a lead then use a lead which he cant get through. I’ve personally seen a dog (Tiger from the rescue) chew threw 3 leads in two minutes to escape.
- Attach your dog to your other dog. As long as your other dog is big enough to not be pulled away then also attach your flight risk dog to your other dog.
Tip 5 – Buy a buggy strap
Dogs that can suddenly bolt and pull the lead from your hand. To prevent this use a buggy strap. These where designed to stop buggy’s rolling away if you let go by mistake, but they work great for flight risk dogs. It also means you can let go of the lead when cleaning up after your dog so you can use both hands J
Tip 6 – Routine on a walk
Don’t just get outside and let your dog run at the end of the lead. Ensure you structure the walk into 3 main phases
- Exercise – Let your dog run around and burn of his energy, play with him etc. It’s easier to train a dog who is not full of energy
- Smelling stage – One the energy level comes down let your dog start and smell around in bushes – lamp posts etc.
- “The walk” – At this point your doing should be walking and following you, there should be no smelling or running around. His job is now to follow you either from the side or behind, not in front.
- Stop / start / stay. During this time ensure to stop / start / stay. Your dog should be responding to you and looking for instructions.
Tip 7 – The Most important top of all – Walk / Exercise more and get into a routine
A dog that is tired will not cause you any problems, why? Because they are sleeping and tired J One of the best things you can do to help deal with any type of dog problems is walk them more. Not only does this burn off their energy but the different environments they see on the walk helps create a balanced happy dog.
A tired dog is easier to train and also less likely to be looking for an escape. If you can’t yet walk your dog on a lead then exercise them in the house with toys, or by hiding treats around the house etc. Kong toys are great for this.