Why Do Dogs Run Away?

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Dogs usually run away by accident. A dog doesn’t usually intend to run away or get lost. Dogs don’t think like that. Your dog lives in the moment. He could love you more than anything in the world and be very happy but he obeys his instincts. So, if the gate is left open and he sees a chance to wander around the neighborhood, he will probably trot along and see what’s happening outside his yard. If you have the front door open and he sees a squirrel run by, his instincts might take over and next thing you know, your dog is halfway to the next block.

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Once a dog is out of the house or yard and away from home, they can try to find their way back but some dogs have already traveled out of their local neighborhood and they can be lost. Some dogs are better at retracing their steps than others. And some dogs may try to find their way back but they can get distracted along the way – or intercepted by someone trying to help the dog. If someone chases the dog trying to catch it, or captures the dog for whatever purpose, it can keep your dog from coming back home.

Of course, it’s best if your dog never gets out of your house or yard but accident happen. Someone can leave a gate unlocked or accidentally leave it open, for example. Maybe a repair person doesn’t know that you have a dog. Or, you could be traveling with your dog and he gets out of the hotel room. It’s incredibly easy for a dog to get loose in the blink of an eye. There are some things you can do to help your dog be returned to you:

Identification. Have your dog wear a collar with an identification tag. You can have your name and phone number on the tag. This kind of identification is especially important if you and your dog will be traveling. Some people don’t like to have their dogs wear a collar at home but your dog can get lost any time.

Microchips. Most people know what a microchip is. It’s a small chip the size of a grain of rice that is inserted into a dog’s shoulder. Many breeders have puppies microchipped before they go to their new homes. The microchip has identification information about the puppy, the owner, and the vet inserting the chip. If the dog is lost, the chip can be scanned by a vet or animal shelter to locate the information and contact the owner. In order for the chip to work, it has to be registered with the microchip company.

Training. Teaching your dog basic obedience can help prevent some dogs from running away when a door or gate is accidentally left open. The Come command can be very useful in stopping a dog who is running down the street, for example, but it takes lots of practice with your dog.

If your dog is missing you need to start looking for him immediately. Don’t wait around hoping he’ll come back. You should also consider the possibility that someone has stolen your dog. Incidents of dog theft have been on the rise in the last few years.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She's also the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, the Dog Writers Association of America Adoptashelter.com Award winner for 2013. In addition, she's written Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

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