Dogs can run away for a few different reasons, often to hunt, or find a mate but sometimes just out of habit or because they are bored or have excess energy. Trying to work with these impulses and drives will help to reduce how frequently your dog attempts an escape.
When dogs do run off, following them can be a good idea if they don’t know the area and if you have concerns about busy roads, fencing or livestock. Some dogs become so focussed on the chase that they won’t remember where you were when they do decide to return.
Having a whistle can save shouting and the sound will travel a good distance as you trace your dog’s steps so keeping one in your pocket could be handy. Once they are back in sight, enticing them over rather than chasing them down can often be more effective. Some suggestions to try are calling with a gentle voice, sitting down so you appear less aggressive and opening the car door so they can hop in as if going for a drive.
Dog ID tags are a legal requirement now for all pet dogs and will help to reunite you with your dog if they do get lost, especially if you have your telephone number included. Microchipping will be required by law as of April 2016, but would provide extra reassurance with dogs prone to running away. Stray dogs without ID are held by the local dog warden for seven days before being handed to rescue centres for rehoming, so it is worth keeping in contact with them alongside logging on to lost dog websites and placing posters in key areas so you can be alerted when your dog is sighted or found.
When it comes to reforming runaways, patience and the right equipment are important. Long and extendable leads can give your dog more freedom until you feel ready to let him run free in a confined area. Trying recall commands at different distances can reinforce the command and taking treats or small amounts of kibbles out with you on walks, may make your dog think more about what he can do to get a treat and less about running away..
Lastly dog training can help, not only with the bond you have with your dog but also to build commands that he will understand and respond to. It may take some time, but most dogs respond well to training and become more reliable when out walking.