“One second he was next to me, and the next he has vanished!”
“I’m tired of going around in circles looking for my dog Lily; she has a knack for disappearing on me every time we go for a walk!”
Sounds familiar? If you have a dog that loves to roam, you would know the anxiety it entails. It’s common to be engrossed in a phone conversation while walking your dog. Your attention might shift a little, and when you look down, your furry friend is no longer there. Your dog going missing is a terrifying thought.
Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals survey, 2012 Not all dogs wander off, but many of them do for various reasons. Here are some.
Your dog is mighty bored
This is one of the least surprising reasons but also one of the most common ones. Many dogs remain at home the entire day without human company while you go to work. The pandemic hasn’t changed things much for your dog. They are still cooped up at home while you’re busy working. When you do take your dog out for their evening walk, their ‘jailbreak’ instinct is at its sharpest. And off they go, exploring to their heart’s content.
Your dog is seeking a mate
Has your dog been restless lately? Your dog could be in heat. Digging under a fence, climbing over walls, and wandering around are all signs of a dog that’s frantically searching out a mate.
Your dog is anxious
There are many reasons a dog may not feel too comfortable inside the house. A couple of back-to-back house parties, playing loud music, too many strangers visiting, etc., are all enough reasons for dogs to feel unsafe and uncomfortable. They get frustrated with these triggers, and they wander off to find a safer space.
Your dog is hunting
Dogs have a natural predilection for chasing things. A squirrel. A bird. An insect. A lot of dogs have a higher prey drive. In hunting breeds, this is their innate characteristic and their instinct to hunt takes over when they see smaller animals.
How to keep your dog from roaming?
Running away is essentially a behavioural issue. Once you make educated guesses and figure out the exact cause, it’s easy enough to keep a check. So, how do you train your dog not to wander off?
Keep them busy
Dogs get bored very quickly, just like humans. And that’s when they think of finding their own sources of entertainment. Give them plenty of exercises. Allow them to bound around whenever possible. Spend time playing with them and give them toys to keep them engaged.
Decide their love life
Arrange for your dog to be neutered or spayed as appropriate to stop them from searching for suitors. It won’t solve the problem entirely, but it will reduce the uncontrollable excitement when they know a prospective date is in the neighbourhood.
Win their trust
If you have a steady stream of visitors, then teach your dog to trust them. Go through a few training exercises to help them understand that guests are your friends. If there’s a party on the cards, then take your dog out for extra exercises, feed them, and let them be tired enough to sleep by the time the party starts. Make sure their space is not compromised so that they still get their familiar comfort.
Tame the hunter
Supervise your dog closely if you are in a park or wooded area, which are prone to having birds and small animals. Carry extra treats to distract them and try to observe what they perceive to be preys. Does he get jumpier around cats? Does she strain at the leash on seeing a bird? Knowing this will help you go through focused training exercises to help reduce the impulses.
Use a GPS collar tracker
There is a distressingly powerless feeling that engulfs you when your dog goes missing. Those few minutes or hours are agony. But you can avoid such situations by simply using GPS pet trackers. These wearable trackers come armed with location and activity monitoring capabilities that let you keep an eye on your pet at all times through the accompanying app.
And, finally, you can relax. Let your dog enjoy their space, discover the world. Let them have a pawsome time! All those who wander are not lost, remember?