You haven’t gotten to the point where you walk your dog off-leash, and you only let her run free in safe, contained areas. Now, she jumped the fence, bolted out the front door, or slipped her collar on a walk. What should you do when your dog gets loose? Read on to find out.
Resist the Urge to Chase
Your first instinct will probably be to run after your dog, but there are a few reasons to resist this urge. First, if you start running, you’re sending the signal that being on the move is appropriate. The second is that you may tap into her instinct to play keep-away.
The more excited she becomes, the faster she may run—and the less attention she’ll pay to her surroundings. If you need to pursue her, walk or jog, but don’t go into an all-out sprint. Ultimately, you want her to realize that it’s in her best interest to turn around and come back to you.
Dogs have the ability to sense their owners’ emotions. Even if you’re in the early stages of developing a bond with your dog, your emotional state can impact hers. In other words, if you sound panicked, she may panic, too.
As you try to gain your dog’s attention, continue to call her name in a calm, even voice. If you’ve been working on recall, use any words or hand motions (like holding out your fist to offer a treat) that your dog associates with coming back to you.
Although you may not feel like rewarding your dog while trailing her down the street, you may need incentives to get her attention. Remember, your first goal is to gain control over your dog so that she isn’t a danger to herself or anyone else.
Chances are high that you don’t have a treat or a toy on hand, so you may need to rely on language or a bit of trickery to convince her that you do. If your dog loves a car ride and has gotten well beyond your reach, you may want to jump in the car, approach her carefully, and open the door, beckoning her to hop in.
Tips to Prevent Off-Leash Emergencies
The best approach to this kind of emergency is prevention. Whether or not your dog has proven herself to be an escape artist, invest in off-leash training. Not only will off-leash training focus on important skills like recall, but it can also dampen your dog’s drive to break free. Even after developing an off-leash practice, secure enclosures, microchips, and well-fitting harnesses are additional preventative measures owners should take. Just because you can trust your dog to listen to your commands in certain environments doesn’t mean that being loose is always the safest option.
Ready to take your training efforts to the next level? ADU offers one on one lessons that can make a big difference in as little as two weeks.