Yesterday while I was outside playing around with my phone, I heard a commotion across the street. I listened to two kids and an adult all shouting excitedly. I looked. The neighbor’s dog had escaped and hidden in some bushes next door. The father was impatient and getting angry. The kids were getting louder and more excited. The dog retreated further into the bushes.
I stood up, and went back in my house. I grabbed a bag of treats and got Noelle’s leash off the hook. Noelle got bouncy and happy, and was disappointed when I told her to wait. It took me longer to walk across the street than it did to collar the neighbor’s dog.
Since Vivian was hiding in the bushes, I figured that she was scared by all the commotion and just wanted a quiet place to hide. I joined her in the bushes, and offered her a treat. Vivian came out to see what I had. While she was investigating the treats on the ground, I made a slip collar out of my leash and grabbed the metal clip.
Three Methods to Get Your Loose Dog Back
Method One: Get Your Dog to Chase You
If your dog us out and frolicking, happy to be running around off leash, do not chase your dog. Your dog loves playing chase and you can use that to your advantage. Make a happy noise to get your dog’s attention, and then take off running the other way. Laugh like you are having the best game ever. With any luck, your dog will spin around and follow you to find out what fun game you are playing. Hooting noises, arm flapping, quacking like a duck, anything that will get your dog to run after you is fair game. And don’t care what the neighbors think. Have the dog chase you into the car or into your home.
Method Two: Look What I Found
If your dog is watching you, but staying out of range, drop on the ground and start digging in the grass. “Look what I found. This is so amazing.” Hopefully, curiosity will encourage your dog to come check out the neat thing you found.
Method Three: Hide with your dog
I used Method Three to get Vivian back. She was stressed out and scared from all the yelling. What she needed was calm quiet reassurance. If your dog is under the bushes, she’s scared and not having fun. Yelling and commotion will add to her fear. Climb in the bushes, or sit down by the bushes, and offer treats in a quiet voice. When the world is scary for your dog, be an island of quiet safety.
What Not To Do
Don’t yell in anger. Dogs aren’t like kids who actually stop when we yell at them. Our angry voices might make a dog freeze in place for a moment, but then they’ll bolt in the opposite direction. The last thing we want to do when our dog escapes is frighten them.
Don’t chase your dog. Usain Bolt can run 100 meters in under 10 seconds. A greyhound can run 100 meters in 5.2 seconds. You have little chance of catching a loose dog by chasing after it.
Do not punish your dog. You think you’re punishing your dog for escaping. Your dog thinks you’re punishing him for coming back. So, even if you’re freaking out, or angry, or frustrated, throw a party for returning.
This is a Drill, This is Only a Drill
When we were kids, we had fire drills at our schools. At my school we also had tornado drills. They gave us a chance to practice the skills we would need in a real emergency. Like the time a tornado touched down by our school and the lights went out, we were in the hallway, covering our necks with our hands. We were scared, but we knew what to do.
You know your dog best. During your dog’s last escape, was she on a wild frolic, a sniffing meander, or scared and hiding? If your dog goes on a frolic, practice having your dog chase you around the house and yard. Make this a fun, happy, exciting game. You just launch off a chair and race around like a goofball away from your dog. The game ends in happy petting and a high value treat party. If your dog knows this game already, and is loose, if you start the happy chase game, guess who will be ready to party?
Snoopy on the other hand follows his nose. In that case, you can practice getting his attention in an emergency. Before you go for a walk, bury a high value treat somewhere
unusual, and then dig in the dirt and pretend to find it on your walk. Your dog will think that you are a hunting genius. Next time your dog is loose and sniffing, when you dig in the dirt, your dog will remember that you find the best stuff and come check it out.
With a fearful dog, build confidence through obedience training. Find a well run class and spend time together. Your dog will blossom and so will you.
Preventing your dog from escaping is of course your best option. But that’s my next post. Don’t forget to subscribe.