Running Free!

Q. My dog doesn’t come when I’m leaving for the day! I let the dog out before breakfast (we live on 100 acres, she can go out off leash) and when I go out to call her in, she takes off! Sometimes I have to go to work and leave her out all day, and that worries me sick! Any ideas how I can get her to come back? She’s not chasing anything, she’s just running away for the fun of it.

A. Oh dear! There are many ways to combat a runaway dog, and the simplest one is to invest in a cable, kennel, or really long line. Don’t give your dog opportunity to run!

While that will solve the problem, that won’t deal with the issue of your dog viewing ‘come’ as ‘run and play’! ‘Come’ may need to be replaced with another word, such as ‘here’ or ‘c’mon in!’, or a whistle,(Famously, getyerbutthome has worked with a certain dog of mine…), and retrained.

Don’t let your dog fail at all ever with their recall. Start from the basics again, six foot leash, treats and all! Graduate to a longer leash and continue to retrain. Now is a great time to have a partner! Let the dog drag the leash, and call the dog back and forth, giving plenty of treats and love.

In case of failure (which you shouldn’t allow) or escape, here are some tricks to lure your dog home.

  • Go back inside.
  • Sit down and turn around, back to your dog.
  • Pretend there is something OH SO AWESOME! In the grass.
  • Scream bloody murder (Please note this does not work at all ever on certain dogs, while it works like a charm on others.)
  • If your dog is ball-minded, throw a ball and have them fetch.
  • If your dog is a travel lover, open your car and say let’s go!
  • Rattle the food bowl.

Never, ever, ever, scold your dog when they have returned to you! They were playing. They thought it was fun! The only way to win with your dog is to make coming to you more fun than running away.

3 Comments on “Running Free!

  1. I have a very intelligent breed and inadvertently taught my dog that “come” when called when we were outside meant all the fun stopped–time to go in, time to leave, time for Mom to go to work. We are still in the process of retraining her, and changed the command to “here”. In the house working on obedience–“come” works just fine, but not outside when something is more appealing than me!
    If I may put in a plug for someone–the video “Really Reliable Recall” is awesome–found it on the Clean Run website.
    Very high-end rewards used ONLY during your recall practice will help as well. My girl only gets chicken/hot dogs when she “comes”. We are saving roast beef for the extreme high end in case we ever need to raise the bar.
    Also, my dog was a free feeder. We now feed her by hand–we hold her bowl and she eats from it, and only gets food when we hold it for her–no food waiting in the bowl for whenever she feels like eating. This is to increase your value in their eyes and their dependence on you for EVERYTHING. I believe this has made the most difference in her improved recall. In fact –she got away from us a couple of times on the beach last week and she came right to me when I called her with a calm, sweet, happy voice. Also –not panicking helps tremendously!!
    And ALWAYS, ALWAYS be so happy and overly excited when they come to you–even when it is unsolicited. Reward greatly every voluntary check-in by your dog. You have to be better than anything else out there to them, so they will always WANT to come to you.
    NEVER punish the dog for returning to you. Always REWARD the desired behavior. What dog wants to come to his master when he is going to get scolded or spanked?(yes , some people still spank their dog like it was a human)
    Also, never call your dog to come to you to do something it does not enjoy–like a bath, or taking medicine–whatever the dog perceives as “no fun”. Go get your dog for things like that. You want your recall command to always be associated with good, yummy, postive things.
    You can also try running away from your dog when it won’t come to get them to chase you.
    happy training! patti

  2. let the dog out before breakfast (we live on 100 acres, she can go out off leash)


    If the dog does not come when called SHE CAN’T GO OUT OFF LEASH, even if it is 1000 acres!