Most Common Reasons That Dogs Run Away

Most common reasons that dog’s run away.

About the Author: Nettie Finley, the Professional Dog Trainer at MyPetDoggie. Specializing in behavior rehabilitation, Nettie leads our team with her effective training techniques. As a certified canine behaviorist, she brings transformative change to challenging behavior cases. Her experience and expertise elevate our content, providing practical, insightful training advice for our readers. Also, she loves her Cavapoo!

A few days ago, I found a stray dog on a street. On seeing that dog, I thought the dog probably has a family somewhere. Every dog parent worries about their dog going missing.

It is scary even to think about dog’s running away. According to an ASPCA report “about 810,000 animals” enter the shelter system because they lost their families. If you are a dog parent you would definitely be concerned about your dog.

After a lot of research, I came to know the most common reasons that dog’s run away. Sometimes they are bored and have figured out a way to take off.

Or maybe you left them alone for a long time and they are feeling lonely so most of the time they tend to go to the neighbors yard but there are many other reasons too. Below are the most common reasons that dog’s run away.

Most Common Reasons That Dogs Run Away

Among many common reasons, the most common reasons that made dog to run away are:

Lack of Supervision

Supervision is the most recommended suggestion to a dog’s parent. To avoid unwanted behavior, dogs need to be supervised. Younger puppies need more supervision than adults. Younger puppies start to feel lonely, if you leave them for many hours. However, old dogs can be okay if you leave them alone for 4 to 5 hours. 

dog in the backyard
Dog sitting in a garden while wearing a soft fabric harness

I believe that supervision is never more important than deeply observing dogs in social gatherings, while introducing it to new dogs and bringing your dog with you in public.

When you lack supervision, because of any reason it starts to bring changes in the behavior of your dog. Your dog may not behave as well as you thought it to be. Changes in the behavior is a major cause of run away.

Lack of Training or Recall Skills

Training is the most important factor if you want to build confidence in your dog, provide mental simulation, and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Lack of training means lack of all these qualities in your dog.

outside dog
Dog tries to stop itself on a ground

 If you train your dog you will better understand it but for example if your dog lacks training there is no bond at all. The looser the bond between you and your dog the more are the chances of dog’s running away. Bond is the main thing that keeps the dog in the house and it is built because of training.

Fear or Anxiety

Fear is the most dominant emotion over others. It drives all living animals and dogs also experience fear. If your dog is afraid of some person or something it will give the sudden reaction of quickly running on seeing that person or on experiencing the situation.

The dog shows his Fear or Anxiety signs to his owner

 I know a dog which was afraid of the loud sound of fireworks. Whenever he listens to that sound he starts to run far from that. This clearly shows that dogs like to run off from the situations they are afraid of.

 And unfortunately if that thing is present in your house constantly then your dog might run away and never come because of fear. So it’s far more important to figure out if your dog is afraid of something?

Search for Mates

Intact dogs, mostly males, start to leave the house and wander because they are looking for a mate. It’s one of the simple and understandable reasons.

Three dogs sit with each other in a garden

When dogs are not spayed or neutered, the instinct to reproduce is powerful, as a result they run away from the house.

Boredom and Loneliness

We, human beings, mostly become bored when we are going through the same routine again and again. We want to go out for some enjoyment and adventure. We got fed up with the same environment and same routine. 

Sometimes, dogs also feel like this. Your dog can become bored if you don’t give enough attention and time to it.  If you don’t take it out in the park or some outing, it will get boring. The dog feels bored and tries to go out by itself.  

The dog bury his head and tries to show Boredom and Loneliness signs to his owner

Just like humans, dogs are also social. They need something interesting to do. You have to do something to vanish their boredom. Playing different games with your dog for some time is also a good idea. 

Inadequate Fencing or Containment

Fencing prevents a dog from going out of the yard of your house. Sometimes the fence of your yard is not enough and your dog jumps over the fence.

A dog sits peacefully on his fence

 I have mostly seen that when fencing is inadequate the dog jumps over the fence and mostly goes to the neighboring yard. This habit is not considered normal as there are 100% chance that it will run away someday.

Fencing should be adequate to avoid running away from the dog.

Chasing Cars or Bikes

We humans have well-developed brains unlike dogs but still moving things sometimes excites or sometimes irritates us. For dogs, chasing moving objects is an instinct. The natural instinct of a dog recognizes vehicles as prey they must run after and capture.

The dog grabs his collar step in his mouth

Car-Chasing is totally natural behavior for a dog. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the instinct of dogs to chase moving objects. But being a natural habit does not mean it should be allowed to chase cars as it is too dangerous and dogs may run away chasing something.

Territorial Instincts

   Dogs are territorial by nature. In some dogs, this increase in arousal or anxiety levels can lead to aggressive behavior. If your dog is showing such behavior you need to take steps before it escalates to aggression.

This type of aggression usually first arises around 8 to 10 months of age. Without proper treatment, this aggression increases over time. The following are the symptoms:

  • Hackles raised
  • Barking at outsiders
  • Growling
  • Showing teeth
  • Biting (in worse conditions)

So, these are the territorial instincts that cause a dog to run away. Mostly because of these instincts the owners usually worry rather than taking any reasonable action.

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What to do if your Dog Runs Away?

I know that it’s scary even to think about it but it’s important to know about what to do if your dog runs away. There are many things in our life that we don’t want to consider but we have to, in order to get out if we are stuck in that situation. Here I will mention a few crucial steps that should be taken in order to find your dog again. These things are really needed if we want to find our dog again.

dog running away
The dog sit with a ball in the garden

Here are these:

Stay Calm And Act Quickly:

Panic and heartbreak are the natural reactions of any parent if his dog runs away but panicking will only make the situation worse. Firstly take a minute to collect yourself. This minute will be fruitful in making you calm and make you think. The second thing you should do is to think peacefully without stress. Acting quickly is also the need of the hour. But once you calm down, any quick act can be possible.

I have seen,  in such situations most people even forget to follow these things even if they know. They are in such stress and panic that their ability to even think has gone. They start to shout at other family members and even start crying. Such behavior not only steals their thinking ability but anyone around them who could handle the situation also loses his mind.

So staying calm is needed.

Search The Immediate Area:

When your head is clear and you are in state to solve the problem, start searching your immediate area. Check those places where your dog mostly tried to go. Dogs that run out of open gates can often be found sniffing the neighbor;s yard, wandering in the street or visiting the nearby pets. Knock on your neighbor’s door and tell them the story in  short. Also take the picture of your dog with you as reference.

Firstly, you should check your own house and nearby places and then ask the neighbors for help. If they find it somewhere, give them your contact number so that they can tell you about it.

Think smart, instead of searching in lanes, search those places that are familiar to your dog. It can be a nearby park where your dog loves to play or it can be a nearby house where another other dog lives. 

Use Social Media And Lost Pet Websites:

After searching the immediate areas grab your phone and post on your personal page and also post on community pages where your message will reach more people. The more people came to know, the more chances of finding the dog. Facebook pages are mostly dedicated to finding dogs posted there too.

File missing reports with the Humane Society,SPCA and other rescue organizations in your area.

Also search in shelter homes, mostly lost pets are taken by them.

Also post on those websites that are related to pet search. Ask your family members also for help to find it on lanes and streets.

Check Nearby Parks and Landmarks:

As I mentioned earlier, dogs that wander out through open doors mostly can be found in places like nearby parks and landmarks where they mostly like to go. They can be found in nearby restaurants or other places like this because of their sniffing habits.

If you take your dog out for a walk in any other place like playland, go and search there.

You can find it playing with some swings or wandering around there. Canine buddy mostly found on the places you frequently visit. In short, visiting the places where you frequently go with your pet is a good idea.

Enlist Help

Enlist the people who you can ask for help like your family members and friends. Call them for help. Sometimes there are people in our contacts that are members of any organization like pet shelters.

Also persuade those friends or relatives that were passed through the same case.I mean their pets or dogs run away. Such persons can guide you what to do?  

This contact may appear fruitful as they guide you to important things in less time.Mere this step can also prove to be helpful than all other steps that are needed to be done.

Contact Local Animal Shelters Veterinarians:

Contacting local animal shelters and veterinarians is the most crucial thing. Consider if the run away dog is not present in a nearby area or in streets or in lanes there are most chances that they will be present in shelter systems. 

It’s common practice that dogs that are wandering around in streets or lanes are taken by these members so, contact them and tell them the whole details i.e race, color, size, age and time of departure. Also ask them to note your other contact so that they may contact you if the first number is not picked up.

Spread the Word

Communicate the message of pet’s running away to as many people as one can. Post the  picture of the pet everywhere, at every social platform i.e facebook, instagram, whatsapp, or twitter and on the personal page. Put this on status and facebook and insta stories. Ask your friends and family members to post the same thing on their stories and status. The more this message communicates, the easier it will become to  find a puppy.

Childrens also have a good sense of finding, therefore spreading posters of missing pets  is also supportive.

Check Animal Control And Stray holding Facilities

In some cases, it might be possible that the shelters and holding facilities can skip any information about pets and be unable to inform owners due to some reasons. In such situations these shelter houses and stray holding facilities should be visited. They should be requested to check the recent pets that are taken in the holding. This may prove fruitful and runaway dogs might be present there. Second most important thing to do there is to ask them to note down the details of the pet again or leaving the picture  is also a good idea.

Do Dogs Come Back When They Run Away?

Most owners think that their dog would not come and are quite hopeless. But the fact is that in many cases runaway dogs come back to home on their own. Dogs can and often do return to their owner when they run away. One study about the lost pets shows that about 93% of the lost dogs were recovered as dogs have strong navigation abilities.

If your dog is out and is in a familiar area, there are 90% chances that they already know their way back home.Like humans, dogs can also navigate themselves. Two following abilities of dogs help them to come back:

  • They are able to follow their own scent.
  • They use landmarks to navigate themselves towards home.
A dog hide his face in the ice ground

Most statistics show that most of the pets recovered in 30 days. But this time varies depending upon the type of pet it is. Dogs mostly recover faster than other animals as more people notice stray dogs and are willing to help them.

The other reason behind it is, a dog can follow a scent at 10 mile distance but it depends upon the race of the dog also. Don’t be hopeless if your dog runs away there are many chances of its recovery. Be patient and try to be calm.

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Dog Breeds That Run Away

how to stop
The dog feels so comfortable in his owners arm

Following are the breeds of dogs that mostly run away:

Hound Breed

Hounds are good family dogs and excellent around kids. But they are also one of the breed that run away!

Hound breed include :

  • Basset Hound
  • Bloodhound
  • Beagle
  • Bluetick Coonhound
  • Afghan Hound
  • Dachshund
  • Redbone Coonhound
  • Greyhound

Sighthounds Breed

Sighthounds are also called gazehounds, hounds that hunt primarily by sight and speed rather than by scents.This breed include:

  •  Azawakh
  • Borzoi
  • Chippiparai
  • Chortai
  • Galgo Espanol
  • Irish WolfHound
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Kaikadi
  • Kanni

Northern Breeds

Often referred to as Spitz-dogs. Unlike other breeds northern have thickly-furred upright ears, a pointed muzzle, expressive faces, and a smile. They are:

  • Husky
  • Canadian Eskimo dog
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Samoyed
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • Greenland dog

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian cattle dog, or simply cattle dog is a breed of herding dog developed in Australia for driving cattle for long distances. This breed is a medium-sized, short-coated dog that occurs in two colors.

  • A blue Australian Cattle Dog

Border Collies

Border collie dogs in two coat types (rough and smooth) and in a wide variety of colors. These are:

  • Smooth Collie
  • Cumberland Sheepdog
  • Bordoodle
  • McNab Shepherd
  • Wiston

Siberian Huskies

The Siberian husky is a medium-sized breed that belongs to the Spitz genetic family. These further include:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Pomeranian Husky
  • Alaskan Husky
  • Samoyed
  • Labrador Husky
  • Mackenzie River Husky.

All I mentioned above are the breeds that mostly run away but running away is not restricted to these breeds only.

How To Stop Dogs From Run Away?

Although there are many reasons that dogs run away, there are still many ways to stop dogs from running away. I would like to share these ways with you because I believe that “Prevention is better than cure”. Therefore it’s foremost to know how to stop?

Here, I am mentioning few points:

Training and Recall Commands

“Training is key to discipline.”   is  my personal thinking. In this environment I observed that training is necessary for pets to keep them inside home. Regular training  sessions work your dog both, physically and mentally in a positive way. By training :

  •  Your dog will learn how to behave correctly in social gatherings. 
  • Learns boundaries
  • Built mental confidence
  • Strengthens human-animal bond
  • Help dogs to behave better

Time for Training

The best time to start  training a dog is as early as seven weeks and also when the puppy enters its new home. By the age of six months almost all behavioral problems are already in place.

Still keep in mind that Dogs are always learning, so it is never too late to start training.

Leash Training

Puppies start to learn simple commands from the age of eight weeks, including leash training. Introduce your puppy to collar or leash and start out by letting him get used to it. Leash training should be started from a young age because as the age increases it will become difficult. Leash training will also help the puppy to know its boundaries and help to stop it from running away. Overall this training is necessary for all the dogs.

Note: Don’t use leash during the night because it may cause harm to it.

Supervision and Restriction

I heard that good supervision prevents life and death situations. Everyone agrees that adult supervision of pets is necessary. Pets should be supervised all the time when it is indoors and after it comes in after eliminating the outdoors, allow it supervised freedom.

After supervised freedom, put your puppy in a crate. 

When your puppy has gone through 12 weeks without mistakes provides him more freedom. Supervision and restriction will make such a behavior of your dog that it may stop him from run away.

Fix Escape Routes

Mostly dogs run away from places that are not fenced or any escape corner. Try to fix escape routes. Always lock the door before leaving the house. Don’t let any corner remain open. Close all those windows from where your dog can go out, before leaving the house. Also keep doors closed when you are too busy and could not supervise.

Secure Fencing

Fencing is the place from which most dogs escape. Secure your fencing before it’s too late.

In markets two types of fences are available

  • Visible fence
  • Invisible fence

Both have different pros and cons but I would prefer a visible fence because it would help dogs to know its boundaries. Invisible fences  sometimes cause harm (causes injuries) to them.

Avoid Triggers And Fearful Situations

On many occasions, fearful situations cause dogs to run away. An example that I mentioned earlier is that a dog was fearful of the loud sound of fireworks, similarly many such things cause fear in dogs. Sometimes dogs are also fearful of a few people. So try to avoid such triggers that cause fear. Notice the actions of your dog if it tries to run away during any event. Then try to avoid such things. And if it is fearful of some person try that both of them don’t come in front of each other. These things will stop dogs from run away.

Common Question:

How far can a dog smell its owner?

Dogs can smell their owners (or a person they recognize ) from up to 40 feet away. It has been reported that during beneficial conditions, they have been able to smell people as far as over 12 miles that are approximately equal to 60,000 feet.

Do dogs miss you when they run away?

Dogs start to miss their owners from the very moment they get separated. They start to miss more when two hours have passed and keep missing until they are reunited with owners.

Is it normal for dogs to run away?

Dogs are curious creatures. They like adventures and exploring new things. Many times during these explorations and adventures they run away. for example some dogs like to chase moving vehicles when any vehicle is passing through the street . Curiosity rises in them and they start to chase the vehicle, the house left far behind.

Why do dogs suddenly run away?

There are a variety of reasons that dogs run away. The most common reasons that dog’s run away are boredom, fear, anxiety, curiosity and habit of wandering.

But the reason why dogs suddenly run away is fear. If they fear something they will run away in a moment.

How long do dogs run away?

Most pets never run away. However, in case if dogs run away it will return to its owner normally in 24 hours, but sometimes it took a week. Dogs have good navigation systems, so their return is faster than cats and other pets.

What percent of dogs run away?

According to a published study “about 11 to 16 %” of dogs run away at least once in five years.

End Note

In the end I would like to say that prevention is better than cure. Such situations should be avoided that cause dogs to run away. The idea of explaining the most common reasons that dog’s run away was that, you should be aware of all these reasons. And if you found any of these reasons in your house, eliminate it as soon as possible.

The secondary thing behind explaining all this was to make you mentally prepare. Even if such a devastating movement comes you have to be calm and act upon all the written above steps. 

Thirdly, I mentioned the breeds and their types that mostly run away. If your dog is one of these breeds you have to be more conscious.

Then, I will tell you the importance of training and supervision that help you to stop dogs. Additionally, fixing escape routes, secure fencing, avoiding triggers and fearful conditions are also supportive measures.

My duty was to make you aware, to act on it is your choice. 

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