Houdini Hounds – Preventing Those Great Escapes

August 16, 2017

Is your dog a master of escape? Pets Training & Boarding explores the Houdini hounds with some great advice on how to stop your dog from roaming the neighbourhood.

There is no doubt that some dogs are masters at escaping even the most secure backyard. Not only does this pose a huge safety risk, as your beloved dog ventures close to traffic and other hazards unsupervised. It can also have you forking out thousands in council fines.

Reasons for Escaping:

  • Boredom
  • Looking for a mate
  • Separation anxiety

When you have a dog that is continuously escaping you need to look at what is triggering the behaviour. “Many dogs love to escape from their daily grind,” Luana Osmani from Pets Training & Boarding says. “If you have a dog that is constantly escaping you may need to enlist the help of a professional to enlighten you to why they are running away.”

Boredom is a big factor. You need to understand that your backyard is not a very entertaining place to be when you are alone. The key to helping your dog stay-put is environmental enrichment. This includes giving your dog a job to do. From utilising treat-balls or stuffed Kongs to raw bones and new toys. With a little creativity, you can make your dog’s environment a much nicer and more interactive place to spend the day. Make your dog’s environment a ‘fun’ place to be. Keep it simple and amusing but change it up daily to ensure your dog does not get bored of the same old toys.

“Enriching your dog’s area with treat balls and toys can help, as too will ensuring they are correctly trained, exercised and desexed,” Luana recommends. “Bored dogs will try and escape so preventing boredom is paramount.”

Understanding Boredom
For your dog, the backyard is not a stimulating place, unless you put the time and energy into enriching it. Having something to do will prevent your dog from finding his or her own entertainment. Keep in mind that heading off on their own to the local off leash area, or roaming the scent filled streets is highly entertaining for your dog.

“It is important to remember that even if you live in Fort Knox if your dog is bored or not exercised correctly, they will find another means of entertaining themselves such as digging, barking or another creative but destructive behaviour.”

Desexing
It’s also a good idea to ensure your pet is desexed. Neutering your dog can prevent roaming. Did you know that a male dog could smell a bitch on heat up to five kilometres away! Female dogs will also roam looking for a mate.

Separation Anxiety
If your dog is escaping because they are looking for you, it’s important to get some professional help and speak with your veterinarian. Together with a professional dog trainer, they can help devise a plan to reduce your pet’s anxiety and keep them safe. It’s also a good idea not to make a big fuss of your dog before you go, or when you return. You need to teach your dog that it is OK to be alone and that they are safe even when you are not at home. So the leaving and returning needs to be a ‘no big deal’. Some other tips include:

  • Prepare for your departure in a non-fuss way.
  • Leave for short periods and return with no fuss.
  • Set your dog up with some activities like a stuffed Kong.
  • Ensure your dog is exercised adequately.
  • Seek professional help.

Exercise & Fencing
It is imperative that your dog is correctly trained and exercised. Walking nicely on the leash will increase the bond you share with your dog and will also help prevent many behavioural issues like escaping. If your dog is escaping while you are at work, enrich their environment and consider walking them in the morning before you leave and again when you return.

Fences also need to be the right height for your dog. If your dog is getting out in the same area, you’ll need to secure the fence or gate to prevent escaping. You may also consider building a dog run area that is 100% secure. This can be a section of your yard that you make especially for your dog. However, it is very important that this space is a fun area and not somewhere that you lock your dog away in.

“All dogs should be contained in a safe area. Making sure gates and fences are the adequate height for your dog, and deterring doggy diggers is a must when dealing with a Houdini hound.”

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