Why does my dog run off in the park?
Simple solutions for those everyday dog issues from top trainer Tony Cruse.
Does your dog go AWOL the instant you unclip his lead? This can cause you a lot of stress and put both your dog and passers-by in danger. Chasing your dog across the park is not only embarrassing but can actually make things worse.
At that particular moment in time, the park is far more interesting to your dog than you are. There are lots of sights, sounds, and scents that dogs can’t wait to explore. Also, dogs love to play chase (think about two dogs playing together) and if you start dashing after your dog, he may just think you’re playing his game.
And finally, if he does return to you, the appearance of his lead also predicts home time and the end of his park fun. Recalling your dog then becomes more challenging than ever.
Teach your dog that if he returns to you, he may get the opportunity to be released back into the park for more fun.
- Call your dog back to you using his name and a recall command such as ‘Here’ or ‘Come’. Keep the tone jolly. Spread your arms in a welcoming gesture; this can become a great visual recall cue.
- Show your dog a tasty treat and drop it between your feet.
- As he snuffles for it, give him some gentle fuss and incorporate a collar hold. When you have the collar, clip his lead on. Wait a few seconds.
- Unclip his lead and release him back into the joys of the park with the words: ‘Off you go’. The fact that you’ve given him permission to continue having fun becomes a powerful reward for returning.
If you struggled to recall your dog, avoid angrily marching him out of the park. This can prevent him from wanting to return to you in the future because you start being the predictor of frustration and home time.
Connecting a long line to your dog’s collar can prevent your dog from practising the unwanted action of running away. You have to make yourself as ‘valuable’ as the environment, so have your dog’s favourite toy with you and some yummy treats (things your dog values).