5 Things to Do If Your Dog Runs Away - Pet Hub USA

5 Things to Do If Your Dog Runs Away

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Most dogs will seize the opportunity when a door or gate is left open, unable to resist a chance to explore. We’ll look at why dogs run, how to reduce the chances of it happening again, and 5 things to do if your dog runs off.

5 Ways to get Your Dog Back When it Runs Away

Here are 5 things to do to get your dog back if it runs away, as well as what not to do that may make things worse!

1. Remain Calm

What to do:

  • Say or call your dog’s name and a high, happy, and excited voice.
  • If your dog is familiar with words like “treat,” (or “bone,” or “biscuit,” whatever word your dog knows), using a happy voice tone, let your dog know you have a reward waiting for it.

What not to do:

  • Don’t panic. If you cannot see your dog anywhere, stay calm. Panicking will prevent you from thinking clearly. Statistically speaking, 93% of lost dogs are found alive.
  • Don’t scream your dog’s name. Yelling for or at your dog may frighten it, making it less likely to come to you.

2. Open all Your Doors and Gates

What to do:

  • In addition to leaving whatever door the dog escaped from open, open the other doors to your house, including the backyard gates. When you are out searching for your dog, it could come back on its own.
  • Leaving the doors and gates open allows it to come back into the house and/or yard.

3. Search Your Neighborhood First

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Chances are, your dog will most likely be somewhere in your immediate neighborhood.


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What to do:

  • Before you begin your search, put your dog’s food, water, and familiar-smelling blanket or toy on your front porch. The scent that these items contain may attract your dog back.
  • As you search through your neighborhood for your dog, call out to your dog in a high, friendly, and excited tone of voice. If you do spot your dog, follow the advice given in the next step.

4. How to Get Your Dog to Come to You

What to do:

  • Try calling your dog using a high, excited tone of voice. As soon as your dog looks at you, run in the opposite direction. Your dog will think you want to play and may come after you.
  • If you have treats or a toy, use this to lure your dog.
  • If there are leaves nearby, grab some. The leaves will make a sound like a treat to the dog and may lure it to you.

What not to do:

  • Chasing after your dog when it runs away can send the wrong message. In your dog’s brain, it is interpreting the chase as a game. Therefore, chasing after your dog will only cause it to run more.
  • Additionally, your dog might also be frightened by you yelling and chasing after it, which may lead them to run away, putting them in even greater danger.
  • When your dog returns to you, avoid the natural reaction to scold your dog. Your dog will relate scolding to coming back to you, which is not the message or lesson you want to impart.

5. What to do if Your Dog Cannot be Found

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If you cannot find your dog after searching your neighborhood and it still has not come back, it’s time to take the following steps immediately.

  • Make a huge sign for the entrance to your neighborhood. Using huge pieces of cardboard or sheet of plywood, spray paint the details of your missing dog and place it at the busiest entrance of your neighborhood. Consider offering a reward, as that always gets the most attention. If your neighborhood has two entrances, try posting large signs at both of them. This method is more likely to be seen than posting flyers around several streets.
  • Make a post on social media to let everyone know your dog is missing. This is the quickest way to reach the most amount of people. Consider offering a reward for its return. Most neighborhoods have their own Facebook groups. You can also post on the NextDoor app.
  • If the above steps have not helped you recover your dog, contact your local shelter and give them a description of your missing pup and your contact information.

Why Dogs Run Away

There are several reasons why dogs may run away:

  • They’re bored.
  • They might love the thrill of being chased
  • Some breeds are more prone to running away. Hunting, working, guarding, and herding breeds are natural explorers.
  • If you’ve recently moved, your dog may try to run back to your old house.
  • Unneutered dogs may run away to search for a mate.

How to Reduce the Risk of Your Dog Running Away

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Here are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of your dog running away.

Shore Up Escape Routes

Check your property for any openings the dog could use as an escape route.

Watch Your Doors & Gates

Do not open your door or gate until the dog is at a long enough distance away so that, if the dog tried to make a run for it, you could shut the door before the dog could escape.

Try Recall Training

Consider training classes to teach your dog recall. The dog will be taught a specific command to make it come back. This is important for dogs with high tendencies to run (working, hunting, guarding, herding dogs).

Get Them Microchipped

It’s important to have your dog microchipped in case it does run away and becomes lost. This will help anyone who finds your dog access your contact information to be able to return the dog to you. 

If your dog is already microchipped, and you have moved since your dog got its microchip, be sure to update the registry. Also, your dog should be wearing a collar with its license information.


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