How to Discipline Dogs When They Run Away

A solid recall can stop your dog in his tracks.
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Boomer might run away for many reasons. Maybe he's looking for a potential mate, maybe the goodies in the neighbor's garbage are calling him or maybe he's determined to catch a teasing rabbit in the park. Regardless of the reason, correcting his behavior is more effective than disciplining him.


If Boomer escapes from the yard or runs away when you're walking him without a leash, avoid scolding and punishing him when he returns, because he might associate coming back and being near you with negative consequences. Also, because you're reprimanding him after the fact, his brain won't be able to connect your discipline to his prior actions. Running off and digging through the neighbor's trash or chasing a rabbit instantly rewards Boomer and reinforces his behavior, making it hard to break, no matter how much you yell and punish him.

Take the Lead

Rather than punishing Boomer for running away, which might make him aggressive or fearful, teach him what you want him to do. Practice obedience training to show him you're the pack leader and he's your subordinate. Use dog treats, verbal praise and games to reward him each time he does a good job. This will make him want to repeat the good behavior. If you come across a situation where Boomer might run off, use your obedience-training commands to control your pet companion's actions.

In the Yard

If Boomer escapes from the yard, a high, gap-free, smooth-surface fence that's buried deep enough so he can't climb or dig his way out might help. Also, exercise your pet companion regularly, because he might escape to burn pent-up energy or to socialize. Spend quality time with your furry friend -- take long walks and play games, such as fetch and tug-of-war, with him, and when he's alone in the yard, provide dog toys so he doesn't get bored.

Teaching a Recall

Establishing a strong recall can keep Boomer from running off. Ideally, start training your dog during puppyhood. Call him to come to you in a small hallway of your home. Practice this consistently and lavish him with hugs and treats when he listens. Slowly move to a more distracting environment, such as a fenced backyard. Over time, practice the recall while he's on a 6-foot leash in a quiet park and gradually lengthen the leash. With consistence praise and irresistible rewards, your pet companion will gladly come when called and enjoy being around you.

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