The Best Tactics to Catch a Runaway Dog

This dog knows how to find his way back home.

This dog knows how to find his way back home.

Catching your dog if he goes on the run requires some tactical know how. Whether he gets off leash, runs through a hole in the fence or becomes spooked by a truck, knowledge of the canine psyche will help you get Lassie to come home.

Keep up with the dog so you can see what direction he is headed. Perform a balancing act here: You don't want him to get completely out of your sight, but you also want to avoid screaming and running down the sidewalk after your dog because he will think it is a game and keep running.

Call your dog quietly and calmly, using a cheerful voice to show your dog that he is not in trouble. Yelling or shrieking will cause your dog to feel your anxiety and stay away. A firm but friendly tone reinforces that you are the leader and will encourage him to return.

Offer your dog treats or his favorite toy, or beckon your pupster back to you by sitting or kneeling with open arms. Remain in a sitting or kneeling position and turn slightly away from your canine, avoiding eye contact. When he approaches, quietly slip a looped leash over the dog's head while praising the dog. Or grasp the dog's collar or reach for his leash calmly while maintaining the same physical posture -- sitting, kneeling -- so your prodigal furbaby won't run off again.

Work with helpers to gentle corral a runaway who has been missing for months and can't be lured back with tricks or treats. Physically capturing dogs like this may be difficult, particularly in an undeveloped area, so you may have to work with assistants on horseback or in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Also, put fliers up in the neighborhood with the dog's picture so neighbors can contact you if the dog shows up in their yard or home. Contact the local shelter in case the dog has been turned in.

Items you will need

  • Dog treats
  • Spare leash
  • Favorite chew toy


  • Keep your dog's identification tags up to date with your current phone number and contact information so your dog can be returned to you quickly.

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About the Author

Sharon Harleigh has been writing for various online publications since 2008. She specializes in business, law, management and career advice. Harleigh is a proud graduate of UCLA and Loyola Law School.

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