By Rachel McCabe, Behavior Technician>
The best way to deal with a dog who escapes a fenced yard is to learn WHY they like to get out so you can prevent further attempts. Success is self-rewarding so it’s important to address this issue as soon as it starts happening. While a fenced yard can be very enjoyable for dogs, the Connecticut Humane Society doesn’t recommend that ANY pet should live outside or be left in the yard without supervision. >
Dogs seek to leave their yard for a variety of reasons. >
Boredom - if the environment in uninteresting, Fido will seek out his own fun.
Solution: Make sure your dog has tons of toys in different sizes, textures and shapes. Treat dispensing toys and puzzles like Kongs and Kibble Nibble Treat Balls are a great way to keep your pooch’s mind busy. Regularly swap out the toys so that Fido doesn’t get bored. Get involved too! If Fido doesn’t like to play by himself, engage him. Make it a game; have Fido perform a few tricks before handing the toys over. Try hiding them around the yard for a doggie Easter egg hunt.>
To get to a sight, sound or smell - hounds and terriers are especially interested in neighborhood happenings.
Solution: You may need to consider reinforcing your fence; IE: adding extensions on the top that are tilted inward to prevent climbing and extending the fence further into the ground to prevent tunneling.>
High energy/active breeds - breeds like herders and sporting dogs need more than your average walk.
Solution: Hanging out in a fenced yard isn’t adequate for active dogs. Ample daily exercise should be provided. Fetch is a great way to wind energy down and is fun for both dog and owner! Enroll dogs that require more physical exercise and mental stimulation in classes like fly ball, agility or doggie daycare. A tired dog is a good dog! >
Fear - loud noises like thunder & fireworks may frighten some dogs enough to attempt escape.
Solution: For those that escape because of fear, you’ll have to identify the exact trigger. Avoid exposing Fido to common triggers like thunder and fireworks. Provide him with a “safe place” where he’ll feel comfortable. You may need to speak with your vet and a professional trainer about desensitizing and possible anti-anxiety medications to work through behavior modification protocols. >
Not Spayed/Neutered – looking to find a mate!
Solution: Get your dog spayed or neutered as soon as possible. This will decrease the need to escape significantly and will also address other behavior and medical issues.>
In combination, the two best ways to prevent your dog from escaping are supervision and training. Training creates a strong bond between you and your dog which can be a wonderful deterrent to wandering. A dog that is happy at home stays at home. And remember, if you are not able to supervise your dog’s outdoor activity, then he should remain inside where he cannot make a break for the neighborhood.
As a parting thought; if your dog does escape, please do not punish him when he is caught or returns. By doing this, you will make him afraid to come home.