If my dog runs off, don’t make a panic grab for him – run in the opposite direction happily calling his name


[From Tufts May 2010 Issue]

What do you do if your dog scoots out the door and calling the “Come” cue doesn’t work? First, don’t panic. If you run down the street screaming hysterically after your dog, chances are good he’ll run farther and faster. Instead, grab the tennis ball, squeaky bunny, tug toy, treats and shrill whistle you keep by the door for just this occasion, step outside, and invite your dog to play with you by running away from him and calling out in a happy voice. Squeak the bunny or blow the whistle to get his attention, and then do your best, “Hey, I’m having a party and you’re invited!” act.

If he looks interested or approaches, resist the temptation to grab for him. You’ll scare him off and make him leery about approaching again. Instead, invite him to play tug and chase his ball, or engage in some other activity that he loves. Best-case scenario is that you don’t have to get hold of him to take him back inside — you convince him to follow you voluntarily, playing all the while. If he goes in of his own accord, he’s much more likely to be willing to play the game next time.

If he’s too far down the road to get him back with squeaks and games, follow him in your car. If he loves car rides, it’s often easy to pull 50 feet ahead of him, open the car door and ask him if he wants to go for a ride. When he hops in, take a short drive to his nearest favorite place. Leash him and let him out of the car for at least a brief but fun outing. He’ll be happy to get in the car again if he runs away again.

If he’s not fond of the car, skip the invitation. Instead, park and lock the car 30 to 40 yards ahead of him, get out with your toys and treats, walk a short distance away from the car, wait for him to get close, and invite him to play his favorite games. Again, don’t make a panic grab for him — convince him to have fun with you, and artfully gain possession without making him wary. Toss the ball into a yard with a gate, enclose him there, and eventually take hold of his collar without angst on either party’s side. Clip his leash on and ask if he wants to go for a walk, then walk him home, playing as you walk. You can retrieve the car after he’s safely back home.


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