Runaway dog

Dog runs away Austin dog walking

You may have seen it before: A dog gets loose from someone’s grasp and jets off in one direction (probably giddy with delight!). The owner panics, aware of all the surrounding hazards, and chases after him. “No! Come back here! Bad dog!” she screams, waving her arms in a furious frenzy.

You probably also noticed that the dog didn’t stop what he was doing and sit in a polite, patient position while he lets his owner collect him. In fact, you probably saw him run faster with more enthusiasm!

That’s because the owner has instigated her dog’s FAVORITE game of chase-me!

When obedience fails:

If your dog gets away from you and you can see the gleam in his eye that clearly says he is not returning for food or any amount of coaxing, then there are a few things you can try to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

  1. Sit down. (If it’s safe for you to do so.) If he doesn’t notice you sitting down, bark or squeal (forget about how silly you feel!). You can also try laying down. Don’t outstretch your arms and act like you’re going to grab him – let him come to sniff you and see what all the fuss is about.
  2. Run the opposite direction. Yell out or whistle to your dog and run – fast! – in the other direction. Now he’s very likely going to want to chase you!
  3. Use another dog. If your dog likes other dogs and you have access to one, keep him or her on a leash and try options one or two with the second dog in tow.

Practice recall

In order to have better control of your dog in situations like this, it’s important to practice your recall with him every day.

You can make it fun by playing games like round-robin recall. Have your friends or family stand around your dog and call out to him one at a time. The person you want him to go to calls his name, gets excited, jumps up and down – whatever it takes – and then treats him when he comes. Everyone else is still and quiet until it’s their turn. This reinforces the idea that coming to people when they call him is an exciting game that gives him lots of reward.

Even when you’re not practicing recall, if your dog comes to you give him lots of praise. Coming to you should always be seen as a very positive experience.

Dog runs away found _ Dog walking in Austin texasDon’t punish him for returning

What’s more important is to never punish your dog for coming to you. Sometimes it’s tempting to want bring your dog to you to scold him for something, or to scold him after he’s run away and you’ve finally caught him. But that dog is living in the moment and all he thinks he’s in trouble for is coming to you! It will significantly decrease your chances of him coming to you the next time.

Tags and microchips!

Make sure your dog is tagged and microchipped so that if he does run off, you have a good chance of getting him back from a kind neighbor, shelter or veterinarian who happens to find him.


Did you know that Gusto Dogs can work with your dog on recall during our daily walks? All work will be done on-leash when not in a safe, enclosed area.


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About Kristen West

Kristen started Gusto Dogs in Austin after running a pet sitting and walking business for two years in Sydney, Australia. After discovering that the dogs benefited much more from incorporating enrichment into their daily walks, Kristen decided to make it a part of every Gusto dog walk with the aim to provide a more fulfilling experience for Austin's dogs and their owners.