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Tips to prevent your dog from running away

Recently there had been more and more cases of dogs getting lost, in this post we will share with you the reasons based on our personal experience and knowledge, hopefully this can let more dog owners understand why dogs run away and take future precaution to keep their furkids safe from incidents like this.

For owners
The number one reason for dogs to run away is because of their owners, there are no excuses for this no matter how agile or intelligent the dog is, your dog is your responsibility to keep it safe from any danger so there is no one to blame other than the humans in charge. Even if you have tried 1000 times and your dog is still safe and returning to you might not mean anything, just one careless mistake and it might just be gone forever, a lot of owners regret after ignoring our advice and we do not want any of this to happen to anyone. Other than risking accidents when dogs escape, there are also 'dog thieves' that would loiter at places with dog owners, they wait and target dogs that are vulnerable especially those that loves to run around and are not on leash, most of these dogs are actually stolen and sold to other people, some are used for breeding and others for abuse. If you love your dog then do read below to help keep them safe.

Loose collar
A very simple rule that a lot of owners do not understand, dog collars should not be loose as it defeats the purpose of securing it from coming off your dog's head, loose collar does not mean comfort, this is a misconception that many people have, same thing with harnesses. When dogs get excited during walks they can create tension, this tension causes collars/harnesses to expand slightly larger than their original shape, which can actually come off your dog's head if it's not secure enough, this is when the dog feels free and may start running off, at that point of time they will not understand what is going on and might just dash off even if it's across the road.

Collars should be about 2 fingers spacing, slightly tighter is not a problem as long as you are able to turn the collar around your dog's neck, it should also be made of durable and comfortable materials.

Off leash
Some owners like to put their dogs off leash without even training them first. An off leash trained dog is when it walks beside (slightly in front or behind) your legs, it should also be at least 90% attentive to recall. Your dog is not considered fully trained if it is simply walking near to you but is doing whatever it wants to, eg. sniffing on the ground all the time, barking at passerby, running far in front of you. Also, your dog is not ready to be off leash even if it is able to look back after walking far away and waiting for you, this is just the dog walking/leading the owner, meaning that if there is something that attracts it's attention (birds, people, dogs, vehicles etc), it will just wander off! Please also take note on playing games outdoor be it void decks or beaches, we do understand the excitement to let your dog roam freely to play fetch and what not but a lot of them get lost because of this.

What you can do instead is to get a long leash and hold onto the end of the handle, though it is not as comfortable this method is much safer and will be a good way to train your dog off leash in future. Places that are enclosed like dog cafes and grooming centers are much better for off leash but it is still advisable to watch your dog very closely, people will always be going in and out through the main door, which means that your dog has a chance to run off whenever the door is wide open.

Not closing the gate/door at home
"My dog will never run away no matter what", "my dog is afraid of outdoors, don't worry", these are some of the popular phrases we hear when asking owners why they don't practice proper prevention at home. Dogs are intelligent animals, their characters will always change and there is no saying when they will feel like dashing out the house for the first time, they might not understand that doing so can result in being unable to find their way back later on.

You as the owner should always take extra precaution to protect your dog, some dogs do run off the stairs, others enter the lift when it's opened, there are even cases where dogs fall off the building through small holes. It is great to have trust in your dog but before doing so you need to first earn respect from it, which can be achieved by proper training. Keep your doors closed for now, making sure your family members can practice precaution is your responsibility, no excuses.

Grooming, Vet visits, Transport, Boarding
Dogs getting lost during grooming, transport and boarding is not uncommon, you need to understand that your dog is not the only customer they serve, a lot of these situations can actually be prevented if you are careful enough.

For grooming, many owners do not monitor and check on the groomers even if it is their first time, they leave everything to the groomers to handle without knowing whether they are trustworthy and responsible first. During grooming there are always people getting in and out of the shop, a lot of grooming centers do not practice proper precaution in keeping the dogs safe, things like cages & safety gates can sometimes be unlocked due to carelessness.

To minimize the risk, pick a grooming center that has see through glasses to know what they are doing, always watch the whole grooming process especially for the first 2-3 times, talk to them, monitor their routine and judge for yourself, from there on try to request for the same groomer.

For pet transportation it is usually the loading and unloading period where dogs get lost, the staffs can be careless and forget to lock or keep the dogs on leash before putting them in the carrier, there are also times where dogs escape once the carrier is opened.

To minimize the risk, try NOT to use pet transport unless you really have no choice! Usually the driver is just a staff and may simply treat the job like a routine, when this happens those that are not careful may accidentally let the dogs escape, some even leave these dogs unattended be it toilet break or lunch, there is also nothing you can do if accidents were to happen to the vehicle. Pet transport is not an easy job but many take it for granted because it is high in demand, owners that are lazy might want to reconsider again, it is always best to do the transport yourself unless you really have no choice.

As for boarding, it is usually during walks when dogs run away, many dog walkers are unaware of their surroundings, they do this job on a daily basis and may not be focused enough to take certain precaution, things like loose leash, loose collar and lack of firm handling can cause dogs to run off unexpectedly. During boarding itself dogs might also run out of the door if it isn't locked, free roaming always has it's consequences especially when more than 1 dog is involved.

To minimize the risk, always make sure you understand about the boarding program, know the person that is handling your dog and make sure proper prevention is practiced by the handler. Dogs should always be placed in a safe crate whenever they are not monitored, you should also make sure that the collar you use fits your dog properly to prevent escaping during walks, many owners do not walk their dog frequently and may not notice the importance of fitting collars.

For dogs
Other than practicing proper precaution, it is also good to understand why your dog run away, it is not always so simple as getting out for fresh air and returning after awhile, not all dogs can find their way back, some of them don't even want to return.

Excited about going outdoors
If you walk your dog frequently, there is a high chance that your dog will get excited whenever the door is opened. Most untrained dogs get lost because of this, they are too excited to think about anything else and may dash out right away.

To solve this, always keep your dog in a crate or have someone hold it whenever the door is opened, or you can simply keep it on a leash. The best is to train your dog on boundary, train them not to venture near the main door, also train them well on recall.

Focused onto moving objects outside
Although dogs can't see clearly, they can spot moving objects much faster than us, things like tissue paper, bicycles, birds, dogs and other moving objects can be very tempting for dogs to chase, you will be able to feel the tension on your leash when this happens. Dogs cannot multitask like us, they are usually focused on one thing at a time so you might not be able get your dog's attention by just using sound. Having a leash on is the best way to overcome this problem.

Overly stressed
This is one of the most common reason that is ignored by owners, there are dogs that run off because they simply want to escape from their owners! Many owners do not understand their dogs at all, they believe that their dogs are happy with their lives even though it's not true, reading dog behavior takes years of experience, I don't mean experience having a dog with you but experience handling and training them, one can have over 10 dogs with them for over 50 years but if he/she had never trained these dogs successfully, that person is considered inexperienced.

Dogs can get stressed when they do not have a balanced life, this includes proper training, exercises daily, socializing with humans/dogs, healthy food and a den, you can give a mansion to your dog with food that cost hundreds of dollar a meal (yes we have seen owners doing this), it can still be stressed and will try to run off whenever there's a chance.

In the end understand this, your dog is your responsibility, things like hit & run, jumping out of window, running out of the door etc. can be prevented if you exercise proper rules. We are not saying that our dog would be 100% free from accidents and understand that sometimes things just happen, what we can do is to try our best to prevent accidents as much as possible, we have seen a lot of cases whereby accidents could've easily been prevented if owners were not so careless.


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