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My puppy keeps running away

Hi Jennifer.

My daughter adopted a puppy 18 months ago. Archie is a delightful and quite a hyper active “Africanis” mix (see photo attached!). Every now and again he runs away from home which obviously makes my daughter distraught. He is in a home that is walled and gets plenty of exercise either walking or playing ball on the sports fields across the way. Plus lots of attention. We have never really had a dog who has done this before? Why and how can we stop this behaviour? We would appreciate any advice possible.

Kind regards
Jenny

 

ask jenniferHi Jenny

One of the most common causes for dogs ending up in shelters is wandering or running away from their homes. Although there are a number of possible reasons for a dog running off, they broadly are the result of either the dog looking for something more rewarding or stimulating to do, or he is trying to get away from something he feels threatened by.
A male dog will often go in search of a female dog that is in season if he detects the scent of oestrogen given off by the female. Although neutering curbs this behaviour in 90% of male dogs, there is still the 10% that behave like intact males and will still go in search of a female.
Boredom plays a major role in the behaviour of dogs that continually roam or run off. They will often go in search of a “companion” or something else that may relieve their boredom. You mention that Archie gets lots of exercise walking and playing ball at the sports fields across the way. He may well be seeing the sports fields as a much better and more fun place to be than the garden at home and so goes looking for the stimulation he associates with the sports fields.
I would suggest that you do an evaluation of what Archie’s normal daily activities are, i.e. does he have another dog to play with at home, is there a person at home most of the day, does he have lots of toys to play with etc. A dog that is stimulated in his home environment will usually not try to roam.
There are many things you can introduce to give Archie more daily life enrichment. If there is someone at home during the day, try dividing his daily food rations into three or four servings and feed him smaller amounts more frequently. If this is possible, then have whoever is feeding him scatter one or two of the “extra” meals on the ground instead of out of the bowl. Having Archie sniff and search for the food will give him stimulation and keep him occupied. The use of stuffed kongs and brain toys are also very good for stimulating his curiosity and urge to find something to do on the other side of the wall.
Remember, if you can make home life more rewarding for Archie, then you will remove his desire to find rewards elsewhere.
Hope this helps

Love and Licks, Jennifer