Dog on the Run: Dealing with Pets Who Like to Escape
So, this time you think you’ve fortified the backyard enough to keep out an army (or, rather, keep them in). And yet, come morning, your dog has managed to slip through a gap in the fence only a contortionist should be able to manage.
Pets who like to escape can be a major source of stress and worry for their understandably concerned guardians. Whether they are high jumpers or diggers, or simply have a knack for stealth escapes through a cracked door, there are ways to address the problem of escape artist pets.
Understanding The Houdini Hound and Ninja Cat
First off, let’s address the general “why” of pet escape. In many cases, it has to do with one of the following causes:
- Lack of exercise – High energy breeds, such as border collies, cattle dogs, and Jack Russells, need to expend a lot of energy and require physical exercise and mentally engaging challenges.
- Instinct – It is in their nature for cats and dogs to want to explore and claim space. Many outdoor cats are likely to have defined their territories throughout the neighborhood, despite these boundaries being invisible to us.
- Lack of enrichment – Imagine if you were confined to a small space without anything to do… pets with barren, uninteresting surroundings and no one to play with can become bored and begin to plot their escape.
- Birds and bees – Unaltered pets, when in estrus, will seek out a mate through vocalization, spraying, and even wandering.
- Lack of training and socialization – Young or untrained dogs simply have not learned the rules of the home and may go by instinct (see above) when confronted with boredom, separation anxiety, or pent up energy.
Prevention Tips for Pets Who Like to Escape
Before we explore tactics to help you deal with an escape-prone pet, the first order of business is to ensure your pet’s safe return, should he wiggle his way out. If you have not had your pet microchipped, we strongly encourage you to do so, as well as maintain current identification tags, vaccinations, and parasite protection.
Determining the source of why your pet seeks to roam will help you create preventive tactics. If you are unsure, or believe your pet is running away due to fear, anxiety, or phobia, contact us for a consultation. It could mean some behavioral intervention is needed, or perhaps medications.
Other tips for putting the kibosh on the exploration attempts include:
- Locating the manner in which you dog or cat is escaping and fortify this area (loose window screen, gap in fence, fencing not high enough, etc.)
- Providing plenty of exercise each day with walks or other means of expending energy
- Spending time with your pet and/or consider adding another pet to the family to help provide companionship for an “only child” pet
- If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, consider doing so (safer for your pet and you will help reduce the stray and unwanted pet population)
- Addressing any underlying behavioral problems through veterinary care and professional training and socialization
- Bringing your pet indoors unless you are able to supervise him, or consider signing him up for doggie daycare while you are at work.
All pets have the capacity and curiosity to roam. Unfortunately, if this behavior becomes a habit, your pet’s chances of being injured or lost dramatically increase. To keep the wandering four-legged safe, begin by addressing the core reasons for this behavior and taking the time to pet escape-proof your home and yard.
For more information about what to do when your pet loves to be on the loose, contact your friends at Schertz Animal Hospital.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!