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5 Reasons Why Dogs Run Away (And How To Stop It)

Hallie Roddy

You could have the happiest dog living a life of luxury, and there’s still a chance that they end up running away. Even though our pets running away or getting lost is something we dread, there comes a time in many dog owners’ lives where their best friend wanders a little too far and leaves us desperately searching for them.

Don’t take it personally if your dog has a habit of running away. Dogs aren’t always the best at controlling their actions and often rely on instinct, even if it isn’t for their own good. So what are some reasons why dogs run away?

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5 Reasons Why Dogs Run Away

1. Fear

two dogs afraid of fireworks
Image Credit: smrm1977, Shutterstock

Fear is what drives all living creatures when in a dangerous situation. Like humans, dogs experience a fight or flight response when they feel scared, and it isn’t uncommon for your pup to choose the latter. Dogs are afraid of numerous things such as fireworks, storms, gunfire, and large crowds. You never know what could trigger a fear-based response. They run away often to look for someplace to hide and feel more secure.

2. Anxiety

Dog anxiety
Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

There are mild to extreme cases of  anxiety, including separation anxiety in dogs. We aren’t ignoring the irony of a dog with separation anxiety running away. When dogs feel anxious, they do all sorts of things that aren’t considered normal behavior. Peeing inside, chewing furniture, and trying to escape are all signs that your dog is suffering from anxiety.

3. Mating

beagle dogs mating
Image Credit: Sigma_S, Shutterstock

Dogs mature much quicker than we do. At only 6 months old, dogs are almost all sexually mature and start to follow their instincts to reproduce with some of the other neighborhood hounds. You can’t really blame them for trying to pass on their adorable genes, can you?

4. Instinct to Hunt

German Shorthaired Pointer hunting
Image Credit: Drazen Boskic PHOTO, Shutterstock

All dogs have an instinct to hunt; some are just more likely to follow it than others. Because of this natural instinct that has been passed down through generations of dogs, our pets often get a rise out of chasing other animals. While some dogs are bred to hunt, others are doing what their body tells them to. They catch a scent of prey and chase it down until some run so far that they don’t know their surroundings or how to get home.

5. Lack of Stimulation

Australian Cattle Dog runs along the coast
Image Credit: Iryna Dobrovynska, Shutterstock

A common reason that dogs run away is because they aren’t properly stimulated at home. More intelligent breeds are usually the suspects in these scenarios. They are naturally curious and running away is their best bet of having a new adventure.


Preventing Your Dog from Running Away

There are times where our dogs running away is out of our control. However, it’s nice to know that there are a lot of preventative measures that are successful in preventing this.

1. Keep the Dog Calm

woman hugging dog_Christin Lola, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Christin Lola, Shutterstock

Dogs are more likely to run if they are scared or anxious. Avoid taking dogs to places with loud noises or crowds. If inside, close all your windows during thunderstorms or fireworks shows. Give them a safe place to hide in until everything calms down.

2. Protect Against Mating

neutering dog
Image Credit: Simon Kadula, Shutterstock

Unless you’re purposely planning to breed your dog, consult your veterinarian about having them spayed or neutered. Neutering your pets decreases the chance of sexual roaming in 90% of cases.

3. Secure Your Home

german shepherd looking outside the chain link fence
Image Credit: andr74b, Pixabay

Make it harder for your dog to run by creating a secure home with obstacles. Obstacles often include installing new or better fencing around your yard that your dog can’t dig or jump their way out of. Try using more secure door and window screens or door barriers if they have a habit of roaming away from the house. Of course, always keep a close eye on your dog whenever they are outside.

4. Keep Dogs Entertained

Happy dachshund dog playing
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Keeping your dogs entertained increases their physical and mental health and also decreases their chance of wandering when you aren’t looking. Play with them or give them some sort of exercise daily. If you’re gone for long hours of the day, you might consider hiring a pet sitter to keep them company for a few hours. There are also plenty of toys and puzzles designed to stimulate your dog’s mind if you aren’t up for a play session.

5. Be Prepared

vet checking microchip implant of dog
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

You’ll have a much easier time reuniting with your lost dog if they have an ID tag and microchip. Keep your contact information up to date with your address and home number.


Final Thoughts

Dog running away isn’t anything new. While it may hurt your feelings, dogs aren’t leaving you for personal reasons. Often, they were following an instinct before they realized that they were lost. If they do happen to run away, remember to stay calm to keep them from becoming more frightened.

Featured Image Credit: Oscity, Shutterstock

Hallie Roddy

Hallie has been a proud nature and animal enthusiast for as long as she can remember. She attributes her passion for the environment and all its creatures to her childhood when she was showing horses on weekends and spending her weeknights devoting her attention to her pets. She enjoys spending most of her time in Michigan playing with her two rescue cats, Chewbacca and Lena, and her dog, Clayton. When Hallie isn’t using her degree in English with a writing specialization to spread informative knowledge on pet care, you can find her snuggled up on the couch reading books or watching nature documentaries.