What Causes Dogs to Run Away and How Do We Prevent It?

Even if there is no one reason why dogs run away, there is a way to keep them safe. What you need to know to keep your dog safe will be discussed here.

Distress and Common Triggers

Two dogs running on the beach

Image source: Kojirou Sasaki

Distressing Sights and Sounds

Dogs, with their sensitive hearing, may feel confused by loud noises. Fireworks and thunderstorms are common triggers; even everyday sounds like a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer can cause panic in some dogs. Although not every dog is affected by loud noises, many dogs are undoubtedly involved.

Unfamiliar Environments

Dogs feel unsettled and uneasy in new surroundings. Relocating to a different house may be a significant stress factor for dogs. 

Unexpected environmental changes, such as new scents, sights, and sounds, can induce anxiety in dogs—similar to humans. While everyone needs time to adjust to a new home, dogs struggle to comprehend why they can’t return to their previous residence as humans do.

Some dogs might attempt to escape to their former home, seeking the security and comfort they once felt. Additional care and attention are essential to help your dog transition smoothly to a new home.

Behavioral and Psychological Factors

Dogs chasing each other

Image source: Alvan Nee

Anxiety: being separated

When alone, most dogs feel a little anxious. But dogs with separation anxiety condition think of extreme stress when separated from their owners. As a result, escape attempts and destructive behaviors can be seen. 

You can practice training and introducing routines and medication to reduce the anxiety levels in these dogs. 

Bored feelings or Frustration 

Naturally, dogs are active and intelligent. They require considerable mental and physical stimulation to remain content and healthy. When deprived of this stimulation, dogs can become bored or frustrated, leading them to wander in search of entertainment.

Regular exercise, playtime, and mental challenges are essential to prevent dogs from seeking outside activities. But, certain breeds, especially those like Huskies bred for roaming, may need to stay indoors to avoid attempts of escape.


As social creatures, dogs are not suitable for isolation. Loneliness can prompt dogs to run away in search of social interaction. When leaving a dog alone for work or errands may not be avoidable, ensure they receive sufficient attention and companionship. This method is vital to prevent seeking interaction elsewhere.

Instinctual Drives

Mating Instinct and Sex Motivation

Sexually mature dogs, particularly unneutered males, and unspayed females might feel an urge to seek mates, leading them to roam extensively in search of a partner, especially when a male senses a female in heat. Although spaying and neutering can reduce this instinctual drive, it may not. Monitoring dogs as they reach sexual maturity is essential to observing and managing their tendency 

to run away.  

Tendency in Hunting

Many dog breeds have strong hunting skills triggered by moving objects like small animals. When dogs notice such small animals, they might chase them, often ignoring commands and surroundings.

Contained within a fenced area or on a solid leash during walks might be necessary to prevent dogs from chasing prey. Some dogs may require a lot of training to stop this behavior.

Breeds of Dogs Subject to Wandering or Escaping

Two Greyhounds running at the the beach

Image source: Mark Galer

Dogs with solid hunting skills are more prone to run off than others. They love exploration, or they have high energy levels and are more prone to attempting escapes.

Hound Breeds, Herding Breeds, Pulling Breeds, and Terriers are breeds with tendencies to wander and escape.

Preventing Dogs from Running Off

Safe Home and Yard  

Securing and giving special attention to the home yard and doors may help prevent your dog from escaping. Understanding your dog’s behaviors and needs, training them effectively, and using technology like GPS dog trackers can help prevent and manage situations where dogs may run away.

Know your Dog

You may notice that your dog shows signs of wanting to run off due to sexual maturity. 

Is your dog receiving adequate exercise and mental stimulation? Dogs might run away due to boredom and anxiety. Keeping your dog engaged in mentally stimulating activities and ensuring that your doggies get enough exercise can help prevent these issues.

Irrespective of training, will your dog immediately pursue prey? Your dog might not be suitable for off-leash walks and requires a fenced area for safety.  

Train Your Dog

Train Your Canine Companion by recall training, which is necessary to prevent your dog from wandering too far during outings or play sessions. Additionally, dogs engaged in competitive sports or activities tend to exhibit reduced boredom and a greater willingness to remain within the yard.

Use Technology

Using Technological Aids, microchipping your dog, and equipping them with ID tags are important safety measures for their retrieval if lost. Monitoring your furry friend has become remarkably convenient thanks to GPS dog trackers. 

Actions to be taken if your dog runs away

Staying calm is important when your dog vanishes. Avoiding chasing the dog and instead trying to attract them with a calm voice or treats can help in rescuing a runaway dog. Immediate neighborhood searches, distributing flyers, using social media, and contacting local shelters are recommended steps when a dog goes missing.

Can you Imagine the place the dogs go when they run away?

Some dogs can be found in their immediate surroundings, while some may be driven by particular instincts such as searching for a mate or chasing scent, leading them far away. Dogs who run away due to fear of loud noises may not have a particular destination and could get lost very easily. Some dogs may find their old home with amazing accuracy.

Will a dog come back after running away?

The answer will depend on the distance they have traveled and the environment they are staying in. Dogs who run away due to loneliness or boredom may not want to return. 

How do you catch your dog who ran away?

Never chase after your dog, which will result in them running further. Instead, call them in a calm, happy voice or use treats. 

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