Let’s address the front door bolting scenario first, if you find yourself in the position of your dog racing out of the front door there are a few things you should and should not do.
- Chase him
- Lunge to grab him
- Chastise him when you finally do catch him
Each of these may make your dog run further away from you, make the whole thing a fun game for your dog and ruin any chance of quickly teaching a good recall in the future.
- Run inside and grab the block of cheese from the fridge.
- Start tossing bits of cheese towards your dog.
- Begin a cheese trail back to your home or to a safe area.
- Encourage your dog and praise him for finding the cheese.
- Work on developing a good recall, today.
- If your dog is following someone with a dog encourage that person to walk to a safe place.
Most of the above are not about training (and dogs’ stomachs do not tolerate cheese well) but it will ensure you have the best possible chance of keeping your dog free from injury or death in the moment they do escape. An escapee from a home gives you a readily available food source as leverage with your dog, but what do you do if your dog slips their lead during a walk?
The best thing you can do if your dog slips their lead is to run in a safe direction, a running owner is often irresistible to a dog. You can also try to corral your dog in a driveway or other closed-off space. You will need to think on your feet about what your dogs’ currency is, do they love sticks? Do they love strangers? Use whatever is available to you to entice them to engage with you or someone else, then use this to lure them to a safe place.
I found myself in this situation a few months ago. I was walking Nemo when a small puppy who was wanting to say hello to us slipped his lead, his family which included three young children and an adult proceeded to scream and chase him around the street, thankfully it was not a major road. The family were trying everything to get this puppy back, even resorting to yelling ‘Shmacko’s!!!!!’, but this little dog was having none of it, he was having way too much fun playing chase. I could see the puppy loved Nemo so I proceeded to walk towards my home, this puppy was desperate to follow so we walked straight into my back yard and closed the gate. Now, at least the puppy was safe and everyone calmed down and we were able to capture the little rascal. I sincerely hope the family learned a lesson from this scenario because next time it may not turn out so well.
Dogs who slip their leads get a huge amount of reward from this and the likelihood of them backing out of their lead or harness again will be very high. Make sure your dogs’ harness or lead is fitted correctly, dogs tend to slip their leads when they are backing away from the person holding the lead, you can stop this from happening by walking towards your dog the moment they start pulling back so they have no pressure to work against. You should also equip your dog with a good recall and if your dog is a chronic lead slipper take steps to address the cause of the behaviour.
Dogs who escape from the home or slip their leads highlight the need to teach recall. Even if you never walk your dog off lead a recall is still vital because you never know when you may be caught out and the consequences of one mistake could be huge.