How to Stop Dog Escapes

Dogs escape for a variety of reasons, including –

  • Boredom – When dogs are bored, they may escape to find adventure in the great outdoors.
  • Loneliness – Dogs are pack animals. If they do not get enough attention and interaction at home, they may run away to look for it elsewhere.
  • Separation Anxiety – Some dogs become extremely anxious when home alone. They try to leave, to look for their family.
  • Territory Protection – Guard dogs may escape to chase intruders away from their property.
  • Prey Instinct – Dogs with high prey drive may run away while hunting and chasing after prey.

We want to prevent our dog from escaping because he may get hit by a car, get into fights, step on sharp objects, and eat garbage, anti-freeze, or poisonous yard plants.

Free roaming dogs can also be dangerous to children, seniors, and other on-leash dogs. Here are some tips on how to stop dog escapes.

1. Train our dog not to bolt out doors or exits

Dogs often rush or bolt through doors because they inadvertently get rewarded for their escaping behavior. Not only do they get a fun trip outside, but they also get to start an exciting game of chase with their owner. As a result, the more successful escapes a dog makes, the more likely he is to repeat the performance.

To teach our dog to wait at the door, we want to turn things around and reward calm or good actions. At the same time, we need to prevent all door escapes, so that he does not get free outside trips or chasing games, for bad conduct.

I use my daily walks with my dog to teach him β€œdoor manners”. Every day, before going on our walk,

  1. I call my dog to me.
  2. When he comes, I ask for a Sit and reward him with a treat for sitting and waiting. If he does not want to sit or calm down, then I simply walk away and go back to my chores. I try again on my next break.
  3. If he stays calm, I put on his collar and leash. I no-mark, if he tries to jump or bite while putting on the collar, and repeat step 2 (i.e. get him to sit and wait).
  4. Next, I hold the leash, open the door, and put on my shoes. If he stands up, I no-mark the behavior and close the door. I wait until he is calm and sitting, before I try the door again.
  5. If he remains sitting, then I give him the Break command, and we go on our fun walk.

In this way, my dog learns the following –

Sitting and waiting calmly by the door = Get to go for fun walk with my person,
Jumping and running around = Door closes and don’t get to go out.

2. Have a secure backyard or dog run

Make sure that our backyard is secure.

  • A 6-foot fence is usually sufficient to keep most dogs from jumping over it.
  • Dogs may also dig under the fence. We can bury chicken wire along the fence line, which will be uncomfortable against a dog’s nails, when he tries to dig.
  • We can also place wood blocks or concrete blocks at the bottom of our fence-line to discourage digging.

I am currently using concrete blocks in my backyard. I can easily readjust them as needed, they hold up well against water (unlike wood), and they are a better visual fit than chicken wire.

If our backyard is too large to enclose with a fence, or if the terrain is too uneven, then consider building a smaller dog run. Make sure to bury the fencing at the edge of the run, to prevent digging. Alternatively, a concrete floor will also take care of this issue. However, concrete can be harsh on a dog’s paws, especially if used daily, for an extended period of time.

When I leave my dog in the backyard, I make sure he has enough clean water to drink, and proper shelter. This is especially important during very cold or very hot weather.

If none of these options are possible, then keep our dog inside the house when we are not around to supervise.

Another commonly discussed alternative, is the invisible or underground fence. These fences are paired with a shock collar, and will automatically deliver a shock to the dog when he nears the underground sensors.

However, scientific studies show that these fences increase stress in our dogs, and can encourage extreme aggression. In particular, dogs may associate the shocks to people or animals that they see, rather than to their own actions. They may also associate the shocks to the environment, become anxious, and start avoiding our backyard.

3. Keep our dog well exercised every day

Dogs that are primarily kept in the backyard, will quickly become frustrated, unhappy, and stressed. Most backyards are easily explored by a dog, in one day or less. In addition, our backyard is fully enclosed to prevent escapes, therefore, there will be few new scents to pique our dog’s interest.

In contrast, our neighborhood sidewalks are traveled by a variety of humans, dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, and other animals. There are a plethora of new scents to keep our dog engaged every day. In addition, neighborhood walks will expose him to a variety of people, animals, cars, and other interesting sights. This will help socialize him to common neighborhood objects, as well as stimulate his mind.

Walks in the park are even more interesting, because it is a new environment with a totally new set of sights, scents, and sounds.

This is why exercising a dog on a treadmill is no substitute for an interesting walk in the neighborhood, or at the park.

Dog play, dog sports, and dog training sessions, can be used in addition to the daily neighborhood walks, to keep our dog engaged and happy.

Dogs that get daily walks will have less interest in escaping, because exploring the neighborhood is a regular affair that they participate in, together with us.

4. Keep our dog safely engaged while we are away

Provide our Houdini dog with interesting activities to do, while he is home alone. Safe, interactive food toys, such as the Buster Cube or the Omega Ball, are good ways to focus him on a positive activity, rather than letting him obsess about being alone.

We can also put wet food in a Classic Kong, and then freeze it. This will keep a dog engaged, while he slowly licks out the frozen wet dog food.

There are also timed object dispensers, that will release a toy after a predetermined duration. Timed dispensers allow us to spread out the delivery of various toys, and gives our dog something new to do, every so often.

I also leave my dog with some safe chew toys. Sometimes, I stick some cheese onto the toys, to make them even more tempting.

Usually, I leave the radio or television on, to provide some background noise. This will keep the environment closer to how it is when we are home, and also mask out unusual sounds coming from outside. Strange sounds may sometimes encourage a dog to escape, in an attempt to see what is on the other side.

5. Do not leave our dog alone for long periods of time

If our dog is prone to escaping, then do not leave him alone for long periods of time. Dogs are pack animals, and need frequent interaction with other members of their pack.

One possibility is to come home during lunch-break, for a quick walk and some play. This will help to break up the tedium of our dog’s day. If we are busy or must work the entire day, then consider putting our dog in daycare, or getting a pet sitter to stop by. We can also hire a dog walker, to take him out for a fun group walk at the park, with other dogs.

All these activities will not only exercise him, and enhance his quality of life, but also help to socialize him to a variety of dogs and people. A socialized dog is a joy to have, because we can take him almost everywhere with us, and not have to worry about him behaving badly.

If none of the above options are possible, then consider having a friendly neighbor come over, or having our dog visit with them.

As pack animals, dogs should not be left alone for most of the day, with nobody for company but themselves. Ultimately, this may lead to frustration, boredom, depression, and aggression.

6. Train our dog on acceptable guarding behavior

Most dogs, especially dogs that have been bred to guard and protect, will bark to alert us, when there are unusual sounds or activities around our house. If there is something wrong, we will know right away.

However, we do not want our dog to practice obsessive territorial behavior, or develop barrier frustration. Dogs with barrier frustration may charge at the fence, engage in non-stop barking, and escape to protect his territory.

When my dog alerts me to something unusual with his bark …

  • I go to him, and inspect the area.
  • I thank him for the warning, and praise him for doing his guard duty well.
  • If he continues to bark, I issue an alternate command – such as Quiet, Go-Mat, or Down.
  • Once I have finished checking things out, I take my dog with me, so that he does not continue to obsess over the external stimulus.

If he goes back to barking, or exhibits other territorial behaviors, I try to redirect him into doing something else – such as chewing on a cheese enhanced toy. If that fails, and he keeps barking at nothing, then I put him in time-out briefly.

Once he is calm, I make sure to reward him with praise and affection.

In summary, we can discourage dog escapes if we –

  • Train our dog not to bolt-out doors and exits.
  • Make sure our property is fenced and secure.
  • Provide a variety of structured daily activities to redirect and drain our dog’s energy.
  • Make it very rewarding to stay in the house or on our property.
  • Teach our dog proper guarding behavior.

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  1. kristopher says

    i have 2, 8 month old husky/lab mix sisters only 1 is escaping i putted here on a chain link shes quit escaping and since my other one was not escaping i left here in the kennel but it seems like every time i leave them apart i here loud annoying barks i believe they have separation anxiety but i punished the dog that was escaping. but i actually think shes learning her lesson but i think she likes her punishment i dont know why . what do u think i should do now

    • Anonymous says

      so did mine! she is a shiba inu, and jumped out of the car window as we slowed down on the interstate!

  2. Jade says

    A very informative article! My shiba is 2 years old and she was always an indoor dog until my husband got deployed and I had to move back to San Francisco. I had a friend take care of her and she has a back yard. Her backyard had wood flooring And concrete so there was nothing to dig up and she did great there. But that was only temporary and now she is at my sisters house. My sister has an elderly couple as her roommates and they have two dogs. (One big and one small) they have a nice, medium sized back yard full of grass and dirt (they garden a lot) and my shiba has been digging up under the fence! I am currently in Florida and have been here a month and a half. She has been digging a lot and the husband always finds her roaming the neighborhood and hanging out in front of someone’s lawn. I’m not quite sure what to do! I will be staying at their house in a week but I don’t want to keep worrying about her escaping. (She has escaped one time when she was in heat when I was with her, thankfully we found her a couple blocks away. She is spayed now) I will be taking care of her when I get back, but I would like to know what I can do to prevent this from happening when I’m not there. I usually don’t leave her alone for more than a couple hours. (6 at most) but she has other dogs to play with. She is a good dog and she is well trained. I feel like she doesn’t listen to other people because she just bolts out the door when they open it. When I am with her I tell her to stay and she listens. If you have any recommendations it would be much appreciated!

    • Jade says

      Also I forgot to mention, since it’s not my house I cannot fix the fence to add chicken wire, which seems like a great idea. I have been thinking about the shock collar, but the roommates are top notch dog lovers and think it’s inhumane to do that. I know it’s my dog, but I want to respect that it’s their house.

    • shibashake says

      In my backyard, I put concrete blocks all around the fence line. Unlike chicken-wire, concrete blocks do not need to be attached to the fence, and the brown colored ones that I got blends in pretty well with the surroundings. Perhaps you can have a discussion with your sister about this?

      What is your Shiba’s daily routine like? Does she get walked daily? How long are her walks? My Shiba really needs his daily walks even though he has other dogs to play with.

      For bolting out the door, I do door-manners training. The current caretakers will need to do some of the training, setting up structure, etc. My Shiba behaves pretty well with me, because I trained him, have a bond with him, and he knows he cannot get away with breaking rules when I am around. A new caretaker would need to set up a relationship as well, through training, consistency, walks, structured play, etc.

      Escaping is a self-reinforcing behavior. When a dog makes a successful escape, he gets rewarded with a fun walk outside with no rules. This reinforces the escaping behavior, which encourages the dog to try escaping more. To stop dog escapes, we need to make sure that the behavior is *never* rewarded, i.e., we need to prevent successful escapes. This requires supervision, exercise, as well as blocking all avenues of escape.

      As for shock collars, it is not something I would use on my dogs or recommend to others. Shock collars have many risks, and studies show that they can cause even more behavioral issues down the road. More on shock collars.

  3. Emma Trueman says

    Hi, I have a 3 year old female desexed siberian husky and we are having a lot of issues and really seeking help. We have moved out to our first house (my partner and I) just 3 months ago, prior to this we have lived with out parents where she had a doggy friend, and then my sister where she also had a friend.. however we still had off and on issues with her escaping.

    We now rent a house where we don’t have a second dog. Also she is also mostly an inside dog (we give her the option to go outside at most times), but we do go in the backyard and play with her a couple times on most days. We try to exercise her frequently and there is only approx 2 days per week that nobody is home. We have tried leaving her home but she escapes. My next try to stop her from escaping is to put the chickenwire along the bottom of the fence so that she can’t dig underneath. Although I don’t want her to be depressed and desperately trying to get out either so I need to also try to find a way to keep her happy? I have tried leaving her a kong etc but when we returned home she had escaped and not even eaten all the food from the Kong.

    We have tried taking her to my sisters on the days no one is home where she has her old doggy friend to play with (but she manages to get out as there fence is not secure at all). So this is not an option. We have tried putting her in a great doggy daycare we have here for the 2 days (this way she gets socialised, looked after well and plenty of exercise), and she went fine the first 2 times but on the third time about 1/4 through the day she begun fretting and trying to dig at the concrete and bite at the fence to get out, also not playing. Although she didnt appear to have any issues with any of the dogs there. We had to go pick her up early this day.

    Ideally I would like to be able to leave her home without worrying about her escaping or becoming depressed. We would prefer not to get a second dog if possible as it amounts to so much extra work and she already is a hand full.

    My next thing I’m going to try is to have the chicken wire run along underneath the fence, so that she cant dig (digging is her only way out). Also neither myself or my partnet can not get home anytime dure in the day when we are at work, therefore I was thinking of finding a dog walker, to take her for a walk sometime in the middle of the day, to break up the day of being alone.

    Please if you have any suggestions, or anything information at all I would love the help.

    • shibashake says

      about 1/4 through the day she begun fretting and trying to dig at the concrete and bite at the fence to get out, also not playing.

      Hmmm, could it be separation anxiety? Large changes in a dog’s environment and routine can cause stress and anxiety.

      My Shiba Inu also did not enjoy going to dog daycare because (1) he gets stressed when there are sudden changes to his routine, (2) he is loyal but does not trust easily. When we put him in daycare, he was very unhappy because it was an unexpected change. Suddenly, he was in a new environment, with a bunch of new people that he didn’t know and didn’t trust.

      He was not used to being alone at first, so I slowly got him used to it by starting with very short periods of alone time, and slowly building up from there. The more positive and managed alone time that he has, the more confidence he builds, and the more relaxed he became. Similarly, negative experiences and panic attacks will undermine that confidence and worsen his anxiety symptoms. Therefore, during the entire period of training, I made sure that Sephy did not have any bad alone experiences. If I cannot be around, I get someone that he trusts to be with him.

      Big changes to Sephy’s environment and routine can also cause a lot of stress. Therefore, when I move, I set up a fixed routine right away and set up a consistent set of rules. In this way, Sephy knows exactly what to expect from me and what I expect from him in return. Structure and consistency help to create certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

      ASPCA article on separation anxiety.
      How I desensitized my dog to alone time.

      Consulting with a good professional trainer can also be helpful when trying to identify the cause of certain problem behaviors. We visited with a bunch of trainers during Sephy’s difficult period.

  4. Racheal Meinershagen says

    hi there!! My family has a shepherd husky mix named Lola that likes to lead our other dogs off. We had a lab beagle mix named Einstein that we had for around 8 years and he only ran off maybe twice. Once we got the lola she would wander off all the time but Einstein wouldn’t follow. After her being here about a year he started to follow her. Finally one day they both wandererd off. Lola came back but Einstein didn’t. He has been missing for about 8 months now. Then one of my friends gave us a lab puppy and she was only 3 months old. She was adorable and well behaved. The puppy didn’t seem to want to go anywhere that we weren’t but Lola and her finally became friends. After about a month they wandered off together and again Lola came back but the puppy didn’t. They have all been outside country dogs. Is this a behavior that can be changed or is she always gonna drag off all the other dogs?? It’s so confusing because when she is the only dog she doesn’t wander off. She stays on the property. We just don’t understand

    • shibashake says

      There is one final characteristic of the Siberian Husky which we must point out — their desire to RUN. There are many breeds of dogs which, when let out in the morning, will sit in the front yard all day. Not the Siberian Husky. His heritage has endowed him with the desire to run and his conformation has given him the ability to enjoy it effortlessly. But, one quick lope across a busy street could be the last run that he enjoys, ever. Because of this, we strongly urge that no Siberian Husky ever be allowed unrestrained freedom. Instead, for his own protection, he should be confined or under control at all times. Sufficient exercise for proper development and well-being may be obtained on a leash, in a large enclosure, or best of all, in harness. If you feel that it is inconvenient or cruel to keep a dog thus confined, then the Siberian Husky is not the breed for you.
      ~~[Siberian Husky Club of America]

  5. katie says

    Hi, my husky killed a sheep last year during the daily walk. i am wondering what kind of training i can do to prevent that to happen again? he listens pretty wel when i call him to come but only if there’s a cat, sheep or a horse in the neighborhood, his instinct kicks in and he hears me no more. would you like to give me some suggestions?
    thanks a lot!!

    • shibashake says

      These two articles discuss how to deal with prey chasing behavior-

      However, Siberian Huskies generally have high prey drive. That combined with their love of running and independent spirit, make it risky for them to be off-leash in unenclosed spaces. I walk both my Huskies on-leash.

      There is one final characteristic of the Siberian Husky which we must point out — their desire to RUN. … Because of this, we strongly urge that no Siberian Husky ever be allowed unrestrained freedom. Instead, for his own protection, he should be confined or under control at all times. Sufficient exercise for proper development and well-being may be obtained on a leash, in a large enclosure, or best of all, in harness.
      ~~[Siberian Husky Club of America]

    • Anonymous says

      We are also planning to have chickens so it’s really useful to know the way to train my dog to live peacefully with them.
      Don’t know if it’s ganna work with my dog but i am ganna try for sure!
      Thanks again for your reply.
      Love all your articles and pictures of your dogs!

  6. Jazz says

    We have a 2 year old male cocker spaniel that is hell bent on escaping. Not unusual, you may think. Thing is, I’m home all day, he is trained and exercised on a more than regular basis AND has tons of other spaniels for company, male and female, none of whom show the same urges to escape. We’ve only had him a few months and I’m beginning to wonder if this is the reason he was rehomed!

    At this exact moment in time he’s gone missing from our ‘dog proof’ garden, taking two 8 month old pups with him. We’ve looked everywhere for him with no joy and notified the usual people, should they be reported.

    However, when they do return, are there any tips on keeping him from trying to escape as he doesn’t fit the usual stereotype of an escaping dog?

    (Fence is already fixed and strengthened)

    • shibashake says

      How is he escaping – is he digging under, jumping over, squeezing through, or something else? How many dogs in the household? Are they all outside dogs? Are they all together in the garden or in separate areas? Does he get along with the other dogs? What kind of interactions do they have? What is his daily routine like?

  7. Caitlyn P. says

    I have a very intelligent escape artist. He just wants out to roam. I’ve tried everything from an electric fence around the top to leaving him on a lead. I have to keep locks on the gates and he still gets out. He’s recently been shot by a farmer and will probably be killed if this continues. Last chance efforts to keep him at home, I left him in my home for maybe an hour came home and he broke through my front window. There was blood all over the broken glass and he was no where near the house. It’s to the point to where idk if I can keep him anymore.

    • shibashake says

      What type of a dog is he? What is his daily routine like? How old is he? How long have you had him? What type of training is he used to? What is his temperament like – is he shy? nervous? Does he show any stress as you are getting ready to leave the house? Does he only try to escape when he is home alone?

      There was blood all over the broken glass and he was no where near the house.

      Given that he is risking bodily harm to get out, I would really get help from a good professional trainer. Dog behavior is very context dependent, and dogs may escape for a variety of reasons, including separation anxiety.

      To properly change my dog’s behavior, I first try to identify the source of the behavior and what is triggering it. For example, if my dog is escaping because of anxiety, then I need to help him better cope with his anxiety triggers and help relieve his sources of stress.

      When I was having issues with my Shiba Inu, I got help from several professional trainers who could observe him, evaluate his behavior, and help me identify the key reasons for those behaviors. Once I better understood the source of his behaviors, I (together with my trainer) can start to come up with an effective plan for rehabilitation.

      More on how I change my dog’s behavior.

  8. narendra says

    I have a dog who is little over one year.we love our dog.but, we have a problem.we both work and she has to stay home for about 5-6 hrs or some some times upto 8hrs.we have tried putting her in the kennel but she got out on every time we put her in the kennel.we had the kennel secured but she still got, to the extent that she hurt herself. So we decided to use a gate and put her in the hallway. She has managed to jump up the kennel and got out.whenever she is out , she eats food left on counter or she chews up the paper or the kleanex. I don’t know how to fix this behavior of iur dog.otherwise she a sweet dog and we love her.please advice on how to get rid of this behavior.

    • shibashake says

      What is her daily routine like?

      Based on what you describe, it could be a separation anxiety issue.

      With my dog, I very slowly desensitize him to alone time. I start with very short amounts of alone time, and I very slowly build up his tolerance. The key thing with desensitization is not only to maximize positive, calm, experiences, but also to minimize negative events and anxiety attacks. Therefore, during the entire rehabilitation period, I make sure not to leave my dog alone except during our structured training sessions.

      I try to deal with anxiety issues as soon as I spot them. The more panic attacks my dog has, the more that will undermine his confidence, and the worse his anxiety and behavior will become.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent and each dog and situation are different. In addition, desensitization training can be counter-intuitive and complex. When I was having issues with my Shiba Inu, I consulted with several professional trainers who could properly observe and evaluate my dog, and help me with creating an effective plan for desensitization.

  9. cathy stout says

    hi! i have a mixed breed dog, she just turned 1! she’s such a sweetheart but she really is a little houdini. during the day while i’m at school and my parents are at work, no one is at home for about 7 hours. i wish i didn’t have to leave her for so long, but my parents won’t consider doggy daycare seeing as its fairly expensive where i live. we leave her in the large backyard, but she’s learned how to escape from it. she pushes through the bottom of a gate and squeezes out. she has done this multiple times and i’m scared to death that she’ll do it just once more and get hit by a car or get stolen or something else horrible. i don’t know how to keep her from escaping anymore. we put a big brick at the bottom of the gate so she can’t push through it anymore, but she’s started to dig and we put a brick where she digs too, but it’s just that she’s left alone for so long that i don’t know what she can accomplish through that time. i walk her about an hour daily and i play fetch with her on a daily basis too. i don’t know what to do anymore. help?

    • shibashake says

      In order to prevent escapes from my yard, I need to make my fence line totally secure. For example, I put concrete blocks *all around my fence line* so that my dog cannot dig under. I need to put blocks all around, so that it is totally secure. Putting only a single block won’t help much because my dog will just dig in a different place.

      In addition, I also need to provide my dog with enough exercise and structured activity based on his energy level. If I cannot provide that, then I need to hire someone to help and or get help from parents, friends, neighbors, or relatives. I had a childhood dog that kept escaping, so this issue is very near to my heart. Talk to your parents about it, and try to come up with a solution together.

      Can a friendly neighbor drop by to break up the long alone time?
      How large is your backyard? It wasn’t too expensive to buy concrete blocks and hire someone to put it all around my fence line.
      Is a dog walker a possibility?
      Are there dog lovers in the neighborhood who might enjoy some time with a dog during the day?

      Dog escapes are extremely dangerous for the dog and is also not safe for the people and other dogs in the neighborhood.

      Story of my childhood dog.

  10. lisa says

    We just rescued an 8 month old, 5# miniature yorkie, he’s a sweet little guy, but has recently started bolting the second the door is opened a crack. It happens so fast there’s no stopping him. Three times in the last 2 days! We live in Wisconsin and it is November, it wouldn’t take long for him to freeze to death if I couldn’t find him. I’m worried sick about this, I considered a crate, but most escapes happen when I’m home and I wouldn’t want to keep him crated all the time. I rent so a fence is not obtainable, How do I stop this from happening?

  11. carl says

    my dog has been running away and jumping fence with recent thunder storms we have been having. when we come home she is calmly waiting for us on our front porch. i am afraid though, that while waiting for us she might attack someone walking a pet or just walking by…what do you do with a dog who is scared of thunder that can escape and jump a fence. thought about doing a runner, but she also escapes collars…HELP!!!

  12. Anonymous says

    My dog has just recently started running away. We have a electrical dog fence, but he runs right though it. We are afraid that we might not be able to find him again. I was wondering if there was a way to increase the shock without hurting him, or if there was another method we should try.
    Thank you so much for you help,

    • shibashake says

      Electrical fences “work” by delivering pain to the dog. The theory behind it is that the pain (when properly delivered) creates an aversive response in the dog, which will hopefully deter him from nearing the fence line. However, because the fence line is invisible, and not something that the dog can see, touch, or feel, it can cause confusion and mis-association of the pain to nearby animals, people, etc. Studies show that underground fences are risky, unreliable, and *may* lead to more behavioral issues.

      I have a 6-foot wooden fence surrounding my backyard. A solid fence blocks out visual stimulus, and it is a barrier that my dog can see, touch, and understand. There is no pain and no confusion. I also put concrete blocks all around my fence line to prevent my dog from digging under and escaping. Good daily exercise is also very important for my dog. I talk more about what I do in the article above.

  13. Anonymous says

    Hello shibashake! My parents and I will probably get a toy poodle sometime later but I have to go to school and no one will be home to let the dog out to do its business and my dad is not comfortable with installing a doggy door. Can it use a puppy pad or artificial grass?

  14. Skylar Hasty says


    I am experiencing issues with my husky. She has become very well versed in escape.

    She has taken to opening gates and doors.

    For the gate and doors, I lock them.

    I have her outside for as much of the day as the heat will allow, she is with two other dogs most of the time, one being a puppy that will play with her all day long if she wants.

    I take time to play fetch with her each day and she sleeps with me in my bed.

    She has taken to going the bathroom in the house again also. She will sit, stay, lay down, shake, and get down when told the first time. She sits for leash time or when I go out the door.

    Tonight, my son left the door unlocked and she had been gone for two hours. I have screamed her name, tried treats, drove around looking, but we live in the deep country. Finally, she came home to have water. If she didn’t need water, I do not think she would have come home.

    I need help. I do not want to lose her again. She is my second child. I am at the end of my rope.

    Thank you,

    Skylar Hasty

    • shibashake says

      How long are her daily walks? Has anything changed in her normal routine? Has this behavior only started recently?

      My Huskies love their walks, especially when we go to park trails. They play at home and they spend time in the backyard, but they still really need/want their walks. πŸ˜€ The one time that Husky Lara escaped was when we skipped her walk for the day, because we had to take our two other dogs to the vet for their yearly. Now, we never skip her walks unless she is sick or otherwise not feeling well.

      Escaping is a self-reinforcing behavior because every time a dog successfully escapes, she gets rewarded with a fun filled trip outside, with freedom to go anywhere and chase anything. Therefore the more successful escapes there are, the more the behavior gets reinforced, and the more likely it will be repeated in the future.

      The best way that I know of to stop my dog from escaping, is to make sure that he never gets rewarded for the behavior, i.e. he is never successful with the escape. Either I am there to supervise to prevent escapes, or I carefully manage his environment and routine (block all escape routes, more exercise, etc.). I talk more about what I do with my dogs in the article above.

      As a back-up, I also train my dog on recall. However, since Huskies have high prey drive, I still walk my girls on-leash, but I have the recall if I need it. This article from the ASPCA has a good list of recall techniques.

      Hugs to your Husky girl!

  15. Penny says

    Hello. I’ve loved reading your article. I’m in need of advice. I foster dogs as part of a community project. I’ve got 2 of my own dogs (a Border Collie and a King Charles Cavi). I also have a 9month old, desexed Great Dane foster dog who has been with me for over 6 months. Two weeks ago she was trialed to a family but it failed (their dog kept attacking her). Since she’s returned she won’t stop leaping straight over our high fence. Before then she never once escaped. She plays constantly, I freeze treats, make activities/challenges, my children always play with her and she gets walked everyday. However, if we go inside or she thinks we’ve gone inside then she jumps the fence. When she’s out she doesn’t run away. She sort of wanders around and talks to the other dogs on the street. She comes straight back as soon as I do the whistle. I’m at a complete loss πŸ™ For over 6 months she had no desire to do it. I’m concerned about her being on the road. She is also a HUGE dog and I worry that she’ll frighten people (even though she’s a giant baby). It’s breaking my heart to lock her up everytime she does it and I don’t want her to live on a run. I’d really appreciate your advice. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      For over 6 months she had no desire to do it.

      She could have learned the behavior from her recent experience, and then just continued with it because she does not know it is dangerous to do so.

      For stopping certain backyard behaviors with my dog, I have found supervision to be key. For example, my Husky, Lara, had at one time developed an interest in digging in the grassy area of my backyard. As soon as I left the backyard, she would start to dig. So I would leave, but then watch her closely from inside the house.

      As soon as she starts to dig, I would no-mark, which would usually get her to stop doing it. If she does not stop, then I would go out and body block her away from the area and/or bring her inside. In this way, she learns that digging in the grassy area is against the rules (no-mark) and that she would lose her outside privileges if she digs on the grass.

      During the training period, I make sure to always supervise her from inside, so that I can catch the behavior and then teach her that it is undesirable. Otherwise, Lara would not know that it is something she is not supposed to do.

      Escaping is more challenging because we will need to both supervise and catch the behavior, as well as prevent escapes from happening. As I described above, the escape itself is often a self-enforcing behavior because once a dog escapes, he gets rewarded with fun play and meetings with other dogs outside, interesting outside smells, interesting outside activities, etc.

      With Lara, I make sure that my fence is high enough that she cannot jump over and I put concrete blocks at the bottom to prevent her from digging out. At the same time, I supervised her closely during the retraining period, so that as soon as she tries to go dig along the fence-line, I no-mark to let her know that it is against the rules. As with the grass digging, I bring her inside if she does not listen to my no-mark. After some time and repetition, she learned that digging along the fence line is a very unrewarding behavior, so she stopped doing it.

      In short, to train Lara not to dig and escape under the fence, I needed to 1) prevent all escapes, and 2) supervise so that I can catch the behavior at the right time and correct it.

      Hope this helps. Big hugs to your furry gang and four paws up to you for helping to foster dogs who are in need.

  16. megs says

    Hi, I have a mixed breed dog I got jn the yukon. He is possibly part husky with maybe some shiba actually, not sure, could be anything really. He is a very independant dog, tough to motivate as he’s not very into food or too much affection. I got him very young and I have experience with animals and used to walk dogs professionally so I have a fairly good handle on basic training and behaviour.. my problem is he loves to run and has a ton or energy so he needs to. He has decent recall but his boundries are much further than my boundaries, he has never failed to come back but he is taking longer to do so and I think he has now started hunting. So I am worried. I dont want to discipline him when he does return but he needs to learn to come back sooner and hopefully not go so far I the first place. He is tough for me because he doesnt follow typical dog behaviour and my experience ends there. He seems to display more primal canine behaviour which is why I lean more toward those breeds. We spend lots of time in the yukon where he has lots of space to run but I need to teach him how to be safe everywhere. He is not aggressive, but very intelligent and very energetic. I am hoping you may have some advice because of your breeds and the acticles I read were fantastic and very understanding from the dogs point of view which is how I relate to dogs. Its important to utilize our position as a more “intelligent” species to communicate with our dogsand our responsibility to do so in the most effective and mentally healthy way. Keep up the awesome work of educating people! Please feel free to email me

  17. kaleem says

    Please help me when I take my 3 years old black Labrador for a walk he haphazardly runs in different directions.
    Any advise and also when he goes outdoor he ignore me like he don’t know me and when I try to call him he try to escape.
    Any suggestion??

  18. Sue says

    I have a 2 year old retriever cross, a great pyrenees and a shepherd. They have 2 acres of fenced farm to run in and play. They are not confined and I work at home. All are spayed and nuetered. For some reason the retriever is getting out of the fence, we cannot find where. He is not a jumper and we can’t find any holes. Everything above does not really apply to him. I work in my art studio with the doors open and the dogs come in and out all day. Today he took off twice. Any solutions or reasons why he suddenly is doing this. He also does not really have any interest in the neighbouring dogs he just gets into the other farm yards but he will not come when we call him.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs it has to do with interesting smells. The outside smells a lot more interesting than my backyard. My backyard mostly smells like the family, and perhaps the occasional raccoon or skunk that wanders in at night. Skunk or raccoon smell gets them excited and they will do a few circuits around the backyard. They will also sometimes dig for rodents.

      However, the outside has lots of people and their dogs walking about every day. In the nearby hiking trails there are also deer smells, squirrel, and wild turkeys. Probably also a lot more skunk and raccoon traffic. πŸ˜€ To my dogs, the outside smells a lot more interesting then their backyard, so they love going on walks.

      Escaping is a self rewarding behavior. When a dog escapes, he gets rewarded with a fun and exciting trip outside, where there are lots of interesting smells. This encourages him to keep repeating the behavior.

      Some things that help with my dogs-
      1. I watch them closely to see their main escape routes. In this way, I can properly secure my backyard.
      2. I take them out daily for walks so that they get to go on outside adventures with me. In this way, they get rewarded by an outside walk for following rules and being well behaved at home, instead of for their escaping behavior.
      3. I supervise them while they are at home, and engage them in various fun activities including supervised play sessions, interactive food toys, recall training, and more.

      Here is a good list of recall training techniques (come when called) from the aspca-

  19. DD says

    Our 3 year old OES/ Cane Corso mix is afraid of thunder and lightning. We have tried all kinds of things to desensitize her. She would dig under our backyard porch in the past, but we’ve secured the porch so she can no longer get underneath. Now, she’s jumping the back fence to get under the porch from the FRONT of the house! It’s so annoying– besides blocking access on the front of the house, what should we try to PREVENT this need to go underneath the house? HELP!!!!

  20. Mary says

    My parents and I have three dogs. The two small ones keep escaping. The little dachshund digs and chews the wooden fence into shattered pieces. My wonderful dachshund-Australian shepherd mix digs and jumps the fence. She has not reached the 6 feet tall and fortunately we have built a sort of bar system across the shorter 4 foot fence that she has learned as a sign not to escape (more by choice). We have put chicken wire across the bottom of much of the fence. The tiny dachshund removes the staples and then tries moving the chicken wire aside. We had previously had an invisible electric fence but it has made the big dog paranoid of beeps and it would simply be cruel to put her through that again. We are just running low on ideas while avoiding spending hundreds of dollars.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, increasing their daily exercise helps. The one time that Husky Lara escaped was when we skipped her regular walk, so she had too much extra energy left over. Now, I make sure to walk her every day for about 1.5 hours.

      After Lara’s escape, we also put concrete blocks all around our fence line. They have worked well so far in preventing digging under the fence. Some people put big blocks of wood instead of concrete. I prefer the concrete blocks because they hold up better wrt. water, and I can readjust their position if necessary. Some people may also bury their fence.

      I describe some of the other things that I do in the article above.

  21. Candiace says

    Thanks for the great suggestions! Much like healthy nutrition, people seem to know the basics but forget to actually do them or don’t know where to start. I have wild Taiwan dog-border collie mix and recently added a 10-year old husky-lab mix to the family. I usually run them both between 6-8 miles every other day and the dogs play/wrestle daily. However, the husky-lab keeps jumping my 6-foot fence. I know that her previous owner kept her in a backyard all day for 10 years, so I’m thinking this is a behavior that was positively reinforced over time. I’ll definitely try some different stimulating activities that were suggested in combination with the running and play.

  22. Frustrated! says

    I have browsed many of your articles and found them incredibly helpful! Thank you for your straight forward advice and problem solving! I recently adopted a Border Collie/Boxer mix who is about a year old. We’ve had her for about a month and we’ve had a number of challenges, but the most dangerous began a week ago when she learned she could jump the fence. She is an indoor dog and has 2 siblings which she is regularly playing with so it’s not boredom or separation anxiety, I truly don’t know the motivation… There doesn’t appear to be a trigger (ie people, cats, etc) she just stops playing, goes to the fence and jumps it which of course leaves the other 2 dogs behind barking and me running through the neighborhood. We are currently taking her out on a 30 foot leash every time we go out but this impairs her play with the other dogs and I would prefer to teach her not to do it instead of just preventing it. Unfortunately, putting up a larger fence around the yard isn’t feasible as I chose this house specifically for it’s large yard with running room for the dogs. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      One thing that helped with my dogs is to increase the length and frequency of their daily walks. Both my Sibes are very active and also have high prey drive, so if they get a whiff of something, they are quite motivated to go after it – under or over a fence.

      There was this one day, where we had to take Sephy and Shania to the vet for their yearly shots and checkup. We were tired when we got back, so we decided to skip walking Lara. A few hours later, she was in our neighbor’s yard! She likely got a whiff of some critter, and decided to go check it out.

      When Lara goes on long walks with me, she gets to explore all the interesting outside smells, so she is much less likely to escape and go exploring on her own.

      I find that giving Lara a variety of structured activity to do at home also helps, e.g. working for all of her food, obedience exercises, structured play, etc.

      Another thing that may help is to train the dog to have a very good recall. This article from the ASPCA has a very good list of recall training techniques.

      The problem with dog escapes (bolting out doors, or jumping fences), is that it is a self-reinforcing behavior. When a dog performs the behavior, he gets rewarded with a fun trip outside. This reinforces the escaping behavior and encourages the dog to keep repeating it. To fully stop the behavior, we need to make sure that the dog ~never~ gets rewarded for the escape behavior. Instead, we want to teach him alternative behaviors (e.g. door manners) that he *does* get rewarded for.

  23. eddiesmom says

    hey great tips, eddie got away on a snowy day it was his first snow fall and i chased him and he kept running all the way to the damn park, not only did i learn that i should of run in the oposite direction and he would of chased me back home but i also learned that running through the snow in slippers is not a good idea yea thanks eddie.

    • eddiesmom says

      We are doing fine Eddies as fresh as usual gaining a bit of weight 2lbs since i started him on blue wilderness. ive heard wonderful things about that book a friend of mine read it and said it made her understand her dogs a bit more lol.

  24. Escapee says

    I have a 3 year old shiba that my girlfriend and I rescued. She has been a great addition to our home for the past 6 months. But for some reason the past week she has escaped twice and likes to run through three different apartment complexes. We’ve done a lot of reward training and have taught her three new tricks. When she escapes she seems to think it’s some kind of game that we’re playing but it’s really annoying to run after her for two hours or more. Treats, offers of car rides, and sweet talking don’t seem to phase her we just have to wait until she tires out and gives up. We’re now contemplating getting a “shock” collar and doing the necessary training associated. I’d appreciate any insight considering I live in a very busy apartment complex near an even busier highway when cars don’t seem to phase my dog at all. I sometimes think shes a cat stuck in a dogs body by the personality she portrays.

    • shibashake says

      How is Shiba escaping?

      With Shiba Sephy, I found that prevention is the most effective thing. Shibas love chasing games, so when they escape and people chase them, they love it, and it is a reward for their escaping behavior. This causes them to want to escape even more because escape = fun 2-hour chasing game.

      When Sephy was young, I put a long drag lead on him only with a flat collar. He would usually steal something and then start a chasing game. But all I have to do is step on the long drag lead. Only do this when you are around to supervise and only use a flat collar. The drag lead can sometimes get caught in furniture or other objects.

      I also installed a double gate on my backyard, like they have in dog parks. In this way, when I open the gate, and Sephy manages to sneak out, he has nowhere to go.

      Extra exercise may also help. When Sephy was young I walked him a lot, and nowadays he thinks being outside is really old hat. He only goes out once per day and he is good for the rest of the day.

    • shibashake says

      In terms of a shock collar, I also considered using it on Shiba Sephy during his difficult stage. However, after looking into the various studies that have been performed on shock collars, I decided against it.

      Here is an article on what I found about shock collars.

  25. Husky lover says

    Thank you so much for your suggestions! We shall have to try them! I will keep you posted on our journey!

    Yours truly Husky lover!

  26. Husky lover says

    I have a husky/shephard and she breaks out of everything. When we first rescued her she was very clam and we could leave her on her own no problem. A few months later she began to destroy the house trying to get out. She has broken through every bug screen in the house, ripped apart moulding around the doors, broken blinds. Eventually we started to crate her. She broke out of the crate. So now we have a kennel/run that we built and she breaks out. We have tried different methods of leaving her but she always breaks out. any suggestions for us? Yours truly Husky lover

    • shibashake says

      Hello Husky lover,
      I have a Siberian and she is a big ball of energy πŸ™‚ With huskies, exercise and activity are really your best friends. Some things that I do with my Siberian –
      1. > 1 hr walk every day.
      2. Play session in the backyard every day.
      3. Works for all of her food from obedience, grooming, or food toys. Interactive food toys are great because it keeps her engaged mentally.
      We also have a Shiba that she constantly bugs to play with her πŸ™‚
      I think by redirecting her energy towards positive activities, you can curb those destructive behaviors that you describe.

    • Husky lover says

      Thank you shibashake.

      Unfortunately these things that you describe, walking her and play sessions we do on a regular basis. Even when she seems tired after all of the activity she will still find a way out! She is a bit of a lazy dog (if you can believe that) and after so much exercise she just lays down.

      You talk about interactive food toys. Our husky won’t play with toys, fetch a ball or use interactive food toys. We have tried to teach her how to use these to keep her mentally stimulated but with no avail. Any suggestions?

      Thank you for all your suggestions! If you think of anything else we will try!!

      Yours truly Husky lover

    • shibashake says

      Sorry for going through known territory – it is tough because I never know what the surrounding context is so I try to start at the beginning πŸ™‚ Thanks for being so understanding.

      “You talk about interactive food toys. Our husky won’t play with toys”

      What I do is that I give both my dogs all their food through toys or training. They don’t get any from food bowls. This is also a great way to regulate how fast they eat.

      When they get hungry enough, they will work on the food toys. Make it easy for your dog at first, then you can slowly increase the difficulty of the toy after she learns the ropes. Sometimes I will also enhance certain toys by adding boiled chicken bits to the kibble. Frozen Kongs, Buster Cube, and the Premier food toys have worked well for my dogs.

      I have also seen a timed-release food toy dispenser which can be useful to keep a dog entertained for longer periods of time. I have not tried it yet though.
      In terms of escaping, is she doing it because of stress and anxiety when you leave? If so, I would try desensitizing her to you leaving.

      Start with just really short trips away and slowly build it up. If you can keep to a fixed routine, it will also help. For example, my Shiba is a stress cadet, but he is comfortable when we leave him alone based on our regular routine. When we make unscheduled trips, he gets a bit more stressed, so we are slowly training him on that by first doing really short away trips.
      Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.

  27. shibashake says

    @emievil – She is adorable! Thanks for sharing her picture with us. You should put more up on Flickr or some other photo site. She is very photogenic πŸ™‚

    @My NJ Dog –

    “I racked my brain for weeks on how to stop this – finally I built a small gate at the top of the deck stairs.”

    A double-gated system is a great idea. I have a similar set-up for my backyard. One area where the air-conditioning unit and trash cans are and another area for the dogs πŸ™‚ Also reminds me of what they have in dog parks. I should add this to the article. Thanks!

    • My NJ Dog says

      You are welcome.
      Sometimes solutions come when we define the real problem. I thought the problem was “dog running out the front door”, but that wasn’t the problem. The real problem was “dog escaping into the neighborhood”. Once I stopped focusing on the front door, the solution was obvious πŸ™‚
      Again – a very informative article.

  28. My NJ Dog says

    Great article with lots of good tips.
    My pup would escape from the house even though he was walked, played with, constantly had someone in the house with him, and is never left in the yard when I not home. He’d wait until someone opened the front door, make a beeline for the steps and off he would go. Chasing would do no good. He always knew he was ‘in trouble’ and headed right to ‘his room’ when we got him home.
    I racked my brain for weeks on how to stop this – finally I built a small gate at the top of the deck stairs. We have not had an escape in almost 6 years. He still loves to bound out the door occasionally, but he isn’t going far. As an unexpected benefit, the 18mo old toddler is now also safe to play on the deck!
    I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more effective to prevent the result than to try to stop the behavior….and I’m trained in behavioral psychology!

  29. emievil says

    My dog, a two-year old Terrier-Maltese crossbreed, always go out every night. She has found a hole in our fence and, since she is so small, she can always squeeze herself out of it. Unfortunately, she cannot squeeze herself in. Sometimes she spends the night outside and we just wake up with her barking her head off just so she can be let in. *sigh* To ensure that she will not escape, we either tied her to a post or lock her inside the garage. Against her nature I know, but we’ve tried to mend the hole and block it to no avail (don’t ask me why, she just manage to get out every time). We’d rather tie her up than to wake up one day to find out that she is lost or worse, dead.

    • shibashake says

      Hi emievil,
      Being a Terrier I am sure that she is great at finding ways to get out. πŸ˜‰ Do you have a picture of her up online? Would love to see her – bet she is looks like an angel.

      As for the escaping, increasing the number of walks every day, I think, may help. My guys are usually pooped after their walk and will just lie around until the weather cools down and then they get wild again.

      I hired a dog walker for a while to get them out walking with other dogs and they had some good fun.

      Does she try to chew her way out as well when you keep her inside the house?

    • emievil says

      Actually she’s inside our garage right now, which is quite roomy, so she can go around and take a walk every once in a while. I’ll look around if I have a picture of her I can upload. LOL don’t be fooled by her breed, she’s very fierce (and very sweet to us, too!). As to chewing, I’m glad to say she has outgrown that (she used to chew everything!). But she can claw her way out sometimes.

    • emievil says

      I got envious with the picture of your dog, so I took my camera, called my dog and took her picture. Here she is =).

    • emievil says

      By the way, we found a solution, hurray! We placed a cemented block on top of the hole and since it was heavy, she couldn’t move it. No escape last night, thank God!

  30. Nancy's Niche says

    As always, a great article…My dog, before I lost him, was happy, loved and well exercised…He never tried to run away because he loved his mommy too much… πŸ™‚

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