Running and Escaping

Check your fence line often for spots where an animal could escape.

Dogs that escape and run around the neighborhood are a frustration for you and for your neighbors. This is also one of the most frequent reasons animals end up in the animal shelter. Sometimes they are caught by animal control, other times they are surrendered by frustrated owners. So why do they run away from loving families and cause such problems?

  1. Uncontrollable urges. This may sound like the same excuse your teenager uses, but they just can’t help it. In animals the drive to mate is uncontrollable. It is hormonal; it is not just a desire, but a physiological need. No amount of training can prevent it. No fence can keep them in. No punishment can deter it. When they are ready to mate, nothing will stand in their way. The 1st and best way to reduce your animal’s desire to escape and roam the town is to have them spayed or neutered and the sooner the better. In addition to solving the escaping issues in over 60% of animals, there are a number of health and behavioral benefits to a sterilized animal.

  2. Again spaying or neutering can’t be stressed enough. How beneficial this is to both you and your pet. Sterilizing a pet is proven to reduce running and escape attempts. Sterilizing reduces the likelihood of you pet biting a person or fighting with another animal. An unsterilized animal is 380% more likely to bite. It increases the lifespan of your dog or cat on average 4 or more years. 90% of cat, and 80% of dogs hit and killed by vehicles each year are unsterilized. Around 84% of all the animals seen in shelters are unsterilized; this includes ones picked up and ones surrendered for behavioral or other reasons. Simply put, unsterilized animals spend a lot of time looking for a mate. When they are ready to mate, nothing will stop them, not training, not a fence and not you. If you doubt this, try to break up two mating cats and see what your arm looks like after.

  3. There is a myth that proclaims dogs need space to run. Not true. Dogs need a safe spot to rest away from the weather or disturbances, but they do not need to run. Exercise will help keep your pet healthier but letting them run is not the only way to exercise your pet.

Though sterilizing is the most effective way to control escaping and running, there are a few instances where mating driven instincts are not the only reason for the running and escaping. In these less common occurrences it is important to figure out why and how they are escaping

  1. Inadequate containment. This seems like it would be very basic but is not always so. Obviously a dog or cat let outside with no leash, no fence, and no one watching them is a pretty good example of not adequately containing your animal. Generally animal control will reward this type of irresponsible pet ownership with a citation, but these are not the only animals that run at large. It is important to understand your animal. Some dogs and cats can jump very high, so even a 6 foot high fence is no obstacle to them. But it is still your responsibility to keep them at home. Other times your fence might be in a state of disrepair where there are several holes or bad spots; again it is your responsibility to fix this. The point here is that a fence alone is not always adequate. If you have a fence and find that your animal still escapes, there is a good solution available. Double up; add electronic wire containment to your existing fence. (Electronic fences may be more affordable than you thought, sometimes as little as $100 – that’s cheaper than a running at large citation in many areas). The electronic wire fence will give your pet a corrective measure when they get too close to the physical fence and prevent them from being able to find the weak spots or get a good place to jump. Why not just use an electronic wire fence? For many animals an electronic wire fence will work very. The reason both is recommended is that the two types of fence work best together. An electronic wire fence works well alone if your animal is used to it, but if they are not, then they may cause the opposite desired result. Most electronic wire fences are corrective to an area about 5 feet around where it is located. The problem happens when your dog passes the boundary because it will then receive a corrective measure for trying to get back in the yard. Having both fences prevents these “run outs”. If having both a physical fence and an electronic wire fence is a problem or too expensive, another solution is to have an electronic radio fence. The electronic radio fence creates a safe zone and as long as the dog stays within the safe area it will be fine. If it leaves the safe area, it will receive corrective measures until it returns to the safe area.

  2. Loneliness, curiosity or boredom. Simply put dogs are very social animals and they need companionship. If your dog makes a break for it every time you leave, someone walks by or he sees another dog but stays fine the rest of the time, chances are good that he may just be lonely. First you need to look at how much time you spend with your dog. A good rule to follow is if your animal doesn’t have at least 6 hours a day with human contact, you need to change something. Contact could be as simple as hanging out in the living room or back yard with the family. If the problem is only when you are away, one simple way to solve this is to get a companion for your dog. A companion can be another animal or a person like a neighbor or a dog sitter to play with or keep your dog company while you are away or at least often enough so that your dog knows it has not been left all alone. If your yard is completely devoid of toys, try giving your dog some toys or other ways to entertain itself. If the only thing your dog has to entertain itself is what might be on the other side of the fence or two miles down the road, guess where his attention will be. Sometimes escaping simply relieves the stress of captivity.

  3. Territorial. Unsterilized dogs will urine mark. If your dog has marked every tree in the neighborhood and another dog comes along and leaves its mark, your dog will want to make the rounds and re-mark all his trees, if that means escaping to re-mark, then a dog will do what a dog needs to do. The easier-said-than-done way to prevent this is to prevent your dog from marking territory close to your home. This means keeping him on a leash during walks, watching him constantly, or having him sterilized.

  4. Slippery dog. If the door opens and Fido runs out between your legs around the neighbor and off into the sunset, you might have a slippery dog. A quick and simple solution to slippery dog is to have a crate or cage nearby. When the doorbell rings or someone is going outside, Fido and a toy go into the crate. Other versions of slippery dog may include the use of the garage or a leash that hangs by the front door. Experiencing slippery dog at the fence door, try putting a lock on the fence, or using electronic wire containment.

In summary, fences are good, fences with upgrades may be better; fences in disrepair may be useless. Check your fence line often to make sure there are no spots of disrepair. An electronic containment, wire or radio, is only as good as the battery, make sure and check your batteries often and replace as needed. A companion for your dog may be a good idea if it is bored or lonely, however if you add another dog and still have inadequate fencing, you may just end up with two runners. Spending time with your dog, playing walking and exercising them may be just as effective as upgrading a fence, but will probably be much cheaper.

If you don’t want to have your animals sterilized, have tried the tips here and are still having problems, please understand there is nothing else that will be as effective in deterring the escaping and running as sterilizing.

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