Dog runs off into other people’s yards

Dog call training is key to stopping the problem.

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Q. I have a 9-month-old dog named Bandit who is almost as small as a Chihuahua, and very energetic. He runs off into other people's yards if he sees a dog there or just because he wants to run around. I call for him and offer him treats, but the only thing that works is when I say very playfully, “Come here, Bandit!” and then run away toward the house. That’s the only time he comes. He does this almost every day. Is he bored? Stubborn? What should I do?

A. Bored, possibly. Dogs do what works for them, and for Bandit, running off and refusing to come when you call works because it has a hugely entertaining payoff. He’s found a reliable way to get you to run around and be playful. Your dog needs to learn that's not going to work any more. And to teach him that, you'll need to control his environment better.

He needs to realize that his days of running off and teasing you are over. Bandit cannot be permitted to run off, which means you'll need to walk him and play with him outdoors on leash or put up some kind of fence to keep him home.

You also need to teach your dog to come when you call. Start training this in the house where he's not distracted. Call him 10 times a day, when you don't really need him, just to give him a nice reward. But don't call 10 times in a row. Space the mini training sessions throughout the day. You can reward him with treats, toys, games, walks, and other things that Bandit really likes.

This combination of management and training will help Bandit lose the unpleasant habit of running off and gain the excellent (and rewarding) habit of coming when called.

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Sam   Sylvan Lake, AB

9/15/2008 5:54:00 PM

I have a one-year-old beagle/shih tzu cross who does the same thing! He likes to run away like that too and we have to do everything imaginable to get him back. We've been working on it but the beagle in him just wants to sniff everything and go anywherehis nose takes him!

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Pat   St Louis, MO

7/8/2008 1:31:04 PM

It's important that a dog come when called. Even a dog who is in a fenced yard or taken for walks only on a leash can bolt out the door on occasion. But I think the owner is already onto something. If the only thing the dog responds to is when the owner trots back to the house, it's obvious the dog really is paying attention to the owner and doesn't want to be "abandoned." I would use the treats as an extra reward for coming when called but continue to use the "moving away" to encourage the dog to come. Until the dog has that scenario down pat though, I'd recommend a leash or a fenced enclosure to keep the dog from running off in the first place.

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brianna   patterson, CA

7/7/2008 8:58:42 AM

try to keep him on a long leash. if you run torword the house then he will just think that its a game and thats why he chases you and one tip never chase bandit and do not praise him when he comes back because he will just go and do it again because he knows that he gets a treat for doing it what you do if you have a backyard put him back there and tell him that he has been a bad dog so get a long leash or a clicker(found at petmart) and take control of bandit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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