Does Your Dog Keep Running Away? Tips from the Experts

Getting your dog to come back, or teaching it to recall is one of the most important commands you’ll ever teach them to prevent them from being lost, running off to the neighbour’s garden, or swimming off in a river.

Dogs are curious by nature and can easily be distracted, so teaching this command can be tricky. In this post, we hear from the experts with tips for training your dog to come when called.

Dog runs through forest, jumping over a fallen tree with a yellow tennis ball in its mouth

How Can I Train My Dog To Come When Called? 

It’s critical that your dog is getting enough exercise, but when it comes to taking your dog on a walk either on or off lead, you want to make sure they’re trained to come to you. Here are some of the fundamentals when it comes to training your dog to come back.

Positive Reinforcement –  It’s important to always reward your dog when training them to recall: “Use walks, dinner, toys, and tasty treats to continually reinforce [recalling] as a positive, happy thing,” says the founder of The Pooch Coach, Beverly Ulbrich. 

Start Inside – Begin training indoors with shorter distances starting with 10-15 feet, make sure you make eye contact with your dog, and you can then add distractions into the environment like chew toys. Once you feel your dog has mastered recall inside, you can start to train them outside, like in your back garden.

Repetition – Use the command ‘come’ or ‘here’ in a cheerful voice and establish this as the main command to get your dog to recall. Avoid using their name as a way to get them to come as this can be confusing for them. 

Expose Your Dog to New Environments – Many times a dog will run or wander off when in a new place: ‘If you take a dog that hasn’t been outside and doesn’t get a ton of exposure to novel experiences, they’re itching to see what’s out there,’ says Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, dog behaviour specialist and founder of USA Dog Behavior.

Smiling dog on the beach is smiling with wind blowing it's ears

What If My Dog Runs Away? 

One important thing to remember if your dog is running away from you is to make sure that you don’t run or scream after them: ‘It will make the dog nervous or they’ll think it’s a game,’ says Sheaffer. Walk in a straight line towards your dog and continue to use your ‘come’ command and immediately reward your dog when they return to you. 

In case you lose your dog, it’s always a good idea to make sure they’re wearing an ID collar and are microchipped. We all love to spoil our pets and get them the latest gadgets and when walking them at night, you might want to invest in a LED collar or reflective vest so they can stay visible. 

Smiling beagle dog wears a red collar with Curve, the Smart GPS Tracker on the collar.

You can also use Curve to give you peace of mind by allowing you to track your dog’s location using your smartphone. You can program Zones and get alerts if your dog wanders out of a designated area. Curve is compact, durable and water resistant up to 1 metre deep for up to 30 minutes.

With positive reinforcement, starting inside, repetition and exposing your dog to new environments, you will be well on your way to helping train your dog to come back when called. All of these tips can help give you peace of mind whilst letting them off-lead in forests and dog parks.

Curve battery life and features dependent on tracking mode. For land based tracking only. Zone notification frequency dependant on tracking mode. Not to be used to track people. Connectivity subscription required and Terms apply. Subject to Vodafone network coverage and GPS signal. See FAQs for more info.
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Curated by the in-house team.

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