Birds fly, fish swim and dogs run.
Running is natural to dogs – it is one of their innate qualities. Our efforts to domesticate them and adhere to our lifestyle takes a little concerted effort on our part.
Running is natural but what makes them run away?
A dog runs away when it has been attracted by something else it finds more interesting than its current activity – in its “range of senses”. Remember – its range of senses is much different than ours – we’ll discuss this later below.
Have you ever taken a puppy out for a walk without him/her taking a detour to smell a blade of grass or a fire hydrant? Of course not.
It is because s/he smells a mouse, person, squirrel, another dog, critter or other infinite scents that are in the air that we humans are completely oblivious to – they are out of our range of smelling sense.
So, coming back from our short detour on the subject – Other characteristics combined with their affinity to running result in them running away.
What are these other characteristics?
- Strong sense of smell: Dog’s nose is generally 50 times more sensitive than that of a man. They have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to 6 million for us – humans.
- Their need for exercise and be entertained / occupied at all times – if you don’t exercise them enough – they still have the energy they need to expend – any small attraction is enough of an incentive to be an outlet for that excess energy.
- Brain wiring: Proportionate to their sense of smell – a large portion – as much as 40% of their brain is dedicated to the smell sensories. Hence smell can distract their attention easily and plays a dominant role in their behavior.
This brain wiring and strong sense of smell together makes them so reactionary to a smell.
“A dog’s range for sense of smell is astoundingly long and wide….”
What we can smell from 6 inches away – a dog can smell it from … hold your breath…. – literally 1 mile away on the low end of the estimate to 10 miles away.
An astounding 10,000 to 100,000 times – says James Walker, former Director of Sensory Research Institute of Florida.
Did you ever wonder how a K-9 squad dog can find a hiding culprit?
It is the dog’s amazing ability to smell the “strength” of a scent increasing as the culprit moved from point A to point B – it can smell the difference in EACH subsequent step and that leads him to the hiding culprit!!!
- Lack of focus for other matters – Because 40% of their brain is occupied and focused on smell – they have very little – only 60% of it remaining for ALL other tasks combined.
That is the reason why we need to work much harder to keep their attention during training.
- Their ability to live in the “moment” – Dog (fortunately) unlike a man, never thinks of the past and certainly does not think of the future plans – they live in the “current moment” – this makes them impulsive.
As discussed above, they may smell something in the neighborhood that is more attractive – that catches their attention and woof – they are gone!
So, what can we do to keep them from running away?
Dog behavior is generally motivated by the dog’s instinct. If a male dog is in heat and he discovers the scent of a female in heat – his instinct will drive him to find that female.
Likewise, a female dog in heat will find a way to meet a nearby male dog in heat if there is one.
The natural physical needs of a dog will motivate him/her to do whatever it takes to meet those needs.
And fighting nature is a losing proposition.
So, the best solution here if you cannot find a suitable mate for your dog, is to neuter or spay your dog.
A dog is a pack animal – they naturally seek to be part of a pack. A domesticated dog can become part of a family “pack” with proper leadership including other family pets.
When it lacks this leadership & proper environment, the dog will sneak out and try to find members of his own species to form a pack.
The best way to prevent this is to form a great bond with your dog.
“Don’t spoil the dog …Give him the proper environment to grow and be a part of the family pack”
Not by giving him lots of treats and spoiling him rotten. But by giving him what he needs.
Give him plenty of daily exercise – appropriate for his size, breed and health. Play with your pooch, keep him entertained – don’t give him a chance to get bored even when you may be physically away from him – may be at work.
Make use of technology to be virtually with him during your breaks or on your travels. Keep him mentally occupied – get some brain stimulating toys – they will keep him occupied, entertained and get him mentally tired – a good way to keep him out of trouble.
A dog is not born understanding english. Give your pooch some obedience training. This will help him learn and understand your commands and help you get and hold his attention even with some tempting distractions.
It will also help him understand that you are the lead dog in the pack.
Needless to say that above all, you follow basic precautions which include that :
You provide a safe, secure, adequate space with proper toys for your pooch to keep him busy and entertained.
Understand and remember that a motivated dog can jump, dig , climb and open unlocked doors if they so wish.
Make sure you always walk your dog on a leash. Make sure your dog’s collar and ID tag are ALWAYS on him even when he is home – this is critical – if he escapes – the finder knows and can help you and your dog.
Some dogs are great escape artists. With all precautions, these dogs can still outsmart you and find a way to escape. As a precaution, to make sure you can get him back, you may want to have your pup microchipped.