Training a Dog to Not Run Away

August 28, 2008

Trained Dog Not Running AwayMy 8 month old male Sheltie has recently decided that he likes to run around the neighborhood, and not respond to return commands. I follow him on foot, get a couple feet from him and he just takes off running! I have never physically hit or spanked him. It's becoming very frustrating.


He stays in the backyard all day by himself. I think he is just at the age where he wants to play and socialize with the neighbor kids and dogs. My husband is furious! He wants to get a shock collar, but I refuse. He was neutered just 10 days ago, but he has done this before that. I need help!

Annie from Severance, CO


By Deb from Florida (Guest Post)
August 28, 20081 found this helpful

Annie, your puppy is trying to tell you something. He is lonely and bored at home. He is a "working" dog. Shelties are shepherds and they need their exercise and a mission in life. Grab the leash and start taking him for walks. Try to take short drives and walk in new areas too. We went through this with our Irish setters until it dawned on us they are sporting dogs. They want to hunt, run, explore.


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August 28, 20081 found this helpful

This pup has learned he doesn't have to mind so he doesn't! Also it's fun to get people to chase him when he runs away. He needs concentrated training. You need to let him out with a collar and light weight rope such as clothseline for a leash. Let him play and run and then when he's forgotten about the leash and you, call him. When he doesn't come firmly and steadly 'reel him in' all the time saying the couple of words you've chosen.


Don't say lots of stuff, just, "Rex COME! Rex COME!" over and over until you get him to you. Then pat and love him and call him a good dog (like this was all his idea!) and give a SMALL treat. Let him loose and do it all over again. Soon he'll learn that coming to you is a good thing and pays off. After a while, decrease the treats to every other time then drop down even more so now he's coming because you call. Worked for us.


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August 28, 20082 found this helpful

Long ago my ex-boyfriend had a large German shepherd who would just take off. One day a dog catcher brought him back home after he caught him & threatened to lock him up after he had gotten in a fight with a much smaller poodle... This dog catcher told me something VERY important: He said that ALL dogs now & in nature like to have a certain "path" or more correctly a "course" they walk each & EVERY day & it usually is the same exact course that they walk every day of the year, sometimes expanding it to include wider areas.


After watching the "Dog Wisperer" Fridays on the National Geographic TV channel I've found that that dog catcher was right... This is what dogs do... & the only way to break them of this habit & also keep them happy is to WALK them EVERY DAY! ...The walk needs to be AT LEAST 40 minutes long... This daily walking isn't JUST for their exercise, it's mostly for their mental health & to keep them content & from wanting to wanter off on their own. Dogs are curious creatures & will get very board being just inside a house or a back yard. They want to know what going on in the big wide world (like we do).

Have you been walking your dog daily for 40 minutes or more? If you don't have the time yourself, then think about hiring one of the neighborhood teenagers or a teenager from your church to do this important task for you.


Also, take a look at the TV show "The Dog Wisperer" it's on Fridays during the later afternoon on the National Geographic Channel... I, myself don't own a dog right now, but I've learned ALL kinds of things about how & why dogs think like they do. And, don't let the show's name fool you... It's not some "way out there" show about spiritual dogs. The show is a practical guide to raising dogs. There have been many shows about dogs that just "take off" running down the block when the front door is opened.

If you have "ON DEMAND" on Comcast cable, you can watch past shows for free. Just go to "On demand" then to "Family", then to "The Dog Whisperer" & find a one of the old shows that's about dogs that take off running.


PS. I'm glad you've never hit an animal because If you hit an animal, they won't understand why & it only confuses them. Our pets are Gods little creatures, given to us to become more understanding & help us grow. Whenever I get frustrated with an animal, I think about how WE humans are less intelligent than any animal compared with the Almighty & how he has complete patience & understanding with us humans.

By velsgal (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I would certainly be looking at either dog obedience or that shock collar. Not only will you end up disliking your dog he will end up being hit by a car. Dogs can learn to be happy and content in their surroundings. Our dogs (2 of them) are always in the yard.( and one of them is a working dog-Australian cattle dog) We have a wireless containment system and our dogs are in and out of the house and completely content.


Shelties are high energy dogs so he may need more exercise though. Blessing and best wishes!

By Oberhund (Guest Post)
August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I'm a dog trainer, and this is a common problem. If you are following him, then he's winning the game -- in his mind, it's chase! Try getting his attention, then in a playful manner, run the opposite way to try to get him to chase you. Clap your hands quickly and squat down a bit. Make it look like you are wanting to play. It also helps if you have a favourite toy and/or treat in your pocket. Make sure to praise him and reward him when he does come to you. He won't understand that he was bad to run away if you are angry with him when he gets to you. He'll just think you're angry when he came to you and he'll remember that next time.

Also, the earlier posts about the walks are very important. Especially at this age. He's a teenager who is finding the outside world much more interesting than you (his "mom").

Training the recall is something you can practice at home -- inside and outside. You can do it with someone else or just with you and the dog. Each person has a pocketful of treats. Just tiny pieces of extra tasty treats that he loves. Little tastes, no something he has to really chew much.

If it's just one person, have the dog sit/stay. If there's two of you, have one person stay with the dog while the other moves several feet away. The "away" person calls the dog's name, and then "come", encouraging the dog with happy body language. When the dog arrives, treat and praise, excessively. Then the other person moves away several feet and does the same: calls the dog's name and then the command. Treat and praise. Keep making it more complicated when the dog is achieving a success rate of at least 90%. You can move around corners, to other rooms, you can hide behind couches, etc. Make it a game and play it often to reinforce the learning. You want your dog to think: "Come" means playtime and good things happen when I come to the person who calls. When he gets proficient, you can try the game outside the yard, in some secure area. Start with short distances and keep the "training game" short and very fun. And you don't always have to use treats. In fact, treating intermittently, once he's figured out the game, will make him more motivated to play. And throw in a few jackpots now and then to really keep him interested.

I hope this helps. As for Cesar Milan's show, while he's done a lot of good and has a lot of useful advice, he does use some controversial, punishment-based techniques, and remember that you don't see everything on a television show. TV is misleading if you take it too literally. Read and learn as much as you can from a variety of reputable sources. Try Karen Pryor's "Don't Shoot the Dog", Victoria Stilwell and Tamar Geller are good trainers, too, as well as Stanley Coren and Paul Owens. All of these trainers have books and websites.

By Oberhund (Guest Post)
August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I'd like to add a note about shock collars: they are inconsistent and can fail and lead to bigger problems. They can malfunction and punish dogs at the wrong time at the wrong level. They can malfunction to the point of burning holes in dog's skin. They can cause behavioural issues like aggression, fear biting, and skittishness. They can cause dogs to fear or dislike things they associate with the collar: like things they see when they get shocked or the person who puts the collar on.

Just some food for thought.


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August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with dog winning. I had a yorkie and he would tear out of house like a bat. He loved for me to chase him. Thankfully we were in a quiet neighborhood so I would walk to end of driveway with his favorite squeak toy and would squeak away and he would coming right back! Once he ran up to this dog that looked like a mini horse huge and barked at dog yorkie all of 6 pounds thinking he was tough I went out squeaking toy he ran inside and had no more desire to run out the front door. The big dog scared him. good luck

September 19, 20080 found this helpful

My dog does the same thing. She is 16 months old and in heat. She will only ignore vocal commands when off leash in public dog park. I only use a small mesh harness on her and never any collar of any kind. If we are in the bush or on a logging road, alone, she can be exploring ahead or behind but when I call she comes. She will walk right beside me out there too when I tell her to heal. In public, it is a totally different story. It is like she is distracted.It is frustrating. I can't have her off leash successfully yet.

What I am doing now is that when I take her to a park, I hook the 6' leash on her harness instead of the 16' zip line leash. I drop the leash and we walk. I call her and run with her in the field at the park. This way if she sees something more interesting than my calling her or telling her to come, I can grab the leash when she is taking off in the opposite direction, before she runs into any sort of dangerous situation, like a big aggressive dog, traffic or a bicycle etc.

So far I think this is working. I am constantly praising her when she comes and I ignore her when she doesn't. Except to get her leash and lead her in the direction I want her to go in.

I am hoping that once she is spayed that her behavior will change somewhat, a bit calmer, less investigative perhaps. Hopefully listen better. Once she is healed from her spay, Roxy is going to obedience classes for basic command training. I sure hope that helps. She dislikes her harness and I dislike having to put it on her but right now it is for her own good.

Especially in heat and at a dog park.. lol. I am confident that Roxy will come around and listen even better than she does right now, most of the time. When we are in the dog park and she has played catch me if you can, it is when other small dogs were around that she was playing with.

Roxy loves kids too and when she hears them playing in the park, they attract her, just like other dogs do. The park I am practicing in right now has kids as well as the occasional dog. I think within time, Roxy will come on command, whether there are other dogs around or not. I am determined to teach her.

April 28, 20160 found this helpful

Shelties as a breed have a tendency to bolt (run away). They are also often chasers (anything they see from squirrels to cars sometimes)...this is part of their instincts as dogs of pasture so it's hard to train them not to (even though otherwise they are very obedient breeds). It's not just a puppy thing; it's likely you have bolter and it may be difficult to change that. A fenced yard is usually recommended to the point where some breeders will not sell someone a Sheltie without a fenced yard.


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July 22, 20170 found this helpful

I have had 3 Shelties and they like to run around in circles,, run away and bark incessantly. Because these are innate behaviors I have not been able to train her to do otherwise. Our house rule is that no one, under any circumstances opens an exterior door unless she is in her crate or in the dog run.

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8 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

July 29, 2010

My neighbor has a white American Bulldog, Holly, that is spayed and two years old. Every time someone comes in their house Holly runs past and then runs amok in the neighborhood. I am afraid something is going to happen to her. She is a beautiful and sweet dog, but does seem to need discipline.

What is the suggested advice to break this running out of the door, not listening and then running amok till someone can catch her? Thanks

By Michelle from Des Moines, IA


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 398 Posts
July 29, 20100 found this helpful

I would invest and do research on an electronic collar. There is a lot of info on them at

Good luck!




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July 31, 20100 found this helpful

Keep a leash close by. When someone comes to the door put the leash on the dog. Make it sit until the person is inside and the door is closed. With practice, you can make the dog sit without the leash.


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July 31, 20100 found this helpful

I completely agree with Danialle! Keep a leash by the door. When the doorbell rings put the leash on the dog and make her sit as the visitors enter (have the visitors ignore her at first, to much excitement will only make things harder.) Repeat this behavior at the door when the guests leave. The leash and the command to sit are equally important. It's tempting to just put a leash on her, but she needs something to do while at the door. So make sure to tell her to sit. It will take a ton of practice, but it will stop her from running away immediately. Someday, hopefully soon, she'll be able to greet visitors with no leash and in a calm sit pose. Good luck! :)

July 31, 20100 found this helpful

Since dogs are food motivated I'd make a cluck sound when she sits and give her a treat. You'll have to practice this before someone comes to the door. Use the leash during practice sessions so she will know a treat will soon be coming.

August 12, 20100 found this helpful

As soon as someone comes through the door throw out a doggie bone. Make sure the dog sees it. Once the treat has been eaten teach the dog that there is another treat waiting just as soon as the dog returns into the house. Maybe let the guest give the dog the return bone.

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January 4, 2010

How can I get my dog to stop running away and not coming back when not on a lead?

By ricky from Wagga Wagga, NSW


January 10, 20101 found this helpful

First rule: Never, never, never call a dog to you and then tell him/her off. If you need to tell him/her off go to them. Remember that their understanding is that the telling off is directly related to the last thing they did (or if you are good, they are doing).

Practise your recall & really reward it when they get it right. Until you have a good recall your dog should not be off lead in a public area. You can give them running space by using an extenda lead.

And do join a training club please. You and your dog will have a much happier and enjoyable life together if trained.

BTW I am a trained trainer and breeder of GSDs and Golden Retrievers - dogs are my life.

January 11, 20101 found this helpful

I am not a dog trainer but I remember reading the following. Put dog on a long rope and let him run away. Then tell him "come " if he does not respond, rope him in saying come and when he has reached you, give him a treat. Do this several times every day until he understands what come means and comes without being roped in. After a while you can quit the treat and just pet him when he comes to you.

July 25, 20161 found this helpful

How do I stop my small chihuahua and terrier mix from running away?

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September 2, 2008

What do you do if your dog keeps running away?

Christina from St.Louis, MO


By Ziggy (Guest Post)
October 21, 20080 found this helpful

For my Dachshund, he likes to run out to the street when he can, he isn't two years yet but I want to neuter him. Anyways, he likes us to chase him! One day I just looked at him and just walked my way home (he knows where he lives, he always comes back home with a big smile on his face) and he followed me after a minute that I didn't come back. And he followed me home, safely. Sometimes it's just a game for them, if that's so, give them more exercise! That was my mistake.

By (Guest Post)
November 15, 20080 found this helpful

Our dog was a runner. He was a sneaky one. He got out. We don't know how. The gate was secured and the door was shut. He would get out so much that the neighbors just brought him back this time. Then dog catchers got him. We could not afford to get him out. The thing was, he is chipped. The animal shelter never called us or them. I had to call up and ask if they picked him up. For all those who deal with a runner god bless you. We tried it all to keep him from getting out. Nothing worked.

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January 20, 2016

I have a Dachshund Chihuahua Pug mix puppy with chewing and issues of running off when let out or getting out of the house without a leash. How can I get her to stop these bad behaviors?


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September 22, 20170 found this helpful

Chewing is natural in puppies because they are teething, just like children. Here are a few things you can try.

  • If the puppy is chewing on a shoe or something else around the house immediately stop the puppy from chewing. Give him a bone or toy to play with and chew on.
  • You will need to dedicate time to play with your puppy. During play time use his chew toys. Encourage him to play with these toys.
  • A time out always works well in some cases. If the puppy is chewing on something other than his toy, immediately stop the dog. Take the dog to a corner of the house or in another room and make the dog stay there for a few minutes. Do not praise the dog, bu tell him that he is bad. If the dog leaves, put him back. Once he has sat there for a time, let him loose and this time give him one of his toys. Look him in the eye and show him the toy. Tell him this is what he needs to chew on.
  • As for running away your puppy is not getting enough exercise. You are not taking him for long enough runs or play time. A puppy is very active and needs a play to run and play.
  • A lot of time when the puppy gets out of your home he needs to go pee or poop. You are not paying enough attention to the dog and so he runs off.
  • Next time he runs off you can either put him in a crate or on a leash to teach him to not run off. He will learn it is no fun to be locked up in a crate or attached to a leash.
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December 10, 2012

Maltese on bed.My dog always runs a way; how can I stop him?

By Ken from 55 turonparade

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 29, 2010

I have a Shih Tzu who runs away if I put her outside without a leash on. She eventually comes back after we call her a lot.


September 2, 2008
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