Today’s a day like any other. You’ve taken Fido on a lovely jaunt through his favourite woodlands. He’s picking up sticks and dropping them at your feet over and over again. Until suddenly, you can’t spot him. And in an instant, you realise he’s gone.
In situations like these, it’s all too easy to panic but there are a few things you can do if you lose your beloved companion whilst out on one of his daily walkies…
Head back to a favourite spot
If you’ve been wandering along on a familiar walk and Fido goes missing, a great tactic to try to get him bounding back is to go to one of his favourite places. This may be a pond, bench or particular patch of grassland. If none of these spots work, it’s also worth heading to the car park as some dogs are very good at finding their way back to your own car.
If your dog does make its way back to you, make sure to give them a friendly and warm greeting. It’s also a good idea to fill your pockets pre-walk with any tasty treats your pup has a penchant for. From scrumptious doggie kibble to small bits of cheese, you’ll need to make sure it’s something that Fido will find delicious and stop them from wanting to stray too far again.
Use your indoor voice
It feels natural to want to shout out in your loudest voice once you realise your dog has scarpered. The problem is, if you yell for your dog, this may create the opposite effect and scare him into running away even quicker and potentially even further away.
In this situation, this is the last thing you want to happen, so it’s crucial to try and stay calm and convey this message as you call for your dog. Once they hear you gently calling their name, they could very well come running back in an instant.
Utilise other dog walkers
Whenever you head out on a walk with your pooch, you’ll be sure to say a warm hello to many other dog walkers. But in cases of a lost dog, dog walkers can prove an invaluable source of help. As they’re also fans of their own four-legged canines, it could well be the case that your pal is a friend of their own furball.
If you find yourself in a situation without your beloved companion, pass your phone number to some of the other walkers and ask them to call you if they happen to stumble across your pooch.
Try to prevent it from happening again
It’s important to put practices into place to stop your pup running away on a dog walk in the first place. From other forms of stimulation to training, there are some helpful things you can try.
Sharon Crowell-Davis, who is a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, indicates that if your dog runs off, it could be that he is “likely telling you something about himself as a species,” adding that “the majority of dogs are curious and want to be active and explore and discover,” she explains. “If you only take them out to potty and for a 10-minute walk, dogs may run off simply to seek activity and stimulation.”
Make sure your dog’s home environment is fun, Dr. Crowell-Davis suggests. Stimulating toys and interactive puzzle games can help to keep your dog happy, entertained and mentally challenged. Throw in some long walks around the local dog park and play fetch regularly, and you can reduce the odds of your dog running away when out and about.
In addition to keeping your dog engaged at home, it’s also crucial to train your dog and teach them proper recalls. Make sure to use cues, responses and rewards. After all, you want your dog to get to the point where they respond to your cue without even thinking about it.
Some helpful tips when training your dog are to:
- Always offer up lots of love and attention no matter how long it took for Fido to come to you or whether or not he had an accident along the way. If you called him and he came bounding over, make sure he knows that this is truly excellent work, each and every time.
- Make sure never to call him if you’re getting him to do something he won’t enjoy. This can be anything from clipping his toenails to getting him ready for a good old wash. Also, make sure never to call him as a form of punishment as he will associate this with negative reinforcement.