No one likes to think that their beloved pet would run away, but unfortunately, millions of dogs run away each year in the United States. There are numerous reasons why your pet may have run away from home. It rarely has anything to do with the quality of care they are receiving or their love for their human families.
In this guide to finding a lost dog, we will explore the reasons dogs run away and what owners can do to keep them safe. Dogs run because they are animals who are adventurous and who act on instincts. The most common reasons that they run include:
- They run away because they see an opportunity. Many breeds are natural explorers, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when they see a chance to explore something new, they do. An open gate, door, or poorly maintained fence is just too tempting, and they let their instincts to explore take over.
- The reproductive drive is a powerful thing in animals, and if your pet isn’t spayed or neutered, then they will attempt to take off at the first scent of the opportunity to reproduce. Having your pet spayed or neutered dramatically decreases the likelihood of them becoming a missing pet statistic.
- Dogs are smart pack animals, and just like humans, they can become bored and lonely. If your dog spends too much time alone, then they are more likely to escape looking for companionship from humans or other animals. Having a yard is an excellent way for a dog to burn off excess energy, but always supervise yard time. Few yards can be kept secure from a determined dog, so let them outside to play and take care of toileting, but do not leave them for extended periods.
- Scary noises are the primary reason many pets go missing. A loud noise startles them, and their instinct is to run away from the noise. The 4th of July and New Year’s Eve are notorious times for pets to go missing because of fireworks. However, it doesn’t take fireworks to scare your pet. A car backfiring, loud banging noise from the neighbor’s house, or a clap of thunder might be all it takes to send your dog running. To compound the problem, the dog runs away but then finds themselves in unfamiliar territory and they may become even more frightened.
- Prey drive—Dogs have an instinctive prey drive that can cause them to want to chase anything interesting. For some dogs, it can be rabbits and squirrels. For other dogs, it might be an intense interest in a bird or another dog. Whatever sets off the prey drive in your dog, they will often follow a smell until they are lost and disoriented.
Now that you know the reasons most dogs run away from home, let’s discuss some ways to keep them safe.
- Always make sure your dog has a collar with your name and phone number easily readable. Check your dog’s collar and tag at least twice a week, and replace the tag as soon as it starts to show signs of wear that make it difficult to read what is written on it.
- If you have an outdoor fenced in yard, inspect the fencing and hinges on gates weekly. Walk the perimeter and make sure there are no signs of digging or rotting boards that your dog would be able to push aside. Keeping your fence in good working order is crucial in keeping your dog’s outdoor time safe.
- Has your pet spayed or neutered? Not only is spaying and neutering good for helping to keep your pet close to home, but it also means you are doing your part to control animal overpopulation. Overpopulation leads to the euthanasia of millions of animals every year.
- Always keep your dog inside and secured during fireworks and storms, and do not leave them outside alone while you leave the house. You never know when a storm or other loud noise might come up that will leave your pet terrified and prone to bolting.
- Have a lost pet app on your phones, such as FindRover or Shadow. These apps will send alerts when there is a lost pet in your area, allowing you to be on the lookout in spotting someone else’s missing fur baby. The app will also be downloaded and ready to go in case you have to create an alert for your dog if they do go missing.
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