Why Does My Dog Run Away? 6 Possible Reasons

Why Does My Dog Run Away? 6 Possible Reasons

Author WDF Staff


Despite our best efforts, our dogs can still become frightened, confused, or distracted, and that can cause them to flee. It's enough to give dog owners nightmares just thinking about it. A lost dog could get into danger or, even worse, never return home. We will go over the most common reasons dogs run away and what you can do to prevent it from happening.

What makes dogs run away?

As with most canine behaviors, the key to understanding them is finding the root cause. Dogs can run away for several reasons. The best approach to preventing that from happening is to understand the behavior. Here are a few possible reasons dogs might run away;

Sex drive

Unaltered males are the most likely to roam the streets in search of love. However, even if you neuter your dog or get a female, it doesn't guarantee that your dog will never run away.

Male dogs will do anything to get over the fence and meet female dogs if they detect them nearby, especially if they smell a female dog in heat. It is also possible for females to flee in order to locate a mate. Dog neutering and female dog sterilization can lessen this issue.


You can have the best-trained dog in the world, and they can still try to flee as long as they're scared. Summer thunderstorms and pyrotechnics are particularly responsible for this issue. Even the most docile of dogs can become frightened by these piercing noises. Dogs ran away by jumping through windows, bursting through back doors, or even jumping over high fences in a desperate bid to flee the terrifying noises.

boxer jumping

Keeping your dog safe from harm during events with loud noises, like thunderstorms and 4th of July fireworks, is easy if you take a few simple precautions. Try to alleviate your dog's loud noise fears by giving them calming treats, playing white noise, and using tools like a ThunderShirt. During these times, it is crucial to keep the dog in the house.


This is the most common reason dogs run away. Being alone with no supervision in the yard doesn't make it more difficult for them to get out of there. They decide to go for a stroll in the streets to clear their heads and see if there's anything or anyone fun they can hang around with.

If you don't give your dog something to do, they're likely to come up with something that will entertain them. Many dogs decide that they're going to go on an adventure of their own.

To avoid this, keep an eye on your dog and provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

Separation anxiety

Your dog can hit the road because it stresses them out to be apart from you. When you're about to leave home, does your dog get nervous? When you're not home, do they wreak havoc on your possessions? Or do they have accidents despite being potty trained? Symptoms of separation anxiety include all of the above.

dog running away

When you leave, a dog suffering from separation anxiety is likely to bolt for the door. The good news is that most dogs that bolt due to separation anxiety tend to stay close to their homes.


A rabbit, squirrel, or other possible prey might easily entice a dog to chase them and run away. Aside from prey-driven canines such as German Shorthaired Pointers, nearly all breeds have a natural propensity for pursuing little fluffy animals.

If you let your dog pursue squirrels or bunnies while you're gone, they'll probably become more and more into it. Dogs will sometimes jump over a tall fence to chase an animal, even if they don't typically do so.

Keeping a close eye on your dog, providing them with enjoyable activities, and upgrading your fencing can keep your dog from bolting, especially if they do so to chase potential prey.

Unfamiliar environment

Another factor in a dog's decision to flee is the fact that they are in an unfamiliar area. It's more likely that your dog takes off while you're on vacation. Your dog might quickly become disoriented by strange sights, sounds, and smells.

How to prevent dogs from running away?

Making it more difficult for your dog to run away is the most effective technique to keep them from doing so. Dogs can quickly get into trouble if they are left outside alone. Build a fence around your property if you don't already have one. Add coyote rollers to your fence if you already have one, and your dog doesn't seem to have issues getting over it.

Invisible or subsurface fences give dog-nappers an opportunity to grab your dog, and they don't stop a motivated dog from crossing them. It is possible to burn your dog's skin with either an underground fence or an electronic collar. Some behaviorists say shock collars and invisible fences are connected to increased aggression along property lines.

It's critical, though, to address the underlying issue. Yes, a safe fence and constant monitoring are necessary. However, your dog may still be able to get out if they're genuinely bored, afraid, or otherwise driven to do so. Even if you take care of all possible escape possibilities, they may still be scared, too energetic, or bored!

goldendoodle chasing ball on beach

Once you put the fence in place and you've figured out what's causing your dog to want to flee, it's time to address the underlying cause;

To prevent your dogs from roaming in search of a mating partner, neutering or spaying them might be the answer. This will help minimize your dog's hormonal urge to run away, but it won't make a difference if your dog is used to running away for a long time.

You can entertain your dog by giving them a chew toy, training, or playing a game. When left alone, most dogs will appreciate their owners leaving them with entertainment, such as chew or puzzle toys.

Increase the amount of exercise you provide for your dog so they no longer have that pent-up energy in them. It's not uncommon for dogs to require upwards of an hour of daily exercise to be content. Flirt poles can help prey-driven dogs release their energy in a safe way.

RELATED: How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need in a Day

If you want to occupy your dog's body and mind during the day, consider enrolling them in a doggy daycare.

With the proper training, you can help your dog overcome its fear of loud noises. Dog owners have many tools available, like Thundershirts, calming treats, and white noise generators. Still, methodical desensitization and conditioning are the best courses of action for most dogs.

If your pooch is still running away, you may need the services of a dog trainer. A trainer can help you devise a training strategy that will ensure your dog's safety and spare you the trouble of going to a shelter to retrieve your lost pet! Your dog's fear or prey drive may be a motivating factor in your dog's desire to flee. Make sure to keep an eye on your dog and help them overcome any issues that give them the urge to run away.

World Dog Finder team

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