After all your hard work, you thought your dog would behave when you let him go off leash. But as soon as he spotted another dog, your dog made a beeline for it and ignored your calls to come back. Or perhaps your dog escaped from your grasp to chase a squirrel. Regardless of the reason for your dog running off, it is the way dogs get lost, hurt, or worse. Still, it is an issue that all dog owners face eventually. What should you do? What is the least effective method to retrieve a dog that has got off leash?
Least Effective Methods to Retrieve Your Dog Off Leash
When you are not prepared with what to do when your dog takes off and won’t come back, you are likely to do one of the following things, none of which are likely to be effective:
Yelling at your dog will only increase the dog’s excitement level, and it will not entice the dog to come to you. Your dog will hear the frustration—possibly anger—in your voice and would prefer to keep running away from you.
Running After Them
If you run after your dog, your dog may construe it as a game of “chase.” Dogs love to play chase with each other. Your dog may be delighted to play along and will keep on running.
Things To Do To Get Your Dog Back While Off Leash
Instead of shouting and chasing after your dog, there are some better ways to handle the situation.
Ideally, you will have been working with your dog on off-leash training, so you will have an emergency plan for just this situation. If you have been spending the time working on off leash training, you should have an easier time getting your dog back. You will be prepared because you remembered to bring treats with you and perhaps a squeaky toy or a ball or two. You will have already worked with your dog and taught him a special word that means something really good is about to happen, such as its favorite treat or special toy. All of that hard work will help you when your dog decides to ignore you off leash.
If you have not done much off leash training, or if your dog is not responding to you, here are the things that are more effective:
Realize that the reason your dog has taken off is because something exciting has attracted its attention. Your job is to lower the dog’s excitement level and redirect the dog’s attention back to you. Staying calm may be difficult if the dog is in a dangerous situation, such as in a high traffic area, or an unfamiliar environment, such as a new public park.
Call Your Dog By Its Name
Call your dog in a pleasant tone of voice but in a voice that is loud enough to get the dog’s attention. Try to avoid conveying a tone of anger or fear. If you have a squeaky toy with you, squeak it. You will be surprised at how quickly your dog changes its focus from its current distraction to the toy.
Entice Them With A Treat Or A Toy…
When your dog hears you calling or hears the squeaky toy, they will look at you. At that moment, entice the dog to you by waving a treat or the toy. Continue this motion until your dog takes a step toward you. Give him praise immediately.
… and Go In The Opposite Direction
Once your dog is moving toward you, keep praising him and enticing him with the treat or toy. Turn and take a step or two in the direction away from the distraction. Your dog will likely now be following you.
Fall On The Floor
Once you have their attention, fall on the floor. While this may seem strange, this is a fun and playful way to get your dog back. They might get very curious as to why you have fallen and walk back toward you.
Reward And Celebrate Your Dog’s Return To You
As soon as your dog is in reach, give him the treat or toy reward and lots of petting and praise. Resist the impulse to immediately snap the leash on or to scold the dog. Scolding the dog for running off and not returning immediately will be lost on the dog. It will only confuse your dog, or worse, your dog will see it as punishment and be scared, and it will be harder for you to recall the dog next time he misbehaves off leash.
Talk With Paw Pals About What Is The Least Effective Method To Retrieve A Dog That Has Got Off Leash?
Dogs need plenty of exercise, which includes the opportunity to run. If they do not get enough exercise, they cannot burn off mental and physical energy. They can become easily excitable and more difficult to manage. Regular walks will help prevent unruly, excitable dogs. Make sure your dog never misses a nice long walk with the help of the dog walking professionals at Paw Pals. The Paw Pals professionals are available to walk your dog and help with off leash training. Contact them for more information about how their services can help you and your dog.