Help! My dogs an escape artist…

Escape Behaviour in Dogs

Some dogs have extreme escape behaviours. They jump, dig and chew their way through fences, doors and gates that we put there to keep them safe in our yards.

Escape behaviour in dogs is a common problem but it can be fixed, however it takes time and patience as its not a quick fix.

Obviously building higher fences and reinforce the base and ground with chicken wire is the go to. However, it is essential that the reason behind the dog’s escape behaviour is changed as well.

There are 7 reasons why your dog may feel the need to escape.

  • A  lack of mental stimulation will make the dog want to go explore. Enrichment is a must!
  • Lack of physical exercise. Your dog has too much energy and no way else to use it.
  • Lack of companionship. Dogs are pack animals and a lack of affection and company can encourage your dog to go searching for some.
  • It may be a sign of separation anxiety. Eccspecially if they are trying to escape right after you leave home.
  • Some breeds have a keen sense to hunt. So if you have possums, rabbits or any other wild animals living near your fence line you might find they do anything they can to get to them.
  • A  friendly neighbour who supplies treats over the fence is an attraction for a food orientated dog and encourages them to escape.
  • A male dog can sense a female on heat in the area, his natural instinct will be to find her at all costs despite being desexed at times.

These are some recommendations to stop escape behaviour in dogs

  • It is essential that the dog is well exercised daily if possible.
  • Make the yard the dog’s favourite place to be by feeding, training and playing outside as much as possible.
  • On top of a 1.5m fence build an extension that tilts inwards at the top at a 45-degree angle keeping the fence at 1.8m per nsw legal requirement.
  • Provide interactive toys and games to keep the dog’s mind active and busy.
  • Supervise the dog when he is outside when you can and use distraction tactics when the dog tries to escape to discourage the  behaviour.
  • Secure gates properly with bolts or padlocks, a clever dog can soon learn to lift a latch and this also helps deter theives.
  • Remove any garden furniture and strong low tree branches away from fences that can be used as an aid to climb.
  • Insert strong chicken wire at the base of fences at a 90° angle bolted to the base of the fence and brought down and across the ground, out at least 1m under ground to prevent digging.
  • Don’t use the outside area as punishment when the dog misbehaves or he will associate the yard with the feeling of abandonment.
  • Go to obedience classes to teach the dog basic commands, eccspecially stay and a solid recall.
  • Neutering a male dog should reduce the desire to escape.
  • Keep the dog inside or crated if loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms are expected
  • Keep the dog indoors when you leave the house if necessary. Only leave for short periods or take him with you if able to.

Personal Experience of Escape Behaviour

My girl rotweiler Xena escaped a fair few times. Even went to the length of getting out than turning to dig the hole bigger to help my larger dog join her.

Our house had the chicken wire around all the fence lines except for one small area beside the garage and of course she found that.

We were unable to use the same technique in that spot so i started to provide my dogs with larger iceblocks full of treats during the summer and winter they got treat ball toys full and kong toys with peanut butter. I also had a box of toys that every day I would switch out which ones they were given to change it up a bit.

This gave her much more mental stimulation and mostly eliminated the issue. Along with a couple of extra walks a week and burying their waste in the holes to deter the digging she never escaped again.

Just in case your dog does escape, make sure that he is chipped and wears a collar with your phone number attached so he can be brought home safely asap if found. Keeping and managing your dogs escape behaviour is not only important for your dogs safety but the safety of others and their owners. If all of this advice fails than seek a great trainer in your area for help.

Thanks for reading!

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