Keeping Your Pet Escape Artist from Going on the Run

Dog peeking behind wood fenceThere’s nothing quite so terrifying, worrisome, and frustrating as a pet who loves to roam. But for a number of pet owners, the problem of pet escape is one that keeps them awake at night. You’ve tried everything, it seems, and yet your Houdini dog or stealth cat continue to find a way to run loose.

Unfortunately, dogs and cats who are prone to getting loose are at risk for becoming lost or injured. From car accidents to theft, our fur-bearing explorers are in danger.

Doesn’t My Pet Love Me?

Many pet owners with escape-loving pets often wonder if Fido or Fluffy simply isn’t happy at home. However, that’s not likely the case. There are a myriad of reasons why pets want to get out and wander, some of which are easily addressed.

  • Your pet is in “heat” – Pets who have never been spayed or neutered are far more likely to want to get loose. After all, they’re seeking a mate. Discourage your dog or cat from wandering, while doing the community and animal shelters a favor, by having your pet spayed or neutered.
  • Your pet is bored – Other animals, like us, require more than just the basics of food and shelter. They require behavioral and mental enrichment, challenges, new experiences, and activities to expend energy. If your pet is seeking to escape because of excess energy, encourage your pet to stay home by adding toys, games, daily exercise, and other means to be mentally, physically, and emotionally engaged.
  • Your pet is lonely – Many animals, and especially our friendly canine friends, are social. They gain confidence and learn correct behaviors, as well as get positive reinforcement and a sense of safety from their “packs”. Pets who are not socialized often develop separation anxiety, which increases their desire to get loose.
  • Your pet suffers from confinement fear – For those who adopt pets, many times we have no idea what occurred in their background. Some have been left alone on chains or confined to cages or crates. This understandably may result in a pet who is fearful of being confined, even within the backyard or home. In this case, we recommend behavioral counseling or behavioral veterinary medicine, which can include medication management, training, and gentle behavioral modification techniques.

Tips to Help Your Pet Escape Artist to Stay Put

If your pet simply is experiencing boredom or excess energy, here are some practical steps you can take at home to help discourage your pet from escaping.

  • Provide daily walks or other forms of exercise
  • Fix any loose screens, gates, and holes in perimeter fencing
  • If your pet is a jumper or digger, install 7 ft. + fencing with an inward tilt and/or chicken wire or chain link that is buried at least a foot beneath the ground
  • Bring wanderlust outdoor kitties inside
  • If you cannot provide the time or attention needed, consider daycare for your pet
  • Bring your pet inside if and when you cannot supervise him or her
  • Consider adding several toys or an agility course for hyper herding or sporting canines
  • Address any new behavioral challenges as they arise, and before they develop into problems, through a wellness or behavioral examination

While a pet escape artist can keep you on your toes, know that many of these behaviors are often warning signs of an issue or issues that need to be addressed. Through early intervention and some around the home adaptations, you can gain peace of mind, knowing your is safe and sound with his loving family.