Dogs make wonderful companions. They can provide good company and bring joy and love into our lives. However, if your companion often tries to run away, it can be frustrating and scary. Luckily, there are ways to train your dog that will prevent your dog from bolting every time you open the door or let him or her roam off-leash. Some dogs are bred specifically as hunters or herders and may require extended or professional training. Learn about your dog's specific breed before attempting any form of training.
Part One of Three:
Training your Dog to ComeEdit
1Begin training a lot when your dog is still young. Just like people, dogs tend to form lifelong behaviors when they’re young. You may have a difficult time training a very young puppy, but it’s always good to try. If you’ve adopted an older dog, you can still retrain him or her, but it may prove more difficult.
2Gather some special treats for your dog. Choose treats that your dog will enjoy, but that are still healthy. You should always use treats designed for dogs, rather than small pieces of your own food. Hold the treats in your pocket or a small bag, so that they are out of sight.
- Choose a treat that the dog only gets when you practice training. If he or she gets the same treat at other times, it will be harder to get him to associate the treat with the desired behavior.
- You can break treats up into smaller pieces and your dog will still be just as excited about them.
3Call your dog to you while you’re in a small room together. Use a simple, verbal command, such as, “Come.” You can also use your dog’s name, as in, “Rover, come.” Say the command firmly once. Wait to see if he/she responds. If he/she doesn’t, repeat the command in the same tone.
- Limit distractions in the room such as other people or TV.
- Make sure there are no exits for your dog to escape through. This will limit the options of where he can go if he or she’s confused.
4When your dog comes, give him/her a treat. If your dog comes to you, he or she’s done a very good thing. Praise him or her and pet him/her to let him/her know that you appreciate this behavior. Immediately give him/her a treat so that he'll/she’ll remember that he/she was rewarded for following directions.
- Pet your dog and speak to him or her lovingly when you give the treat. This is another way of rewarding him/her.
5Walk away from your dog. Once you’ve given your dog a treat and praised him/her, the task is over. You can now walk away from your dog. He or she will probably follow you, especially since you just praised him. Continue to walk around until he/she gets bored or distracted and stops following you.
- Stay inside, or in an enclosed space. Don’t give your dog the chance to run away.
- If your dog takes too long to leave you alone, you can begin another activity on your own, like cooking a meal or doing some chores. Once the dog sees that you’re distracted, he’ll/she'll likely get bored him or her self.
6Call your dog again. Once your dog has left you alone, try calling him or her again. Use the exact same command and tone that you did the first time.Your dog will probably be farther away now, so you may need to call louder or repeat the command multiple times.
- Resist the temptation to move close to your dog. Your dog may think this is a game, or he or she may begin to assume that you will always come to him.
7Repeat this process until you have regular, predictable success. Practice this command several times a day until your dog will predictably come when called. Be consistent. Make the time to practice every single day. Repetition is what will train your dog to come on command.
- Just like people, dogs have limited attention spans. If you notice your dog getting bored or antsy, stop for the day. You can practice again tomorrow.
8Practice this command in increasingly larger spaces. Once your dog reliably comes on command, start to practice in larger spaces. This can mean a larger house, or an enclosed dog run or dog park.
- Scale up slowly. Don’t immediately move from your bedroom to a dog park.
9Try distracting your dog, once he or she's mastered the command. This step can be the most difficult for a dog, especially for dogs bred to hunt. Distractions can be other people, other animals, or ambient sounds. When your dog is left to roam free in your yard there will be plenty of distractions, so this is an important step for him or her to master.
- When using other people as a distraction start with people the dog knows. This will be less jarring for the dog than introducing a stranger.
- Small animals may be birds or squirrels in your yard. These wild animals can generally keep themselves safe from dogs. Don’t purposefully put a small animal (like a kitten or gerbil) in danger by introducing it to a dog.
Part Two of Three:
Training your Dog to StayEdit
1Combine a hand signal with a verbal command. “Stay” is the most common command for getting a dog to stay still. However, it’s more powerful when combined with a hand signal. An easy hand signal to remember is putting out your hand as though you’re telling someone to stop. 
- Practice saying the command and doing the hand signal at the same time.
- Use a firm, clear tone of voice. Make your signal one clean motion.
2Walk toward the front door. Act natural, as though you’re about to leave the house. Do anything you would normally do, such as grabbing your keys or hat. Don’t speak to or look at your dog as you go.
3Respond if your dog follows you. Even if you’re not looking at him, you’ll likely hear him trailing behind you. As soon as you notice that he is following you, stop and turn to him. Use the same verbal command and hand signal to tell him to stay.
- Resist the urge to pet your dog to comfort him at this point. This will encourage him to follow you more.
- Use the command and hand signal only once and then turn to go again.
4Repeat this until the dog doesn’t follow you. It may get tedious but continue to turn and repeat the command until your dog stays. You should be able to get all the way to the door without your dog moving from their “stay” position.
5Repeat this until you can fully open the door without your dog moving. Once your dog can reliably stay until you get to the door, practice opening the door. You should be able to open the door slowly and step through it without your dog moving.
- Be careful when opening the door. Your dog may still get excited and try to run for it.
- When your dog can reliably stay, you should be able to open the door for several seconds without him running outside.
6Praise your dog and give treats for good behavior. Once you’ve gone out the door and your dog has successfully stayed put, come back inside and give him a treat. You should also pet him and praise him so that he knows how good he’s been.
- Don’t give the treats and praise until you’re able to get all the way out the door without him following you.
- Keep treats hidden until you decide to give them, otherwise they can be a distraction.
7Practice "stay" outdoors. Now that your dog can reliably stay when you head for the door, you can practice outside. Begin in an enclosed area, such as a fenced yard or dog run. Use the same verbal command and hand signal that you used inside.
- Your dog may get distracted by animals and other people outside. This creates a challenge in getting him to stay. You may need extra practice for him to master it.
- Try walking away from your dog once you've told him to stay. He should be able to do this outside as well as inside.
- Practice in increasingly larger spaces. Eventually, your dog should be able to stay in an open yard without running off.
Part Three of Three:
Removing Incentives to Run AwayEdit
1Make sure your dog’s environment is familiar. Many dogs run away because they think they need to get home. If you’ve moved recently, your dog may not understand that your new home is his new home.
- Whenever your dog will be spending time in a new place, give him time to explore and become familiar with the smells and sounds.
2Get your dog spayed or neutered. A common reason dogs run off is to find a mate. This is especially true of unneutered male dogs. Having your pet spayed or neutered will help prevent this urge.
- Spaying and neutering also helps prevent unwanted puppies from becoming strays and crowding shelters.
3Give your dog plenty of interaction. Dogs are social animals. They need stimulation and interaction or they’ll become bored. Make sure your dog has plenty of social time with you, other dogs, or other people.
- If you work long hours, consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to engage your dog during the day.
- Not all dogs will get along with others. Always introduce dogs while they’re on a leash to prevent dangerous fighting.
4Give your dog plenty of exercise. Sometimes, dogs run off simply because they want to run. Make sure your dog gets plenty of walks and time outside. This way, he won’t need to run away just to get exercise.
- Different breeds need different amounts of exercise. For example, a pug may only be able to walk briskly for 20 or 30 minutes before needing a break. A husky is bred to run great distances. Find out what’s healthy for your particular breed.
- Exercise can include going for walks, chasing a ball or a frisbee, or running around a dog park with other dogs.
5Reward your dog coming back to you. Make sure your dog knows that coming back is good behavior. When he comes back, praise him and give him a treat. This reward will teach him that coming back can feel as good as running away.
- Never scold a dog when he returns to you, even if it took him a long time. This teaches the dog that he’ll be punished for coming back.
- Don’t only call him back when the fun is over. For example, if you’re at the park, call him back for a moment before letting him continue to play. If you always call him right before going home, he’ll learn that coming back means that playtime is over.
When I go near my garbage cans my dog will pull and buck and get out of his leash. What do I do?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- First of all, your dog is afraid of the garbage cans. Make sure that the collar fits or buy your dog a harness so you know he/she can't slip out. Teach your dog that garbage cans are okay by putting the garbage can next to your house door so if he tries to escape, you can put him inside and calm him down. Get treats (cheese or a little meat will work if you have no treats) and lure your dog next to the trash can. Reward him a lot. Make soft sounds with the trash can by tapping it lightly so your dog is aware of its noise and keep rewarding him. Have him walk around the trash can and reward him.
How long do I have to do this?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Continue until you know that your dog will not run away. Observe your dog's behavior from a window inside. If your dog lingers towards the edge of the yard, you probably will need to keep training. If your dog stays close to the house, you're probably safe.
How do I train him to come if he doesn't care for treats?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Pet him and fuss over him as though he just won you a pot of gold. If you pet him every time he obeys, he will want to obey so he gets hugs. Dogs are social animals, and petting your dog will not only help train him, but will help you develop a better relationship with him. He will find that you enjoy when he obeys you, and if you are happy, he most likely will be happy as well.
Will this work for dogs that are really active?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Yes. Just make sure they are getting adequate exercise (walking, jogging, agility training, etc.). You may want to tire them out a bit before your training lessons so they are not bursting with energy but they're not lethargic either.
My boarder collie/pit bull runs off every chance he gets, even though we walk him three times a day and keep him outside. I have to keep him tied up because he chews through the fence and gets out. What can I do?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- An underground fence will train your dog to stop chewing the fence and escaping. There are several good brands that are very affordable.
I live in front of a busy street and my dog runs away. He is a 2-year-old chihuahua mix. How do I keep him inside?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- Make sure you give him a long walk every day so he gets out of the house with you and doesn't have a lot of energy to burn. This will solve your problem. It takes some commitment from you, but that's what you signed up for when you got a dog.
- Training a dog can feel like a long, tedious process. Stick with it! Once your dog is well-trained, you’ll have many happy years of being glad you did.
- Always praise good behavior. Dogs are pack animals and want to be accepted by you. Praise helps them know that you appreciate their behavior.
- Dogs cannot differentiate between large treats and small treats, so you can always break treats up into smaller pieces.
Things You'll NeedEdit
- Small chewable dog treats
- Leash (optional)
- Ball or frisbee (optional)
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AW"Thank you for these tips. I have a 2 year old chihuahua/terrier that I rescued from the shelter and is very hard to train."..." more
SF"Answered all my questions. I just recently moved and now I see why he keeps running away."
YR"It helped me a lot and taught me how to train my dog. This is an amazing site!"
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