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As dog owners, one of the worst things that can happen is seeing our dog – or another’s – get loose and run away. The natural inclination is to start screaming the dog’s name and running at in hopes we’ll catch it.
That never works.
Dogs are too fast and when they see a person running in the same direction, the dog is most likely to keep running – either to get farther away from the manic yeller or because a game of chase is just plain fun.
I’ve been guilty of the chase.
But I’ve found a better way.
A way that works.
I saw it work first hand, and it changed my perspective of how to help a dog that’s loose.
Stop, Drop and Sit or Lie Down
Recently I came across an article from No Dog About It that offered alternative suggestions to chasing a loose dog. Instead of running at it, the first suggestion was to “Stop, drop and lie down.” The reasoning is that such an action will pique a dog’s curiosity and get it to come and investigate.
There are some other excellent suggestions in the article, including to take this action one step further and roll into a ball or to just run in the opposite direction. Either way, these tactics are meant to arouse a dog’s curiosity and bring him or her back to you.
I told my wife about these methods and said if we saw a dog loose in the neighborhood, we should give these tactics a try.
Little did we know it would be one of our dogs that got loose!
Here’s what happened.
Winston Gets Loose
On a recent Saturday we were experiencing another blast of wintry weather in northern Wisconsin. The winds were howling all day, with strong gusts making it even worse.
My wife went out to the garage to put a few things in her car when things went bad. My dogs Rory and Winston were both in our fenced-in backyard when a sudden gust of wind blew open the side door leading to the garage. Rory is thoroughly trained and won’t leave the area without being on leash. Winston, however, is another story. We adopted him when he was about 8 months old. He’s a really lovable dog, but he came to us with little training or discipline so he’s been a work in progress – getting better every day.
But when that door flung open, Winston shot out and took off down the street. He ran for a block and went right to a neighbor’s house where we often stop on walks to visit their dog and chat with the owners. It’s fortunate that he recognized the house as he went to the side door and stood there for a few seconds.
I ran out the door and into the garage when I saw he had run off. My heart was pumping hard and I could feel adrenaline surging through me.
My wife started to frantically call Winston, and then it happened.
She walked to the side of our driveway, sat on the ground, tucked into a small package and waited.
Winston Comes Back!
I saw Winston still standing by our neighbor’s door looking back. And then he saw my wife. Instead of continuing down the street away from our house, he turned and started running toward her. He crossed the street onto the sidewalk that leads toward our driveway. He was now running at full gallop, looking like a race horse coming toward the finish line.
My wife remained on the ground as Winston bolted toward her and nearly fell into her lap. She grabbed his collar and then I took him and led him back into the yard. The whole getaway probably lasted no more than a minute, but it seemed like a long time when Winston first took off.
I was so happy that Winston came back home and impressed with how my wife did just what we talked about should such an event occur. Even better is knowing that this technique really works and should be known by all dog owners.
So, please share this information with your friends and family members. Commit these tactics to memory. You never know when you might help a dog – yours or someone else’s – who accidentally got loose.
And remember, don’t chase!