Canine Houdinis: Dealing With Escape Artists
Some dogs have a difficult time accepting the idea that they are not free to roam at will. These determined dogs consider fence climbing and tunnel digging to be among their finest talents.
Although escapees only want a little adventure, the dangers that await in the big, wide world can make coming home again impossible. There is hope for these dogs, but it will require patience and a good deal of experimentation on your part to find the right solution to reform your escape artist.
When trying to determine a solution for your escape artist, start by asking yourself the following questions:
Is your dog an unaltered male?
It may be the scent of a nearby female that gives him the strength to leap tall fences in a single bound. The sex drive of a male dog can be powerful and all-consuming, especially if there is a female in heat nearby. Neutering your roving Romeo will do wonders for keeping him home, and he will be much happier and healthier as well.
Is your yard adequately fenced?
A three-foot chain link fence will not contain an adventurous medium to large sized dog. Gaps in between fencing, posts and gates can also be a problem. Determined dogs can suck in their breath and slide through spaces you would think were impossible. If your dog is a digger, consider placing concrete edging along the fence line, or placing chain link fencing two feet below ground. If the fence is high and your dog still climbs over, consider running a low current wire along the inside top of the fence. Once your dog receives a shock, similar to the one you get walking across the carpet, fence climbing won't be so enticing. Other solutions include building a covered kennel run. In any case, do not chain your dog.
Is your dog bored?
Dogs thrive on companionship, mental stimulation and exercise. If these basic needs are not fulfilled, they frequently turn to destructive behavior such as chronic barking, chewing, compulsive escaping and even aggression. Your pet depends on you not only for dog food, water and shelter, but for physical and mental exercise as well. There are many ways to keep your dog's body and mind stimulated. Provide him with plenty of interesting dog toys that are rotated on a daily basis; spend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day having playtime with your dog (some dogs may need even more exercise); attend obedience classes so your dog will have the chance to exercise his brain and consider getting a companion animal for your dog. A dog that is mentally challenged and receives proper exercise will not be so eager to run off in search of stimulation.
Of course, any escape artist should always be wearing personalized dog tags with your name, address and phone number. You may want to consider having your dog tattooed with a special identifying number or microchipped in case the dog collar is removed or lost.