Escaping Dogs: Why Dogs Get Loose & How to Prevent It

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It's a beautiful day, so you decide to leave your dog in your fenced yard while you do some work inside. You know they'll be happy to spend time outdoors.

But when you come outside to check on them, your dog isn't there. Escaping dogs weren't part of the day's plan! Thankfully, you find them trotting down the sidewalk just a couple blocks from your home. But how can you prevent this from happening again?

Read on to learn why your dog might roam and how to keep a dog from escaping the yard, so you can feel safe leaving them outside.

Why Dogs Escape

Dogs are curious creatures. If your dog escaped, they probably wanted to follow something they saw, whether an animal, a person or a car. They wanted to know more and were willing to travel to find out!

While all dogs are capable of escaping, breeds that are known to be diggers or jumpers, like Siberian huskies and border collies, are more likely to break free from a dog enclosure. Similarly, breeds that are hunters, such as the rat terrier, who is also a skilled digger, are especially prone to chase a squirrel or other critter out of the yard.

Black labrador jumping over the fence

How Dogs Escape

You have seemingly airtight fencing, so how is it possible your dog managed to escape?

Dogs attain freedom in a few ways: They can either jump over, climb or dig under a fence to get out. Think jumping is impossible? Some dogs can scale an entire fence on their own. Others use climbing aids, like outdoor tables or chairs, to propel them over.

If your fence isn't sturdy enough, your dog could also squeeze through loose panels or knock over broken boards. Especially clever dogs can even paw at a latch and open a fence gate.

As much as we'd like to avoid this, human error can also create the ideal conditions for escaping dogs. If you forget to shut the fence gate, for example, you make it a lot easier for your dog to get loose.

How to Keep a Dog From Escaping the Yard

If your dog has ever gotten loose, you know how frightening and stressful it is. But there are steps you can take to limit the possibility of your dog escaping:

  • Set aside time to inspect your yard and fencing to make sure there aren't any opportunities for escaping dogs. Look for holes underneath and on the fence, as well as any climbing aids that could help your dog scale the fence.
  • If you're dealing with a jumper, the American Kennel Club recommends installing a coyote roller, an aluminum rod that goes at the top of a fence and can stop your dog from getting the leverage to pull themselves over.
  • Consider building, or hiring someone to build, a dog run, a locked and fenced area of the yard where your pet can roam as they please.
  • Before leaving your dog in the yard, take them on a long walk or provide them with some other form of exercise. Leave them with toys to play with, too. If your pup is occupied and has spent a lot of their energy by the time you leave them, they're a lot less likely to be interested in or have the energy for escaping.
  • Consider just spending the time outside with them. If it is raining or it is to just let them outside, you can stand at the door and watch, calling on them if you notice they're getting ready to try and chase a critter out of the yard.

If your dog does escape, the American Kennel Club recommends that you don't punish them: "This will not eliminate his desire to escape, and it may make him afraid to return to the yard."

If they escape even though you've taken steps to secure your fence and have tried the other above suggestions, reach out to your dog's veterinarian for their help. Some professional behavioral training may go a long way to help your dog understand what is acceptable behavior.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at