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How to Keep Your Dog from Escaping the Yard…

Written by Anna Hollisey


Doggo trying to escape from the garden

He’s gone again? Don’t worry – we’ve got a few tips to help you to contain your wild and wandering dog. 

Why Do Dogs Escape?

Does your dog have a habit of escaping the yard? It’s not because they don’t love you. It’s probably caused by one of three reasons. Sometimes they’ll pick up a scent – like a female on heat or prey they’re primed to hunt, like a fox. Sometimes, we’re sorry to say, your dog just gets bored. 

Escaping to Mate

…happens to almost every dog. We can’t blame them: the biological urge to mate supports survival of the species. It’s completely natural and difficult to prevent! Females are more likely to escape while they’re in heat, and males will travel to follow the scent of a potential mate. If your dog isn’t neutered or spayed, consider booking the operation. It’s not a guarantee, but it could help to prevent unwanted wandering. 

Escaping to Chase Prey

Our dogs can smell about 20x further than humans. That means they could be silently tracking every squirrel, raccoon and cat in your neighborhood. Many dogs also have a strong prey drive, and this can cause them to escape and chase. 

Escaping to Explore

Your dog wants to expand its territory – or they simply got bored. Dogs have an instinct to claim territory and will remember interesting places, like a neighbor’s yard where chickens are kept! Some dogs develop the habit of escaping to the same place every time. If your dog is a high-energy or working breed, they’re more likely to become bored in the same old yard. Introducing activities or toys can be helpful. Don’t forget their walks!

How to Keep Your Dog from Escaping the Yard…

The advanced escape artist has been known to climb fencing, burrow under hedges, and make daring leaps over gates. In short, it is VERY difficult to stop a determined dog from exploring more of the world. But we’ve rounded up some suggestions which we hope will help: 

  • Sad but true: some dogs escape in search of adventure. They’re under-stimulated, with plenty of energy, and they can’t keep digging the same patch of grass forever. If this is the case, you can scratch the itch by providing toys, taking your dog out more frequently, or booking them into doggy day-care. (Don’t over-exercise: it’s important to develop a routine in which they’re tired but not overstimulated.)
  • Attach a GPS tracker to your dog’s collar. They’re new – dog tracking devices are connected to GPS satellites so that you can locate them using an app on your phone or computer. Pawesome, right? Drawback: if your dog is VERY adventurous, they might get in a tangle and lose their tracker. 
  • Fencing – of course, you’ve already checked your yard perimeter for easy-outs. Rescue shelters recommend installing a fence of 6-foot (2 meter) height because yes, they have known some dogs to leap that high! If your dog’s a digger, install chicken wire fencing which can be buried in the ground. 
  • Use a surveillance camera to find out where your dog’s squeezing through. If your dog’s escaping but you have no idea how they’ve done it… it’s time to add a surveillance camera to scope the yard. Then you’ll know exactly where to secure the perimeter – until next time!

Further Reading

Learn how to help a bored dog/learn/dog-lifestyle/do-dogs-get-bored. If your dog is always busy and might be hyperactive, don’t reach for the Frisbee – read our article about increasing stimulation./learn/dog-health/how-to-calm-a-hyper-dog If they’re straying to hunt squirrels, read about reducing prey drive./learn/dog-training/can-i-reduce-my-dogs-prey-drive Does your dog dig in the yard, too? Find out why they’re so determined to bury the good stuff!/learn/dog-lifestyle/why-do-dogs-bury-bones