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What To Do If Your Dog Gets Loose / Off-Leash | Pupford

October 16th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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Having your beloved pet get loose or go missing is the worst fear of any pet parent.

Whether your dog slipped out of their collar during a walk or found a way to escape from your yard, knowing how to prevent and respond to such situations is crucial.

In this article, we will provide you with training tips and management techniques to prevent your dog from getting lost and what to do if it happens.

We'll cover:

  1. Prevention Tips
  2. Safety Measures
  3. Immediate Response
  4. Start the Search


teach your dog proper leash training

First, let’s talk about prevention. Here are some things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting loose. 

1. Leash Training

Leash training is not just about being able to walk nicely on a morning stroll, it's about safety. Dogs with loose leash walking skills are less likely to bolt away unexpectedly or pull you down and run away for a game of chase 😉

Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward your dog when they walk calmly by your side, reinforcing the idea that walking with a loose leash is rewarding. 

Does your dog need to work on their leash skills? Check out Pupford’s Essential Training Course for more information on teaching your pup proper leash skills!

2. Secure Fencing

A secure backyard fence is a must for preventing escapes, especially if your dog has a history of escaping. Regularly inspect your fenceline to eliminate potential escape routes. 

If your dog has been known to dig, consider adding a barrier (like chicken wire) at the bottom of the fence to prevent digging under it. Digging is a natural behavior for dogs, try providing them with an alternate place to dig - Check out this blog post on digging here!

If you know your dog can jump your fence, this may mean they cannot have unsupervised time in the yard or access via a dog door. Instead, opt for supervised play time in the backyard with plenty of toys for engagement.

3. Obedience Training

Teaching your dog basic obedience cues like “come”, "stay", or “leave it” can be lifesavers in preventing escapes. Utilize positive reinforcement training techniques and practice these cues in various environments while gradually increasing distractions. The more time you dedicate to practicing these cues, the more reliable they will be when you need to use them. 

If you’re looking to improve your and your pup’s obedience skills, we cover all of these cues in Pupford’s Essentials Training Course! 

4. Avoid Off-Leash Outings

Although it may be tempting to take your dog to an off-leash hiking trail to explore and sniff, it comes with risks. Even dogs with a reliable recall may become distracted by something novel in their environment - like a wild animal.

Instead, opt to take them on a long lead. They will still have the freedom to explore, but you’ll have the peace of mind that they will always come back to you.


make sure your dog has id tags and microchips
  • ID Tags: Ensure your dog wears up-to-date identification tags on their collar or harness with your contact information. If a good samaritan finds them, an ID tag can quickly get them back to you. These tags can easily be purchased from your local pet store or ordered online. 
  • Microchips: Microchipping is a reliable method of identification for our pets. A microchip is a tiny, rice-sized electronic device encased in a biocompatible glass capsule. It contains a unique identification number, that is associated with your contact information. 
    • A veterinarian or trained professional implants the microchip just beneath your dog's skin, typically between the shoulder blades. The process is quick and relatively painless, similar to a routine vaccination.
    • If a lost dog is found, animal shelters or veterinary offices can use a microchip scanner to read the chip's ID number. With this number, they will be able to obtain the pet parent’s contact information. Just make sure your contact information is always kept up to date!
  • GPS Trackers: GPS trackers can be a game-changer to keep tabs on our dogs, especially if you have a Houdini-type dog with a knack for escaping. GPS trackers utilize satellite technology to allow for real-time tracking, some even offer geofencing features that will notify you if your dog leaves a certain area. 


what to do if your dog gets off leash


  1. Stay Calm: We all know that our pets getting loose is one of the scariest things a pet parent could go through. But do your best to stay calm. A panicked response can make the situation worse by causing your dog to become anxious or fearful. The more calm you are, the better you will be able to think clearly. 
  2. Do Not Chase: Chasing a loose dog may lead them to think you are playing, causing them to run further away from you, or if they are a fearful dog, it may spook them. Instead, get down to their level and call them in a happy, playful tone. This is where a reliable recall cue will come in handy. If available, use some high-value treats to coax them back to you.
  3. Assess the Situation: If you didn’t see your dog escape or if they run out of sight, your first step should be to assess the situation. Try to determine the dog's last known location and the direction they may have traveled. This information will be valuable when you begin your search.


  1. Social Media: Social media is a great way to let others know that you need help finding your beloved pet. Post on your personal social media pages and group pages specific to lost & found pets in your area. Encourage all your friends and family to share the post!
  2. Flyers: Posting flyers around your neighborhood is another way to get your pet returned safely. Make sure to include a recent photo of your dog (ideally in color), your pet’s name, your contact information, last seen location, and any relevant medical or behavioral information. Post these flyers around your neighborhood and take them to your local veterinary hospitals. 
  3. Local Resources: Contact local animal shelters and veterinary hospitals. Someone may have taken your pet there or they can be on the lookout for any dogs with a similar description that come into their care. 

Utilizing preventative measures such as training and securing your backyard will be beneficial in preventing your dog from getting loose. In the case that your dog does get away from you, having safety measures in place like a microchip or GPS tracker may be your saving grace.  Don’t forget to seek out the help of your community and local dog lovers!


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