Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: How to Keep the Dog From Running Away

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Hi, Kevin!
Welcome! It’s very exciting to be able to ask you for help. Our pup is a 1 year old lab/beagle/boxer mix. She is VERY smart and very good except for when her nose takes over. In the house, she always comes when called, but outside that nose goes down and she’s off, totally ignoring me until she decides to pay attention. Someone suggested a shock collar, but I’m afraid that she would even ignore that if a squirrel or deer caught her attention. Can you help?I don’t mind keeping her on a leash most of the time, but occasionally a grandkid will accidentally let her out and it worries me.
Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer,

Hey Lin,

Overall this is a rather common issue. I would work hard on a cue that means she is supposed to look at you. I refer to this as attention work. Start off practicing this with minimal distractions. When she is doing good with that start to increase the difficulty of the distraction. Your ultimate goal will be to get her attention when she is on a scent. And when you can pull her attention off of a scent you will then be able to recall her.

Recall (coming when called) is something that takes a lot of practice. I would recommend using a long leash (30-50ft). When training this stay very happy and use a lot of rewards. Practice this with her in a sit or a down position as well as when she goes to put her nose down to sniff. Use a consistent word and try not to repeat it. If she doesn’t come when called you have a couple options. You can get low to the ground and make some happy fun sounding noises. Another option you have is to start running the opposite way. (Be aware of how much room you have until you run out of leash). And one other option you have is to start reeling her in gently while praising her. Build that repetition of her coming every time she is called. When she is coming every time you can then start to do some off leash stuff.

Door bolting- What sounds like the most important thing is her running out of the door when grandkids are over. I would teach her that she is not allowed to go out of the door until she is “released” through it. Use a release word like “okay” every time she goes through the door(s). If she tries to walk out without the release just tell her “no” and put her back in the house and repeat. The idea behind this is with the repetition she will not go out of the door if it’s opened unless someone tells her the release word. I would practice this multiple times a day.

I plan on making a door bolting video in the near future that will be on my FB page and Youtube Channel.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment
    didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

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