How to Handle Escaping Pets

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Wednesday, May 20, 2020

It never fails. My kids are in and out of the door to go out to play and inevitably, my hairy child bolts out with them and runs straight across the street to visit her doggy friends. While I have a lot of helpful neighbors who have gotten to know our Hattie pretty well, and who don’t mind walking her back home, it has gotten a bit embarrassing chasing her down the street in my bare feet. And not to mention, a bit dangerous. My sweet golden doesn’t have much street sense and it always worries me that she will cross the street in front of a car.

What to do when your dog, or cat, is the neighborhood social butterfly and you can’t seem to keep him or her indoors? Here are a couple of ideas…

Practice Prevention

You know all the things you should have in place already, but let’s just run through a checklist. Does your dog or cat wear a collar? Is there clear and updated ID on his or her collar? Does he or she have a microchip? This is the best prevention against a lost pet! ID tags get lost and collars can fall off, but a microchip is forever. Read our post, National Check the Chip Day for more on microchipping. The PetPartners Wellness Care plan can help offset the cost of microchipping if you have not taken this important step in ensuring the safety of your pet already. Regarding prevention, it is also important to make sure your fence is secure and to plan for guest arrivals. It may be necessary to place your dog behind a gate or in her crate when guests are arriving so he or she does not bolt out the door.

Tap into Their Love Language

If your pet does get out, know your pet’s love language so you can better entice him or her to return. Sometimes it is the thrill of the chase that drives your dog or cat to escape. We keep a bucket of our dog’s favorite balls in the garage and when she goes sprinting across the street, one of my boys will grab a ball and hold it high in the air asking if she’d like to play catch. My youngest is convinced she understands these words, but I am pretty certain it is the sight of the ball that turns her around and encourages her to run back home, eager to retrieve.

For other dogs, treats may be the answer. Keep a container of treats in an easily accessible spot so you can reach for them if your dog or cat escapes. Chasing your dog may encourage him or her to continue running, so stay put with a meaty treat in your hand, or even consider waving it in the air excitedly while calling your dog’s name. If your pet wants the treat, he or she will have to follow you to get it! If you are looking for an especially aromatic treat, try Stewart Pro-Treat Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Dog Treats.

Tackle Training

Spending some time working with a trainer at home or in a group class may be one of the best ways to keep your pet from escaping. While this is easier to do with a dog, there are some cat trainers willing to work in your home to teach you how to manage a feisty cat! There are some essential cues to teach your pet so that you have control in all situations such as sit, stay and come. In addition, you can train your dog to have door manners so he or she doesn’t rush out through gates and doors to escape!

Act Quickly

If your first attempts at encouraging your escape artist to return home are unsuccessful, and your dog or cat cannot be located, act immediately. Putting out the word that you have a missing pet is your best move. According to an article in the Pet Tricks column of the January issue of Real Simple, indoor cats are typically found close to home, having only wandered a few houses away. Ask neighbors if you can search their sheds and check their porches. Thanks to social media, it is easy to expand your search by posting on your neighborhood’s Facebook page or Nextdoor. Make a big, legible sign to post on a streetlight or sign in your area. If your pet is microchipped, alert your microchip service. If you do not locate your dog or cat by the end of the day, visit the local shelter.

Implement Technology

In this day and age, does it make sense not to have a tracker for your pet? Well, if said pet is an escape artist, it just doesn’t! Take advantage of all technology has to offer and outfit your cat with the TabCat Pack, which comes with a tag you can place on your cat’s collar to let you know you are close to your kitty. The lightweight handset uses radiofrequency to give audio and visual cues to help you find your cat.

For your pooch, the Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor is the way to go to set your mind at ease. The device will allow you to receive notifications by email, text, or via the app when your pet leaves a spot designated by you as “safe.” If your dog escapes, you can locate him or her with real-time GPS tracking using the Whistle Pet Tracker. Is there any excuse for us not to be able to locate our pets with these amazing technological advances?

Proactively Invest in Your Pet’s Health

Enrolling your pet in health insurance before disaster strikes is the best way to be sure you can afford the best veterinary care available when you need it. Escape artists are even more at risk of accidents than those that remain safely in the home. Consider enrolling in accident and illness pet insurance to help keep your pet protected!

Be Prepared!

As much as we’d like to ignore the fact that it’s a real possibility that our pet will get out and not be able to find his or her way home, it is far better to put plans into place to prevent this happening. By having a plan, knowing your pet’s love language, and taking advantage of what technology has to offer, you can nip your escape artist's antics in the bud!



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