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5 Things to Know if Your Dog Gets Loose

 

Above: A common reason a dog can slip away from you is that they see wildlife and want to chase it.  So make sure you have a tight grip and are not distracted by cell phones, etc.  The martingale collar I used on this walk helps to prevent slip-outs.  Read on for 5 things to know if your dog gets loose.


1. Let's Start with What NOT to Do If Your Dog Gets Loose

After several years and thousands of dog walks as a pro, I've found a few things that work well for me.  I'd like to pass them on.  This is the first of the 5 things to know if your dog gets loose.

Some of these points are not unique--they are commonly taught.  So I guess I am saying that I agree!

One thing is, that it may not be best to yell or act nervous the second your dog gets away.  

And it is advised chasing after the dog can be futile.

Every dog is different, and every situation is different, but it is generally advised to NOT do these two things if you dog's leash slips out of your hands or if she runs out of your yard, for example.

Read on for some OTHER noises you can make and things you can say, besides yelling.  And for other methods besides chasing, that might be more beneficial.

And please don't place your attention on your device while walking.  This is a super common reason why dogs get away when people are caring for them, either by wandering off or by slipping away.

Please be advised that I am not a certified dog trainer, dog behavior expert, vet, etc.  I am simply providing information that I learned from my own experience after being on thousands of dog walks over several years.  Please consult a dog trainer or other dog behavior professional if you have any questions or doubts about what I've written, or if you want to be sure to do the proper thing for your specific dog breed, etc.  This is general information and not catered for every situation.

Above:  This leash actually broke on me while walking a client's dog--I hate these type of leashes, by the way.  It's not always because a leash slipped out of your hand, or that you weren't paying attention.  Sometimes, equipment can be defective and it was no fault of your own.  So be prepared even when paying close attention!  

Collar ID:

A couple quick notes about collars and leashes.  This topic is endless, but here are a just a few things to think about:


Prong callers, which have links that fasten together, can un-fasten!  The very nature of the links, is that they can be taken apart.  So be careful and maybe have a back up connection (see image below) besides just the prong collar.  And please study how to use these sometimes-controversial collars the correct way so as not to harm the dog.


Martingale collars have two functions:  a ring that makes the collar tighten when pulled, and a ring that acts like one on a typical collar.  These collars are great to prevent slip outs, especially with dogs with small heads like hounds.  But remember, you still have to hold the leash tightly in your hand and pay attention.


Speaking of collars, always have tags for identification.  You can also have your phone number embroidered on nylon collars, and other ways to have your dog ID'd, besides just tags.


Slip leashes are great as a sort of back up.  They go around the dogs neck without the need of collar.  I do NOT advice only using this leash without another type concurrently, or if you are walking for more than just a short distance.  They work great in addition to another leash and collar, especially if you have a nervous or new dog.  You would typically leave slack on the slip leash and have it ready in case the other leash or collar proves faulty.  


In terms of harnesses, all things being equal, I have always preferred a front-clasping harness.  For dogs that pull, and to give you a great amount of control, having the ring in front (near the dog's chest), makes it difficult for them to continually pull...it sort of twists them from side to side if they try to pull.    


**None of these options are perfect for every dog.  You may try one and have it not work at all for your dog.  Ask a pet store if you can try it out first, and make sure your online store has a good return policy.

Above:  I walked this dog for a client who provided three different collars and various connections.  I mentioned in the box above to have a "connection" to another collar.  You can see this back up connection in this picture--the leather leash connects in two places. 

2. Train with a Unique Phrase and a High Reward

I learned this from a dog training class several years ago.  And I strongly feel that focusing on recall of your dog is one of the most important things you can train your dog to do, and one that will make your life easier as a dog owner:  

While training for recall of your dog, have a super-unique (and even silly) phrase or word ready, as well as a super-high reward treat to give after you say it during training.

The point is that you need something to say that you don't typically say to recall your dog in "normal" circumstances, so it retains its special effect. 

And when they come back to you during this training, you treat it like it's the biggest party in the world!  Get all excited, love them up, and give them a couple pieces of bacon dripping with fat, or whatever other treat that puts your dog in a euphoric state!

Make them learn that when they hear that phrase, that absolute heaven awaits when they come back to you.  Do NOT overuse this technique in real situations where your dog isn't about to enter into danger.  This needs to be a special recall method and subsequent treat. 

And I believe it's OK if you don't actually have the super special treat on you at the rare time that you actually need to use this technique.  Think about it.  Your dog might be upset to find that you don't have the party treat when she returns, but at least you may have saved her life!

And please know that typical "Come here buddy's" or "Stay's" or "Here's" can become watered down over time, or may not be strong enough to overcome their pray drive to chase after another animal into a busy road, for example.

Help Prevent it All Together

It baffles me that people let dogs off leash in their neighborhood or in places where it's not the norm to have dogs off leash.  And then feel devastated when their dog takes off, disappears around a corner, or even approaches another dog who is on leash or in its own yard, and a stressful interaction follows.


These owners say, "But my dog's friendly".  Duh, what about the other dog or other person?  I find this so selfish.


See the image below that is just ONE of the TONS of times I've had "friendly" off leash dogs approach me and the dogs I was walking, and caused a lot of stress, even though their dog is "nice".  Ugh!




FREE REPORT: The Ugly Truth about what Your Neighbors Think of You as a Dog Owner!

Learn five things that you're doing that are making the neighbors talk about you as they look out their windows...and how to avoid it.

3. Make it Known that You Have Something Special When Walking

I found that having a baggie or some tin foil in my pocket with a treat inside that is a bit more enticing than a typical dog biscuit can be, can be beneficial.

I do this on many regular walks, just so that they like to stay close because I might have it in my pocket on any given walk.  But it doesn't have to be on every single walk.  Just often enough.  And it doesn't even have to have a treat in it every time.

I'm not talking about the super-high reward party platter of grease-dripping grilled ribs which you would give in the scenario in number two above.  Nor am saying to incorporate that silly/unique phrase.

This is somewhere in between.  And it's used on a decent amount of walks (where there is no incident), just to keep them "informed" that you often have cool treats--as indicated by the wrapper...filled or empty.

The actual treat can be a little better than a regular biscuit or treat, but not a $50 porterhouse steak either.   And you don't have to give this cool treat every on every walk.

I believe the key here to just to let them know you have the wrapper, and that you have it on you a lot.  Remember, we're using this, and the special treat in number 2, as a recall method when you really need your dog to come back.

I guess I will deal with the "guilt" I feel when my dog returns from a hairy situation, only to find out that I don't have anything, or maybe it's just a normal treat, inside of the tin foil or other wrapper that I've used for the association.  I'm more concerned that they came to me.

Remember, these techniques are being highlighted for instances when your dog gets away and you really need him back.

Other Effective Phrases

You can also use other effective phrases that your dog associates a great outcome with, but maybe not the ultimate party reward that comes with the unique special phrase in number 2, or sort of cool treat in number 3.


If you have a phrase that you always use when you see a family member pull in the yard, and you use it to get her all fired up about their presence, this phrase can also be effective in cases where your dog starts to wander off.


So if your dog slips away, you can also try a phrase them makes them happy, but might not be "true" in this situation.  


The point is to say something that's more potent than "come here" or "heel" or whatever.


And again, I understand that the event that they think is happening is not true.  But at least you got your dog back!

4.  Step on the Leash

I have used this technique; it can be very effective.  

You need to think quickly whenever a leash is dropped by mistake.  It happens to the best of us. So it's great to have this option already in your mind, so it can be almost automatic when the leash accidentally leaves your hand.

One warning, when you lift up your leg or slide it forward, in order to step on the leash, this can make the dog flinch and maybe move even further away.

So if you step, then do it quickly and swiftly.  

In the Moment

Please know that this entire blog post is about the second your dog gets away while you are handling him, and does not focus on the multitude of things you should do AFTER you can't see him anymore.  There happens to be so much on this topic, that I didn't want to have this post be too long.  So PLEASE also research the actions to take if your pup does not come back.

5.  Lay Down or Head Back Towards Your House

This follows up on number 1, in that you have to fight your instincts to yell or chase after your pup.

So instead of chasing after him, it may be beneficial to actually run in the other direction--to invite him chase YOU.  But you may not want to run too far...in case it isn't working.

I've actually had luck one time when my dog ran through the invisible fence, by laying down on the sidewalk.  She came right back to me!

Please also be aware when you are driving with your dog in your car, or if you have an invisible fence in your yard.  These are situations that a dog can get away also, besides just when walking them or having them in an un-fenced yard.  Just pay attention.  For instance, leave your windows rolled up enough to where it's not easy for them to jump out, and not closed too much to where they might get their head stuck.

3 Frustrations While Walking Your Dog and Unique Ways to Handle Them

Above: Dog has a Martingale collar on.  I address the benefits for dog walking with a Martingale in number three below.


1. Sometimes You Just Don't Want to "Say Hi"

It's always best to avoid frustrations while walking your dog, so you can enjoy the experience.

So even after 5 years as a pro and over 40 years as a dog owner in general, I am still baffled at this first situation.

I may never know why the other dog owner gets offended, and how to prevent them from doing so, when I request that two dogs don't "say hi" while walking past each other.

The slant of this article (and of me in general) is a bit sarcastic.  Things are NOT always this bad on a regular basis out there on the streets with your dog.  But this stuff DOES happen once in while, so I guess I'd rather have you prepared for it, then to not mention it at all.  Mostly, dog ownership and being out among the humans is just fine.

I've had aggressive dogs and shy dogs.  I've had dogs with kennel cough.  I've just wanted to get home quickly and not socialize!  So I just didn't want to interact with another dog.

I've seen cars coming and not wanted commotion and leash tangling in the middle of the road, so I declined offers to have them "say hi".

Even though the other person says "but they know each other", I know that dogs can act differently when both are on leash and being sort of restrained. ...And they can start gagging by their collar because they're pulling to get closer to "say hi", thereby making the experience not fun.

And, I've also just not liked the other person or not liked the other dog!

Insert the other Ka-trillion reasons here...the list goes on as to why sometimes it's not best to let the dogs say hi, and to continue past each other.

I get it.  Dog owners want their dogs to socialize.  That's totally cool.  There are times and places for that.  Dog parks, day care, play groups, etc.

If both parties agree to let them "say hi",  fine.  That's actually cool.  I don't want to sound like a grump.

It can be totally OK to let them say hi sometimes while passing by.  It's not like I NEVER want to do it.  So again, I get it.

What I DON'T GET, is that the other owner gets offended and I feel like I have to tell them to "turn that frown upside down" and smile, and to not feel like they've been REJECTED!

Or that they keep advancing towards you even after you're showing clear body language and even telling them clearly that you'd rather not have them meet.

They and their dog are wonderful, I know.  I just don't feel like letting the dogs "say hi".  ...And I don't want to have to explain why--because they will never agree or understand your rationale anyway.

I've tried a TON of ways to just pass by with a quick explanation, but it never works.  They NEVER just say, "Ok, no problem."  They get offended.

Some of My Tactics:

So I just wear headphones that aren't even turned on (but I pretend they are).  And I just smile and keep walking with CLEAR body language that I don't want to stop and say hi.  Funny thing, most humans don't pick up on this...they still head towards you...even as you back up a small hill to avoid them!



And in the case of the image above, a mosquito net can work also if you want to give them the hint.



Or, I tell them that my dog has a highly contagious disease.



Or, I just put a bunch of words together in a sentence that make absolutely no sense, because they don't listen anyway.  

FREE REPORT: The Ugly Truth about what Your Neighbors Think of You as a Dog Owner!

Learn five things that you're doing that are making the neighbors talk about you as they look out their windows...and how to avoid it.

2. Oops, Need to Pick up Poops.  But No Bag!

It happens to the best of us.  We forget to grab a poop bag on the way out to a walk.  The plastic dispenser attached to the leash is empty.  The bag blows out of our pocket.  You only took one bag, but your dog pooped twice.  And so on.

After the initial shock wears off from knowing you're being watched and not having anything to pick up your dog's poop with, you must spring into action and improvise!

After all, it's better to avoid these kind of frustrations while walking your dog so you can enjoy your time out on the roads and trails.

Think about how much of a loser you think someone else is, when you see them just blatantly leave a dog poop with no care whatsoever.  Don't be that person!

When the poop hits the fan...or road:

The best advice I can give, is to NOT act like it didn't happen.  Show that you see it and you are going to do something about it. 


I'm not saying you have to hold up a sign, just be a little demonstrative and point to it, nod (sort of saying, "I know, I know).


Then, you can find a stick or a piece of trash to just slide it over to the side, out the way of being stepped in.  And return to pick it up after your walk.


You can look around, sort of with your hands up or scratching your head (again, just body language that you are going to do something about it.)


You don't have to do this, but I personally get really demonstrative and point at it, point at myself, point into the distance, do a loop around motion like I'm coming back, do a fake scoop up motion, etc.


Here, the "window watchers" or others looking on can still start to yell at you, but at least you can interrupt their "input" to tell them that's why you were just becoming a circus mime--that you know and you're on it...hence to histrionics!


Another way to show that you get it, which also helps if you need to return to pick it up later, is to mark it with a stick, rock, piece of nearby trash--even sort of cover it, but that it still stands out so it doesn't get stepped on, etc.


You may have to resort to the classic "fake pick up".  Whether you know you're being watched or not, it can be effective to reach into your pocket, pretend that you pulled out a bag, and then lean down--sort of blocking others view so they can't tell--and make it look like you picked it up.    BUT YOU HAVE RETURN to actually pick it up for real if you want to be ethical.


You can fake putting the bag in your pocket or like you're holding it inside your closed hand.


This technique only works well if anyone watching is sort of far away.


But again, definitely go back after and ACTUALLY pick it up!


Ok.  Here's the advice to end all advice:  Use your sock!!!  I've actually done this.  I have done it when the onlookers were close and I couldn't use the fake pick up (to return later and really pick it up), or the "move it to side with a stick" routine, or the "mark it with something" technique..


Sock are usually NOT expensive.  And if the poop is sort of, well..."dry", it works fine.


I know.  I know.  Gross, right?  This is certainly a last resort!  But it's accomplishing the same result and I think humans can be a bit too stuck to convention sometimes.  Think outside the box.  It's really no big deal.


It's just social convention that makes it weird.  If you don't get any on you, and it is effective, and you just lost a sock and that's it, then what's the real downside?  


Again, this is a last resort to avoid someone basically threatening you.


The moral to the story is to just show some effort and that you're on the situation, no matter what technique you use.  


Don't be that jerk who just walks away like it's no big deal.


Beware of the Angry Old Fat Drunk Guy in the Red Truck...

And it's not just picking it up that can be an issue.  It's also getting rid of it if you do happen to have a bag.



We touch on this issue, along with many more, in our Free Report:  The Ugly Truth about what Your Neighbors Think of You as a Dog Owner.



You'll see me refer to the drunk angry man I'm about to tell you about, and others, as "window watchers".  They come in all types!  They're watching you from their homes like their windows are a movie screen, trust me!



This window watcher was actually about 80 years old, overweight, angry and a red-faced drunk in a red truck after he left his house to drive past me.



Out of the blue, he pulls up next to me and starts laying into me--and I had no idea why at first.



He then said that he wanted to "bury me alive" because he thought I threw a filled poop bag into his neighbor's yard.



Well, I did.  BUT...it' where the dog that I was walking actually lived!  And it landed right next to their trash barrels.  And I was going to put it in the trash barrel when I finished walking the dog.



Did I mention it was lightly tossed into the driveway of the people who owned the dog?  And that I was returning to put it in the trash?



We talk way more about how to avoid being buried alive because you did this, in our free report mentioned above.



Why carry the bag filled with dog poop for the entire walk that you just started, when you can just dispose of when you loop back around and return from your walk to the same place???

FREE REPORT: The Ugly Truth about what Your Neighbors Think of You as a Dog Owner!

Learn five things that you're doing that are making the neighbors talk about you as they look out their windows...and how to avoid it.

3.  The Stop-Short-and-Back-Out-Maneuver when not near home

Picture that you're a half mile away from your home, you're on a busy street, and you are frozen and nervous...and so is your dog!  But she's about to become unfrozen!

She's about to back out of her collar and possibly run into the road.  If you pull her towards you, she may slip out of her collar and you've made the situation worse by pulling.

There are ways that I've dealt with this successfully.

Stop the "Slip Slidin' Away..."

 Both the right equipment and the right technique can help.


DISCLAIMER:  I am not a certified dog trainer by any means.  What I mention is based on my own experience that I am simply relaying to you after years of walking dogs thousands of times.  I advise that you hire a dog trainer to go over all the "official" ways to walk your dog on leash.


It's good to have a martingale collar and a slip leash either with you, or actually on the pooch--especially if you just got a dog and her behavior is new to you.  Or...if you have a dog with a smaller head, like a hound, where slipping out of a collar is more likely.


A dog can get nervous on a busy street, around people, in a strange place, etc.


And they tend to stop short and can back up...thereby backing out of their collar.


And imagine if this starts to happen far away from your home.


A martingale collar has a "cinch" function.  I believe it can be better than a "choke" collar or spiked prong collar in many situations.


It has two rings on it.  One tightens if any pressure is applied (such as if the dog starts to back up).  And the other acts like a ring on typical collars--does not tighten the grip when pressure is applied.


You can decide which ring to use based on behavior and situation.


And having a slip leash can be a good back up also.  It tightens its grip if pressure is applied by pulling.  It basically acts as a collar and leash in one.


They are typically light weight and can be carried in your pocket.  


Or, if you have it on your dog during the walk, in addition to a regular leash, it doesn't have to be taught and pulling on the dog.  It can have slack and just held for safety and back up sake.


Assuming I had at least a little room before oncoming traffic gets too close, I would sometimes go with the motion of the dog who may be trying to back our or stop short..instead of instinctively pulling in the opposite direction to drag her back.


If a dog that I walk backs up out of nervousness, I keep my arm extended and walk in the same direction.


So stay cool and have the right equipment with you and enjoy spending time with your pooch!

As I mentioned above, the slant of this article (and of me in general) is a bit sarcastic.  Things are NOT always this bad on a regular basis out there on the streets with your dog.  But this stuff DOES happen once in while, so I guess I'd rather have you prepared for it, then to not mention it at all.  Mostly, dog ownership and being out among the humans is just fine.