If your German Shepherd has a habit of running away or you’re worried that yours will try to then you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might run away and will give you a number of solutions for it.
So, why does your German Shepherd run away? There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might decide to run away depending on the situation. Possible reasons include being bred to run so it’s in their nature, trying to get home, wanting to mate, curiosity, distractions such as cats, and wanting attention.
And, what’s the best way to stop your German Shepherd from running away? The best way to stop your German Shepherd from running away will depend on the situation. Possible solutions include having higher fences, using baby gates, getting it neutered, using a long leash, giving it lots of exercise, training it to not run away, giving it distractions such as toys, and crate training.
There are actually a lot of things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of your German Shepherd from running away and spending a moment to get to the root cause can make things much easier.
Possible Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Runs Away
There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might run away. Below I will mention a number of them.
They were bred to run
The first thing to consider with German Shepherds is that they were bred to do a lot of running on a daily basis. This means that it is in their nature to run so don’t take it personally when it decides to.
Trying to get home
If you recently moved then it won’t consider it as home for a while which so it will try to escape so that it can go back to its old home. To prevent this from happening make sure to get it used to your new home, to be extra patient and to be extra observant of your German Shepherd during your first few months in your new home.
It wants to mate
It could be that it wants to find another German Shepherd to mate with. This is especially likely to be the case if it’s a male. To prevent this from happening then you should consider getting it neutered.
It wants attention
German Shepherds are a breed that requires a lot of attention. If it currently isn’t getting enough attention then it will find ways to get it. A very easy way for it to get a lot of attention is to run away. To prevent this from happening be sure to give your German Shepherd lots and lots of exercise and to spend a lot of time training your German Shepherd.
Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you
One possible cause of why it wants to run away is that it wants to explore its surroundings. You can try to reduce this by giving it lots of exercise in your local area and to train it to not run away when you open the door using the method in the section below.
German Shepherds are dogs that have a high prey drive. If they see a cat or a squirrel running then it won’t hesitate to run after it. This is why it’s important to start training them from an early age and to continue to train them regularly.
How To Stop Your German Shepherd From Running Away
There are a number of things that you can do to stop and prevent your German Shepherd from running away that I will mention below. Some of them are measures designed to prevent your German Shepherd from being able to run away and others will teach it to not want to run away.
Prevent it from being able to run away
A quick and easy measure that you can take to prevent your German Shepherd from running away is to stop it from being able to run away. It doesn’t do much to get to the core issue of why it wants to run but it is a good thing to do while concurrently teaching your German Shepherd not to run. I’ll list the measures that you can take below.
- Have high fences
- Use baby gates
- Make sure the exits are secure
- Use a chain lock on the front door so that you can open it without your German Shepherd escaping
- Teach it crate training
- Give it distractions such as toys to play with
- Use a long leash so that it can run while you’re still in control
Give it lots of exercise
German Shepherds are a breed that requires a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. When they don’t get enough exercise it can cause them to become hyperactive and will be more likely to run away if given the chance.
There are a number of ways that you can give it exercise and you’ll likely find that you will need to find ways to wear it out even more. Below I will mention some ways that you can do so.
- Walk it
Walking your German Shepherd daily is an easy way to make sure that it is getting exercise. You might find that it isn’t enough for your German Shepherd to just walk it normally for an hour and you’ll need to find ways to wear it out even more.
You could wear it out even more by walking faster, walking further, walking it in a hilly area or you could make it wear a dog weight vest that weighs less than 10% of your dog’s body weight.
- Teach it to play fetch
Teaching your German Shepherd to play fetch is another good way to give it a lot of exercise. It will make your German Shepherd do a lot of sprinting without much rest in between which will wear it out quickly.
- Teach it to swim
You could also teach it to swim. Doing this will help your German Shepherd to get in more exercise since it will take a lot of effort for it to stay afloat by moving its legs around a lot.
- Use a dog walker
If you don’t have the time to exercise your German Shepherd yourself then consider getting a dog walker to do it for you. There are apps that you can download nor that will allow you to hire a local dog walker in your area quickly.
Stimulate it mentally
Make sure to give it lots of training regularly so that you can keep it stimulated mentally helping to prevent it from thinking about doing other things.
How to get it to stop running away at the door
To do this you’ll need to have taught it to stay when told to already.
Here’s how to do it:
- Put a leash and harness on your German Shepherd and have some treats that it likes handy
- Go to the door for your backyard with your German Shepherd
- Start by telling it to stay and then just put your hand on the doorknob
- If it stays give it a treat
- Tell it to stay then turn the door handle
- If it stays give it a treat
- Tell it to stay then open the door slightly then close it
- If it stays give it a treat
- Repeat each time opening the door a little further
- Repeat. This time, when you open the door, gradually keep it open for longer periods.
- Repeat. This time walk away to a small distance
- Repeat this time using a toy that it likes start by just putting it just outside then try throwing it.
- Continue to do it regularly
If you would like some more tips on how to train your German Shepherd take a look at the German Shepherd training book on Amazon.
Watch the video below to see how it’s done
Teach it to stay off the leash
The next thing that you’ll want to do is to teach it to stay with you when you’re walking it.
- Take it, with a long lead and some treats, to a park that is fenced if possible
- Start by getting it to do things that it already knows such as sit, lay or roll over
- Tell it to stay go back and then tell it to do an exercise that it knows like roll over or lay down
- Continue to do the above adding more distance
- This time tell it to stay then place a toy in front of it
- Continue to do step 5 each time making it a bit harder by squeaking the toy or throwing it
Watch the video below to see how it’s done.
Keep it on a leash outside
To prevent your German Shepherd from running away it would be beneficial to keep it on a leash when you’re outside with it so that it doesn’t get the chance to.
Give it lots of attention
By giving your German Shepherd regular attention you’ll be able to reduce its urge to do attention seeking things such as running away.
There are a number of ways that you can give your German Shepherd attention that I will mention below.
- Tug of war
German Shepherds will generally love playing tug of war so you’ll likely find that this would be a good way to give it the attention that it wants.
By training your German Shepherd you will not only be able to get it to be well behaved but you will also be able to stimulate it mentally.
If you haven’t trained your German Shepherd before then it would be best to start with the basics such as to teach it to sit and stay in an environment where there are not many distractions. You can then teach it harder things in locations with more distractions like a park.
- Play fetch with it
By playing fetch with your German Shepherd you’ll not only be able to give it attention but you’ll also be able to exercise it in an efficient manner.
- Doggy daycare
If you don’t think that you will have the time to give your German Shepherd attention then consider taking it to a doggy daycare. By doing this you will be able to avoid problems such as having it misbehave while you are away.
Why to teach your German Shepherd to stay
There are a number of benefits to teaching your German Shepherd to stay other than preventing it from running away.
Makes socializing easier
By being able to control your German Shepherd when you have guests over you will be able to be less concerned about it trying to escape or about it annoying your guests.
You’ll have an easier time walking it
By being able to stop your German Shepherd from trying to run away you will have an easier time walking it. This is because you will be able to get it to stay still when you need it to such as when you’re picking up poop.
It will be easier to handle at the vets
You’ll be able to get it to be well behaved at the vets. This will help to make it a much less stressful experience.
Keep it responsive to your command
By being able to get your German Shepherd to stay when you tell it to you will be able to get it used to listening to you. This will help you to prevent behavioral problems with your dog.
Things to consider
When you’re trying to figure out why your German Shepherd might be running away and to stop it from doing so there are a number of things to keep in mind.
Don’t punish it
It might be tempting to punish your German Shepherd for trying to run away but you should refrain from doing so. It might not know what you’re actually punishing it for and it will probably think that you’re punishing it for the last thing that it did which was to come back to you. A better alternative would be to teach it to stay using positive reinforcement training.
Don’t take it personally
It’s not uncommon for most dogs to try to bolt away when it gets the chance. They will often be naturally curious so you shouldn’t take it personally when your German Shepherd tries to do it.
Training your German Shepherd to stop running away is not something that you will be able to do in one training session. With that being the case it’s important to take a long-term approach to the training and not to expect quick results.
Build up the distractions
When you’re training your German Shepherd not to run away it’s important to start by minimizing the distractions and then to build them up slowly. This way you will be able to reward your German Shepherd for being successful instead of having slow progress where it gets distracted often.
Start in an easier environment
The environment can have a big impact on how easy it is for you to keep your German Shepherd’s focus on you. With that being the case, it would be more effective to start the training in an easier environment and then to build up to teaching it in harder ones.
It’s also important to consider how old your German Shepherd is. When they’re younger they will naturally be a lot more curious causing them to also be a lot more likely to want to run away. But, that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen with older ones either.
Teach it regularly
Once you have taught your German Shepherd not to run away when it normally would it’s important to keep up the training. One way to do so would be to make it hold a 20-second stay at the door before taking it for a walk.
Do German Shepherds come back when they run away? When German Shepherds run away they will come back sometimes but they will also find themselves getting lost a lot of the time. This is why it’s absolutely crucial that you make sure to make it difficult for your German Shepherd to escape and that you train it not to.
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Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.