iStock_000009884821_SmallSome pets like to live a little dangerously. No matter what you do, it seems that these daredevils are not happy to be confined to your property. While a little adventure can be good from time to time, it can also be a dangerous indulgence for pets who are not supervised.

If you have a pet that regularly escapes your yard, it is important to take steps to prevent and discourage that behavior. Your pet is safest at home, or at least under your direct supervision. Here are a few tips on how to control pet escape

Escape-Proof Your Yard

Sometimes preventing your pet from getting out of your yard is as simple as securing your borders a little better. Take a walk around your property and look at things from your pet’s point of view. Be sure to mend any broken fencing or other escape routes.

Also, be sure to move things like dog houses and tables away from the fence so that they may not serve as step stools for your dog. You may also try to discourage pet escape by using some of the following tricks:

Increasing Fence Height – For jumpers, adding an extension to your fence can be very helpful. This addition should tilt inward at a 45 degree angle to make jumping and scaling more difficult.

Preventing Digging – If you have a pet that digs under the fence, you might consider burying chicken wire at the base of the fence or laying chain link fencing on the ground.

Creating a Barrier – Pets that jump the fence may be less likely to do so if the distance is more intimidating. Planting some shrubs or bushes at the base of the fence can make the leap a little more intimidating.

Stimulate Your Pet Physically and Mentally

Pets who frequently escape their yard may be lacking an outlet. Minimize the desire to leave by asking the following:

  • Is my pet left alone for long periods?
  • Does my pet have playmates or toys to interact with?
  • Does my pet need more exercise?
  • Is there a specific job that might be a good outlet for my pet?

If after thinking about these things you feel your pet might need some enrichment, begin thinking of ways to fulfill those needs. You may need to hire a dog walker, enroll in an agility class, or invest in some new toys.

Start by being sure to walk your dog daily. Teaching a game such as fetch or a new trick can also be fun for many pets. Be sure to interact with your pet directly every day. Puzzle type toys or interactive toys such as a Kong can be valuable for many dogs. Also, don’t forget to rotate toys periodically.

Take Sex Out of the Equation

Pets who are not spayed or neutered are far more likely to want to roam than those who are neutered. In fact neutering a male dog decreases the desire to leave the property by about 90%.

Rule Out Fear as a Cause for Pet Escape

Some pets bolt out of fear. Try to think about whether your pet may be escaping due to a phobia such as thunderstorms or fireworks. Some pets who experience separation anxiety may also be escape artists.

If you feel that fear is playing a role in your pet’s escape habits, please call us to set up a behavior consultation so that we may help you to troubleshoot the problem.


It is no fun to have an escape-artist pet, but with a little effort, most can be contained. If your dog does get out of your home or yard, never scold him or her if fear is the root of the problem, or if you don’t catch them in the act. Pets can’t associate being reprimanded with something that they did a few minutes ago, and so punishing them after they have left the yard is not helpful. The best solution is to give your pet less reason to escape in the first place.

Finally, don’t forget to have escape-artist pets microchipped and wearing tags (preferably on a breakaway collar) at all times. You may think he or she will always come home, but a well-meaning stranger may try to help your pet, and need a way to contact you.