Friday, April 5, 2013

Dogs Who Escape (You Know Who You Are)

This past week, Shiloh was found on the highway. His Good Samaritan picked him up, scanned the Pethub QR code on his ScruffCollar, and took him to our local Humane Society. Tracy called Pethub, found out I was his "owner," of course knew me, then called and left me a message. Whew - I was in another room when everything was buzzing and ringing multiple times! I have the phone number of the GS so I can call to thank him when my laryngitis is gone.

Shiloh has two collars: one with ID, the other lights up 

I loved on Shiloh (as much as I could with him reeking of manure), then kenneled him at home - gently but definitely.  Both he and Mami are ranging further afield now the weather is better. I need to quickly address safety issues at home. I'm looking into wire toppers for the fence (anyone have directions for this?), a hot wire for the porch, and the TAGG system for both Shiloh and Mami.

Mami - at rest; "What, me jump? Look how sweet I am!"

I posted most of below on my Silverwalk Hounds Facebook page. One commenter thought I let my dogs run loose without a fence. Oh, no, they have an acre fenced in with trees, dog houses, Peanut holes, water, a bunny trail, other dogs to play with, and yet, these two in particular and one other being fostered (and, of course, Keen RIP), either jump the fence, porch, or climb the chain link to get out. I watched now adopted Redbone Coonhound, Hoss, elegantly leap the fence, touching with his hind legs to give him momentum. Hounds - gotta love them even when they exasperate you!

Hoss, fence jumper extraordinaire

A soapbox of mine: NEVER, EVER, yell at or punish a dog when you catch them or they come back to you after running away; in their minds, they have done a GOOD thing ;

  • praise them, 
  • hug them, 
  • give them a treat, 
  • then kennel them to give your heart time to recover. 
Punishing after the fact is useless because they will associate the immediate situation as the one being punished aka the return home, which we WANT. And just how are you "punishing" your dog, anyway? Positive, positive, please.

Dogs who run or get lost are NOT bad dogs nor are they misbehaving (most times); they are doing what is natural to them. Those of us who own/rescue/adopt/foster hounds know this more than some other breed types. Their natural instinct is to roam, hunt, tree or kill prey (even on Easter!). So, when they are VERY GOOD, and come home SAFELY or otherwise, go overboard and make them know what they did was GREAT (in coming home).

When your dog is safely home or otherwise, address the issues from a safety point of view on YOUR behalf:

  • how to fix the fence (I need a topper on my fence so they can't go over as well as the hot wire back on my porch), 
  • only leash handling, etc. 
  • I walk the perimeter of my fence at least every other day; I'm not worried about holes inside; I'm worried if they tunnel to the outside. A young friend and I once were sitting in the field talking, not really paying attention to the dogs unless they came to us. Not far from where we sat, Cindy Lou Who, a Beagle, silently and effectively dug her way under the fence and the concrete block on the outside of my fence, making her escape. I finally looked around and asked where she was - she came back, is adopted, but has not mended her ways. 

I have an underground electronic fence which Shiloh tested, then went through anyway. Him I give to God everyday. If I kept him so secure to be truly safe, it would break his spirit - and one day, I know, it will break mine when he is killed or lost. He's been here since 2007, and I pray he is here a lot longer.

Years ago, my neighbor, who raised/traded/hunted Beagles for years asked me if he shouldn't get after his dog for coming back late or not to his call; I was astonished! Of course you don't; you make them very happy to come home! I had one dog who drove me crazy with her escaping, but she had excellent recall; she would be headed for another neighbor's chickens but if I saw and called her in time, she turned on a dime and came to me. Priceless.


  1. The escapee with good recall is hilarious!

    Oh boy, I don't know if my heart could take what you go through every day with all your guys! Some escapers are escapers, that is a fact. I'm not sure how somebody thought you would just let your dogs roam, though. Oh boy.

    1. yes, it was a weird comment, like she missed the part where I say "fix your fence." I'm really going for the TAGG system, I think; though I'll be paged every hour when they are "out."

    2. Maybe you should get in at least one herding breed, and he or she will keep everybody in line? ;)


  2. Oh, those hounds! I totally agree about how to deal with an escaped pooch, once returned. Sometimes it is so frustrating I find it hard to be all love and smiles once they come back, but it is so important! I am sure that with beagles around you get lots of practice :)

    1. and it's like kids - I'll kill him when he gets home, but you're so grateful they are alive! I didn't even know he was "missing."

  3. Oh, the fear if one of your babies is missing! Best of luck to ya! Glad it was ok :) with a happy ending! That's so scary.

    1. It is indeed scary, Max, but I didn't even know he was missing till after he was found - thank God.

  4. Such good advice. Yes, of course you want them to be happy they're home.

    But an escape artist is really tough. As a child, we had a German Shepherd who could clear a five foot fence decorated with barbed wire. Once he got out, he'd be gone like a shot.

    Do you think you'd have better luck filling the yard with more interesting smells than the pups could find in the outside world? Maybe you could set up a slaughterhouse. :)

    1. hehe. I have considered making a scent trail throughout the field...not sure how long it would last or the reaction of dogs to dogs; may make one with treats first....