When it comes to pets who like to escape, the “now you see me, now you don’t” act couldn’t be more frightening. An estimated one in three pets will go missing in their lifetimes, and many of these are cat and dog escape artists.

While your mini Houdini (Hound-ini?) may only make it down the block or into the neighbor’s yard, the act of escaping can have serious consequences. Many pets end up lost or stolen, resigned to shelters, or victims of accidents. Because of this,  it’s important to get to the bottom of why your pet is attempting to escape and implement some precautions to better protect him or her.

Common Reasons for Escape-Happy Pets

It may feel like a dog or cat on the run is unhappy at home, but don’t fret; there are many reasons a pet may choose to ramble. Some of these include:

  • Your pet is lonely. If your pet spends many hours alone while the family is away, he or she may be reacting to a lack of companionship or the need for more attention.
  • Your pet lacks enrichment. Boredom can cause a pet to dig under fences or make a break for it in other ways. All pets require mental enrichment and physical activities, such as food puzzles, games, and interactive toys that can be enjoyed while you are away. Fun time with family members is also important.
  • You’ve never had your pet spayed or neutered. Intact males and females are often driven to roam, looking for a mate. To prevent this and to help keep the pet population down, please consider spaying or neutering your pet (unless there is good reason to keep him or her intact).
  • Noise anxiety or phobia may be a factor. Many pets are sensitive to loud noises, such as storms and fireworks. This can develop into a full-blown phobia. When animals are frightened, it’s common for them to try and run away or escape.
  • Check for poor fencing, loose screens, and other easy-to-escape places. If your pet is getting out through gaps in fencing, a loose window screen, or unlocked doors and gates, then it’s time to up your pet-proofing game.
  • Your pet might experience separation anxiety. Pets who have not been properly socialized can sometimes develop separation anxiety. This can include behaviors like destructive chewing, barking, and attempting to escape when you leave the home.
  • It’s just plain fun! Sometimes pets just enjoy the challenge of escaping the yard or home and the attention they get for doing it.

How to Protect Pets Who Like to Escape

While these concerns can be worrisome, the good news is that something can be done to help. First and foremost, if your pet likes to roam have them microchipped immediately. Also, invest in a sturdy collar with the tags riveted onto the collar, instead of dangling off, and be sure your pet is wearing their collar at all times.

Depending on your pet’s situation, here are some precautions and actions you can take to discourage an escape-prone dog or cat:

  • If your pet is escaping due to a phobia or anxiety disorder, please consult with your veterinarian. We’re happy to cover some gentle redirection and desensitization techniques to help your pet better cope.
  • Invest in a fence that’s designed to prevent escapes. It may extend deep into the ground and is often topped by a 45 degree angled section of fencing.
  • Fix all holes and gates where pets can wiggle through.
  • Give your pet all the attention he or she needs with daily walks and playtime or use the services of a professional pet sitter.
  • Spay or neuter your pet.
  • Offer several forms of mental enrichment, including toys and games (or a new playmate!).
  • Find a secure place in the home where your pet can relax during thunderstorms, firework displays, and other noisy events.
  • Don’t forget to have your pet microchipped, and keep his or her ID tag and microchip info up-to-date.

For additional tips on managing pets who like to escape, please call the team at AIMSS.