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We adopted Brady, a 1 year old medium-size poodle mix (neutered), at the end of February and have been having major issues with him running away. He is currently lost and has been missing for a week and a half now. I have put fliers up; postings on Craigslist; and informed Animal Control, local vets, and local shelters, etc. But no one has seen him since the night he went missing. He is definitely a dog’s dog and not a people dog. He tends to be timid around new people. We didn't realize how fearful of humans he was when we adopted him, we just thought he was very calm and shy.

It seemed like he was bonding to us, especially with me. He always would cuddle with us on the couch when we were home.

The first time he ran away, my husband, Scott, was bringing him back in from a short walk at 10:00pm. He turned to open the door and Brady made a cold start sprint and took off and Scott dropped the leash because he was not expecting that. My husband chased him, but quickly realized he needed to follow him in his car because of his speed. After a couple of hours of looking for a black dog in the dark in our cars, we had to stop looking. I ultimately found him the next day while putting up “Lost Dog” fliers in the neighborhood. He was barking and terrified, probably partly because it was 0 degrees outside. He was hiding between a neighbor’s fence and shed. We were able to grab his leash (that he was still wearing) and pick him up to bring him back to our house.

He ran off a second time a couple of weeks later. My roommate was bringing some things to his car and Brady ran under his arm while the door was open. I hopped into my car and followed him about two blocks away. I called to him from the car and Brady stopped and froze. I got out and was able to easily put him on his leash and bring him back home. It seemed easy to avert that crisis.

The third time, my husband and his brother were leaving the house, his brother lingered while the door was open and Brady saw his opportunity and escaped. They followed him in their cars for an hour, cornered him several times and could not catch him. Brady felt threatened and barked and growled at them and evaded capture each time. I am not saying they acted appropriately to catch him, as I’m afraid their cornering of him probably only spooked him more causing him to flee further away. I was not home at this point to try to help. There have been no sightings of him since the afternoon he escaped, which doesn’t surprise me since he is likely avoiding humans.

I have been thinking about it, and there have been multiple times in which he tried to escape but was unsuccessful.

If we do ultimately get him back, I was just wondering what we might have in store for us. We adore him and see so many fantastic qualities in him and don't want to give up on him. I’m just worried he’ll fight living with us and try to run away again. We have tried to treat him really well, giving him long walks each day, provided positive leadership, lots of affection, playdates with other dogs, and good food/treats. I don’t think we could’ve tried to do much more for him. I’m just not sure that he wants to live with humans.

I understand all dogs are different, but how long may it typically take for a stray dog to assimilate to living with humans? From the information we have been given, Brady was a stray in Alabama and was taken into a local shelter with his sister (who is very friendly and outgoing) who he depended on. She was adopted out early. It does not seem that he has ever lived in a human home. Has anyone else had the same issue with their dog? I understand some dogs just run away a lot, but will not usually go very far. He is neutered and was walked for an hour or more every day.
 

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I'm so sorry your dog is lost! :( I really hope you get him back.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but dogs don't run away as often as yours has unless they are given the CHANCE to. I don't mean they won't TRY, I just mean, they won't actually succeed in running away unless you let it happen.
An accident or two over the years, the leash dropping or breaking, stuff like that, is more understandable, but, letting a dog get out the door that many times just since February....wow!

Sorry if it sounded harsh...but, you know you have a dog that tries to sneak out the door, so you have to make a serious effort not to have him ANYWHERE NEAR the door when it's being opened, for the time being. Just make it a house rule: if someone is leaving the house, put the dog in the crate, or another room, while the door is open. Same when someone is coming into the house, or bringing groceries in, or whatever; put the dog way first. Don't take chances.

You can work on training your dog to stay, and not cross over the threshold of the door, even if the door is open. I know several members on the forum have done that. BUT, since your dog is a runner, always do that kind of training with a leash on, and a secure hold of it. In fact, if you have a fenced in backyard, you might start there, so he can't run out the front door.
- get a mat or bed, or throw rug and train him to go to the mat or whatever. Say "mat", point and look at it. Body block him (walking into his personal space so he backs up toward the mat. When you get him to the mat by body blocking, say "good mat!" and give a yummy treat.
- keep repeating this process over and over, several times throughout the day, for weeks, even.
- you can gradually get him to go to the mat without body blocking, just by saying the word mat.
- then, say mat, and when he's there, say stay. You go to the door, but don't do anything, just stand next to it, still have the leash in your hand (so, it has to be a long leash. If he stays, he gets praise and treats, if he doesn't, body block him back to the mat.
- continue, but start actually turning the door knob. DON'T open the door, just turn the knob. If he stays, yummy treat and praise. If he doesn't stay, body block him back to the mat.
- continue, but gradually open the door, just a bit. The next step would be to open the door all the way.

The thing is, this is all very gradually. Stay at one step until he can do it! If he can't stay when you move on to a new step, then back up a step. Don't do too much in one day, or one week, move slowly! And, always have him on the leash.

Also, work on his recall (coming when called). Use a long leash, take him out, and get him to come to you. You have to make coming when called seem worth it. Use a cheerful voice, don't threaten, have the best treats ever. Hold the leash, say "come" or "here" and start to walk away, or even jog way. Dogs like chase, so he will likely follow to see where you're going. Praise, treat, etc. if he comes. Keep ahold on the leash!

Good luck!!! :)
 

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I think this is an issue of training and management, not an issue of acclimation. I mean, there could be an element of that to it...Brady had been on the streets and is therefore more used to that environment than to your home...but honestly, many, MANY dogs will dart out a door if given a chance. They don't run because they're unhappy at home or because they don't "love" their families; they run because running is new, fun, and interesting. They also run because generally they can get someone to chase them, which is an awesome game. Once the novelty and entertainment has worn off, they may continue to run because they are now frightened or anxious.

At any rate, if you get him back, figure out a way to double up the security on your door. I have a picket fence fully enclosing my front yard. My parents used lattice-work and a baby gate to enclose their porch. My best friend has a long entry hall with a baby gate in the middle of it. All of these things serve the same purpose: they create an extra barrier between dog and world. At my house, you open the gate, enter the yard, shut the gate, and then go open the door. Doesn't matter if the dogs run out...they can't get out of the yard. At my parents' house, you open the baby gate and step onto the now-enclosed porch, then close the baby gate behind you before opening the door. Doesn't matter if they dogs run out...they can't get off the porch. So I would say that management is the first step.

Training is the second. Start working on a wait, stay, back, or go to your place command in order to keep the dog from dashing out the door. You can easily Premack this training: Get a second person to hold your dog's leash at such a distance that he COULD run out the door if he wasn't restrained. Ask the dog to sit and wait while you open the door. If he darts toward the door as you are opening it, shut it in his face. If he is able to control himself while you get the door open, release him to run outside (continue to hold on to the leash, obviously). Most dogs will quickly learn that rushing the door means they have to stay in, while waiting calmly to be released means they get to go out and play.
 

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Thanks for the tips on training. He was fairly easy to house/crate train, but he was not motivated by treats like most dogs. I definitely agree with adding additional security. We thought him running early on was because he wasn't used to his new environment.

I hope we find him. :-( We did have him signed up for training classes which were to begin last week, two days after we lost him. It seemed like when Brady escaped (the last time especially) he went into survival mode and refused to let anyone near him even when approached calmly. He definitely did not want to be caught and seemed quite afraid of anyone who approached him. Which makes me wonder if he has a history of trauma.
 

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I hope you find your dog. If you are on Facebook, make sure you post him there so locals can share his picture and info. You're going to have to be dilligent about that door if he comes back. You may need to contain him before you go to open the door. Please keep us posted
 

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I hope you get your dog back. We had an escape artist too so we bought baby gates for every room of the house and made sure our dog was on the other side of one before we opened the door. If you have kids, make them knock on the door so you have time to put the dog away.
 

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I hope you get your dog back. Make sure he always always always has his collar on if anyone is going anywhere near the door since you know he likes to run off and if he isn't already microchipped(I know most rescues chip their animals, Dexter is chipped) you need to have him chipped for extra safety and ID purposes. Also teach him the word STOP, that saved Dexter from taking off once, I had just taken him out of the neighbor's fenced yard after an exercise session(she lets us use her yard when she isn't home) and he yanked the leash out of my hand and when I told him to stop he did.

Dexter(JRT/smooth Collie mix) is crated when we leave the door open, even though if he goes outside off leash he won't run off, and he'll come back inside when we call him or let us catch him and bring him back inside. He ran away while a family member of his first owners(a military couple) was watching him while they were stationed overseas and ended up getting caught and thrown in with 13 other dogs by a hoarder and not fed or watered so I don't think he's too inclined to run away after his experience with the hoarder. I know his first owners loved and cherished him since he's a great dog and knows basic obedience and how to behave in a house. He doesn't have the greatest leash manners(he pulls but a harness has fixed that) and down(lay) is proving to be a bit of a challenge(I'm sure he knows it I just don't know what the magic word is.) He will also get in his crate when you tell him crate, he doesn't like the crate but will get in it when you tell him to. I will say at first if he did get outside(we were used to the cats, Nuts stays inside and the ferals stay outside for the most part) Dexter didn't always act like he was willing to be caught and almost made a break for it once. After that he gets crated when we have the door open for groceries or whatever.

It is for the fun a lot of the time. I had an Old English Sheepdog named Abby and if she got out she would run off, but we got her back by my dad taking his truck and driving after her, he'd then open his truck door(she loved my dad, he was her person, and loved his truck) and call her over and she'd hop right in and he'd take her for a ride before they'd go back home. Now Abby was not street smart and she was loved and loved us but if she got a chance to go explore she would. It is more about the adventure than not being happy. My mom once came home from work to find Abby in the neighbor's yard absolutely frantic. Let me say our neighbor hates animals and was the only human Abby ever barked at, other than the meter man when he came in the yard to read the meter(he carried dog treats and knew Abby wasn't a threat, the worst thing she'd do would be to lick him to death, she was not a watch dog other than being 80 lbs and having the very deep OES bark.) We think she somehow got out and wandered into the neighbor's yard and couldn't find her way back out, the neighbor certainly wouldn't take her, she hates animals and no one else would put her in there(her address was on her tag, I think), my mom did find her gate open. She was very relieved when my mom came and rescued her.

Just make sure Brady is crated or otherwise contained when the door is going to be open. He might just like going on adventures, I had a mutt when I was a kid, his mom was a yorkie and dad was unknown but by the way Tippy acted(he used his nose a lot and loved sniffing anything and everything) and his basic size we think his dad was a beagle and he loved nothing more than to get out and run off. He did it so often(not really that often, keep in mind we had him from the time I was 5 until I was 10 so my memory isn't that great on how often he got out) the neighbors would just bring him home even when he lost his ID tag(it fell off in the yard) once(it was quickly put back on when we found it in the yard.) He was very street smart, my dad once saw him cross a very very busy street, he looked both ways, made sure it was clear and then crossed the street, then ran like hell when he saw my dad. We had someone who kept letting him out, that was fixed by putting a lock on the gate and he sometimes would accidentally get out the door(he was mainly an outside dog, we couldn't get him housebroken), slipped us at the gate or out of the yard somehow. He always either came home or someone brought him home so hopefully that happens for you. He was wearing a collar and tags wasn't he?

Taryn
 

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The first time a dog slips out a door is an accident...after that it's poor management and lack of training. It's pretty easy to teach a dog that they stay when you open a door. But you can't just assume that once they do it, they're trained. You have to keep reinforcing it, and always assume that given the chance, they will bolt. It keeps them safe. I also escort guests out the door, so I know where my dogs are.

Make sure you post fliers everwhere, including vet's offices, rescues, AC, gas stations, mini marts, street corners. Not just in your neighborhood either. I know you said you did, but redo them, since many will blow down/get torn off.

Place ads on CL, and in your local paper. Go check AC physically every other day. AC workers are not good about what breed certain dogs are, and often confuse breeds/dogs, so they'll be no help at IDing your pet, should it come in.
 

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I hope you find your little dog!!

I have greyhounds, and am PARANOID about them getting out. What I have learned: BABY-GATES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND. They are always up in front of the doors so if I have to run out to the car, bring out the trash, etc- there is no opportunity to bolt. Not that my dogs try (they're trained) but I just Don't.Take. Chances.

You can sometimes find them at thrift stores, or at Walmart/Big Lots/etc for $15-25, depending on the model.

We're praying for Brady's safe return!

Jen
 

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Hi Mara,

I live nearby, and I saw your lost dog poster at the vet hospital where I work. In addition to all the good advice you've gotten here, I just wanted to let you know that I've been keeping an eye out for your dog.

When (think positive) you do find Brady, you might look into private training. In general, group classes (especially beginner classes) concentrate on the basic behaviors, but there isn't a lot of time to personalize to a specific client's issues. I know I try to give advice on specific scenarios to my clients, but since I'm not there in their home to see the behavior, layout of the house etc. I can only give generalized advice. But on private training, it can be tailored directly to you, your household and your dog to take care of the most pressing matters (like door darting) first. Private training does cost more than group classes, but in certain situations it is definitely worth it.

In the meantime, you need to manage the doorways (gates/crating/closing other doors) to make sure Brady can't dart out. Create a double barrier. You could use baby gates or an x-pen to create a barrier so you can open the outside door to come in, close it behind you, then move the gate/pen to move into the house/apt. Then, when that situation is managed, you work on your training.

Good luck! I'll keep my eye out and I'll be thinking of you guys!
 
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