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Ask AKC: Runaway Dog

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: I have a 1-year-old female Papillon who frequently runs from me and sometimes hides under the bed when I go to pick her up. If I take a step towards her she will sprint just out of my reach, stop, turn, and look at me. Other times she will run around the coffee table and stop to see which way I am going to come after her. The instant I turn around to walk away from her she is right at my side but I still cannot not touch her. I know this could be very dangerous in certain situations and don't know how to break her of this. Do you have a solution? --Hide-and-Seek Horrors
Not being able to approach your dog, have her come when called or get her out from under the bed is already a dangerous situation! Your lack of control over your pet means your dog doesn't consider you in charge.

It seems like her behavior is a way to get your attention. Without knowing all the details of her early socialization it appears she thinks running away, or around the coffee table, is a game -- a really fun game that she can get you to play any time she pleases.

You will have to start over with her training to change her current behavior. To start with, whenever you are in the house walking around or just watching TV, I would suggest you put her on a leash and attach the end to your belt to keep her close to you. Or use a crate when you are unable to supervise her. Either option will be an immediate mechanical way to stop her from running away. Once you have control over her, when she is sitting quietly by your side, praise her. This is the first step in rewarding her for the new behavior you want her to exhibit.

I would also enroll her in an obedience class and begin working on the basics like heel, come, sit, down and stay. Working with a qualified instructor can teach you new, positive ways to get your dog's attention that won't send her under the bed but into your lap.

 

If you have a question, send it to Lisa at lxp@akc.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.