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Help! My Senior Dog Keeps Running Away

Senior black dog with a gray face running down a beach

Dogs are one of the best pets to own because of their loyal and caring nature. However, they can also develop some bad habits that can be troublesome for them as well as the owners. Running away is perhaps the worst among them and dogs of all ages can exhibit this dangerous behavior. Read on to learn why your senior dog keeps running away and how you can control this habit.

Why Does My Senior Dog Keep Running Away?

Behavioral changes in canines are always triggered by an internal or external stimulus. Hence, it is important to identify the root cause of the problem to curb the behavior. The following are some reasons that can explain why your senior dog keeps running away.


Close up portrait of a black and white dog

Dogs are zestful and energetic creatures who can’t sit idly for long. If you’re not fulfilling his exercise requirements, your canine friend will become frustrated and run away. Similarly, long spells of loneliness and lack of mental stimulation can urge your pooch to make this mistake. It’s generally the case when owners (you) have packed routines and find very little time to spend with them.

Sex appeal

Dogs become sexually mature when they get 6 months old. If they are kept unneutered, they develop a high sex drive. So it’s not uncommon for them to go out in search of a mate. Though they may return after fulfilling their desire, it’s not safe for them.


Golden retriever laying in a doorstep

It is the most prominent factor that makes dogs run away. Dogs generally get startled by loud noises, like thunder, horn, and fireworks. There can be frightening sights as well. For instance, seeing a stranger or looking downstairs. In both cases, your pup may choose to bolt away from the scene.

Change in Environment

Have you recently migrated? If yes, then this sudden change in environment can be the reason why your senior dog keeps running away. Your pooch is either trying to get back to his/her old home or looking for a similar environment. This usually happens when you move from a spacious area, like the countryside, to a congested area, like a busy city.


Black dog with a graying face on a gray background.

Like fear, excitement can also trigger dogs. You might have seen your dog getting excited when he sees a squirrel or rabbit while out on a walk. They will try to break free from the leash to get the target. In the same way, they try to break through the house to catch their prey.

Easy to Escape

Dogs that are provided with an easy escape route might find fun in running away. Houses that have unfenced yards are a good example of this situation. Imagine yourself at your dog’s place. Would you like to be cooped up inside the house when you have an option to go out freely?

Separation Anxiety

Man embracing his senior dog

Dogs love to spend time with their families because they have always lived in packs. Therefore, staying alone or isolated can make them anxious. When the sense of loneliness gets over their wits, they might try to escape the confinement.

What to Do if My Senior Dog Keeps Running Away?

Once you have successfully identified the cause, you can now approach a suitable solution. Here are some of the best possible solutions to mitigate the corresponding causes.

Offer Plenty of Playtime and Exercise

Golden retriever laying on the floor with its paw on a soccer ball

This is the best way to get rid of frustration and anxiety in dogs.  You must spend an adequate amount of time with them and play active games, like fetch. Your canine friend will enjoy these moments and fruitfully burn its stored energy.

Alternatively, you can also take your pooch on regular walks to ensure interaction with the world. This exercise will eliminate the curiosity of your pup to explore the outside world.

Spay or Neuter Your Dog

If your pooch is running away due to sexual urge, spaying or neutering is the best possible solution. It doesn’t only help reduce the sex drive but will also save your pup from several health issues. The best time to get your pup neutered is when they are 6 months old. However, if your senior dog was not spayed for some reason, you can do it now after consulting your veterinarian. 

Avoid Exposure to Loud Noises

Close up of a black and tan dog on the beach.

Don’t take your dogs to parties where there are going to be fireworks. Likewise, a noisy gathering with a lot of strangers is not a suitable setting for canines.  All these things can make your pup feel endangered and afraid.

You should also keep your pup inside the home when there are chances of a thunderstorm. Also, shut off the doors and windows of your home to buffer the noise of the thunder. Make sure that your pooch is safely confined inside the crate so that they can’t run away.

Train Your Dog

Training enables you to control your dog’s behavior in any situation. Commands like ‘stay’, ‘sit’, and ‘come’ can be quite useful in preventing your pup from running away. In this way, you can teach them that running away isn’t good just because it’s easy. Instead, they should only go out on your instruction. Similarly, you can train them to get over separation anxiety.

Fence the Yard

Golden retriever laying next to a wooden fence

Fencing the periphery of your house makes it hard for your pup to run away. The fence should be high and sturdy so that it could prevent your pet from climbing or jumping over it. Inspect the fence daily to check for potential escape routes, such as holes, snow piles, and fallen branches.

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