The best moment in your dog’s day and your day is when you get back home after a long day and your dog runs towards you with the biggest smile ever.
But some of us also experience the worst moments of the day right before this. The moments when it’s all quiet as you get off your car and head to your door. Why is it all quiet? Why can’t I hear any whimpering or barking? Did my dog run away?
But do they? Do Golden Retrievers run away? Yes, Golden Retrievers run away but it’s less common than with most other breeds. Your Golden Retriever could run away because of boredom, separation anxiety, fear, a catastrophic natural event, to chase prey, or to find a mate.
Nobody should be worried about their dogs running away just like you shouldn’t be worried about your kids running away, but unfortunately, both happen.
Keep reading to learn why it happens, what to do to prevent it happening, what to do if it does happen, and get the peace of mind you deserve. I will also give you some pro tips that come from my own experience, so, let’s get right into it!
Why Do Golden Retrievers Run Away?
The 7 most common reasons golden retrievers run away are:
- Boredom & Frustration
- Separation Anxiety
- To Mate
- Chasing Prey
- Catastrophic Natural Events
- To Go To Their Old House
Let’s briefly discuss each of these…
Boredom and Frustration
If your dog is spending all day alone at home, they will get lonely and this will stress them out and frustrate them. Goldens in particular are very social animals and can’t stand to stay alone most of the day.
Your dog could try to run away to explore the world, seek adventure, find mates to play with, or find anything that will relieve their frustration and make them not bored anymore.
They could also remember where they had the most fun lately – such as the dog park – and try to get away from home to get there and relive this experience.
What if you don’t have an option? Some of us simply have to go to work and leave their dogs at home. In this case, you can apply the solutions I discuss here: How to leave your golden retriever alone.
About 1 in 5 lost pets go missing after a loud noise in the United States. Dogs get scared from loud noises and strange lights that they are not used to.
This applies to thunderstorms and fireworks, but it could also be a car’s tire going out, the sound of a crash, construction sounds, and so on.
When your dog hears these loud and sound noises or is startled by the lights, they may try to bolt away to find safety.
If your dog has separation anxiety, simply staying away from you will stress them out too much. A dog with separation anxiety will then try to escape home to go find you.
In these cases, the dog will try to roam in the area looking for you and trying to track you down.
If your dog was not neutered or spayed, they will try anything to find a mate – especially the males. Their drive to find a mate is so strong and so ingrained in their behavior that they will do anything to break away from their confinement to find a mate.
Spaying or neutering your dog takes away this cause and helps them calm down which makes it much easier to keep them inside the house.
You can check out 3 more ways to calm down your golden retriever here.
While Golden Retrievers don’t have a strong prey drive, they still have them and you may find your golden retriever chasing a small animal every now and then.
If your dog is staying alone at home, bored, their hunting instincts may kick in when theys ee a small animal out on the street like a cat or a squirrel. In this case, they may dash right after it.
This is more likely to happen while you’re walking them, but I have seen dogs that dash out of their homes to chase a cat as well, so you know.
Catastrophic Natural Events
Wildfires, earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and other catastrophic natural events could frighten your dog and cause them to run away to find safety.
Dogs get lost during times of natural disasters all the time, so if you live in an area where natural disasters are more likely to happen, you should be prepared and prepare your dog for it as well.
Make plans so that in the case of an emergency, your dog will be protected and safe. For example, take the time to read this excellent article about making disaster plans for your pets from the Humane Society.
To Go To Their Old House
While moving houses is often a fun experience for us, it could be a very stressful one for dogs. Dogs get comfortable in environments that they’re used to, and a new house means everything is new and this could stress them out very much.
Your dog could try to run away to find their old homes where everything is familiar. And dogs could be surprisingly good at finding their ways back to homes that are literally hundreds of miles away.
Very recently, a Labrador from Kansas ran away from home only to go back to her old home in Missouri, over 50 miles away. The surprise? The family sold the house and move to their new house two years earlier.
Do Golden Retrievers Come Back After Running Away From Home?
Your Golden retriever can come back after they run away, but it mainly depends on why they ran away.
If your dog ran away because of boredom or separation anxiety, they are likely to come back, but if they ran away out of fear or unfamiliarity with the new environment, they are not likely to come back on their own.
A fearful runaway dog’s instinct is driving them to run as far as possible and as fast as possible.
I find it quite useful to know how far and how fast a dog can run so I can make an estimation of where they may be. You can learn how fast can golden retrievers run here and you can learn how far they can run here.
How to Prevent Your Golden Retriever From Running Away?
Here are 7 ways to prevent your dog from running away that actually work
- Fight the boredom
- Make Them Less Lonely (dog monitor, chew toys, doggy daycare)
- Familiarize them with the new environment
- Increase Exercise Duration and Intensity
- Spend More Quality Time
- Help Your Fearful Dog Feel Safe
- Take Precautions
Let’s go over each of these and see how you can do it in a way that gives your dog no reason to run away and prevents this from happening in the future.
Fight The Boredom
You can help your dog be less lonely even while you are not at home. My favorite is giving them a chewy toy so they can chew on it as much as they want if I can’t play with them.
By the way, my favorite is this 14-toys pack on Amazon.
Here is a pro tip to help you:
You can also:
- Ask if you can bring your dog to work
- Get them a dog walker or a pet-sitter
- Sign them up for a doggy daycare
Make Them Less Lonely
Golden Retrievers really don’t like being alone, but there are things you can do to help them be less lonely even when they’re alone.
Here are a few tips that work really well for me:
- Ask a friend or a neighbor to stay in the house and play with them every now and then
- Ask a friend or a neighbor to take them in on certain days if possible
- Ask a friend or a neighbor to simply pass by the house and say hi
- Get another dog or a cat
- Get a dog monitor with 2-way communication
The most consistent one I have found was the dog monitor, because it allows me to call my dog every couple of hours and talk with them. Simply hearing your voice can make the loneliness go away.
My personal favorite dog monitor is the Furbo Dog monitor (get it on Amazon here) as the features/price balance is just awesome and the high build quality makes it easily the best choice I’ve found. My favorite feature is that it can detect barking and alarms you.
Familiarize Them With the New Environment
If you changed cities or houses, your dog may need to be familiarized with the new environment so they can be comfortable with this new move. You simply have to redo the socialization work you’ve done with them while they’re young again.
Socialization is an ongoing process that lasts for the dog’s lifetime, and you will need to work on socializing your dog with any change happening in their life. This could be new people, new places, new sounds, new smells, or anything else that differs from what they were used to.
Increase Exercise Duration and Intensity
Dogs need exercise on a daily basis, and some dogs will run away trying to get more activity if they are not getting enough exercise. Your golden retriever should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity exercise per day.
If you can, you should gradually increase both the duration and intensity of their exercise till you reach a point where they are tired enough by the time you come back home that they just lay down and go to sleep.
It’s preferable to make this exercise at mornings so your dog can doze off after it while you leave for work. This allows the dog to get a few hours of sleep while you’re away and shortens the time they have to be alone while you’re away.
If you don’t have the energy in the mornings to go for a run, consider cycling. You can train your dog to run by your side while cycling, this way they get the high-intensity run they need. Cycling is a less-intense exercise than running and can let you go at speeds that will tire out your dog quickly while not getting you exhausted.
Spend More Quality Time Together
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend with your dog, you should make sure that every minute you do spend with them is quality time. This means that in the short time you have together, they are the only thing you’re paying attention to.
Play with them, take them to the dog park, go for walks around the block, train them on new commands, revise the commands they’ve already learned.
Just make sure that every moment counts and that you are not petting them with one hand while writing on the keyboard with the other one. Believe it or not, dogs are the only animals where eye contact plays a big role in our bond with them, so please make it count.
Help Your Fearful Dog Feel Safe
Help your dog feel safe and stay calm even when there are loud noises and strange lights.
The best way to do that is with desensitization and counterconditioning, and you can find plenty of videos on YouTube and even free apps that can walk you through the process step-by-step.
Here is a quick overview of how to desensitize your dog:
- Start by training your dog to stay calm while low and short sounds play.
- Gradually increase the volume and length of the sounds. Only reward your dog when they stay calm.
- Start playing them sounds of thunder, fireworks, gunshots, and vacuums and reward them when they stay calm.
- If they freak out, calm them down and go a step back in the training.
- Once they are calm, start the process again.
Even with all the precautions, you should try to make it hard for your dog to run away. There are three main ways to do this:
- Make sure they’re chipped
- Use a GPS tracker
- Consider an invisible Fence
Make sure they’re Chipped
Make sure your dog is chipped. If your dog is chipped and he runs away, whoever finds him will be able to know that this dog belongs to someone and contact you. This is the easiest and most efficient way to make sure your dog gets back to you even if they do run away and get far away from home.
Use a GPS Tracker
If you attach a GPS tracker to your dog well, you will be able to find them whenever they get away from you without having to go insane looking for them everywhere.
There are some things that should be in the tracker you get to make absolutely sure it does it’s job when you need it do:
- It must be weatherproof
- It must have unlimited range
- The battery should last long enough
If you want a safe bet, I use the Tractive GPS tracker and it works great. It also has some nice features such as location history, a sharing function, and it even has a wireless fence so you can designate a safe area for your dog.
It also works as a fitness tracker for your dog, which is kind of cool if you ask me – but I’m a nerd who had a fitness band much before they were popular, so…
Consider a wireless Fence
A wireless fence is a system you install around your yard and it warns or prevents your dog from getting outside the fence using several methods. However, some invisible fences use electric shocks or chemicals sprays which I consider completely inhumane and unacceptable.
If you are going to get an invisible fence, here is what to look for:
- It should be easy to install
- No digging should be requires
- It should have adjustable levels
- You must have control on the method it prevents the dog
My Recommendation is the PetSafe Wireless dog fence which is easy to install, easy to control, and easy to use. You can get it here on Amazon.
What to Do If Your Dog Runs Away?
The best way to get your dog back home is to make them come back to us without forcing them or chasing them.
Even with all the precautions taken, your dog can still run away. You can reduce this risk as much as possible by following everything explained so far, but you never really eliminate the possibility altogether.
This is why it’s very important to know what you should do in case your dog does go for it anyway. I will explain what to do in case they run away off-leash and what to do if they run away while you’re not there as well.
In any situation, our goal is always the same; to make them come back to us without forcing them or chasing them.
Here is what you should do when your dog runs away:
- Remain Calm
- Don’t Chase
- Use Your Recall Command
- Stop The action
- Make them come to you (grab your dog’s stuff, toys, treats, etc)
- Hang Signs
- Check Shelters (Ask friends for help)
Let me help you by explaining what each of these mean real quickly here…
The first thing you should remember when your dog runs away from you while you’re with him is that you should stay calm. Your first instinct will be to scream and yell for your dog, and your instincts are wrong.
If you yell and scream at the dog, you will only either excite them more or make them afraid that you’re angry, and the results are the same; they will run away faster.
If your dog thinks you are angry at them and they will be in trouble when they get back, they won’t come back fearing the punishment.
if you chase your dog, they will think that you’re running with them not after them, which will excite them more and make them run faster.
What you want to do instead of chasing them is to stop and turn as if you’re heading the other direction, this is likely to make your dog stop and turn around to go where you’re heading.
Use Your Recall Command
You should train your dog to respond to an emergency recall word when they’re young. This recall word should make them rush to your side in emergency situations no matter what is happening.
This recall command should be reliable and you should re-train them on it and test it every once in a while to make sure that your dog will oblige when you use it.
If your dog runs away, you should use this recall command to get them back to your side. When they do that, you should reward them big time and use the happiest voice for the best “good boy” they could get.
Your recall command shouldn’t be your normal “come” because it is too commonly used. Your command word should be reserved for emergency use only so it doesn’t get worn out and the best rewards should be reserved for it.
Stop The Action
Teach your dog to lie down fast and use the commands for stop then lie down. It’s easier for your dog to stop and lie down than it is to come back to you.
You can also sit on the ground yourself and pretend to play with their toy as this makes it more likely for them to lay down when you’re on their level.
Make Them Come Back To You
After your have asked your dog to stop and lie down, you can wait a few moments so they’re less excited and only then use “come” to make them come to you.
You shouldn’t rush to them because this will make them run away.
If your dog has run out of sight completely, then you will want to entice them to come back to your or to your home.
You can do this by bringing out their favorite toys to the yard, put out their favorite treats, cook their favorite meals, make steak in the garden, walk around the block so they can smell you, and so on.
Print out signs with your dog’s image, any marks on them that makes it easy to identify them, and your phone number. You can put a prize if anyone finds him as this makes people more likely to remember your dog when they see him on the streets.
You should also encourage people to take a photo of the poster so they can check it again every now and then, be able to get the phone number when they need it, and just remember what the dog looks like.
You should also post on local groups on social media and any groups of pet parents around the city or area as other dogs owners are much more likely to help than non-pet parents as they can feel your pain more deeply.
The end goal here is to try and reach as many people as possible.
Ask relatives, friends, and neighbors, to check the shelters and rescue groups in their areas because if the dog was found, that’s more likely where they could end up.
Of course, if your dog is chipped, the shelter will be able to contact you. Which brings me to a very important note: Make sure you’re available 24/7. Your phone should be on you all the time.
Pro Tip: If you have a smartwatch or a fitness band, make sure they’re charged, connected, and set to vibrate when your phone rings. This makes sure you notice when someone does reach you even if you’re somewhere noisy and can’t hear your phone.
You should, of course, make sure to take any phone calls you get at any time.
Do Golden Retrievers Run Away to Die?
Golden Retrievers may wander off and run away to die when they feel their time coming. Dogs like to seek solitude when they can feel their time coming so they can go at peace.
However, this is not always the case. If your dog is in pain while dying, they will seek their owners for comfort. Your last and probably hardest responsibility towards them is to make sure they die in peace, with no pain, and surrounded with love.
Do Golden Retrievers Like to Run Away?
No, Golden Retrievers don’t like to run away, but they can still run away for any cause including to find a mate, to chase a prey, or to get rid of boredom. The can also run away to find their owners if they have separation anxiety or because they are afraid.