Boxers that Bolt: Tips to Help You Stop Your Dog from Escaping
Why did the boxer jump the fence?
To get to the other side!
Why do our Boxer pups bolt by us and run out the front door? Why do they hurdle the fence or
slip out of their leash and run away? The reason is what a trainer might call a “self-rewarding behavior.” We may know it as— “there is something or somebody really fun (or exciting or dangerous or tasty) on the other side of the door and I am going to get it right now!”
Each time one of our beloved four-legged escape artists go roaming they are actually being rewarded for it. Dogs are curious and want to be active and explore and discover. The self-rewarding nature of escaping can make it difficult to change when it becomes a habit, but since we know it endangers their lives we have to find solutions.
Identify why your dog is bolting. Consider these possibilities:
Boredom - Home alone all day without activity or interaction
Separation Anxiety – Lonely dogs may take off to find their families
Chase or Prey Drive – “Must get squirrel!”
Food Rewards – Outside food sources like pizza in the neighbor’s trash
Protecting Territory – Chasing potential intruders away
Play – Who doesn’t love to play chase?
Reproductive Drive – Love is in the air, literally.
Make sure you have a happy, comfortable, secure and engaging home environment for your pup.
The Backyard Fence
Build a secure fence. A six-foot fence should deter most escape artists. There are some exceptions! For the very acrobatic Boxer who can leap tall buildings with a single bound, you might look at putting up a coyote roller. There are coyote roller do-it-yourself options.
If they like to dig their way out, you can bury some chicken wire along the fence line or place some bricks at the bottom of the fence line. When you dog stays in the backyard, be sure that you always provide plenty of clean water and a proper shelter.
Exercise and Play
Dogs that get daily walks are less interested in escaping. Just like you, your pup is getting to stretch his legs and enjoy the sights. All those new and different smells along the way are exciting. If they are spending all day in the same yard day after day, they can become bored and frustrated. That is when a neighbor’s yard will start to look and (and smell) very interesting to any dog.
Boxers are naturally playful. Playing with other dogs, tug toys, chasing a ball or Frisbee keeps a wiggle butt stimulated and happy. Boxer’s just want to have fun!
While You Are Away from Home
Try not to leave your dog alone for long periods of time. When we have to work all day and doggy daycare isn’t an option, we can ask a neighbor to drop by, hire a dog walker or go home for a quick lunch and 10-minute walk. Breaking up the tedium in our dog’s day makes a real difference.
Safe, interactive toys are a great way to keep your Boxer engaged while you are away. Freeze wet food inside of a classic rubber Kong. Other toys to check out are Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug, the Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball. With a little research you will find lots of options.
You might leave the radio or TV on for background noise. That can make your home feel more like it is when you are home, and it will mask out strange sounds that could be escape triggers for your dog.
Bottom line: make it fun for your Boxer to stay at home!
Provide the right training for your pup to avoid a catastrophe.
Training is not only a great source of stimulation for your Boxer, but it could be lifesaving. If your dog loves to escape, there are some training solutions for that can help. It will take patience, consistency and perseverance, but can change your life too.
Leaving the house/Opening the door
Train your pup to not bolt through doors and exits. When they do rush through they get an instant reward: a new game of chase with you! You can turn it around by rewarding them for remaining calm and waiting at the door. Here’s a good demonstration from Zak George: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrS5__HZvwM
Boxers are protective of their families. Their loyalty is just one of the reasons we love them. But we don’t want to them to practice obsessive territorial behavior or develop barrier frustration. Escaping to protect their territory can lead to dire consequences for you and your dog. Prevention through training is the best medicine.
A Reliable Recall
One of the first and basic defenses to keep your Boxer safe is training for recall. You can anticipate when your dog will bolt and correct them before they do.
Make sure your dog is neutered.
Simply said, neutering is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of roaming in an intact dog. And of course, it helps reduce the overwhelming numbers of unwanted pups. If cost is a consideration for you, the ASPCA does have low cost spay/neuter programs.
The volunteers at NWBR hope this blog is helpful to you and your beautiful Boxer.
To help an abandoned or homeless Boxer receive proper care and make their way to a safe, forever home become a foster or make a donation.
Every boxer deserves a chance to live a happy life in a loving home.