Odie-Maid avatar image

Need Advice! Otis runs away....

Any advice for this situation....

Otis is now nine months old and he has not been neutered. We have a big wooded yard with no fence. Ever since Otis was young, I have felt comfortable with him walking around the yard with us when we are outside, and Otis is not wearing a leash. He used to just sorta hang out and not go far. We live in a quiet neighboorhood without any street traffic. All the other dogs I've had in the past have always just stayed in or near my yard without running away (this was never something I had to teach, it just always came natural to my other dogs). 

Well lately Otis has just taken off running away and absolutely REFUSES to come back. This has happend two or three times now. It really scared me this weekend because he ran through our entire back woods, and through about 5 people's yards, and ended up right next to a very busy road. I didn't want to chase him and make it a game, but I really felt I had no choice other than to try and grab him as he was getting near the busy road (luckily I was able to catch him). Calling him and running the opposite direction didn't work, saying "Otis Come" didn't work...he had ZERO interest in coming back to us. It was like he was on a mission to get away.....He must not appreciate how well we are feeding him ;-) 

My husband and I are big Cesar Milan fans and feel like Otis respects us in other areas, but no matter how many times I said "come" Otis was flat-out ignoring me and kept running. I'm so upset because I feel like it has completely destroyed any sense of trust and loyalty I once had with Otis.

I noticed on two other occasions this weekend that Otis would try to get out the front door whenever he thought he had a chance to escape! I know that reinforcing the "come" command and working on our role as pack leaders is the best option, but I'm doubtful that it will prevent the behavior from happening again. I also know the obvious solution is keep him on a leash when he is outside, but I'd love for him to be able to hang out on the deck with us without being tied up. I'd  also love to not be afraid whenever someone opens a door that he will bolt outside and run away. Also, Otis gets quite a bit of exercise, and we are diligent about taking him on controlled walks usually 2x/day.

Do you think maybe this is happening because he is not neutered? 

Does anyone else have a bulldog that runs away from you? Or does your bulldog just stay close by you when it's not on a leash?


Kelly, Brian, Otis & Pippa

Andy's picture

Kevin is 7 months and

He is fine but if he sees a person he will go to them. He loves strangers lol. I keep him on his lead on walks but other times I keep a bag of treats with me and when he knows I have them he will stay

Céline and Angel Stella's picture

I would be too afraid to have him off leash

Not for walks, anyway. Not until I could trust him 100% to come back to me. I think you're right that he needs more practice, and the ideas of constant treats in your pocket is a good one.

As for the deck, maybe a little barrier in front of the stairs when he's out there with you. Like just a piece of pliewood - just enough that if he decides something is interesting you have time to grab him.

Same for the front door. I wouldn't trust him yet. Maybe have a leash hanging on the doornob and hold him with that until you close the door. Or install a screen door that he can look out but can't get out.

I have same problem

My youngest bulldog, Apollo, would run to another state if I let him. I think it becomes a game to him. He has gotten out of the fenced in yard twice, and I just find him at the neighbors, but as soon as I call to him, or approach him, he can't get away fast enough. He would also bolt out of the door if I let him near it. I don't have any advice for you, since I don't even know what to do myself. I just figure I didn't train him well as a puppy (second child syndrome).


  Miss you sweet boy Otie (July 29, 2013)



IndyBulldog™'s picture

I've never

I'd never trust my bullies outside the gate without a leash. Just my rule.

I've never had a dog I felt I could trust like a statue to just stay and not run off.

Never, My idea is, and it's my idea only, If you are the type of person who is afraid your dog will run off, or if you have no concern or fear he will, you are right.  Meaning he takes his ques off you.

I worked at Pinkertons, and the dogs were very well trained and maybe would have not run off, but I just didn't have the nerve as we were supposed to keep them on the leash no matter.

I think it's an A type vs B type personality,  with A being the excitable type.

I imagine some guy in earth tone clothes and more or less not paying any attention to the dog cause he doesn't have to, wearing hushpuppy shoes, drinking tea with a book of Robert Frost poems under his arm. Maybe a ponytail and a brown cookie duster, wire rimmed glasses......heck I'd hang there too.

But that's not me, my dog runs off, [I bet] I  haven't tried.



Mean people still suck

Dave and Zapper's picture

Sounds like a normal, stubborn bulldog ..

When Zapper was younger he would watch me like a hawk while we were outside in the yard. He would slowly start to ease away from the house and look back every so often to see if I was watching.

I would let him get to the neighbors house and then go after him. You should have seen those little short legs trying to get away from me LOL ! If I wasn't very careful, he would slip off if I turned my back for a second.

I could call him til the cows came home but he just ignored me and kept digging !




Teaching recall

Lots of thoughts on this.

Lets start by saying that a dog that stays in a yard with no fence/tie out etc., is not the norm, you were lucky with your previous dogs.

It is unfair for us to expect a dog to preform a behavior that he/she has not been taught. So, don't get frustrated with Otis, he has no clue what you want. Not responding the way you want is not an indication of a lack of respect or a loyalty issue, it's simply a lack of training.

So, now that you know he won't come back when called, you absolutely cannot allow him out without being leashed. There is never a happy ending to a dog running loose. I would start using a long leash, I use a 50 ft. when I am teaching recall. Gives the dog a lot of freedom to wander and sniff around but I still have control of them. While you are outside with Otis on the long leash, occasionally call him to you and reward like crazy. Use tiny pieces of boiled chicken, cheese, turkey, anything really yummy. When they come to me, I ask for a sit, reward and release. Do not end his fun by taking him into the house right away, you don't want him to learn that coming to you means the end of his good time. I will practice calling the dog to me 3,4,6 times before we come inside. Vary the times so that Otis doesn't know when you are going in. I would then run inside with him and again ask for a sit and reward. Some dogs just love running, sniffing around, checking out their environment, you have to be more rewarding/interesting/entertaining and believe me, sometimes it's not easy.

Teaching a dog any behavior has to start in a situation with low distraction, low stimulation. Your back yard is a great place to start.

Because of the dogs that I have and because of where I live, recall is the most important skill that I teach my dogs. I have a Jack Russell Terrier and a Boston Terrier, both are very stimulated by the environment but both have been taught near perfect recall. I still reward them for returning to me, especially when I call them back from something they are really interested in.

Good luck


Lynn King CPDT-KA

Céline and Angel Stella's picture

We're so lucky to have Lynn, a professional trainer, here for us

to advise us all. Great post, Lynn. As always.

AmyandSophia's picture

Lynn has always been such a great help to so many.

I have benefited from her knowledge countless times. Great advice asl always Lynn:-)


Amy and Sophia

Thank you ladies. I do love dogs

and dogs will be dogs.

Unfortunately, no skill is 100%. Given the right circumstances and even the best trained dog becomes stone deaf.

Went to the bank today and ended up spending 1 1/2 hours trying to locate the owner of a spectacular male Yellow Lab. What a sweetie. Found out who owned the dog, they had no car to come and get him, I had Tug in my car so, I walked him home. Apparently, he likes to wander and apparently, his owners don't care. Sad.


Lynn King CPDT-KA

Pegsy's picture

i have to definitely

i have to definitely agree-lynn you are definitely one of our go-to people in here!

Pegsy's picture

i got my archie when he was

i got my archie when he was about 13 months...i can't say he
didn't listen esp when it came to walking him but i didn't take my chances either walking him w/out a leash...once he had managed to free himself from his collar and off he went
omg did i remember thinking...that's it i lost him...luckily
when he ran the other direction from me he ran back to our yard and was waiting for me as if to say...look mommy i got here before you-i know my way around!
he was esp dangerous when he saw anyone holding,playing or kicking a ball...and what i mean by that is once he saw anything that resembled a sphere he wanted it and would do anything to get it!

Odie-Maid's picture

Thank you all

for taking the time to respond to my post.

I feel better knowing that Otis isn't the only one...and maybe one day he will actually overcome his selective hearing and respond to me when I call him! I truly appreciate these great tips!


Kelly, Brian, Otis & Pippa