Why do pets like to escape?
Pets may try to escape for various reasons, including boredom, anxiety, or the desire to explore their surroundings. Some pets may have a higher prey drive that motivates them to chase after small animals or birds.
Other pets may be motivated by the desire to socialize with other animals or people they encounter outside. Cats and dogs that are intact (not spayed or neutered) are more motivated to “socialize” and more likely to escape.
Learn how Figo’s Wellness Powerup can partially cover spay/neuter surgery.
Training your pet not to escape
Whether they’re escape artists or dig under the fence occasionally, there’s a good chance you’ve caught your pet in the act.
Training is key when it comes to preventing escape attempts. Basic obedience commands like "stay" and "come" can be lifesavers when your pet is about to make a run for it. Consider working with a professional trainer if you're having trouble with your pet's escape tactics or recall skills.
It's also important to make sure your pet is properly exercised and stimulated so that they're less likely to try and escape out of boredom.
Training other humans to prevent your pet from escaping
Let’s be real — sometimes, pet escapes come down to human error. It happens!
Consider whether you have family members, especially young children, who may not understand the danger of allowing your pet to escape when they leave the door open. It may be worth having a family meeting before getting a pet or informing a roommate about your pet's antics before moving in.
Securing your pet's environment
Get in the habit of closely supervising your pet when they’re outside. Consider using reinforced fencing, barriers, and other pet-proofing products to discourage escape attempts.
Reinforce your yard's boundaries
Install a tall, sturdy fence. Make sure any locks and latches are secure and out of reach.
Remove objects or structures that could aid them in climbing.
Strategically place obstacles such as planters, decorative rocks, statues, or shrubbery along potential escape routes.
Block your pet's line of sight to passing traffic and strangers that may inspire them to run off in the first place.
Consider creating a safe area your pet can lounge around in, like a catio or enclosed balcony or porch with a pet door. It’s a great way to offer your pet some autonomy and the ability to explore.
Secure windows and doors
Check that all windows and doors are closed and locked when you’re not around.
Consider adding locks to windows that don’t already have them, especially if they’re sliding doors a pet can figure out how to maneuver.
Install stronger screens on windows to prevent pets from pushing them out, and check that there are no existing holes that can be enlarged by scratching at them.
Swap door handles for round doorknobs, which are more challenging for pets to turn.
Use baby gates or other barriers to block the doorway when unloading groceries or other opportunities for pets to slip out between your legs.
More escape-proofing strategies
Avoid shock collars and other boundary-enforcing products that can harm your pet.
Secure your pet’s crate by reinforcing latches. When you’re away, make sure they’re entertained and have fresh water. You can even revisit their crate training.
Consider using a GPS tracker or app to keep track of your pet's whereabouts and get notifications when they leave a pre-defined area.
The importance of microchipping
You’ll also want to make sure your pet has proper identification tags and a microchip. Microchipping is the best way to ensure that you’ll be reunited with your pet if they go missing. It may even be the law where you live.
If you know your pet’s microchip number (a vet or rescue organization can help scan for this), check out AAHA’s microchip registry lookup tool to confirm where your pet is registered. Then, you can verify that your address and contact info are current.
What to do if your pet manages to escape
For extra peace of mind, consider lost pet protection services like those offered by our friends at 24Petwatch.
Our cats and dogs are loyal, but pets are, after all, animals. When they make a mistake or chase after another dog on impulse, it’s important not to make the situation worse by scolding them. The last thing you want to do is make them afraid to return home for fear of consequences the next time they manage to get out.
Keeping your pet safe and sound
We all want our pets to explore, sniff, and peruse to their hearts' content, but it can be stressful to parent an escape artist. Follow these tips, and we're confident you'll have no problem with even the most curious copilots.
Dylan M. Austin is Independence Pet Group’s highly caffeinated Sr. Content Writer, supporting Figo Pet Insurance, Pets Plus Us, and PetPartners. Based in Seattle, he's usually hanging out with his Chihuahua Terrier mix, Will, and tending to an increasingly excessive houseplant collection.