Act a Little Crazy (or a lot)
A better strategy is to get them to come to you. We already established calling their name isn’t going to work, but there are other ways to get their attention. Screech like a maniac, stomp your feet, jump up and down, do the worm dance—do anything out of the ordinary that will make your dog look at you. The second you have their eyes, turn around and run in the other direction. That’s right, run away from your dog. Most dogs will be so intrigued by your strange behavior that they’ll stop what they’re doing to chase you down.
If your dog isn’t into chasing, try testing their curiosity. Once you have their attention, sit or lay down on the ground. Flap your arms and make wailing noises for added affect. Your dog will probably think you’re either hurt or playing a fun game, and they’ll want to come over to investigate.
If neither of those strategies work, your only option is to go and get your dog. Whatever you do, however, don’t run. Walk calmly toward them and talk using a soft, normal voice. You don’t want to spook them, and you really don’t want them to think they’re in trouble.
Now, Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Again
Every time you let your dog get into a situation where they have the option of ignoring you, you reinforce unwanted behavior. After the dramatics of catching your loose dog are over, make plans to make sure it doesn’t happen again. To do that, say goodbye to off-leash time. If your dog’s recall is unreliable, they shouldn’t be off leash in public places—ever.
An alternative is to get a long training lead (15-30 feet), and attach it to your dog’s snug-fitting harness. Never use a collar, because the sudden force of running, reaching the end of the line, and jolting backward can seriously hurt a dog’s neck. Whether you’re out training or just having fun, keep your dog on the long lead. When you call them and they ignore you, you can reel them in so ignoring you isn’t an option.
DON’T: Corner a scared dog
Despite what you might think, a dog that’s scared and lost needs space. If you force yourself into their space, they will quickly become more stressed and will do what’s necessary to protect themselves.
14 Signs Your Dog Doesn’t Love You (Even if You Think They Do)
There are few things more frustrating for owners than calling your dog and being ignored. Some pups listen perfectly in the house, but getting them to leave the dog park? Forget it.