Leash Training

What Is The Least Effective Method To Retrieve A Dog That Has Got Off Leash?

by Karen Parquet

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

Sharing is caring!

Have you ever been out walking your pup when they suddenly take off after another animal, or maybe just a really good smell and the leash slips from your hand? It’s happened to the best of us, and it’s always a bit of a heart-stopping moment.

But what is the least effective method for retrieving a dog that has gotten off leash? I’m going to tell you just that! So sit back, relax, and learn what not to do when your pup takes a little stroll on their own.

What Not To Do When Your Dog Gets Off Leash

Man and Woman Walking Dogs

The Chase Is On (But Not Recommended)

It can be tempting to take off after your pup when they slip away or bite on the leash. After all, running after them seems like the quickest way of catching up with them, right? Wrong.

Chasing your pup when they’re going a million miles per hour is both physically and mentally draining for yourself and your pet. While this might cause a tired pup when you finally catch them, this isn’t the greatest idea.

My experience is that if a dog gets away from you and wants to be chased, drop to the ground as if something is wrong. I mean, all the way to the ground. This will usually bring your pup running toward you to make sure you’re okay.

Not only that, but chase games stimulate dogs. They may think that they’re playing with you while actually leading you further away from home. The longer the distance between yourself and your dog, the more difficult retrieving them as time passes.

So unless you want a workout that won’t end for hours (and who does?), I’d suggest avoiding this method altogether.

Screaming At Your Pup Is Not Effective

Scolding a dog

If you find yourself frustrated and angry that your pup ran away before you reacted, it’s important not to take out this anger on them when they come back. Yelling at your pup won’t make them understand why they were wrong. All it will do is make them scared of coming back to you or even scared of being around people.

Yelling at them may get their attention momentarily. But it will also likely scare them further away if they think they have done something wrong. Instead of yelling at your pup while they are already in flight mode, try calling their name in an upbeat manner or using a treat or toy as bait instead, or as before, drop yourself to the ground, so they come back to you.


Another bad idea is bribing your furry friend with treats or toys. While tempting, this will only teach your pup that they can run away whenever they want as long as there is something in it for them!

This could lead to more off-leash excursions in the future and put your pup in danger if they wander too far away from home. If you’re going to use treats, use them sparingly, and don’t give them out like candy.

You’ll want to be mindful of when you give them a treat because if you don’t do it properly, you can teach them running around is a fun game with treats! So, only reward when they’ve come to you and stayed with you.

Ignoring Them

Ignoring your pup when they have taken off might seem like the easier option, but it won’t help you retrieve them any faster either. In fact, ignoring your pup could lead to a longer chase than necessary as you wait for your pet to tire themselves out from all the running around before coming back home.

Alternatives To Chasing Your Dog

Beagle with treat

The good news is that there are much more effective methods for retrieving an off-leash pooch! I have sighthounds so for me retrieving them looks a bit different. However, this is my preferred method to get most dogs back.

First things first: remain calm and collected; panicking will only confuse or scare your pup. Next, try calling out their name in a loud but friendly, pleasant tone.

This works best if you are using positive reinforcement training prior to taking them outside. You’ll want to do this since they will be more apt to come back when their name is called.

If they respond positively by coming towards you when called out or looking at you in recognition, then reward them with treats (remember to be careful with these and when you give treats) or verbal praise. This reinforces their positive behavior, so they are more likely to come back the next time they wander, even in an unfamiliar environment.

Also, consider bringing along items such as favorite toys or treats in case of emergency. These can help lure them back quicker than just calling out their name repeatedly. Finally, if none of these methods work, then call animal control or hire a professional pet retrieval service for help!

It’s always better to be safe than sorry for these types of scenarios. Plus, it’s better for everyone involved so they can be retrieved quickly and safely instead of spending hours outside in a dangerous situation.


What do I do if a dog is off-leash?

If you notice your dog is off-leash and running away, the first thing to do is remain calm. Don’t call out their name too loudly or try to chase them. This can cause them to panic and run further away. Instead, take a deep breath and evaluate the situation.

Are there any nearby people or animals that could be a potential threat? It’s important to remember that dogs can become disoriented and confused when they’re not familiar with their surroundings, so take the time to assess the situation before taking any action.

Can I ever let my dog off-leash?

Leaving your dog off leash can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. It is not only illegal in many places to walk or keep a dog without a leash, but it also puts your pet at risk of getting lost, injured, or worse. Make sure to check the laws of the area if you’re going to take your dog for a walk off-leash.

Some places have explicit instructions to keep your dog on a leash, while others are a little more flexible. It’s usually best to spend time with them and play in a fenced-in dog park or other fenced-in off-leash parks to be safe.

If your dog gives you issues when turning around to go home from the park, this is a perfect time to practice the skills you’ve learned in this article.

My dog got loose. How can I catch them?

In calling your dog back when they get off the lead, consistency and patience are key. First, make sure your dog is trained in basic commands to come when you call them.

If not, start training them in a safe environment first before attempting to let them off-leash. This helps with consistency and making sure your dog is ready for anything that might happen, including aggressive off-leash dogs.

Ensure that you use plenty of positive reinforcement when teaching your dog to come back to you when called. You should also teach them a recall cue such as ‘come’ or ‘here,’ and ensure that you reward the dog with praise and favorite treats or play with a good excitement level when they return to you.

You don’t want to let your level of excitement get too high, though, as that may get them all excited about the chase again.

Can I reliably let my dog off-leash?

It depends on the individual dog and their obedience level, what they’re like on off-leash walks, etc. If you trained your dog to come when called, you might let them roam off-leash in a safe environment.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that even if your dog is well-trained, they can still run away or get distracted by other dogs or people. It’s always important to be prepared and make sure that your dog is wearing a collar with ID tags in case they get lost.

Are dogs happier off-leash?

There is no definitive answer whether dogs are happier off-leash. It depends on the individual dog and their needs. Some dogs may enjoy the freedom and independence of being able to run around off-leash, and you may find yourself having a hard time getting them to sit still while putting their leash on. Other dogs may feel more secure with a lead for the reassurance that their human is close by.

Ultimately, it’s up to you as the owner to assess your dog and determine if they should be let off leash or not and whether the laws in your area allow it.

Is it against the law to walk a dog without a lead?

The laws around walking dogs off-leash vary from country to country and even from city to city. It’s important to check the local regulations in your area before letting your dog roam free.

In some areas, it is illegal to let your dog off-leash in public spaces, while other areas have designated ‘off-leash’ areas where owners can let their dogs roam free. Make sure to always observe the local laws and keep your dog safe.


Getting your pup back after an off-leash adventure doesn’t have to be stressful! With a little patience and positive reinforcement, you can easily call them back home with no issues.

Just remember, never chase after them because this will only encourage more off-leash adventures in the future! So, next time they take off without permission, keep calm and use positive reinforcement techniques until they come running back!

Leave a Comment