Pets adopted from humane societies and animal shelters are the most likely to try to escape from their new home. This is a difficult and frightening reality for many new pet owners. No one wants to lose a beloved pet, and we all want to do everything we can to keep them safe and happy at home.
So why do adopted pets try to escape?
They’re trying to get back to the home they remember.
Before your pet was surrendered to the shelter, they likely lived with another family. If they didn’t have another human family (for example, if they were born at the shelter), then they had their caretakers, and possibly other animals. A puppy from a surrendered litter, for example, may have shared space in the shelter with its siblings.
Whatever the case, your new pet remembers their home. When you first introduce them to your family, they may mourn their old home and try to get back there.
They’re anxious in their new surroundings.
Anxiety in pets can prompt all sorts of unwanted behaviors, including escape from your home. Pets who experience anxiety are in a fight-or-flight mode and may bolt on pure instinct if they perceive a threat in their surroundings.
Making the transition from a shelter to your home will feel strange to your pet. Sleeping in an unfamiliar place makes humans feel out-of-sorts, and the same thing happens to animals. Your new pet may react anxiously not only to being in a new home but also to being left alone there.
They are good at escaping.
Some pets are just natural Houdinis. If they can sniff out an escape route, they’ll take it. This characteristic isn’t exclusive to shelter pets, but a pet adopted from a shelter may be more prone to it if they’re trying to run to their original home.
Aside from trying to return to a past home, many adopted pets run because they’re bored, afraid, or have the urge to mate.
How to help an adopted pet adjust to your home
There are several ways to help an adopted pet adjust to their new life with you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Plan to spend extra time at home with your new pet during the first month. Give your adopted dog or cat time to get to know you. The first weeks after adopting a pet are important for bonding, so carve out additional time so your pet can get used to you.
- Provide new toys, treats, and activities to keep your new pet occupied. Toys, games, and treats can help your new pet expend nervous energy. It may also help to distract them from scoping out escape routes.
- Help your adopted pet get plenty of exercise. If your new pet exercises daily, they should be less restless–and hopefully, less likely to escape.
- Keep your home environment as calm as possible. Eliminate as many potentially anxiety-inducing stimuli as possible. Try to keep the atmosphere quiet and low-key. If you have children, coach them to behave calmly and quietly around the new pet.
- Don’t leave your new pet home alone for extended periods of time. During the first few weeks after adopting your pet, you may want to avoid leaving them home for long hours.
- Secure all possible escape routes. Do a perimeter check outside and check your home to ensure all gates are secure, doors are locked, and windows are latched. Avoid leaving your pet outdoors, even in a fenced backyard, when you’re away from home.
For extra peace-of-mind, equip your new pet with a Bluetooth Smart Tag from Huan. Our tags have a lifetime warranty and will alert you when your pet is detected away from home, or away from you. Click the button below to find out more!