When was the last time your dog did something crazy?
Recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had a crazy adventure involving one of our Labradors, who took himself on a little field trip without permission to our local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.
In life with Labrador Retrievers, there’s usually some kind of misadventure occurring on a fairly frequent basis.
Luckily for us and for him, there is a happy outcome to this story of the day our Labrador ran away to Buffalo Wild Wings!
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Not all missing pet stories end happily, so we’re also going to go over a few steps you can take to help reunite your dog with you if they ever go missing.
Our Labrador Took Himself to Buffalo Wild Wings
Labradors are known for being intelligent, high-energy dogs. They are athletic and eager for adventure, but sometimes, no matter how much exercise and attention you give them, they can be a little mischievous.
If you’re new to the Labrador world, be aware that although Labs have been the most popular dogs in the United States for the last three decades, they’re not always the easiest dog breed to have.
Recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of the local restaurants were in the process of reopening and increasing their occupancy levels again, one of our over-excitable Labradors decided to take himself to our nearby Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant to see if he could find himself something tasty.
He escaped off a leash on a walk with us and managed to slip out of both his collar and harness in some kind of Dog-Houdini escape trick we’ve never seen before in the years he’s been a beloved member of our family.
Though his recall skills aren’t as good as our other Labradors have been, and he’s a rescue with an adventurous past, we were very surprised when he completely took off and ran away on an impulsive doggie adventure.
Through parking lots, shopping centers, and other restaurant properties we chased after him, but his goal was clear: this dog wanted some wings!
We finally caught up with our daredevil Labrador on the patio seating area of Buffalo Wild Wings, after he’d already made an attempt to investigate what was in their dumpster.
Thankfully, he didn’t make it through the front door into the lobby of the restaurant, because although he still has his dew claws, he doesn’t have thumbs.
Luckily at the time of day he arrived at the restaurant, it wasn’t right at the peak times for lunch or dinner, and fortunately, he didn’t climb up on any customers dining at that moment on the patio!
Our Lab was distracted by the delicious smells and tantalizing treats left behind by previous Buffalo Wild Wings patrons, which allowed us to seize on that momentary pause and corral him back into his collar and harness.
We were so relieved to find him and catch him and weren’t surprised to find that he chose a restaurant as his destination that day.
Disappointed he only got a hug from us, and not an order of wings, we brought him back home. Though each time we drive by, he sticks his nose out the window fondly in the direction of the restaurant, hoping for another visit.
How to Keep Your Labrador From Running Away
Are you dealing with an adventurous or impulsive Labrador who might show an interest in taking off on their own doggie adventure?
There are some things you can do to try to curb your dog’s interest in running off and making it less likely your Labrador will be running away.
Spaying and neutering your dog will decrease the likelihood of them running off to chase a dog in heat or being chased away themselves.
Training your dog with important commands to encourage good recall will teach obedience and impulse control.
Though our Labrador who ran away was a graduate of dog school (and a Top Student Winner!), it still won’t guarantee that your Labrador will obey your commands in a time of challenge or distraction. This is very dependent on the individual personality of your particular dog!
Still, having your Labrador trained in commands such as “wait,” “come,” and “stay,” can help some dogs avoid running off when faced with an exciting distraction, such as a bird, bunny, another dog, or a tasty-smelling restaurant in the neighborhood.
Be aware of your dog’s readiness to be challenged with additional opportunities. If you’ve just recently adopted an older rescue dog or puppy, and they’re new to your family, be aware that it might take a while for them to bond to you and they may not take commands as well as they will later on.
Be patient and don’t give them more freedom or challenges than they’re ready for.
Know the temperament and personality of your particular dog, and what types of other animals or events trigger their impulsive behavior. For our adventurous Lab, he doesn’t react as much to birds, cats, or other dogs, but is extremely provoked by bunnies and food items.
A cat crossing ahead of us on a walk isn’t likely to trigger him to run off, but someone grilling on their barbeque in the neighborhood will cause his nose to go crazy and him to try to run off to join their dinner!
Having the right equipment such as a strong, secure leash, harness, and collar with identification will also help your Labrador in the event they are faced with an impulsive desire to run away.
Make sure that your collar, leash, and harness are not tangled, and are clipped correctly before you head out the door for a walk, or out of your yard where your environment’s not as controlled.
On the day our Labrador ran away to Buffalo Wild Wings, his usual collar was loose enough that day that he was able to slip backward and twist at just the right angle that allowed him to slip out.
It’s a mistake we made once, and we haven’t made it again!
What to Do If Your Dog Runs Away
In all seriousness, not all stories about crazy, adventurous dogs have a happy outcome. It can be a really scary moment when you adore your dog and realize that they’re missing.
According to data from the ASPCA, 49% of dogs in a survey on missing pets were recovered from searching in the surrounding area and neighborhood immediately after the pet went missing. However, only 6% of missing dogs were later located in a shelter.
As a pet parent, the best thing you can do to ensure your pet is found if they ever go missing is to have an ID collar with several methods of contact information on your dog at all times, especially anytime they are outside. This includes when they’re in your yard because sometimes dogs can dig under or escape through fences.
Labradors, and other breeds with high hunt-drives such as beagles, hounds, and other types of retrievers, can spot or smell prey through or past the boundaries of your yard or fence and will become resourceful in their attempts to escape the yard to chase or hunt down an interesting creature.
Another step you can take to help your dog be reunited with you if they go missing is to get them microchipped, which is a procedure where your vet can implant a microchip containing your contact information that will be used if they’re ever lost.
We have an entire guide to pet microchipping that goes over the benefits of microchipping your dog, the cost of the procedure, and how to keep your contact information updated.
Having a collar with ID and a microchip with contact information (that’s kept correctly updated) will be the best way to get your dog reunited with you if they are ever to go missing.
In the event of a missing pet, be sure to post missing pet information on social media and in local neighborhood groups like Next Door.
Immediately contact your local Animal Control, county animal shelter, and Humane Society to let them know your pet’s information in case they are found and brought in.
Summary – My Labrador Ran Away to Buffalo Wild Wings
Sometimes despite your best efforts and training, your much-loved dog can make an escape attempt. Whether it’s getting out of your yard, running away from doggie daycare, or escaping off their leash, impulsive behavior can sometimes get the best of them.
While our Labrador’s adventure in running away to Buffalo Wild Wings ended well, not all missing pet stories end happily. Make sure you have a proper ID and a pet microchip on your dog to help reunite them with you if they ever go missing!
Has your dog done something crazy recently? Let us know about your Labrador’s crazy adventures in the comments below!