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I live in a very small village in Galicia in Northern Spain. I love it because it is very tranquil and quiet and the road ends right outside my house so there is no traffic. I also like it because there are several dogs close by. My neighbor keeps a family of 4 beagles who are very friendly and intelligent and often come visiting or just to sit while I work in the garden. Sometimes the neighbor keeps one or two dogs on a long chain in his shady yard. I think he does this to encourage them to stay close to home and not to run off into the forest. At other times the beagles have the freedom to roam and have a dogs life. Last year three of the beagle family ran off into the forest and were never seen again, though a female remained who had puppies.

So, if I find a puppy for a companion and I want him/her to enjoy some measure of freedom I am thinking that he will be much influenced by the beagles and their habits. But I would like my dog to enjoy the beautiful natural country environment where I live and sometimes roam around doing dog stuff as he wishes. The beagles are not house dogs and sleep in a shed but my puppy would live in my house. The question is how could I train the puppy to still regard my home as his home and not be too influenced by the beagles.

Please bear in mind that dogs are an important part of life here and that life in rural Galicia is very different to life in a city, for dogs as well as people. Obviously I will not allow a puppy such freedom until he knows his home and has bonded with me and perhaps that will take a while maybe a year. I'm hoping to find a Spanish Water Dog who will enjoy swimming as much as I do.

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    Jul 28, 2023 at 5:07

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First and foremost: forget everything you heard or saw in media like children's cartoons or TV shows about animals like "Lassie" about life in the wild. All of those depictions are so grossly unrealistic that most people have a completely wrong understanding of why dogs "run off into the forest".

What is in the forest? There are animals, some small and some big, some slow and some fast, some trying to run away and some trying to eat you. What does a pet dog know about those animals and which are food and which are dangerous to them? nothing.

There's also no warm and safe home in the forest that protects the dog from the weather. There's also no human companion in the forest that prepares food every day or plays or cuddles with the dog. Apart from a short-lived chase after some animal, there is simply nothing in the woods that would persuade a dog to run away from home.

So the short answer to your question is that no special training is required to make sure your dog doesn't run off into the forest, provided that your dog is socially bound to you and perceives you as part of the family.

My (completely subjective) assumption is that the three beagles didn't live happily ever after in the forest. Beagles have very strong hunting instincts, so they may have been triggered by an animal that they chased into the forest. During the chase nothing else matters, so they don't remember the way home. They may have simply been lost without ever having the conscious thought of living in the forest. They may have starved or been killed by some other animal, or they may have stumbled upon some stranger that adopted them.

Of course choosing a dog that is not a hunting breed may be a good first step to make sure you don't lose your dog as well. But remember that the breed can only have so much of an influence on the personality of your dog. You can have an individual of a hunting breed that is extremely social and you can have an individual of a toy breed that is extremely prey motivated.

All things considered, the safest way to make sure your dog doesn't run off is to surround your property with a fence. (Side note: keeping dogs on a long chain is considered animal cruelty in some parts of the world and even illegal in some countries, but where I live the dog was usually on the chain 24/7, so it's not exactly the same situation you describe.)

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  • Anecdotally, most medium breeds tend to do well with a free-roaming lifestyle. These breeds tend toward breed characteristics that are territorial, meaning that they'll stay closer to home. In the rural area where I grew up, retrievers were a very common choice, as they were both good for hunting and protecting the property against wild animals. My family owned a free-roaming Dalmatian, who was extremely territorial. We also had a Basset Hound, which couldn't be allowed off-leash at all.
    – Allison C
    Jul 26, 2023 at 14:40
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    Almost every farm had at least one medium-sized dog that was rarely if ever confined as an adult, and the only reasons they might "disappear" would be that they were trapped somewhere, injured or killed by a wild animal, or ran away due to mistreatment.
    – Allison C
    Jul 26, 2023 at 14:49

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