Stray Dog Won’t Leave My House [A Guide to Finding a Solution]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Have you ever had a stray show up at your house and just not want to leave? It can be a tough situation to navigate, but there are a few things you can do to figure out the best course of action.

What should you do when a stray dog won’t leave my house?

The thing is, you don’t know the reason why it’s doing so, as it could be abandoned, trying to find shelter, or possibly needing medical attention. While you might be thinking of adopting it, there are some things you need to take into consideration before doing so.

In this post, you will find the common reasons why they don’t leave and how you can handle the situation.

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Why Does a Stray Dog Not Want to Leave Your Home?

Why Does a Stray Dog Not Want to Leave Your Home?

As a dog lover, I feel an unexplainable joy when a stray dog feels comfortable hanging around my house.

But then I’d start thinking about where his owner is, or if he just got lost. 

If you’ve already experienced a stray dog not wanting to leave your house, you probably have a question about why it happens.

As someone who’s met a lot of stray dogs before, I have some reasons here that may explain them not wanting to leave your house.

Abandoned by owners

Sad as this may sound, some owners just can’t take care of their dogs anymore.

And sometimes, they’ll just abandon their dogs anywhere.

In fact, that number stands at around 3 million each year, and that’s only counting those that are documented.

An abandoned dog has experienced what it felt like to have a comfortable home with loving humans.

If he enters your house, he will think of the time before he got abandoned. The familiarity of it might make him wanna stay in your house.

Learn: What to do about your neighbor’s dog destroying your fence

Seeking shelter

A stray dog has no home of his own. 

If it finds a way to your house and won’t leave, it could mean that it’s seeking shelter that it thinks is available in your home.

Strays have a hard time looking for a warm and comfortable place during cold and rainy days, making them desperate for a safe place. 

So if your home seems to provide everything they need to survive, they’ll be hesitant to leave.


Dogs are very social creatures, and they love socializing with people who show affection to them.

If a stray dog finds himself in your house and you treat him with kindness, he’ll think of you as a friend.

Being a stray is dangerous and lonely, so a small act of kindness and affection to this fur baby will lift his spirits.

If he feels warmth and compassion towards him in your house, he won’t want to leave.

Need medical attention

Stray dogs are very prone to sickness since they live their lives in the streets, rain or shine.

When a stray dog comes around your house now and then and he receives care from you each time, he’ll assume that you can help him with whatever pain he is feeling.

With the comfort you are giving this stray dog, he will think leaving your home will be a bad idea for his health.

Need food and water

If you’d look at stray dogs, the first thing that’ll come to your mind is how hard it is for them to find enough food and water to survive.

Each day they walk around to find scraps that can get them through the day. If they find enough food and water at your house, you best believe they’ll be extending their stay.

A dog has his priorities, one of which is to have something to eat. 

If you’re constantly feeding him each time he makes a stop at your house, sooner or later he will decide to stay and refuse to leave.

Attracted to a mate

If you’ve got dogs of your own, another reason why a stray dog refuses to leave your house is that he found a possible mate among your fur babies.

Dogs have strong biological drives, and when they find a potential mate it’s hard for them to resist that temptation.

Learn about Heinz 57 dogs!

What to Do With a Stray Dog That Won’t Leave Your House?

What to Do With a Stray Dog That Won't Leave Your House?

Tending to a stray dog is very much different from taking care of your own pet dog. They have more needs since you weren’t the one who raised them.

I’ve dealt with a couple of stray dogs before, so I’ve got some tips on what to do with a stray dog that won’t leave your house.

Check for collar id or any identification

That stray dog may not be a stray at all. He might just have been lost from his owner.

Check if he is wearing any collar that may have the info about his fur parents.

If you find any identification related to his owner, it’ll be easier for you to return that doggy to his real home.

Contact local animal control or humane society

If you can’t find anything that can help you locate the dog’s owner, you can contact your local animal control or humane society.

They will help you find the owner of that dog if he has any.

They can also offer you advice as to whether you can adopt him or not if that’s what you’re thinking of doing.

Find a dog rescue near you

Consider adopting

Say you’ve run out of all the ways you can find the dog’s real owner, or maybe he is a stray after all.

You can consider adopting that stray dog to give him a more comfortable and safer life away from the danger of the busy streets.

Adopting a dog, stray or not, is all serious business.

You’ll have to take him to the vet for vaccinations and check-ups, and you gotta learn his likes and dislikes, not to mention all the new expenses that you will incur.

But those will all be worth it once you see him happy in your home!

Wanna know if a foster dog thinks you abandoned it?

Put up signs in the neighborhood

Putting up signs in the neighborhood can help you find the dog’s owner in case he just got lost.

It is possible that he just lives nearby and is unable to find his way back home so posting signs of the found dog can help the owners locate him.

If no one claims him, other people who are interested in adopting him can see the posters you put up.

Health Risks Associated With Stray Dogs


Stray dogs who have been living in the streets for so long might have been involved in a fight with another dog.

That other dog might be carrying rabies, which can be transmitted to him through saliva.

Strays are very prone to rabies which can bring serious health risks to you and your family.


Living under the searing hot sun and dirty surroundings can cause fleas or ticks to live in a stray dog’s body.

When left unattended, these parasites can cause health risks like hair loss and irritated skin.

If you’ve got a pet of your own and he gets near the stray dog, the parasites may transfer to him.


The most common deadly virus among dogs is parvovirus, which is commonly found among stray dogs since they are more exposed to dirty surroundings.

Parvovirus can easily be transmitted to other pets, which is a big risk when it comes to contact with strays.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you approach a stray dog without scaring it?

NEVER move too abruptly in front of a stray dog. You might scare him which may send him running away into a busy road or turn him to get aggressive towards you. Approach him calmly but cautiously. If you’ve got any food a dog can eat, offer it to him slowly. He may be hungry, and the sight of food will surely win his trust.

How do you comfort a scared stray dog?

Avoid being loud as the sound may startle him. Avoid making eye contact too since dogs may perceive it as a sign of aggression. Remain calm, and try catching his attention with the sound of a chip’s plastic bag. If he comes near you, give him some food until he relaxes his stance.

Is it okay to touch a stray dog?

It’s not okay to touch a stray dog since you aren’t sure of his temperament or whether he likes being touched. Plus, health risks are also present. He might be carrying an infectious disease that can pose danger to you. It’s best to observe him first before making any direct skin-to-skin contact. 

In Conclusion: Stray Dog Won’t Leave My House

Being greeted by a stray dog at your door may be both a touching and challenging experience.

Although it’s quite tempting to take the dog in and care for it, you have to take into account the obligation that comes with pet ownership.

Before you do anything, please consider all the implications that might come along with it, otherwise, a dog shelter might be your best bet.

Check out other articles on our site such as why does my dog look at me when he eats, why does my dog refuse to walk in certain directions, bringing a puppy home with an older dog, and many more on our blog!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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