One pesky pet behavior that we all have difficulty managing is teaching our dogs to stay in our yards. We want our dogs to be in their yards and have the peace of mind knowing they are safe. Many pet owners feel like there is no hope. If you find yourself feeling the same, then I hope I can help by shedding some light on this issue.
Physical & Virtual Boundaries
The first thing you need to understand is why dogs want to leave the yard. It may seem pretty clear that your dog wants to chase other animals, people, or cars. And this is all true. But there is an instinctual reason as well. Dogs have a natural drive to roam around larger areas than most yards. They do this to explore and socialize. This factor only adds to the level of difficulty when training your dog to stay in the yard. But there are options available.
A fence comes to most people’s minds as the easiest solution to this problem. On one hand, fences can be very expensive, and some find them unappealing. On the other hand, fences are very effective. But there are other ways to contain your pet that do not require large financial commitments and can still be effective.
One less expensive and very reliable method is to get an electronic pet containment system. These include products such as the PetSafe Wireless Fence. This system requires very little effort for installation but has limitations on the size and shape of the yard. Another containment option is the PetSafe DIY In-Ground Fence™. This system requires a little more work during the installation but is completely customizable to your yard. A third option would be to let the professionals of Invisible Fence install the system for you. This method has a slightly higher cost but takes away the hassle of installation and training.
When using a containment system, keep in mind that the training is the most important thing for success. The systems come with a comprehensive training guide for you to follow.
Train Your Dog to Stay in the Yard
If a containment system is not what you’re looking for, you can always do some good old' fashioned boundary training. This method takes a lot more work and consistenct training, but there is no initial cost other than a few treats and toys. Here are some simple steps to follow.
- Establish a visible barrier around your yard. This can be a curb, ditch, or flags
- With your dog on leash, walk along the boundary. Do not allow them to cross.
- After a few trips around the boundary, allow them the opportunity to cross.
- If they cross, immediately punish by scolding or using a squirt bottle
- Guide them back into the yard and reward with praise, treats, or toys.
- Continue this process around the entire boundary while increasing the distractions.
With any training, consistency is vital, so make sure you dedicate plenty of time to follow through. Another activity to practice that will help with the boundary training is "come". This command will allow you to practice around the boundary without the leash.
It's important that you can reliably call your dog back to you if he is off leash. Simply let your dog roam around the yard and any time he gets close to the boundary, quickly call him back. Always reward your dog for coming back to you, even if it's only your praise. Having treats or toys handy works well too.
Training Tips to Remember
No matter the method you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind. The following tips should help you during the training.
- Dogs want to roam, so there will be accidental escapes.
- Consistency over time will establish a pattern of staying in the yard.
- A solid "Come" command is always important, so practice, practice, practice.
- All training is a lifelong commitment, so remain patient and persistent.
I want to encourage you to take what we have discussed and put it to use. If it seems a little daunting at first, just keep at it. The training gets easier the more you practice. If you are leaning more towards a containment system, there are many resources to help. At any point, if you feel uncomfortable during the training, seek help from a local trainer. With a little determination and some motivation, you will succeed in no time!