Depending on where you live, leaving your dog outside for hours at a time isn’t always a safe proposition. Plus, if you live in close proximity to your neighbors, you certainly don’t want Fido wandering onto their property. Most folks see the only solution as building a fence to keep Fido in. However, not all pet parents have the time or money to build a physical fence, but there are ways to train your dog to stay in the yard without a fence.
Aside from annoying your neighbors, there is a multitude of reasons to train your dog to stay in the yard. Unfortunately, dogs leaving the safety of your property risk being hit by a car. Dogs that wander away from home are also at risk of becoming lost, not to mention becoming injured while they are lost. Boundary training with or without a fence – or even a wireless dog fence – is a lot simpler than you might think, and there are numerous items on the market today to assist you in this endeavor.
How Will You Start Boundary Training?
1. You’ll need to show your dog the boundaries.
Grab some treats and a leash. You’ll begin by walking around the boundary or the perimeter of your property while Fido is leashed. Some pet parents use flags for this portion of boundary training, although it isn’t necessary. Others will simply get their dogs’ attention and point to the ground so that the dog can visually see the boundary line of the property. Do this for a few days so that Fido is familiar with the lay of the land.
2. Boundary reinforcement
Take the same walk around the perimeter, but this time making sweeping motions with your arm so that Fido sees the boundary and it is reinforced to him. Do this at least four times a day. Make sure your dog stops at the boundary line and doest not cross it. When he does this, treat and praise him for a job well done.
3. Practice “sit” and “stay.”
Have your dog “sit” at various points along the boundary of the yard. Praise and treat him for doing so. Have your dog “stay” at the border, and cross the boundary yourself. Repeat “stay” while you are in this position. Treat and praise him for remaining in the “stay” position. This is where dog training hand signals become useful.
4. Enlist your friends to reinforce the boundary line.
One of the biggest temptations your pup will face is seeing other dogs, you, members of your family, or friends on the other side of the property boundary and keeping himself inside the yard. You’ll need to enlist your friends to help you give Fido some practice to staying put in the yard. Have friends, both with and without dogs, stand outside the border area and call your dog. You’ll need to stay inside the boundary with Fido and have him “stay.” Treat and reward him for remaining inside your yard .
5. Place favorite toys outside the border.
Pick your dog’s favorite toys and place them in a safe area outside the perimeter of your yard. Have your dog get in the “stay” position, and really work on tempting him to walk outside the boundary.
At this time, you may want to pause and train your dog to “leave it”, a command to ignore or leave things alone, if he does not already know it.
“Leave it” builds on the “stay” command. You’re basically telling your dog to “leave” a favorite toy or a favorite person (or another animal) alone; do not bother (item). Start with your dog in the stay position. Within the safety of the yard (but away from the boundary), have your dog “stay” and then toss a toy a few feet away. When you toss the toy, say “leave it.” Reward and treat your dog if he leaves the toy where it sits. This works best if your dog is already good at holding the “stay” position.
Okay, once Fido has accomplished “leave it” inside the yard, now take him back to the perimeter of your property. Toss a ball or other favorite toy outside the boundary, and tell him to “leave it.” You’ll want to practice this several times, perhaps for a week. Next, enlist a buddy with a dog to walk along or just outside the boundary. Have your dog “stay,” and let him see the person and dog outside the border. Instruct him to “leave it.” Praise and treat him if he can do this.
6. Treat challenge time.
Let’s up the challenge! Now it is time to offer treats when you instruct your dog to “leave it.” This time, toss a treat further inside the boundary, and instruct her to “leave it.” Keep a different kind of treat on your person, and when Fido can resist going offer the tossed treat, then you can praise and treat with the treats in your hand.
7. Now try the challenges while your dog is off the leash.
Now that you’ve done the groundwork, instilled a few new commands in Fido’s repertoire, and have seen success with a leash at your boundary line, it’s time to press forward. You’ll want to take your dog off-leash for the next round of training. This is a lot of fun even while you’re training because you’ll be tossing toys across the boundary line. However, you’ll want to utilize the “leave it” command when he notices a favorite ball or other toys outside his boundary. Reward and treat him any time he can successfully stay inside the perimeter of your property.
If Fido backslides a little in his training, always go back to the prior training steps and begin again from there.
Training with Flags
While you might think training your dog with boundary flags requires a lot more work, it is actually one of the easier ways to teach Fido the perimeters of your property. Some pet parents will enlist a training collar to do this work, but we will discuss how to carry out this training both with and without a collar.
Training with Flags—The No-Collar Edition
You can pick up utility marking flags at a hardware store near you. Place them inside your property line; that way Fido will never go onto your neighbor’s property in the suburbs. Put Fido on a leash, and, at first, you’ll simply want him to recognize a flag is present. When she touches the flag or otherwise acknowledges it, then treat her.
Walk your dog around the property with the flags closely spaced together. Allow for sniffing; make sure she knows there are multiple flags. You’ll want to incorporate a lot of the same training as discussed in the previous section—using “sit” and “stay” inside the flags and enlisting friends to call to Fido while you keep her in the “stay” position. You’ll also want to toss treats and toys on the other side of the flagged border; this time you’ll use “leave it” so that she will stay inside the flags. Finally, have a friend with a dog come over, put your dog in the “stay” position, and when your friend calls to her, tell your dog to “leave it.”
Again, if your dog can’t withstand the temptation to go outside the flagged boundary, you may have to begin at the beginning until she understands what the flags represent. You may need to devote days or weeks of training in order to keep your beloved pup within the boundary.
You’ll know you have succeeded in teaching her the boundaries of your property when she can go off-leash and stay inside the flagged boundary no matter what temptation lies on the other side of the flags. It may be a good idea to leave the flags up for some time as she visually recognizes this as her boundary. When you think she is ready, then you can slowly remove some of the flags day by day until they are completely gone. That’s the real test of knowing if your dog can stay within the boundary of your property.
Training Using a Flag Boundary with a Collar
If you don’t have much time to devote to training, you may want to choose a training collar to carry out perimeter training. Some collars come with today’s best GPS dog fences. Now, full disclosure—a training collar will likely offer electronic shock as one method of correction should your dog come too close to the border of the property. However, many dog owners nowadays use training collars that work by using sound as a warning before resorting to electronic correction, plus you can set the level of electronic shock.
When you choose a training collar, choose a collar that operates with a virtual fence. Many pet owners today choose to use dog GPS tracker collars, and that means you can set up the coordinates that you wish for your dog to remain inside. When you do this, you won’t have to dig up a portion of your yard to bury a wired fence.
Many training collars offer the ability to use flags as a part of training your dog on an invisible fence. You’ll set up the perimeter, place the flags along the perimeter, and you’ll begin training by setting the collar to sound an alarm (but not shock your dog) if she gets too close to the perimeter. Keep your dog on a leash, and keep her a few feet away from the flagged area. You will have already programmed the perimeter into the collar’s data. While on a leash, simply let your dog walk along the flagged area. Let her get a little close to the flags, close enough that she will get a warning alarm. When she shies away from the flags, praise her.
When she learns to stay within the boundaries of the flags, no alarm sounding, you can bring her in and praise and treat her. For a successful boundary training, do this a few times a week. Then, you’ll be ready to take off the leash and see how she does on her own.
At this time, you may want to set the collar so that it not only beeps but offers a low level of electronic correction. Stand back, let her off the leash, and see how she does. Allow her to go outside the flagged border. She’ll learn quickly that she will get an unpleasant reward for going on the other side of the flags.
Leave the flags up for a few weeks along with the low level of electric correction. Go out and let her walk along the flagged border so that the dog understands where she can go, but slowly start to remove a few flags each day so that she will get accustomed to the border of the yard. When she can manage to stay inside the border with no flags present and will back away from the border at the sound of the training collar’s alarm, you can safely leave her outdoors for a little while without worrying she’s going to leave the safety of your property.
1. How do I train my dog to stay in the yard?
There are many ways for dog owners to train pets to stay in the yard, but an easy method is to pick up some flags and utilize a training collar to make your dog aware of the border of your property and aid in boundary training. You can pick up a GPS collar that does not require the presence of a buried wire to determine the boundary, and typically, the sound correction of the training collar will be enough to keep your dog in the yard.
2. How to train your dog to stay in an unfenced yard?
You can use a variety of methods to keep your dog in an unfenced yard, but it takes time and dedication (and sometimes the help of friends!). Devote about a month to training your dog to the boundaries of your property before you allow him to go completely off-leash and unsupervised.