Yards resemble small amusement parks for our dogs where they can spend their day playing fetch, digging in their sandbox or chasing after their favourite ball, but sometimes, our curious canines tend to leave the yard in search of more exciting escapades. Dogs often leave the yard to explore other territories and socialize with other animals and this may pose a threat to their safety, especially if you happen to have a fenceless yard. Luckily, there are many ways to stop your pooch from leaving the yard such as keeping him on a tight leash or investing in one of the best electric dog fences on the market, but there is also a special type of training that you can try and it is none other than boundary training. Boundary training needs both patience and practice and can be easily completed in seven steps.
Step 1: Familiarize Your Dog with Flags
Introduce your pooch to the boundary training tool you will be using for his training. This tool is none other than marker flags that you can buy from your local hardware store. Get your dog acquainted with these flags indoors at first and allow him to touch each flag with his nose. Offer him tasty treats when he returns to you and then separate the flags by planting them a few meters apart from one another. Walk your pooch to each flag and let him touch it with his nose and follow this up by giving him more treats. Keep practicing this flag exercise with your pooch until he becomes ready for the next step.
Step 2: Take it Outside
Make the transition from indoors to outdoors but not without the company of some seductive treats for your pooch such as turkey, chicken or even roast beef. Plant the marker flags around the yard and make sure that each flag is at least three meters away from its neighbour. Use a five meter leash to walk your dog inside this makeshift boundary line and allow him to approach the flags and touch them with his nose. Your dog should know by now that he will receive a tasty treat in return. Dogs are territorial by nature, so rewarding him for not crossing this boundary line encourages your dog to stay in his territory. Practice this step as much as possible before moving on to step 3.
Step 3: Use Verbal Commands
Now that your dog is familiar with this boundary line, you can train him to stay in the yard while you cross over to the other side. The challenge here is to stop him from following you, and you can do that by using words such as ‘stop’ and ‘stay’ before you cross the boundary line. Reward your pooch with his premium training treats if he complies.
Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect
Practice the above step with your dog every day for at least eight weeks and take care not to let him cross the boundary line during your training sessions. Making sure that your dog adheres to your commands is necessary in order for this to work.
Step 5: Add Distractions
Introducing distractions is the next step and it involves using a toy or any other form of disruption to provoke your dog and entice it to cross the line. All you need to do is throw the toy over the boundary line and use the command ‘leave it’ to stop him from chasing after the tempting toy. If he remembers his training and refrains from crossing the line, then reward him with treats and keep the cycle of distractions going until your dog resists the temptation of chasing after his toys. Do not punish your pooch if he gives in and crosses the line. Instead, repeat step 3 and be patient with your dog. Giving up and taking your pick from the best electric dog fences on the market may be tempting but perseverance is key when it comes to boundary training.
Step 6: Take It to the Next Level
Once step 5 has been firmly established and your dog is able to handle small distractions, introduce new challenges for him to overcome. For example, ask a friend to bring his own pooch and make them stand right outside the boundary line. Dogs are easily distracted by their canine pals so throwing this particular challenge at them will surely put their weeks of training to the test. Reward your dog if he sticks to his guns and turns away from such a major distraction. As a bonus, you can run back to the house and greet your pooch with a special treat when he returns from the boundary line. This will teach him to rush back to the house whenever he sees something distracting in order to receive his extra special doggie treat.
Step 7: Lose the Leash
This final step involves letting your dog roam the yard off-leash and keeping a close eye on him in case he crosses the flag line. The goal behind this training is to make sure that he stays behind that line. You can play fetch or simply spend some quality time with him while paying attention to any form of distraction outside your yard. As usual, give your pooch a reward whenever a distraction presents itself to him and he chooses to ignore it. Keep the marker flags in place for at least six months so your dog can have a constant visual representation of his boundary and practice giving him treats in the same location every time. This will provide him with a default position to return to each time he witnesses a distraction such as a squirrel or a fellow pooch who managed to escape the confines of his own yard. In short, boundary training is a great way to teach your dog how to behave while ensuring his safety at the same time, and it also doubles as a great bonding activity filled with challenges, tasty treats and backyard fun.
- How to Safely Keep Your Dog in the Yard, wikiHow
- Creative Ways to Keep Your Dog From Escaping the Yard — No Matter How Sneaky He Is!, American Kennel Club
- How to keep your dog from escaping, The Human Society of the United States