How do you train a dog to stay in your yard?
One of the most effective ways is using Boundary Training, or training that will tell your dog exactly where they can and cannot go.
There are a few ways to conduct boundary training properly and each caters to different learning styles.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to boundary train your dog, discover why dogs run away, and what to do if your dog leaves home!
How Do You Train a Dog to Remain in the Yard?
You can keep a dog from running away from home by teaching them to respect boundaries.
To teach a dog to respect boundaries, it will help if they already know these commands:
- Leave It
Throughout the boundary training, you will utilize these commands in various ways to reinforce the boundary for your dog.
Preparing to Boundary Train Your Dog
Of the many methods possible to boundary train, the method you choose depends on what your dog best responds to.
The methods that will be covered here are:
- Clicker Training (good for dogs who respond well to auditory cues)
- Marker Training (great for dogs who are visual learners)
- Reward Training (best for dogs who absolutely love treats, toys, or praise)
Each method follows the same idea to train your dog to respect boundaries but each method caters to different learning styles.
If your dog responds to sounds or verbal cues, clicker training will be best.
If you are looking to familiarize yourself with clicker training, take a look at this breakdown from AKC!
With dogs who need a visual aid to understand what behavior you are expecting, physical markers such as cones, flags, or rope strung along small posts work great.
Finally, if your dog would do anything for a piece of chicken, a good belly rub, or their favorite toy you should utilize rewards when boundary training your dog.
Here is a video that will show you how to use clicker training:
Boundary training a dog can be quite simple.
Depending on which method you use, you will need:
- A collar
- A leash
- A Clicker
- Food, Toys, Rewards
Set the Boundary
Begin by putting your dog on a leash and heading outside.
When you walk around the whole edge of your property, get your dog to notice the ground.
When you see your dog paying attention to the ground, and more importantly the boundary, praise them.
As you walk, deter your dog from crossing the boundary using the “leave it” command upon approach, and pulling them away.
When they respect the boundary, be sure to give praise and rewards if applicable.
Just keep in mind that dogs respond best to shorter training sessions every few days, so training will take multiple sessions.
You will most likely spend the first week or two on this step depending on your dog’s adaptability and intelligence.
Establish the Boundary
After a few training sessions, your dog will begin to understand you are establishing a boundary.
You will want to make sure they have a clear understanding of where exactly the boundary is before moving to the next step.
The next step is to repeat the training as you have, but now give your dog a visual representation of where the boundary is by perpetually swinging your arm near the boundary.
The entire time, make sure you praise your dog for staying within the boundary. Again this will take a few sessions, and patience is key.
If you move too quickly, your dog may get confused, and you might have to start over.
Reinforce the Boundary
Your dog should now understand the boundary and mostly not attempt to cross it.
If you are confident your dog has reached this point, you can remove the leash.
Start having your dog follow different commands such as “sit” or “stay” right at the boundary line.
Using different obedience commands along the boundary perimeter without crossing it will help your dog understand where you DO want them to be.
This is better than telling them where NOT to go.
Remember to always praise good behavior.
This is most helpful as a positive reinforcement when training dogs has shown great success.
It is easier for your dog to understand how you wish to have them behave than it is to understand everything you don’t want them to do.
Test the Boundary
Once you have effectively established the boundary with your dog, and they consistently respect it, you can continue training.
Start by testing your dog’s ability to respect the boundary.
To do so, introduce temptations or distractions outside the boundary, and praise your dog for not crossing it.
Distractions you can use are:
- Toys outside boundary
- Treats outside boundary
- Neighbor/dog walking by
Never directly try to lure your dog out of the yard, but rather give them opportunities to, and reward good behavior when they choose not to cross the boundary.
Directly luring your dog out, just to scold them for leaving will cause confusion.
You should continue this training for multiple sessions until you feel confident your dog is not tempted to leave your yard.
It is also helpful to occasionally retrain your dog to help reinforce the boundary.
Boundary Training Using Markers
Setting up a temporary physical barrier can help your dog visualize the boundary.
What you use to mark the boundary is entirely up to you, but visual markers often used include:
- Rope and Small Posts
- Garden/ Small Fencing
You can use marker training to prevent your dog from running away from home in just 4 steps!
Boundary training with markers is not much different from the general concept of boundary training.
The key difference here is using a physical barrier to help your dog visualize the boundary.
With marker boundary training you will complete the first two steps differently.
You will first familiarize your dog with the markers indoors, then bring the markers outdoors.
From there you will mostly continue boundary training as normal.
Begin marker training by familiarizing your dog with the markers.
It is best to start indoors in a quiet controlled environment and start by setting up 2 markers about 1-2 feet apart.
Allow your dog to investigate the markers and come into contact with them.
During this stage reward them for sniffing, touching, or otherwise engaging with the marker.
Repeat this for a few sessions, slowly lengthening the distance between the markers up to about ten feet.
Bring Markers Outside
Once you have familiarized your dog with the markers, you can take training to the yard. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash at this time.
Move the markers outdoors following the same training as before, starting with the markers only a few feet apart.
Then, spread the markers further apart, and add more as training sessions continue.
During this time, walk the perimeter of your yard with your dog, and ensure you are only allowing them to engage with the markers, but not cross them.
If your dog attempts to surpass the markers, use the “leave it” or “come” command and lead them away.
Always reward or praise your dog for respecting the boundary.
As your dog begins to gain a clear understanding of the boundary and is consistently respecting it, you can take them off-leash.
Resume walking the perimeter with your dog for a few days, deterring them from leaving, and praising good behavior.
After a few sessions, proceed to have your dog follow commands right at the markers all along the perimeter of your yard.
This will really reinforce the location and authority of the boundary.
During this time, as you notice progress being made, you can slowly take markers away.
Test the Boundary
Continue training as mentioned, by testing your dog’s ability to stay within the boundary.
More distractions you can use include:
- The mailman entering/leaving the yard
- A ball rolling along the boundary
- A household member leaving or driving away
Continue the training until you feel confident your dog is not tempted to leave the yard before leaving them alone outside.
Boundary Training Using Rewards
Boundary training using rewards is quite similar to clicker training.
The main difference is that you are using rewards to mark good behavior as opposed to a clicker or auditory cue.
Some rewards you can use during training are:
- Food/Treats (High reward foods)
- Toys (Dog’s favorite, or brand new toy)
- Praise (Verbal cues, belly rubs, head pats)
Using this method teaches your dog that staying within the boundary earns them a tasty snack or quality playtime.
Ensure that the reward is very appealing to your dog to get its full attention.
Instead of using your dog’s everyday kibble, try using small pieces of plain boiled chicken.
You could also use their favorite toy instead of one they occasionally show interest in.
Set a Boundary
You will conduct boundary training as previously mentioned by setting the boundary.
However, when you notice your dog engaging with the boundary, instead of praise or verbal cues, you will reward your dog.
When you go to give the dog a treat, toy, or praise, remind them of the good behavior you are rewarding.
You can do so by saying something like “yes, good, leave it.”
Or, you can say anything that reinforces the cue you give for staying away from the boundary.
Establish a Boundary
Continue to establish the boundary with your dog.
Again, when you notice your dog does not approach or cross it, reward them generously.
Remove the Leash
Using positive reinforcement, have your dog follow commands at the boundary line off-leash.
You can have your dog follow any commands or tricks at the line, to show them where you would like them to go.
Commands you can use include:
- Lie Down
The best commands to use are: sit, stay, and lie down as these commands focus on motion (or lack thereof) right at the boundary, without crossing it.
You can occasionally use the other commands to keep your dog engaged and switch things up a little, but do not change it too often to avoid confusion.
Test the Boundary
In the end, even the most trained dogs can end up giving in to their natural instincts.
A simple leaf rolling by could be the reason Fido decides to flee from the yard and give chase.
By introducing distractions in a controlled environment with your supervision, you can help your dog resist these urges.
During training, you want to expose your dog to different scenarios which may tempt them to leave the boundary.
You can use rewards to tempt your dog by placing a treat or toy just outside the boundary.
Boundary Training Using a Clicker
Using a clicker to teach your dog to respect a boundary can be quite simple as the click helps reinforce the wanted behavior you are seeking from your dog.
To use this method of training you must first consider a few things:
- Is this the best method for your dog?
- Are they familiar/ skilled with clicker training?
- Do you have a full understanding of how to utilize the clicker during training?
Clicker training and reward training are done nearly exactly the same.
The difference is the mark that is used to signify good behavior.
Set the Boundary
You will walk with your dog on a leash, showing them the ground as normal.
However, as they engage, instead of praise or rewards, you will use the clicker and/or a verbal cue.
Like the other methods, this will take a few sessions, and patience will be necessary.
Establish the Boundary
At this point, the only difference in training is that you will be using the clicker when your dog backs away from the boundary or otherwise respects it.
Along with the clicker, you can use verbal cues as well, if your dog responds best that way.
Remove the Leash
By now you should be able to remove the leash and have your dog follow commands at the boundary line.
During this phase, use the clicker and plenty of praise when your dog follows commands and when you notice them approaching but not exiting the boundary.
Test the Boundary
You can now begin introducing distractions as previously noted.
During this step, you will praise your dog for staying contained despite temptations.
Upon your dog successfully staying in your yard after a distraction, use the clicker and give a cue like, “good, stay” or “yes, leave it.”
You want your tone to be enthusiastic, even adding emphasis to “yes” or “good.”
This tone, coupled with the clicker, will help your dog understand you are happy with their current behavior.
How Do I Keep My Dog Away From a Certain Area?
If you want to keep your dog out of a certain area in your yard, or even in your house there are many methods you can use.
You can keep your dog away from a certain area by using:
- Pet barriers
- Boundary Training
- Gates/ Fences
- Dog Repellent
- Obedience Training
An electric pet barrier emits an invisible boundary within a certain radius from a transmitter and is activated by a collar.
If your dog enters the boundary, it will receive a correction from the collar.
This correction may be a beep, vibration, or static shock.
Boundary or obedience training your dog will help them understand they must follow your commands.
Additionally, training can help your dog learn how you wish to have them behave and where they can or can not go.
While not always successful, you can use scented pet repellents.
These scents are great at deterring your dog, but training as well will most likely be necessary.
Furthermore, these scents do not always work, and your dog may be unphased.
If all else fails, you may have to keep your dog out of a certain area by using fences.
Although it can be a little costly, saving your garden, or keeping Fido out of the garbage bins is worth it.
Why Does my Dog Keep Escaping?
There are many reasons why a dog may be escaping your yard, but with proper securement and training, you may be able to avoid it.
Understanding why your dog is tempted to leave the yard can help you decide how to stop it.
Some reasons your dog may leave the yard are:
- Hunting/guarding instincts
- Lack of training
The majority of dogs are playful and inquisitive and need physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Eventually, just being in the yard becomes boring.
Dogs need toys to play with, puzzles to solve, and tasks to complete to keep their minds busy.
If you have a dog with high prey drive or guarding instincts, small animals, other dogs, and even people may tempt your dog to leave the boundary.
Oftentimes, if this is the case, training may help, but you will most likely need a fence or physical barrier.
Finally, if they have not received any training, your dog is not going to know they can not leave the yard.
Or, if they did receive training, consider the possibility that training was done too quickly. You may want to go back and retrain, moving slower this time.
While it’s a general overview, you can certainly apply these methods for retraining your dog to boundary retraining.
What Breed of Dog is Most Likely to Run Away?
Dogs are prone to giving in to their natural instincts, and this may lead to them leaving the yard.
There are many factors that play into why a dog may run away. Often, it’s linked to their hunting, retrieving, guarding, working, or herding instincts.
Dog breeds likely to run away include, but are not limited to:
- Hounds (always on the hunt)
- Labrador Retrievers (the name says it all)
- Jack Russells (independent thinkers with high prey drive)
- Great Pyrenees (stubborn and independent)
- Husky (Independent, sometimes defiant)
How Do I Keep My Dog from Running Away From Home?
Once you have determined why your dog runs away, you can decide how to respond.
Methods you can use to keep your dog from running away from home are as follows:
|Reason for Dog Running Away||Possible Solutions|
|Boredom/Loneliness||Training, Toys, Puzzles, Playtime, Fence, Electric Fence|
|Breed/Instincts||Fence, Training, Electric Fence|
|Lack of/Failed Training||Training, Fence, Electric Fence|
If you are considering an electric fence, don’t forget to check out our guide for the best electric fence for dogs!
What Should I Do If My Dog Ran Away?
One of the worst fears for pet owners is learning that their furry friend has run away.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you stay calm.
Having a plan of action and executing it swiftly can be the difference between losing your dog permanently and getting them back.
If your dog runs away you should:
- Contact local agencies (non-emergency police, animal rescues, animal control, etc.)
- Notify neighbors, family, and friends
- Conduct search groups safely
- Leave posters around the community
- Use social media to spread awareness
There are also steps you can take before your dog runs away or gets lost to help increase the chances of finding them.
Consider investing in ID tags and/or a GPS collar if you are worried about your dog running away.
If you are interested in a tracker for your dog, be sure to take a look at our pick for the best dog GPS tracker!
Can I Leave My Dog in the Yard All Day?
You should not leave your dog in the yard all day.
While it is fine to leave your dog in the yard for short periods of playtime, it can be dangerous to leave them there all day.
Leaving your dog in the yard all day may lead to:
- Your dog having a medical emergency without medical intervention
- Your dog misbehaving
- Your dog escaping or getting stolen/lost
- Your dog getting attacked by other dogs or predators
- Your dog becoming emotionally distressed
If you leave your canine outside alone for long periods, you may not be around if they need medical attention.
Your dog may experience hypothermia, heat stroke, exhaustion, dehydration, or choking, and in these cases, a quick medical response is vital to their recovery.
When dogs are left alone for an extended amount of time they can become bored, lonely, or anxious.
This may lead to unwanted behaviors such as leaving the yard, excessive barking or digging.
Without your supervision, your dog is more prone to running away, getting lost, or being stolen.
Again, how quickly you can respond to these situations can affect your chances of recovering your dog.
You can train a dog to stop running away from home with boundary training using clickers, markers, and even rewards.
However, sometimes even with training, your dog may still escape and a fence is your best bet.
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