Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Boundaries

This post is part of the series Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics

Other posts in this series:

  1. Beyond the Basics: Quiet Dog Training Command
  2. Beyond the Basics: Loose Leash Walking
  3. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Boundaries (Current)
  4. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump on People
  5. Beyond the Basics: How to Teach Your Dog to Speak

So, you don’t have a fence, but you also want to be able to give your dog some freedom from the leash when he’s in your yard.  What do you do?  Teaching your dog boundaries is the best way.  It’s also a good way to train him to stay out of your flower beds, garden, or any other place that you may not want him to be in your yard.  Or even in your house, as boundaries can be taught indoors too!

Now keep in mind that teaching your dog boundaries is not going to be one of the easiest things. It’s best if your dog already knows the basic dog training commands.  And a good Recall is a must! Especially if you have an ultra curious dog.  Or one who likes to chase anything that moves.  Spayed and Neutered dogs are also much easier to train to stay in the yard.  The lack of sex hormones keeps them from wanting to wander so much.  But training your dog to stay in the yard is going to take time and patience.  And lots of high-value treats.

Also, keep in mind, that even after your dog is trained to stay in the yard you shouldn’t leave him out alone.  Dogs are curious creatures.  They like to follow their noses, explore, chase things that move, etc.  But teaching your dog boundaries will give him off leash freedom when the family is outside with him.

Teaching Your Dog Boundaries

The best way to start teaching your dog boundaries is with a visual boundary.  We’re lucky on this point with training dogs new to the household.  Not only because they tend to watch, and follow, the already trained dogs.  But because our yard is lined with boulders and treelines.  Creating an easily visible boundary for the dogs to stay in.  If you don’t have anything around your yard, you can buy marker flags at most hardware stores.  The kind that utility companies and such use to mark out utility lines and such. You’ll want to place them at least every ten feet enclosing the area you would like to confine your dog to.

Don’t worry if they don’t look pretty, they don’t have to become a permanent part of your landscaping.  Once your dog is thoroughly trained to stay in the yard, you can remove them.

Besides the marker flags, the only other thing you’ll need is those high-value treats that your dog will do anything to get.  If your dog tends to be a runner, you might want a really long, but not-retractable leash.

Once your markers are set, take your dog outside.  Again, if you have a wanderer, runner, or your dog simply won’t walk beside you, use a long leash.

Walk your dog around the boundary of the yard.  When he tries to go past the flags, or whatever you used to mark your boundaries, call him back with your Recall command.  As soon as he’s back inside the boundaries, reward him with a treat and praise.

Practice consistently for a few weeks. When he starts to stay inside the boundary, without constantly being recalled, reward him, praise, treats or playtime all work.

Halfway there: To Off Leash in the Yard

Next, we switch to a shorter leash, a 6-foot washable nylon leash6-foot washable nylon leash is what we use.  We let the dog drag the leash while we stay close by, rewarding for staying inside the boundaries.  If the dog is a runner, puppy who gets the zoomies or doesn’t have a great Recall, I stay within stepping distance of the leash.

If your dog is a wanderer or runner, don’t remove the leash until he’s consistently staying inside of the boundaries, without being recalled, for at least a few weeks.  Even with distractions, such as squirrels out of the boundary, people walking by, traffic, etc.

When you sufficiently trust him, chose a time of day that your neighborhood has as little distractions as possible, and remove the leash.  Practice a few Recalls, and keep a close on eye on.

Remember, even the best-trained dogs will sometimes let their wanderlust get the best of them.  Please always supervise your dog when he’s outside off leash!  But at least now he’ll be able to enjoy playtime and even picnics without a leash.

This post is part of the series Dog Training Commands: Beyond the Basics

Other posts in this series:

  1. Beyond the Basics: Quiet Dog Training Command
  2. Beyond the Basics: Loose Leash Walking
  3. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Boundaries (Current)
  4. Beyond the Basics: Teaching Your Dog Not to Jump on People
  5. Beyond the Basics: How to Teach Your Dog to Speak

 

Continue reading this series:

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