Training Your Dogs to Stick Around: Boundary Training
Boundary Training for Dogs
by Lauren Schwaar
During the summer months, dog owners have the tendency to be outside much more with their pooches. This is all well and good-- until dogs start bolting down the street, disappearing from the yard, chasing kids or other dogs, and causing general mayhem. These problems often cause dog owners much stress. Every dog owner has at least one story of their dog getting into trouble, and sometimes danger, because of these stunts.
Fortunately, these behaviors are relatively
easy to train for, assuming that you do it correctly. I decided to
speak with a professional dog trainer about this very subject, and the
following are the answers I was given.
Me: “I just got a new Lab puppy. I have been taking her out on a leash. We have two acres surrounded by woods. What is the best way to train her to stay close to the house and not run off into the woods?” So in a more general sense, how do you train a dog to obey you when you're not there?
the Professional Dog Trainer: First of all, you can't leave the dog
outside when you're not there until you know that he's going to stick
around when you are there.
Step One: Set up a boundary
You can boundary-train a dog pretty easily. Put up a boundary that the dog can see, whether it's flags, or a painted line on the ground.
Step One: The Boundary
Step Two: Teach Your Dog the Meaning of the Boundary
I might even put a little buckle collar and a leash on the puppy and walk along a couple feet from the line. Then every time the puppy goes to cross the line, give the puppy a little tug and tell him “No” to get him to stay on my side of the line.
Step Three: Advance to "Hard"
When you get that (at whatever distance it is that you want from the house) while walking them around on a leash, I would put a long-line on them and I would stay twenty or thirty feet back and let him go out and do his thing. If he went to cross the line, I'd give him a tug again.
Step Four: Not for Dogs who are Faint of Heart!
When the dog was really good in those circumstances at staying there, then (and at this point the dog would have a bit of training on him because he'd be a little bit older) I'd do things to entice the dog to cross the line. I'd roll a ball over the line, and then by that point he would understand what a correction is, so I'd correct him for going over the line.
Me: Does there have to be a physical or visible marker in order to train the dog to respect a boundary?
Paula, the expert Dog Trainer: I don't think you can just say “don't go any further than that” in the yard. You can get little stakes with flags and put them out while you're training them. But once you have them trained, you won't need the boundary anymore. Then they'll know.
Branching Out (Literally)
Me: Would this technique work for a large area, like two acres?
Paula: Oh sure. You can make any boundary. The only advice I would give is that if you don't want your dog to go in the woods, don't make the woods the boundary. Make it twenty feet before the woods. Always give yourself a little bit of leeway there. But there's no size limit to it.
Again, what's important is that you do it the same every time. Every time the puppy goes out, you need to walk the boundary. I've had people tell me that they get a young puppy and when they walk it around the yard once, the dog never leaves the property. And then there are other dogs with which it takes more effort and more work. But dogs are creatures of consistency. If you do it the same way all the time, they'll just do it. But if half the time you let them cross the line and the other half of the time you tell them not to, then he's going to cross the line whenever he feels like it.
There you have it, folks-- a fail-proof method for teaching your dog to stay within a certain distance or boundary.
One good way to use this technique would be to use the grass/curb in your front yard to form a boundary. You can use the leash techniques outlined above to train your dog not to cross the curb into the street.
Another application for this technique is by using it inside your house. If there is a room that you don't want your dog to go into (or come out of), use this technique to boundary-train your dog.
A third way to use this method is to warm up into exercise (read about the secrets of correct dog exercise here)
by working this method for about fifteen minutes before you exercise
your dog. Working through a training exercise with your dog before
allowing him to run around and play not only builds a positive attitude
towards training, but will help you to better manage him by limiting
his exercising room to the boundary you tought him.
Once you've tried this out, feel free to comment and tell me how it worked out for you!
To watch two dog training videos that are normally part of the Response Revolution training course for FREE, click here: free dog training videos!