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Training Your Dogs to Stick Around: Boundary Training

Updated on June 9, 2010

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?

Paula, 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

Create a boundary with flags, spray paint, skittles, etc. (On second thought, maybe ditch the skittle idea.)
Create a boundary with flags, spray paint, skittles, etc. (On second thought, maybe ditch the skittle idea.)

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.

The Walk

Now, following the instructions above, work the boundary with your dog by walking it as often as you can. This technique is much more effective when coupled with the heel exercises you can watch in your free dog training videos. Check the link below!
Now, following the instructions above, work the boundary with your dog by walking it as often as you can. This technique is much more effective when coupled with the heel exercises you can watch in your free dog training videos. Check the link below!

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.

Good Applications

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!


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      sandeep thakur 3 years ago

      Residential dog training is one effective way to train your dog. Learn more about this at

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      Ellen 5 years ago

      Jet Owner: I see no one left you any advice yet. I've always trained my dogs to stay in the yard, and they'd stay even when I accidentally left them outside and went shopping for the day! But the second I was next to them and they were in "heel mode" they could go anywhere as long as they were by my side. As I would get to the boundary I repeated the "heel" command and they knew they could cross. If they didn't hear the word, even if they were in "heel mode" they would stop. If we were out walking in the neighborhood, any time I stepped into the street I gave the heel command so they knew they could go in the street, otherwise they would stop. They always knew that a command came before crossing a boundary.

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      Jet Owner 6 years ago

      Sarahj48, electric fences may be fine for some owners and dogs but, as the article suggests, using one would frighten my timid dog and make her stay on the porch instead of roaming our 3 acres. I'm game to try the technique in the article, but we go to the 3 acre property only once a month or so and I'm concerned that the technique won't work. Anybody have any feedback on the technique?

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      garrett 6 years ago

      How long does this take

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      sheri 7 years ago

      my newest foster dog jumps the chain link fence, should the boundry be the fence or several feet in from the fence?

    • sarahj48 profile image

      sarahj48 7 years ago

      Let your electric fence do the work for you! I have a new Radial-Shape Wireless Dog Fence from Havahart.I just turned it on, paired the collar, set radius distance, walked out to the boundary, made sure it went off in 90 ft, adjusted the correction level, then put in the flags. It only took about 45 minutes and it was completely set up and ready to use. Simple, safe and easy!

      Here's what I'm talking about: