When it comes to dog ownership, most would agree that making sure they are in a safe and secure environment is a crucial first step to keeping our beloved pups out of harm’s way. By making sure you have a plan in place to keep your dog in the yard, you can avoid having to chase them through the neighborhood anytime a squirrel decides to wander by.
There are numerous methods and strategies to teach your dog to stay in the yard. To figure out which solution is best for you, you’ll first need to figure out what’s driving them to escape in the first place. Once you figure out the reason behind their desire to escape, you can continue on with your plan to keep them in the yard.
7 Step Method to Keep Your Dog in The Yard
These are listed in order of importance so make sure you follow the order below. Step number 4 is only for those who don’t have a fence. Step number 5 is optional but if your dog continues to escape it might be your best option.
- Figure out why your dog is escaping in the first place
- Inspect your yard for vulnerability
- Improve the fence with chicken wire or rocks
- Use invisible fence if you don’t have a fence
- Use a tie out cable
- Give them plenty of exercise
- Begin boundary training
Let’s dive into the details to keep your pup safe and secure.
Why Dogs Try to Escape
While there are many reasons why a dog might decide to hop the fence and run off, let’s look at some of the more common examples.
One of the reasons we love dogs is because of how social they are in nature. Unfortunately for some of them, being left alone causes a great deal of stress. This can lead to them howling, chewing up the furniture, making a mess on the carpet, and of course, finding ways to escape the yard.
Just as it sounds, your dog could simply be bored and looking for adventure and excitement. It’s normal that your dog would rather go down the street and play with the neighborhood kids or other dogs, but you obviously cannot just allow them to escape and run free!
This is why it’s good to get a lot of play time in with your dog as well as taking them on long walks! The more tired your dog is, the less likely they will be interested in checking out what everyone else is up to!
Some dogs tend to be a little jumpy and can scare easily. Things like sirens, thunder, car horns/alarms, and fireworks are just a few examples of things that can spook your dog into fleeing the yard!
Some dogs are even scared of ordinary things in your home like appliances, hardwood floors, and vacuums. Finding out what the potential triggers are with your dog and avoiding them when possible can help your dog get over their fear.
Natural Reasons (Roaming)
If you have a male dog that is not neutered, it can be tough for him to fight off those urges should he see an un-spayed lady prancing around outside the fence! Regardless of how well trained he is, when a male dog feels the urge, he will hop the fence or dig his way out. The obvious option for preventing this type of behavior is to get your dog neutered as early as possible. Consult with your vet on when the right time will be to get this done.
Chase instincts are one of the most common reasons for dogs escaping the yard. Some dogs just have it in their head that anything walking by the fence needs to be pursued!
Dogs with this instinct will chase just about anything out of the yard such as other small animals, people, cars, bikes, and even the poor mailman! This can be one of the more dangerous situations as your dog could find himself sprinting into the street or possibly harming another animal or person.
Some good options for preventing this kind of behavior would be to limit their visibility to anyone passing by your yard along with making sure you have a fence that is locked and secured at all times.
Inspecting Your Yard for Vulnerabilities
Now that we have an idea of what motivates some dogs to escape, our next step is walking around the property and inspecting the yard for vulnerabilities. Dogs can be clever at finding all types of little gaps or holes in your perimeter and can sneak out if they desire. Finding these holes and filling them beforehand is an excellent method of preventing your dog from escaping.
If you have a fence, it’s good practice to regularly check it for any gaps or holes you may not notice by simply looking out the window. If your dog is a digger, you may find new spots to fill regularly. If your dog is a jumper or climber, use coyote rollers or try removing any type of climbing aid to assist them in hopping the fence. Dogs can be extremely creative when it comes to climbing, so don’t underestimate their ability.
Another thing to consider when sending your dog out into the yard is that they are comfortable and enjoy being there. Make sure there is shade and water for them, put some toys out for them to play with, make the yard is a place where they enjoy spending time. This is a great way to prevent them from even wanting to leave in the first place!
Securing Your Dog In The Yard
At this point you should have a good idea of why your dog may be trying to escape in the first place and you should have inspected your yard to see if there are any vulnerabilities. If there are, make sure you get those fixed. The next step is to secure your dog in the yard using one or all of the methods below.
Build or Improve Your Fence
If you don’t already have one, building a fence is obviously the first option for preventing your dog from leaving the yard. Make sure it’s high enough that they can’t jump over it. If you have a chain link fence, you may want to consider a privacy fence that way they won’t see another animal walking by and feel the need to chase.
If you already have a fence you’ll want to make it more “escape proof” by installing chicken wire to the bottom of the fence or placing large rocks around the base of your existing fence fence. There is also a product called “dig defense” you can get at your local hardware or pet store. They are metal rods that you hammer into the ground along the fence line. This prevents your dog from being able to escape even if they do start digging.
One of the main concerns with building a fence around the yard is that it isn’t cheap. Depending on how big your yard is, a fence can cost thousands of dollars. Instead, some dog owners decide to go with an Invisible Fence. An invisible fence uses electrically charged wires buried underneath your yard. You then place the receiver on your dog’s collar. When they cross the boundary line you set for them, a tone or vibration will deter him/her from going any further.
This is a great option if building a physical fence is not possible. Invisible fences do require some more maintenance than a physical fence, but the cost of installing is much cheaper. One big issue with an invisible fence compared to a physical fence is that it does not prevent people or other animals from entering your yard. If that’s not a big deal where you live, and invisible fence will do the trick.
We often get asked the difference between an invisible fence and an electric fence. We don’t recommend electric fences. Even ones that were made specifically for dogs and other animals, they can still be dangerous. An invisible fence is a much safer option.
Tie Out Cable
Another option to keep your dog in the yard is using a Tie Out Cable. A tie out cable is an anchor that screws into the ground and attaches to a cable. You leash your dog to this cable keeping him safely secured to your property.
There are many different lengths and types of cables you can use for whatever space you have. This is definitely the cheapest option as tie out cables are very inexpensive. It’s best to get the longest cable as possible so your dog can still freely roam the yard. Just make sure to take it off for periods of time when you go out to play with them. You should never keep your dog on a cable 24/7.
Like the invisible fence, one of the cons of a tie out cable is that it doesn’t prevent other dogs or animals from entering your dog’s space. Another problem with tie out cables is that sometimes your dog can get himself tangled up into things like tables, chairs, trees, bushes, etc. While it isn’t a huge issue, it can get annoying if you are constantly running outside to untangle your dog from other objects in your yard.
Walk Your Dog
Even though dogs sleep most of the day, when they are awake they have plenty of energy. If you don’t allow them to release that energy, it’s going to be expressed with destructive behavior. The best way to make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise is to take them out on a 20-30 minute walk every day.
The other major benefit to taking your dog out for a walk is that is satisfies their curiosity. If you installed privacy fencing like we recommend, your dog might be curious what’s on the other side. By taking them out for a walk you’re letting them safely “explore the world”.
While most of the other methods involve using some type of tool or structure to keep your dog in the yard, boundary training will train your dog to stay within the boundary of your yard.
This by far requires the most work, training, and trust in your dog. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you teach your dog endeavor as it will require a lot of hard work and discipline from you and your dog! Check out this article for more information on how to properly boundary train your dog.
We always recommend doing boundary training along with all the other steps. You can think of boundary training as the ultimate solution to the issue, whereas the other steps are more like a “bandaid”. They are great methods to prevent your dog from escaping, but they don’t get to the root of the issue.
There are many options out there for keeping your little escape artist safe and secure in your yard! You just need to know your dog, your yard, and your budget. Dog ownership is much less stressful when you have complete confidence that you can leave your dog in the yard while you’re gone and he/she will still be there when you return home.
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