Teaching yard boundaries

Posted by twinran1
Feb 15, 2010
We have a 2 yr. old spayed spaniel/border collie mix. She has a large (unfenced) yard to play/wander in but will still go out of the yard on occasion.
When she does go out of the yard it is to go into the pasture that butts up against our yard to look for rabbits/squirrels. Our yard on the pasture side has a defined 'brush' line and the pasture has a barbed wire fence.

What is the best way to teach her to stay in the boundaries of her yard?
Posted by kjd
Feb 15, 2010
Hi, twinran1,

One way is to walk the boundaries with her. Treat her for staying on her side (if she heels well, the first times you walk the boundaries, put her on the inside, where she is always right). I cannot see anyway you can do this always positively; I think you will have to correct her when she strays across, but it should be a mild correction, followed with praise and a treat when she returns to the proper side. Someone else on the forum may be able to tell you how to be consistently positive.

If she is good at retrieving, you can then throw balls close to the boundary, treating for a retrieve that doesn't cause her to cross. (Might start with a light line that doesn't let her cross, so the first retrieves always get praise.)

This will take time, patience, and consistency, but I think you should be able to do it. Except, there will always be that temptation -- if there is any danger on the other side of the boundary, I'd go for some kind of a fence. Humans aren't perfect and dogs, though they might approach it, aren't perfect either. If there is a farmer with a gun on the other side, who thinks your dog is worrying his animals, fence it! If there is open pastureland, where all she is doing is leaving your property, no real risks, teach her the boundaries.

I've heard of people who have managed to do this, even in urban areas. Other people use the invisible fence (but it always runs the risk of that one temptation that causes the dog to go through the pain, and then she is afraid to come back).

Hope others can give you some more and better advice,
Posted by abchak1
Dec 28, 2011
Just wanted to let you know that I managed to train our dog to stay within our unfenced yard after only a week or two of training. Just so you know, our yard is relatively small (probably 40x20 meters) so my approach might not be as appropriate for your "large yard". But here's what I did...

Right after adopting our female golden/viszla mix at 14 months, we only allowed her in the yard on a long retractable leash. She was free to run around as she pleased, we just had to run with her, haha. Whenever she started to leave a boundary, I would immediately stop the leash and say "no" firmly. Pretty soon she had figured out where she wasn't allowed to go and stopped trying. It's been 4 months and she's only ran out twice since (both in the first 2 months). Even though we're a few blocks from some moderately sized roads, now I trust her to be outside alone for up to 5 minutes at a time.

I hope this works for you. It might be kind of a bummer for your dog if they're already used to being free in the yard, though. Good luck!