How to Train Your Small Dog to Stay in an Unfenced Yard

Hard
3-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Are you tired of having to put your pup's leash on to take him outside just so he can go potty? Wouldn't it be nice if you could let your little dog go out and then stand in the doorway while he does his business? Of course, you could always opt for installing a fence around your yard, if you can afford it and your HOA allows for it. Then again, most small dogs can squeeze or dig under a fence if they're really determined to escape.

The goal of training your small pup to stay in your unfenced yard is to teach your pup boundaries that he must not cross unless he is accompanied by you or another member of your family and has permission. In order to create the initial training boundaries, you can use a series of marker flags you can easily buy at your local hardware store. You should mark the boundaries a few feet inside the actual boundaries of your yard. 

Defining Tasks

The idea is to train your pup to respect the boundaries you have set up so that you can play with him off-leash in the yard without worrying that he might run away. It can also help to prevent him from running out of the yard in the event he should get out by accident. Teaching your small dog to stay in an unfenced yard could save him from serious injury or possibly being run over by a car.

The good news is that once your pup has mastered this skill, you and the rest of your family will be able to play with your pup out in the backyard without worrying about him taking off. However, at no time should you ever allow your pup to be outside on his own. No matter how well trained he is, he might still try to run off when no one is watching. Through this training, your pup will learn to stay within his boundaries, but it does require the presence of a human being to make him stick to it. 

Getting Started

Before trying to train your small pup to stay in an unfenced yard, he must have first mastered simple commands like 'come', 'sit', 'stay', 'stop', and 'down'. These are all part of teaching your dog to obey your commands without question or hesitation. To train your dog to stay in the yard, you need:

  • Marking flags
  • Treats
  • Leash and collar
  • Long leash
  • Marker flags
  • Space

Successful training relies on you putting in the time and effort to work with your dog on a regular basis until he has mastered this skill. Be sure to be patient and let the training move along at your pup's own pace, this will ensure it goes more smoothly. 

The Going Over the Basics Method

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Step
1
Practice the basics
Start out by putting your pup through a series of practice sessions working him through his basic commands. He needs to have mastered these before you can move on.
Step
2
Outside training
Take him out in the backyard and practice these commands until he can do all of them off-leash in your backyard.
Step
3
On the leash
Put him back on his leash and take him out in the backyard.
Step
4
Walking the line
Walk your pup along the marked perimeter. Let him walk at his own pace and each time he starts to wander towards the boundary markers, gently tug on the leash to get his attention and make him come away from the boundary. Practice this until he will go around the yard without trying to cross the boundary, be sure to praise him and give him a treat each time he can go all the way around without trying to leave the yard.
Step
5
Attach the long-leash
Attach the long-leash and let it drag on the ground. Let your dog wander the yard on his own. But stay close to the leash so you can grab the leash and tug on it if he tries to cross the boundary. When he gets it right, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Recommend training method?

The Temptation Method

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Step
1
Establish the boundaries
Using several marker flags, mark the boundaries of your yard, but keep them about 3 to 4 feet inside the actual boundary of your yard.
Step
2
Show the boundaries
Take your pup for a walk around his boundaries while he is on his leash. Let him enjoy the walk, but do not let him cross the line. Each time he tries to cross, gently guide him away from the boundary using his leash. Keep working at this stage for several days, this will help establish his boundaries in his mind.
Step
3
Work it for several days
Next, leave your pup on the inside of the boundary while you step outside it. Use your 'stay' command to keep him inside, praise him and give him treats when he does. Repeat this training for several days again until he has mastered it.
Step
4
Up the ante
So, he won't go out of the yard to come to you, but what about a treat or one of his favorite toys? Up the ante by tossing one or more of these outside of the boundary and reward him each time he stays put.
Step
5
The final test
This time you are going to stand in the back doorway and let your pup go out in the backyard by himself. Follow him out and let him do his thing. The only time you should do something is if you see your pup thinking about crossing the boundary, then call him back in the line. When he stops, give plenty of praise and treats. Keep practicing until you can count on your pup to stay in his yard all the time.
Recommend training method?

The Extension Leash Method

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Step
1
Establish your boundaries
After you have set up the boundaries in your yard, put your pup on his regular leash and take him for a walk around his new boundaries. Start out around 10 feet from the borders at first and slowly decrease the distance, each time he tries to cross the boundary, use the leash to tug him back. Be gentle, but firm and say "come" while walking away from him. Give him a treat and lots of praise when he follows you.
Step
2
Time for the extension leash
Attach your dog to his extension leash and give him a few minutes to calm down. Then you can move on to the next step.
Step
3
Try to distract him
Take your dog out to the backyard and use a number of distractions to see if you can confuse him. Toss a favorite treat or toy over the boundary. If he tries to follow, call him back and stop the leash.
Step
4
Keep training
Keep practicing this until your pup refuses to go across the boundary, no matter what lure you use.
Step
5
On his own
Time to try your pup off-leash. So be brave and let your pup go out in the backyard without his leash. Let him play and romp. If he tries to cross the boundary, call him back and reward him for getting it right. Keep practicing and enjoy the fun of having a dog you can trust to stay within his boundaries as long as you are out there with him.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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