How to Train a Golden Retriever to Stay in the Yard

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You weren’t entirely sure what breed to get to start with. You had a few potentials in mind, but then you watched 'Homeward Bound'. After that, it was always going to be a Golden Retriever. So far, you have had no regrets. He made the most adorable puppy in the world. Even as he’s grown up he’s remained cute and cuddly. Guests and family love playing with him when they come round and you love cuddling up to him in the evenings. 

However, he does have one bad habit. You simply cannot keep him contained in the yard. He’s hell-bent on leaping over bushes and exploring. Yet training him to stay in the yard is essential if you want to keep him safe. If you don’t, there’s the danger he has an altercation with another dog or that he’s involved in a traffic collision. 

Defining Tasks

Training him to stay in the yard isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Golden Retrievers are intelligent and at times, mischievous. So, you will need to take a number of steps to deter him from escaping from the yard to start with. You will also need to motivate him to stay put using a variety of incentives. If he wants to stay in the yard then it will be far easier to keep him there.

If he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner. You could see results in just a week or two. If he’s older with a long rap sheet of trying to escape then you may need a little while longer. Be prepared to invest up to a month into training. Succeed and you won’t have to panic each time you lose sight of him.

Getting Started

Before you start training, you will need to gather a few bits. You may need some new, secure fencing for your yard. You will also need a deterrence collar and a water spray bottle for one of the methods. 

An array of toys and food puzzles will be required, as will some tasty treats or his favorite food broken into small chunks. Then set aside a few minutes each day for training.

Once you have all the above, you just need patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!

The Containment Method

Effective
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Step
1
Fencing
The first thing to do is to remove the temptation of escaping. To do that, ensure you have secure fencing surrounding the yard. Alternatively, large bushes or anything that can obscure his view will reduce his desire to leave the yard.
Step
2
Tether
You can also try securing him to a long leash when he is in the yard. Then simply tether it to a point where he has still plenty of freedom to roam around.
Step
3
Water spray bottle
If you do catch him trying to escape, rush over and give a quick spray of water near his face. You can also issue a firm ‘NO’ command. This will soon get him associating leaving the yard with negative consequences.
Step
4
Deterrence collar
You can buy deterrence collars from a range of online and local stores. Whenever you see him trying to escape or approaching the boundaries of the yard, hit the button and an unpleasant spray of citronella will be released.
Step
5
Don’t terrify him
It is important that when you use the methods above, you remain calm throughout. If you go overboard and frighten him then he may only want to escape more. So, stay calm and collected.
Recommend training method?

The Make It Fun Method

Effective
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Step
1
Attention
Make sure you go out each day and spend a few minutes playing with him in the yard. Golden Retrievers have a lot of energy, so you need to ensure he blows off some of that steam. Play tug of war, fetch and any other games he enjoys. All will help him associate the yard with attention from his owner and his favorite games.
Step
2
Food puzzles
Try leaving the odd food puzzle out in the yard. This is particularly important if you leave him out there for extended periods of time. The food puzzle will keep him content and occupied while you are away.
Step
3
Leave his toys outside
You need to make the yard feel part of his territory. So, leave his toys out there with him. Not only will they give him something to play with, but he will feel more relaxed and at ease.
Step
4
Exercise
Make sure he gets a decent daily walk. Golden Retrievers need a lengthy walk each day. If he gets this, he’s much more likely to be spend his time in the yard napping, instead of plotting to escape.
Step
5
Positive reinforcement
Leave the odd treat in the yard. You can also lure him outside with a treat to start with. This will all help him associate the yard with tasty treats and positive consequences.
Recommend training method?

The Slow & Steady Method

Effective
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Step
1
Boundaries
Secure him to a leash and walk him around the permitter of the yard once in the morning and once in the evening. Do this for several days and he will begin to think of it as his territory and somewhere he wants to stay to protect.
Step
2
10 minutes
To start with, leave him out in the yard for just 10 minutes or so. Also give him something to play with out there. You don’t want him to be bored with nothing to do. After the 10 minutes, let back inside and give him some verbal praise and a treat.
Step
3
Increase the time
The next day put him outside for 15 minutes. Also give him toys to play with when he’s out there and a treat when his time is up. The day after that, add another 5 minutes. The trick is to gradually build up the length of time you leave him out there for.
Step
4
Call him
Once he’s comfortable in the yard for a decent length of time, you can join him. Stand in the middle of the yard and call him over to you whenever he walks towards the edge. Talk in a high-pitched, animated voice.
Step
5
Reward
As soon as he moves away from the edge and comes over to you, hand over a tasty treat and give him some verbal praise. If you do this for a few minutes each day, it will soon become habit to stay firmly in the yard and away from any escape routes.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ronny
Golden Retriever
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ronny
Golden Retriever
6 Months

I have to go to work and he will have to spend most of the day alone (7-8 hours). How can I make this work for him? I also have a small yard, would it be safe for him in the yard or shoul I only keep him inside the house?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Daniela, I generally recommend keeping pup inside while you are away for safety reasons, and so pup doesn't develop bad habits like barking, digging, eating things, or destroying things at this age, but that also depends a lot on the area you live in. In the city a dog may bark and annoy neighbors, there could be other animals that wander into the yard in any location, people who tease pup, bad weather, or other dangers. If you live in the country away from other people, have a securely fenced yard other animals aren't likely to come into, and don't have issues with wild animals that would come over the fence, pup may be fine outside as long as they have adequate shelter and water. Inside, at this age pup will need to be crated while you are away or kept in a dog-proofed room, depending on how pup's potty training is. I recommend giving pup a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy, and if you can, have a dog walker or family/friend/yourself come home midday to give pup a short walk/potty break, and a new dog food stuffed chew toy when they return them to their crate or room. To stuff a kong you can either place pup's dry dog food loosely in it and cover 1/2 of the opening with a larger treat - so the dog food will dispense more slowly, or place pup's food in a bowl, cover with water, let sit out until the food turns to mush, mix the mush with a little liver paste, treat paste, or peanut butte (avoid xylitol! - it's extremely toxic to dogs and a common sweetener substitute), place a straw through the kong's holes, loosely stuff the kong with the mush, place in a baggie, and freeze overnight. Remove the straw before giving pup, and grab the kong from the freezer as needed - for a time-released treat. Pack loosely, not too tightly, or pup won't be able to get the food out. You can also purchase several durable hollow chew toys and stuff them at the same time so that you have a stash in the freezer to grab from as needed. If pup can handle being in a dog proofed room instead of the crate, you can also use something like AutoTrainer or Pet Tutor, which certain models can be programmed to occasionally release a treat when it detects pup being quiet and calm. Most dogs will sleep a lot of the day once they are used to being alone. If pup isn't used to being alone yet, I highly recommend practicing crate training as soon as possible, before pup has to be alone for so long. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate When you are home, just make sure you are stimulating pup mentally and physically through things like walks, fetch, training sessions, incorporating training into fetch and walks, and other ways, since pup will have slept or lied around most of the day and need some stimulation by then. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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