Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: Teaching the Dog to Stay in the Yard

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Dear Kevin,
Odin is a Golden Retriever. He will not stay in the yard without being tied up. I have tried an invisible fence but I hate it when he gets shocked. Is there any other way to make him stay in his own yard? Thank you.

Hi Helen,

I’m a big fan of training dogs on a long leash. I use a 30-50 foot non-retractable leash. Using a long leash like this gives a dog a lot of room to roam around and sniff, pee, etc. This gives you the opportunity to do some recall training (dog comes when called) and also the boundary training you are looking for. To make it easiest for the dog you can use a flag system to mark the boundaries. I would recommend using positive reinforcement to teach Odin where his boundaries are. Hiring a qualified trainer in your area could help out a lot to give you a good visual on how to go about training this way.

Using the long leash and the flags allow your dog to roam around. When he gets near the boundary flags praise and reward him for not crossing it. You can train this one of two ways. You can increase the rewards the closer he gets to the boundary, but as soon as he crosses he gets none, or you can pick a spot and then decrease the rewards the closer he gets to the boundary. The second one is basically rewarding the dog even more for staying closer to the house. If he does cross the line try to call him back to you. If he will not come when called use the leash to assist him back into the yard. When he is a little bit closer to you try to call him again. He should come the rest of the way on his own.

This is going to take a lot of repetition.

Thanks for your question!

Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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  1. Avatar Of Elenor Elenor says:

    Hi, How can I train my dog not to bark at night?

  2. Avatar Of Katie



    Wow, Janne Thiebaud, that is a bit harsh and cruel. Are you actually there to see what the property is like.
    I remember you having a dog that was continuously covered in fleas. Yet, you have the audacity to lecture others. You are a joke!!

  3. Avatar Of Kayla



    What age do you recommend to begin this type of training?

  4. Avatar Of Kathy Cochran

    kathy cochran


    Please help!!
    I have a one year old border collie. We have a fenced in yard, but my guy keeps jumping the fence. Im scared he is going to get hurt. How can i break this habit

    Thank You

    • Avatar Of Janne Thiebaud

      Janne Thiebaud


      Border Collies should never be kept in a suburban back yard, they are sheep herding animals. Instinctively they will will seek to roam, it is as natural to them as breathing is. This situation becomes worse if the dog does not have another canine friend to live with. You will need to make your fences very high to keep him in, remembering they are also good climbers. Making your fence 8 feet or more high, and leaning in towards your yard will help curb this problem, along with discouraging ALL jumping, even on you.

  5. Avatar Of Jenn



    RE: Teaching the Dog to Stay in the Yard

    I had no problems with Invisible Fence teaching my lab and hound mix to stay within the bounds of the electric fence. The trainer came and spent about 2 hours with them. They have never breached the fence with their collars on and 11 years later, they still won’t leave the property without permission. My Pit-mix was different. I tried to teach her myself- with flags, the long leash, and rewards. But she just didn’t mind the shock when a squirrel or other dog in the neighborhood came by. She would actually stand at the shock line. We had IF up the repetition and level of shock a tad and that didn’t work (she was fine when we were outside with her, but not alone). Finally, we hired IF to come out and give her more professional training. She trained well, understood the boundaries, but they still had problems off-leash and when she was left to her own decision-making when there were distractions outside the boundaries until they took her collar up to the highest level and highest amount of repetition for the shock. We were one step away from what I call the ‘Frankenstein collar’- a collar they make for the toughest situations. But, thankfully, she finally got it. It was heartbreaking for her to go through this, but I kept saying ‘It’s either this or she gets hit by a car or gets in a fight or Animal Control comes to get her’. We have had no problems since then. She fully understands the difference between the collar on and off and asks for permission to cross the line to get into the car or go in the street. It was worth it. Now, I can leave home and not worry I’ll come home to a maimed dog or a missing dog.

    For her, it was a combination of rewards-based training, reinforcement (went on for about 2 months) and then the collar. If we’d just used the collar, that wouldn’t have helped her learn the boundaries. The collar was basically the last step. By the time IF came out, she already knew the boundaries well, she just thought crossing them was optional depending on what was beyond them.

    One thing that IF teaches is never walk the perimeter with your dog. They won’t understand the boundaries vs the safe areas. They teach you to approach the boundary from various places. This way, they know they can roam inside the boundary, but learn the limits at the same time.

    Oh, and tie-ups are illegal in our county and I’m glad of it. If you’re opposed to all of this, you might want to build a large, safe run.

  6. Avatar Of Mary Lou Stevens

    Mary Lou Stevens


    Again, you’ve covered one of the subjects I desperately needed! I wrote to you before about your dog agression info…, still trying to find a dog owner in my town who is brave enough to hang out with us! He jumps the fence when I’m not watching and has terrorized some dog owners…But, he likes female dogs and so far I’ve prevented him from attacking any males, but it is inevitable! Thanks again!

    • Avatar Of Janne Thiebaud

      Janne Thiebaud


      Erect a suitable fence around your yard, it is not rocket science. It beats getting sued for everything you have when your dog bites and maims, or worse, a child, another dog or adult. Take responsibility for your dogs behavior now, or find it a home with people who ARE responsible dog owners.

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