How do I train my dog to stay on my property?
This post material is closely related to a previous post I wrote titled Train your dog to stay Home. I feel this topic is important enough to write about again, with some fresh input. I am presently working with one of my dogs, Ciro, who is three years old and has a mind of his own for sure!
I knew when I bought him as a puppy three years ago, that I was not going to have an easy time of training him. First of all, his father is a Great Pyrenees (His mother is a Golden Retriever), and that is a challenge in of itself. I will explain.
Some breeds like the Great Pyrenees, are bred to BE INDEPENDANT. Meaning, a Great Pyrenees, in charge of a flock of sheep, or goats, is expected to live with the livestock he or she guards. A Guardian type of breed, like the Great Pyrenees, was bred to protect livestock, with his life if necessary, from predators like wolves, coyotes, cougars etc. Most ranchers or farmers who use guardian dogs, will use them in pairs, or more, depending on the size of the herds or flocks of livestock.
A livestock guardian breed
should never be a cross with a non livestock guarding breed, in order to be reliable with livestock. My dog for example, being crossed with Golden Retriever, would not be a good candidate as a livestock guardian, as the Goldens were not bred for this purpose.
Being half Golden, gives my dog Ciro, a softer less protective demeanor. Being half Great Pyrenees, though, makes him more prone to expanding his territory. Our property is a small 4 acres, and is surrounded by other small farms or acreages that also have livestock. This causes a problem for my training with my Pyrenees crossed dog.
Many of you with outdoor dogs, or indoor/outdoor dogs will no doubt have crosses with guardian breeds, or even full blooded dogs. Some breeds, like guard/watch dog types, or herding breeds are easier to train to stay within your boundaries. Why? Guard/watch dog breeds, like the German Shepherd are territorial, meaning they are more protective of you, and their immediate property that they live on.
Rottweilers and German Shepherds were used to herd and guard livestock, that is what they were bred for then. However, that particular usage has long fallen out of favour, as there are other breeds much better suited for livestock.
My parents used to own a Border Collie, that never left our 5 acre farm. She was very territorial, especially for a Border Collie from herding parents. She took it upon herself to chase every bird off our farm, and was also protective of us humans. We did have some cattle, ducks, chickens and horses, but strangely she showed no interest in them.
From a young pup, she had an interest in birds, and loved to chase them! Silly dog 🙂 Thankfully she left our chickens and ducks alone. My mother loved this interest in chasing birds, in fact I believe she encouraged this behaviour from the beginning. My mother had a lot of fruit growing in the garden, from grapes, apples, gooseberries, strawberries to choke cherries. Birds would come swooping in large groups, attempting to gobble up all the fruit when in season.
This would drive our Border Collie, Pepper was her name, bat crazy! It sure would keep her busy though, running back and forth, barking too, until all the birds left. We never had to worry about her visiting the neighbours, as she knew where our boundaries were.
Teaching dogs boundaries
is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, when beginning your training. Training should be done from puppyhood before your puppy has developed bad habits.
Most dogs can be taught quite easily, to stay within your boundaries, but it requires consistancy of everyone in your family, regarding the dog handling/training. One thing I cannot stress enough, is that if you expect your outdoor dog or indoor/outdoor dog to stay on your property, with minimal to no supervision (eventually), you should NEVER ever take your dog off your property on foot!
Dogs take over territory, or enlarge their territory, by peeing or pooping in certain areas, as a marker. Lets just say you wanted to go for a walk down the road, and took your dog with you, either on leash or without (!!). During that walk, your dog relieved himself somewhere. Leaving his scent on the side of the road. That scent just became a marker, that your dog may want to revisit, to refresh the marker.
If your dog lives in your home
and is never allowed off leash when outside, or has a secure fenced area to live in, this will not be a problem. However, if you expect your dog to live on your property, mostly unsupervised, that will be a big problem over time.
So to train your dog to stay within your set boundaries, you must take your dog around your property boundaries every day. On leash preferably if your dog does not have a good recall (coming when called). On these boundary walks, your dog will relieve him or herself, leaving a marker of his or her scent. This scent lets other dogs know that your property has a dog in charge.
If you have to take your dog off your property, use your vehicle instead. This prevents your dog from marking off your property, and thereby sets a good foundation for training. By all means, when travelling with your dog, please don’t make your dog travel in your truck bed. It’s incredibly dangerous for your dog. A sturdy kennel, securely strapped onto your truck bed or in your truck cab belted into a harness, are the only safe alternatives. I have seen a dog jump off a truck bed and nearly killed.
A friend of my son’s had a dog killed when the dog jumped out of an open car window, while driving 100 kms per hour! If that dog had been harnessed to a seat belt, he might still be alive today.
For the first 2-3 years of your outdoor dogs life
he or she should never be allowed unsupervised on your property. You will need to contain your dog safely, in a fenced area or large dog run when you can’t supervise. Even when you can determine that your dog is reliable during the daylight hours, your dog should still be contained securely at night.
There are many dangers to a dog during the night hours, predators like wolves, coyotes and others, are more active after dark. Coyotes have been known to lure a dog out to where the rest of the pack is waiting. Coyotes will literally tear your dog to pieces if they have lured your dog out as their next meal. A horrible death to be sure.
Chaining or tying up your dog is not healthy for your dog’s mental state, except for short periods of time. Dogs feel more insecure and trapped, while on a chain. This will lead to more barking, nuisance barking out of need to get attention, or because of fear. Also, if you don’t teach your dog boundaries, once your dog is let off the chain, he or she is more likely to take off on you. After being confined for a long period of time on a chain, the sheer frustration of this kind of life, may send your dog running all over the neighbourhood, making up for lost time.
Chaining up your dog
does NOT teach him or her to stay home. I see my neighbours do this, and it does not work. Yes, it keeps your dog secure to a certain extent, but it is a miserable life to be sure. Likewise, confining your dog in a small kennel, with barely any room to run around, is equally as miserable and cruel.
Obviously dogs are not human, are not furry ‘children’, even though many humans treat them this way. However, dogs do have many of the same needs and emotions that humans do. For example, the needs we share of needing to burn off excess energy, having some fun, companionship via friends, are just as important as the more obvious need for shelter, food and water.
When those needs are not met, a dog will go looking for them when given a chance. When dogs run away, there is always a reason. When dogs regularily leave your property, to go elsewhere, it can be for adventure and fun, or it might be for physical reasons, like food.
Give your dogs companionship
good healthy food, clean water, shelter from either cold or the heat, and many opportunities to burn off excess energy. These are the basics of life for all living beings. These conditions alone however, will not keep your dog on your property, but they do set a good foundation along with boundary training.
With all my other dogs over the many years, and with my presently oldest dog at 8 years, who is also a Golden Retriever cross (Golden Retriever/ Collie), boundary training with supervision worked well.
With my youngest dog, my Great Pyrenees/Golden Retriever cross, boundary training with supervision has not been enough. He feels the needs to go check out the neighbour’s cattle, to check out the neighbour’s chicken pen or lately, to find out why another neighbour’s dogs are so unhappy. My Pyrenees is sneaky about it, waiting until I am in the horse or chicken barn, and then off he goes to wherever his attention is focused. Sometimes it’s just to a close neighbours garden, other times he wanders onto a farmer’s field behind our ranch or to say hello to the cattle.
Thankfully, my ‘curious george’, is a gentle boy, and has shown no propensity for harming other animals or birds.
I have tried shock collar systems
but that only works for a little while. I don’t keep the electronic collar on him all the time, only for periodic training. Our steel covered buildings also have a tendency to interfere with the signal. It’s inconsistent. He is a smart dog and has figured out that when the collar is off, he can get away with more!
Lately, I am using a different strategy, attaching a large horse ball to a long horse lead, attached to his collar. He has to drag this bouncing ball everywhere and it really cramps his fun LOL! I do this to make him mindful, to make him think before travelling to areas he shouldn’t.
Ciro, often likes to zip inbetween the trees and bushes, to sneak into the neighbours garden, but with the large ball dragging along behind, it gets caught around the bushes! This is obviously not something you want to do without supervision. I noticed during this morning’s chores, Ciro was not around again. Never a good sign!
I went looking and found him
beside the driveway, on the neighbour’s property, caught in their bushes. I informed him he was on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, while I untangled his ball and leash. He looked a bit sheepish, being stuck there the way he was. Ironically, those neighbours have a small flock of sheep too, and he was most likely trying to get a closer look….
Another method I have employed lately, is I attach a loud cow bell onto his collar. Ha! He really hates this, because Ciro is very sensitive to loud noises. I bought this bell, from a livestock catalog, before the days of the Internet, many years ago for a dog I had that was going deaf.
It allowed me to hear where my wandering almost deaf dog was, so I knew where to find him. That particular old dog was a bit senile, and would forget he was not supposed to wander to the neighbours. I would hear the ding ding ding, and could get closer to my old boy, to holler his name to come back home. Bobo, could only hear within 10 feet or so, by the time he was at the end of his life, at age 17 years.
That same brass cow bell
allows me to hear where my boy Ciro is, so I can be proactive and call him back before he sneaks off. However, the ringing bell has had an unexpected result, Ciro is apparently so averse to the sound, that he will walk slowly and carefully, so his bell does not ring! LOL! Ciro will also plant himself down on the driveway, so the bell does not ring, and he can still watch the neighbour’s sheep and cattle! He is a Guardian Dog through and through!
So in summary, ‘how do I train my dog to stay on my property’, the following guidelines are extremely important… Never allow your dog OFF your property (except via vehicle), walk the boundaries every day (or at least a few times a week), confine your dog when you cannot supervise closely. I hope this has been helpful.