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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Were currently living in a house on around 1 acre. Our landlord never put a fence up and doesn't want to. So we need help with alternatives!

We have two dogs currently, one is a german shepherd/irish setter mix, she is 1 year old and we also have a pitbull mix, he is 4 years old. Our boy is an angel inside the house. Our girl is getting much better at listening, but she has a ton of energy so we need to get her out for at least an hour-2 hours a day. She's great when shes outside. But our boy can be a trouble maker when we're outside and our girl of course follows his lead. So any time kids get off the bus, or the neighbors are riding bikes or taking a walk down our street, he goes right after them and she follows. They've never bit anyone or gotten aggressive, more than anything they just annoy people! They will run right up and bark and sniff and sometimes jump. They don't listen at all when we call them to come back, and if I go to run up and grab them, my boy will usually play keep away with me and make a B line for the people. We've only been here about a year but our boy has always had an issue with listening to us when we're outside. He's a really good dog, and sometimes he does listen! But when he doesn't, it's like we're not even there.

What can I do?! I've heard a lot of options, like taking them to obedience classes, shock collars, clickers and yard cone training, those invisible fences or underground fences, has anyone tried any of them with any success? I'm not sure which route to go. I'm just confused as to why he listens so well indoors but can be so difficult when outside!
 

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1) there are lots of "no dig" fence options where you don't have to actually install the fence in a way that would bother your land lord, that sounds like a good first option.


Regardless of what other measures you take, I would start working REALLY HARD on recall training in the yard when there are no distractions. Use sporadic huge bonuses. Your dog is more likely to turn around and come back even when distracted if he knows there is a chance for a hot dog if he does!

Also, if you are on that much land, can you just play farther away from the road?

I'm not a huge fan of invisible fences and honestly they take more training than a good solid recall anyway.


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I would invest in some long lines. I also don't have a fence and I use a 50 ft. long line for my dog that I cant trust off leash (you can also get them in various lengths).
In the mean time work hard on teaching reliable recall.
 

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A lot of dogs simply run right through electric fences, both visible and invisible. I'd not use one on a dog that's a chaser like you say your two are.

I'm going to second a long line, it will be your best bet to keep control of them while giving them a good bit of space to run and play.

As to why he's listening inside but not outside. Inside you are likely the most interesting thing around, while outside there is lots more to see and do, those things trump obeying you. You're going to need to make coming to you when you call the most awesome thing ever. Think a super fun toy or game, an extra yummy treat, getting to go somewhere interesting. Whatever it is that he simply loves, find that and use it as a reward for coming back to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A lot of dogs simply run right through electric fences, both visible and invisible. I'd not use one on a dog that's a chaser like you say your two are.

I'm going to second a long line, it will be your best bet to keep control of them while giving them a good bit of space to run and play.

As to why he's listening inside but not outside. Inside you are likely the most interesting thing around, while outside there is lots more to see and do, those things trump obeying you. You're going to need to make coming to you when you call the most awesome thing ever. Think a super fun toy or game, an extra yummy treat, getting to go somewhere interesting. Whatever it is that he simply loves, find that and use it as a reward for coming back to you.

Very well put! thank you! I'm definitely going to try that :)
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Please read the rules. This is a force free forum and the suggestion of aversives is prohibited. An e-collar (even on vibrate) falls into this category.


OP- I would invest the time in training a solid recall. In the meantime, use a long line when you're outside with your dogs. The reason they listen in the house and not outside is because the outside world has more interesting things to tempt them- animals, plants, people...

I don't like invisible fences. I've seen dogs just take the shock and continue on their way. They also don't prevent things (dangerous animals, people, etc) from getting into your yard and harming your dogs. They offer a false sense of security, IMO.

For now, I suggest using a long line and not leaving them out alone. Work really hard on building a solid recall and then you can be outside with them and not worry so much.
 

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We are currently putting up a fence to border our 2 acre property, and we have one dog that has arthritis and can't run very fast, but she was also trained off-leash so we don't have any issues with her staying close to the house or coming when calling. We've already had a chipmunk incident which tested her, she stopped in her tracks when I called her to stop chasing it.

Our puppy is another story. We're still training him, and have to keep a lead on him outside. The pet stores sell the posts that go into the ground, but we went to Home Depot and bought a longer line, the type that's covered in rubber so it doesn't tangle. It helps with training, and we can take him outside with us and still do yard work without worrying about him either running away or being on a short leash.

I've also seen dogs test the invisible fences and eventually just run away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Please read the rules. This is a force free forum and the suggestion of aversives is prohibited. An e-collar (even on vibrate) falls into this category.


OP- I would invest the time in training a solid recall. In the meantime, use a long line when you're outside with your dogs. The reason they listen in the house and not outside is because the outside world has more interesting things to tempt them- animals, plants, people...

I don't like invisible fences. I've seen dogs just take the shock and continue on their way. They also don't prevent things (dangerous animals, people, etc) from getting into your yard and harming your dogs. They offer a false sense of security, IMO.

For now, I suggest using a long line and not leaving them out alone. Work really hard on building a solid recall and then you can be outside with them and not worry so much.

Thank you!! I dont really like the idea of invisible fences either. We're gonna try a line again and started training recall today!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We are currently putting up a fence to border our 2 acre property, and we have one dog that has arthritis and can't run very fast, but she was also trained off-leash so we don't have any issues with her staying close to the house or coming when calling. We've already had a chipmunk incident which tested her, she stopped in her tracks when I called her to stop chasing it.

Our puppy is another story. We're still training him, and have to keep a lead on him outside. The pet stores sell the posts that go into the ground, but we went to Home Depot and bought a longer line, the type that's covered in rubber so it doesn't tangle. It helps with training, and we can take him outside with us and still do yard work without worrying about him either running away or being on a short leash.

I've also seen dogs test the invisible fences and eventually just run away.
Awee, well good luck with the fencing!!

Weve always lived places without a fence and a good amount of yard space, besides this one time we lived in NY for about 6 months with a fenced in doggy yard/dog door, it was perfect! I wish we could do that again. But he's always been pretty good at staying in the yard until recently. I'm thinking maybe all the space is tempting him, we've never had quite this much space lol

for a brief amount of time when he was around 1 year old we tried him on a line that you put in the ground but he'd ripped it right out fairly soon afterwards. We'll just try a more durable type this time!
 

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Oops! Sorry, I'm a big believer in humane methods and I believe that a tone or vibration is humane, however I did not in any way intend to violate the rules. Thank you for clarifying the specifics of this rule to me so that I can abide by them more completely in the future :)


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But he's always been pretty good at staying in the yard until recently
He may not have been sufficiently motivated to leave the yard before this point :). Unfortunately for you, it's much harder to boundary train a dog who has learned the fun of leaving the yard vs a dog who has never had the opportunity to leave and enjoy himself outside of the yard. You will need to prevent him from "self rewarding" by keeping him on a long line or tie out, and find a reward you can use which he finds at least as rewarding as the things he currently does when he leaves the yard. You may find that he never really becomes reliable without physical control in the yard again, but you can at least improve his off leash reliability. If he doesn't develop a good recall and/or respect for the boundary of your yard, I would continue to keep him on leash, as the behaviors you describe toward neighbors are bound to get him in trouble sooner or later, regardless of what his actual intentions are. Luckily, there are long leads of virtually any length and material imaginable, which makes it easy to keep him on leash but still allow him "freedom".

I also do not have a fenced yard, and some of my dogs have been allowed out with me present while off leash. My current dog only considers leaving the yard if his toy goes out, or if he sees one of his "friends" (any child, or our closest neighbor who always greets him happily when he comes to visit us in our yard or vice versa), but I can call him back to prevent him from leaving. I had another dog who wouldn't leave the yard even for those reasons, she was usually not on leash in our yard but always supervised. I've also had dogs who had certain things which would always be strong enough motivators for them to leave the yard, and they were always on leash when we were outside.

I taught my dogs to be off leash in the yard by keeping them on leash until they had reliable recalls, then merely calling them back anytime they approached the boundary. They figured out fairly quickly that approaching that area of the yard meant they were going to have to turn around, and would avoid those areas or come back on their own.

for a brief amount of time when he was around 1 year old we tried him on a line that you put in the ground but he'd ripped it right out fairly soon afterwards. We'll just try a more durable type this time!
For a tie out stake, you can use a piece of galvanized pipe with flange, or a (small) car axle. Attach a 2 or 3" o-ring to the end of your cable or chain, thread that onto the pipe or axle, and hammer into the ground until barely protruding. Make sure that there is a swivel on either end of your tie out to prevent tangling. For tie outs on the ground, I would use chain rather than cable, as cable is not made to take the abuse to being twisted, dragged on the ground, etc- those things will weaken it and cause failure before you would expect, and it is also more likely to cut or get tangled around the dog. Or you could make a "zip line"/trolley type, using quality cable (not the kind pre-made for dog tie out) strung overhead between 2 points (trees or posts), and a chain (my choice) or cable "lead" hanging from the cable down to the dog. Keeping everything off the ground alleviates much of the wear on the materials and reduces the risk of failure, plus reduces the load the dog is pulling around when they move around the area (a length of chain on a ground tether long enough to play for that size dog will be rather heavy). If your dog is only going to be out under close supervision (where you can easily hold his collar or leash and hold him if something enticing passes), then sturdiness of the tie out may be less important, but if he will be spending any time not directly supervised, make the investment to set up a sturdy tie out. Keep in mind that animals/people can still get in your yard, and it is possible for your dog to become tangled in any sort of tie out, or for something to break and him to get loose, so supervision of some sort at all times would be the safest bet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
He may not have been sufficiently motivated to leave the yard before this point :). Unfortunately for you, it's much harder to boundary train a dog who has learned the fun of leaving the yard vs a dog who has never had the opportunity to leave and enjoy himself outside of the yard. You will need to prevent him from "self rewarding" by keeping him on a long line or tie out, and find a reward you can use which he finds at least as rewarding as the things he currently does when he leaves the yard. You may find that he never really becomes reliable without physical control in the yard again, but you can at least improve his off leash reliability. If he doesn't develop a good recall and/or respect for the boundary of your yard, I would continue to keep him on leash, as the behaviors you describe toward neighbors are bound to get him in trouble sooner or later, regardless of what his actual intentions are. Luckily, there are long leads of virtually any length and material imaginable, which makes it easy to keep him on leash but still allow him "freedom".

I also do not have a fenced yard, and some of my dogs have been allowed out with me present while off leash. My current dog only considers leaving the yard if his toy goes out, or if he sees one of his "friends" (any child, or our closest neighbor who always greets him happily when he comes to visit us in our yard or vice versa), but I can call him back to prevent him from leaving. I had another dog who wouldn't leave the yard even for those reasons, she was usually not on leash in our yard but always supervised. I've also had dogs who had certain things which would always be strong enough motivators for them to leave the yard, and they were always on leash when we were outside.

I taught my dogs to be off leash in the yard by keeping them on leash until they had reliable recalls, then merely calling them back anytime they approached the boundary. They figured out fairly quickly that approaching that area of the yard meant they were going to have to turn around, and would avoid those areas or come back on their own.


For a tie out stake, you can use a piece of galvanized pipe with flange, or a (small) car axle. Attach a 2 or 3" o-ring to the end of your cable or chain, thread that onto the pipe or axle, and hammer into the ground until barely protruding. Make sure that there is a swivel on either end of your tie out to prevent tangling. For tie outs on the ground, I would use chain rather than cable, as cable is not made to take the abuse to being twisted, dragged on the ground, etc- those things will weaken it and cause failure before you would expect, and it is also more likely to cut or get tangled around the dog. Or you could make a "zip line"/trolley type, using quality cable (not the kind pre-made for dog tie out) strung overhead between 2 points (trees or posts), and a chain (my choice) or cable "lead" hanging from the cable down to the dog. Keeping everything off the ground alleviates much of the wear on the materials and reduces the risk of failure, plus reduces the load the dog is pulling around when they move around the area (a length of chain on a ground tether long enough to play for that size dog will be rather heavy). If your dog is only going to be out under close supervision (where you can easily hold his collar or leash and hold him if something enticing passes), then sturdiness of the tie out may be less important, but if he will be spending any time not directly supervised, make the investment to set up a sturdy tie out. Keep in mind that animals/people can still get in your yard, and it is possible for your dog to become tangled in any sort of tie out, or for something to break and him to get loose, so supervision of some sort at all times would be the safest bet.
Thanks a lot for the thorough reply! Appreciate that. I think we definitely have a lot of work to do. He's been acting out even more since we've tried to change things. Meanwhile, our younger girl is getting better and better.

So we got a line that goes tree to tree. We are liking it so far but now he's been barking/whining the whole time. Even if we are right there with him. It's frustrating because our landlord said if the neighbors complain, the dogs need to go. Recall with treats has seemed to work in our favor though. Especially with our girl, she comes right to us. Our boy, he still needs a lot of work. He will come if there's a treat in our hand, but definitely not if he's tempted by something other than the treat. Then the treat doesn't matter. What else can I do? I feel like I need some tips, like I may not be doing it right???? I know it's super early and these things take time though.

I wish I had done this when he was younger. :eyeroll:


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I don't know if this will work but... I was at our summer place a week ago, with my Alva and my parents' mutt. I went there to let the mutt off-leash with less distractions. The mutt is almost untrained young and energetic GSD mix who has a tendency to bark at strangers passing by her territory. Suddenly she ran down the hill and I heard a bark. I called her and rewarded her when she finally returned to me. I heard noises and realised there was a man walking on the frozen lake bordering our property.

I forgot the man and continued playing with the dogs. I had just finished shaping the mutt to go through the agility hoop and starting to work on another clicker exercise when the man returned. He was walking a bit too close to our "beach" for my comfort. The mutt was preparing to bark and being a watchdog she is. She ran to see better but luckily didn't run down to the lake. She took a quick glance towards me as if asking what I wanted her to do.

I clicked and gave her a treat.

She returned to her previous posture, watching over the lake, and spying on the man. But she also wanted a treat so she looked again towards me. I clicked again. I kept clicking and treating every time she looked away from the lake and she never left her vantage point or me although she was off-leash.

So I applied sort of counter-conditioning on her. I might have clicked her a couple of times before she looked at me just for seeing the man but I don't remember. She though clearly noticed my signals better if she was not looking at the man and she looked at him less once she realised there are treats involved.

I don't know if she can ever be trusted off-leash in their own yard because there are so many passers-byers there but I was surprised how easily she forgot that man on the ice too. My own dog has almost always been very reliable off-leash and didn't need any training regarding their yard although she lives in an apartment.

And then there is what I did with my parents' other dog who refused to come in. She ignored other people and dogs so that was not an issue. I started giving her a treat every time we walked through the front door and even on the porch. Thus the door was now a nice place. I also held her on a long-line and practiced recalls. I needed to build some serious reinforcement history and one time not rewarded meant returning to square one. I let her spend time in the yard without interruptions thus making the yard less a commodity. I also started calling her, giving a treat and then releasing her again. Sometimes I also touched her or leashed her before rewarding and releasing again. Guess who nowadays gets the dog inside without tricking or fishing her?

The only way to keep a dog in the yard for sure is to build a proper fence or tether the dog.
 
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