We all want our dogs to enjoy a sense of freedom and happiness in the home, but certain boundaries need to be put in place for your pet’s safety. Canines are curious creatures by nature, and when we couple this with hunting instincts and their extremely keen sense of smell the temptation to explore may become overwhelming on occasion.
This article will discuss the techniques available to you to keep a dog from running out of the yard, and thus ensuring that your cherished pet stays safe. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll never need to panic about your dog escaping.
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Why Do Dogs Try to Escape Yards?
The first thing to remember is that, just because your dog tries to escape your backyard, it doesn’t mean that they hate you or are unhappy. It will come down entirely to instinct.
It may be that your dog has picked up the scent of another canine, and is overwhelmingly tempted to track them down for a face-to-face meeting. This is likely to happen if your dog has not been spayed or neutered; a passing bitch in heat, for one that lives in a nearby yard, will be an irresistible temptation for an intact male. Alternatively, your dog may smell – or see – a squirrel, and their predatory drives will compel them to give chase.
The distinct aroma of humans may also drive your dog crazy. If your dog smells you coming from a block or two away, they may not be able to contain their excitement and will become desperate to get out of the yard and meet you halfway. Maybe your dog knows where your kids’ school is, and they follow this scent because they want to spend the day with them.
In some very rare cases, your dog may also attempt to escape because something has spooked them. Firecrackers from a neighbor’s party, for example, could cause your pooch to panic and bolt.
There are many reasons why a dog will burrow or climb out of your yard, and they all come down to an impulsive decision at the moment. Your dog isn’t stopping to weigh up the pros and cons about whether they will be able to make it home in time for dinner, and whether or not you’ll be worried.
If you’re lucky, the spell will be broken fairly quickly, and your dog will slink home with their tail between their legs. To be on the safe side, however, you should do everything you can to prevent an escape in the first place.
Make Your Yard the Place to Be for Your Dog
One way to prevent your dog from looking to escape your yard is to make it a fun place for them to be. You want this to be a safe haven for your pet and where he or she feels most at home, not their own personal prison.
You will never be able to curb of all of a canine’s naturally curious instincts, but if you may be able to make them increasingly reluctant to leave the safety – and fun – of your property.
The Bark provides some suggestions on how to make your yard an irresistible place for your pet to hang out. It all depends on many different circumstances, including the amount of space that you have available and your dog’s temperament and personality, but some universal tips include:
- Provide shelter. If you have space, consider building your dog a kennel – or purchasing an already-assembled alternative. As den animals dogs will always love having a sheltered place to call, their own, and dogs can enter and leave a kennel at their leisure.
- Ensure that there is plenty of water. Whether this a case of refilling an external bowl every hour or installing a water feature that your pet can lap from, they won’t need to go in search of hydration.
- Provide entertainment. Resist the temptation to cover up vast swathes of your lawn with a patio – your dog will need some green space to play. Toss a ball around your yard, bury some treasured treats or toys in the soil for your dog to hunt, and set up an obstacle course if you have space.
- Create an observation area. As we have mentioned, the main reason that dogs try to escape a yard is that they are curious about the outside world. If they can see what is going on beyond their garden fence, a pooch is more likely to be happy to stay within it!
- Spend time in the yard yourself. If your dog gets to hang out with its beloved human in the backyard, it will add another layer of pleasure to the territory. You don’t need to spend the night outside in the depths of winter, but play with your dog in the garden to help them consider it an extension of the home.
Naturally, taking your dog out for a long walk and playtime will also prevent them from seeking an escape from the yard. A tired dog is a contented dog, and if your pet has been worn out and received plenty of stimulation throughout their day, they will feel less compelled to go seeking amusement elsewhere.
Once again, we feel compelled to stress that a dog escaping a yard is not a personal slight on your as a pet parent. However, it may be down to your dog growing a little bored with their surroundings.
Keep your yard engaging for your hound, and mix things up a little from time to time to keep them on their toes. As long as there are new things to see, do and smell in your backyard, your dog will be happy to stay put!
Training Your Dog Not to Leave the Yard
Sometimes, training is the key to preventing your dog from leaving the backyard. This could take the form of:
- Walking your pet around the yard on their leash, keeping them from roaming too close to the corners and boundaries of the territory.
- Allow your dog off the leash, but call them back every time they approach the fence or shrubs that would allow them to escape.
- Play, play play! All dogs love to interact with their humans, so if you teach them that a yard is a place that such things happen, they’ll happily stay put.
- Make the fence and perimeter smell unpleasant for your dog. You may suffer for this yourself – and it may upset your neighbors – but if your fence gives off a strong, unappealing scent, your dog will stay well away.
- When your dog starts showing patrolling behaviors, you should distract them from their viewing spot – and block it off if necessary.
Naturally, classic obedience training and plenty of treats are also a failsafe. Keep teaching your dog new tricks in the middle of the yard and giving them delicious treats when they behave themselves will give them no reason to think about leaving the garden.
If they do make a bolt for it, however, the usual golden rule applies – never scold and reprimand them, just calmly but firmly lead them back to the yard. Too much time will have passed for your dog to understand that are being told off for running away, and you could create a strange and unconnected new fear for them.
Fences to Keep Your Dog in the Yard
The installation of a fence in a backyard is something of a tightrope. You will want to ensure that your garden is secure for both you and your pet, but you will achieve nothing by turning your property into a supermax prison!
Think about your dog’s personality, and discuss the possibility of erecting a fence with your neighbor if that’s applicable. Once you have a suitable solution and know what design you’d like to use, you should follow the steps below for further security advice! The American Kennel Club also has many suggestions.
How to Stop a Dog from Getting Through a Fence
Your dog may squeeze through a fence if you leave gaps in the wood, but equally, you may want to allow a little light into your yard.
Small dogs and puppies are the most likely to manage to pull this off, so you can invest in a product referred to a ‘puppy bumper’ to keep them in.
This bumper can be placed around a small dog’s neck, and add a little extra bulk to their size that prevents them from slipping through a small gap.
How to Stop a Dog from Climbing a Fence
If you have a dog that loves climbing, your garden fence may provide the ultimate sport. You will have to train your pet to stop doing this as they will otherwise consider it to be a fun game, but there are many methods that you can use to aid with this.
- Apply a lick of anti-climb paint. This will make it tricky for your dog to gain a foothold on the fence. As we discussed elsewhere, you could also apply something foul smelling to keep them away.
- Keep the perimeter clear. Dogs are smart, and they will soon learn if they can use a bench, bag of sand or rock to give themselves a boost in their attempts at clambering up a fence. Move everything out of the way!
- Make the fence higher. Consider this a final solution, as it will block light and could be dangerous if your dog does make it to the top. However, if all else fails, it may be the only way!
Your dog climbing your fence is potentially dangerous, and it’s something that you need to train them out of. Even if we disregard the potential for them escaping the yard, a pooch could easily lose their footing and cause severe and irreversible damage to their back if they fall from a substantial height. Ensure that your fence is canine-safe!
How to Stop a Dog from Going Under a Fence
Dogs are natural diggers, so it stands to reason that they will attempt to tunnel their way through a backyard by heading under the fence!
To prevent your pet from living out his or her own personal Shawshank Redemption, lay something solid at the base of the fence such as concrete. If that isn’t an option, you could consider chicken wire as a deterrent, but you will need to be extremely vigilant about training your dog to stay away from this and supervise them pretty much constantly for their safety.
How Do Wireless Dog Fences Work?
Some people like to use wireless, or invisible, fences to for the sake of aesthetics, or because local building codes and authorities will not allow them to erect a solid fence.
These fences create a boundary line around a property and are linked to a special collar that your dog will have to wear at all times. If your dog approaches the fence, it will emit a high-pitched sound that only canines can hear, warning them to stay away. If they continue to approach, an electric shock will be administered through their collar.
Yes, you read that right – your dog will receive an electric shock if they venture too close to an invisible boundary. As you can probably imagine, we feel very strongly that these fences should not be used for that very reason. Sure, the shock is not fatal, but it will be excruciating. Why on earth would you want to put your pooch through that? And this does not even take into consideration the fact that your dog will probably not understand why they are being hurt, and develop an all-encompassing of the backyard and loud noises as a result.
Vet Street has more insights into the pros and cons of these fences if you would like to learn more but think very carefully before installing such a security measure in your yard. They may look prettier than a solid fence, but surely that does not justify inflicting punishment and pain on your pet.
How to Keep Your Dog in the Yard Without a Fence
If you are keen to avoid putting up a fence, you could try lining your backyard with hedges instead. Naturally, it means that you’ll have to stop your dog from getting through a hedge, but investing in shrubbery that is tough to crawl through due to roots and branches should do the trick.
Another suggestion, but one that we do not recommend, is to leave your dog tied to a post throughout their time in the yard. This is theoretically safe and secure, but it’s also cruel. Your dog will desperately want to roam free and will grow quite distressed if they are not able to do so.
Pet Collars and Microchipping
Despite your very best attempts at keeping them in, your dog may occasionally escape from the yard. In case this ever happens, there are two things that you should do to help ID a lost or missing dog.
Add a collar to your dog, and pop on your surname and a cell phone number. This means that you can be contacted if your dog is found so that that person can get hold of you.
Never put your dog’s name on the collar. In the – hopefully unlikely, but sadly possible – event of your dog being stolen, this will enable the thief to gain your pet’s trust by calling them by name.
A vet will be able to inject a tiny microchip into your dog that will prove to be invaluable in the event of your pet making a bolt from the yard.
If you register your dog’s information with the Pet Chip Registry, you’ll be able to trace your dog’s presence if they go missing using the canine equivalent of Apple’s Find My Phone service.
What’s more, if anybody finds your dog running free they can drop them to a vet to have the microchip read. The chip will contain your contact details, meaning that you can be informed that your dog is waiting to be collected.
Dog GPS Trackers track your dog in real time, with delays as low as a few seconds. They tell you where your pup is at all times, alert you when they exit a “safe space” that you set using your phone, and often provide health and fitness information as well.
Are Dogs Stolen from Yards?
Sadly, dogs are very often stolen from residential backyards. This could be so that the dog can be sold, or in particularly dark situations it may even be that the dog will be trained for fighting. Both scenarios are tragic, and we must do whatever we can to avoid them.
To keep your dog secure in the yard, consider taking some of the following steps:
- Avoid leaving your dog outside unattended for prolonged periods of time – and never let them sleep outside overnight.
- Lock any gates that lead to the yard.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped so that you can trace them.
- Ask a neighbor to keep eyes and ears open for your pet if you are going to be away from the house.
- Train your dog not to encourage attention from strangers at your fence.
- Report a missing dog to the police, just in case.
Dog theft is a truly heartbreaking experience, for both humans and canines. Don’t take any chances – ensure that your pet is safe and secure at all times.
A Lost Dog Has Approached Me in the Street
You can certainly try, and their owner will be hugely grateful to you for doing so. However, you will need to take many precautions to protect yourself. As much as we like to imagine that all dogs are friendly, this is not necessarily the case.
If you come across a stray dog that is looking a little baffled and lost, you should follow this technique:
- Stay very still, and let the dog approach you. If they start sniffing, remain calm – and do not make any sudden movements.
- If the dog wanders off after sniffing, don’t give chase or call after them as this may frighten them and inspire them to attack.
- If they stay put and look up at you in a calm manner, you should gently reassure them and offer a gentle stroke. If the dog walks away, see above. If not, look for a collar that may contain the owner’s contact information.
- If you have a cell phone number for the owner, call them and ask how they’d like you to proceed. If the collar has an address, lead the dog there.
- If you have gained the dog’s trust, but they do not have a collar with contact information, say something like, “shall we go home?” You will often find that the dog starts to trot off.
- Follow them in this instance, as the dog is more than likely leading you to the vicinity of their home.
- You may well spot somebody looking for the canine in question when you reach their block, but if not, knock on a few doors and see if anybody recognizes the dog.
- If you have no joy, drop the dog at the closest vet so they can be checked for a microchip.
Once pooch and parent are happily reunited, you can sit back and relax safe in the knowledge that you have completed your good deed for the day! It’s also useful to have some canine karma in the bank, just in case your pet ever attempts an impression of Steve McQueen.
It always best to take the necessary steps to prevent you your dog from escaping the yard in the first place, but it may happen from time to time. If this is the case, make sure that you can get your furry family member back where they belong as quickly as possible.
However, if you do follow our advice you should be able to make your dog perfectly safe within the confines of your yard. Making the space as appealing as possible will reduce the temptation to plot a getaway, and strategically placing many fences, hedges and other similar objects will block off an escape path.
Your backyard should be a safe space for your dog to play, relax, eliminate and anything else that may bring them joy. Do whatever it takes to keep it that way, and you will not experience any problems with attempted getaways.