Category - Thoughts/Opinions

Thoughts On Leaving Dogs In The Yard

We receive a lot of questions about leaving one’s dog/s in the yard at home. In this post, we’ll cover some thoughts and suggestions about freedom in the yard when dogs aren’t supervised:

Dogs that are either left outside or have access to outside when you are not home or aren’t supervised are at the whim of things out of your control. Dogs will be dogs, and barking, digging, fence climbing, chewing inappropriate items, etc, are all normal dog behaviors. The problem is, these things can be irritating to us and more importantly, people around us – not to mention, can be dangerous to or for your dogs!

Leaving your dog in the yard

What’s The Worst That Could Happen…

By letting your dogs in the yard when you are not supervising, I can envision numerous scenarios:

  • Your dogs bark “too much”, and your neighbor on the next street, who works afternoons or midnights, cannot sleep. He may “take matters into his own hands” by taking your dogs to the shelter/pound one day when you are not home. Or, you will find yourself with tickets for public disturbances, or slapped with a lawsuit by the neighbor. Or, that same neighbor will slip your dogs some antifreeze, which will kill them quickly. In the subdivision I lived before I moved to the country I had a neighbor behind me who let their (Sheltie) dog out for long periods and never corrected the barking (shelties are awful barkers!). This dog would bark at butterflies, cars going by, bikes, other dogs, and imaginary intruders! It drove me crazy!
  • Your dogs dig under the fence, trying to either get a “toy” in the neighbors’ yard, go after a squirrel, or just “escape”, and either disappear or are hit by a car.
  • Dogs adept at fence jumping can easily to jump into your yard and interact or fight with your dogs or possibly pass fleas, worms, or contagious diseases. Cats can come and go at will.
  • Gates that are not padlocked are a welcome invitation to anyone. The meter-reader can inadvertently leave the gate ajar or mace your dogs if he perceives a threat. Kids can help themselves to your yard and your dogs at any time (and if one of those kids claims to have been bitten by one of your dogs it doesn’t matter that the dogs were in your yard, the kids were trespassing OR that they may not have actually been bitten by the dog).
  • People are at liberty to harass your dogs. A long time ago, I had one dog who I let out in the yard while I slept (I worked afternoons). I was unaware the kid next door would throw sticks at my dog, and later threw firecrackers at her. When I discovered this, I never let her outside without my supervision, but she was never the same about loud noises (thunder or firecrackers) OR ten year old boys! A friend of mine caught the neighbor kids throwing rocks at her dog after climbing onto the roof of their garage. Kids will be kids! And, sometimes, adults will be kids, too!

The bottom line is that unsupervised dogs can become nuisances to your neighbors. Even I, who LOVES dogs, don’t appreciate nuisance barking or other out-of-control dog behavior that will interfere with my dogs or my “peace”.

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How Long Does It Take To Train A Dog

When will my dog be TRAINED?
“I can’t wait till my dog is TRAINED!” — as if that is an END?!
..and when will TRAINED be?

When he sits?
When he lies down?
When he always comes?
When he doesn’t jump on people?
When he doesn’t get into the trash?

When he can heel off leash?
When he can do a directed retrieve?
When he can track a missing person?
When he can herd sheep into a pen?

You must decide what TRAINED means to you and your dog. To me, TRAINED, is NOT an end – it is a lifelong journey. Kind of like my own education – I learn new things daily. TRAINED is not magical – it won’t happen without outside influence.

How long to train a dog

If YOU are NOT that outside influence, other things WILL be (i.e.; the dog won’t wait for you to train him!):

  • You put old bread out on the ground for the birds – your dog finds it and eats all of it. He has just been trained to eat the bread – food is a strong reward for behavior.
  • One of his toys is partially under a bush in the garden. He uses his paws to get to it and digs a hole in the process. He gets his toy and the garden gets a hole. He was just trained how to get a hard to reach object he wants. The object itself (the toy) was his reward.
  • A delivery person comes to the door with a package while you aren’t home. Your dog, who is learning to alert when strangers come to the door, jumps at the picture window, barking and banging on the window. The delivery person leaves the package and walks away. Your dog has just learned that the barking and lunging “chased” the stranger in uniform away.
  • LACK of training on your part is STILL TRAINING!!

Your dog shows fear of thunderstorms, fireworks and gunshots.

During a nasty thunderstorm, his eyes bug, ears go back – he paces and pants with his mouth wide open. You go to him and stroke him calmly, murmuring, “It’s OK, it’s ok.” The next thunderstorm happens a few weeks later, and he acts worse. He tries to dig under the dresser or hides in the tub. You go to him, hug him and pet him and again tell him “It’s OK, you’re alright.”. You wonder why his fear reaction has increased when you are working so hard to calm him. He IS learning – and you ARE teaching him! You are teaching him to be afraid of storms. Petting, stroking, hugging, soothing talk – all are ways to PRAISE your dog (more about this in an upcoming article). In this example, the dog is being inadvertently praised for his fearful behavior.

“He acts JUST FINE at home. I don’t know WHY he gets so crazy here at dog school.

I’ll tell you why. When you do your training sessions at home, you chase the kids outside, turn off the radio and TV (because it distracts you), go to a quiet room or basement and just train. Then, when the dog encounters all the external stimulation at dog school, he can’t handle it because he wasn’t TRAINED with it. In order to have a TRAINED dog, he must be taught to behave correctly in ANY situation he will encounter: crowds, groups of dogs, vet clinic, groomer, front of your house, down the street, in your backyard, at the park during a ball game, when it is sunny, rainy, snowing, blowing, cold, hot, with birds, cats or squirrels around – ANY situation or place you can think of.

TRAINED is what you accept, promote and control.

  • “If I leave him outside for a while, what can he get into?”
  • “If he isn’t be crated when I’m not home, what can happen that I cannot control?”
  • “I know if I leave food on the counter, he will eat it when I’m not looking. How can I work to change this?”
  • “If that loose dog runs up to us in the park, how can I handle the situation?”
  • “I see a squirrel/cat ahead on our walk and I know my dog will want to chase. How do I control his actions BEFORE he gets out of control?”

TRAINING means working and thinking one step ahead of your dog.

Your dog loves to fetch. Balls, toys, anything will work. He always tries to get you to participate by jumping on your lap and depositing a toy. This time, you are reading the paper and your dog jumps up with his toy and crumples the paper. “NO!, I don’t WANT to play!”, you say as you toss the toy away. Your dog retrieves the toy and comes back (he thinks “that throw was OK, but let’s try for a better one!”) This time, he doesn’t jump on your lap, but nudges under the paper at your hand. You push him away several times, telling him “NO!”, until finally you get angry, take the toy and throw it and tell him to go away. Your dog has just learned that patience is a virtue. If he pesters you long enough, he’ll get to play!

You meet up with a friend on your walk with your dog, and you stop to chat for a while. Your dog is impatient, and starts to pace and prance. You are busy talking, but want him to sit quietly at your side. Telling him firmly to SIT, you go back to your conversation and don’t realize he never sat. Your dog has just learned that he can ignore your commands. Seeing later that he didn’t SIT, you tell him again. Again he ignores your command. Finally, you break away from your conversation and angrily command him to SIT. Well, he has learned he can ignore your commands UNLESS you have a hissy and get mad!

Eating dinner, or even snacks, causes your dog to sit at your feet, drool and stare.

You wish he wouldn’t be such a beggar. After several minutes of enduring the stares and getting no response to your commands to “go and lie down”, you give in and hand him some food from your dish. Dogs learn very well to be patient (and persistent) to get what they want.

TRAINING means consistency and meaning what you convey both verbally and non-verbally.

TRAINING means following through with your commands.

When your dogs does what you want, when you want – LET HIM KNOW!
You certainly let him know when he is bad – you need to concentrate on when he is GOOD, so he will know and learn.
TRAINING means praise when something is correctly done.

There is a law in dog training that says: YOU HAVE THE DOG YOU WANT

…Think about it…

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsHave A Question?

Don’t be shy to ask! Simply click here to get in touch with us – we’ll do our best to help!