Ask the Trainer

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

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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