Yard dogs, barking, jumping fence
I’ve had several Dear Darcie’s about how to leave a dog in the back yard, dogs barking in the back yard and jumping the fence. And what is a job for a dog? I think I can answer these together.
Let’s consider what a dog is. He’s a dog. He will act like a dog unless you teach him how you want him to act. He will bark. He will protect his territory. He will be afraid of little kids teasing him and chucking rocks over the fence. He’s a living breathing, vulnerable, emotional, thinking being.
And what he’s not. He’s not a rock. You can’t expect your dog to think like a rock, lay down and do nothing until you come back.
Dogs rarely play alone, don’t expect he will get the exercise he needs alone in the yard. If you toss your dog out into the yard, he will do something. He will either lay there and feel all lonesome. Or he will find something to do. Like jump the fence. Or dig. Or tear something up.
How do you control a dog in the back yard if you’re not there? You can’t. Right? Right. Don’t leave your dog in the back yard alone. Bring them into the house if you can’t be out there with them. If you have to be gone, crate train them or put them in a room with a few comforts like chews, toys, a bed, water.
Or find a doggie day care. That’s what you’d do with your child if you had to be gone.
If your dog isn’t used to your yard yet or hasn’t found out what a wonderful place it is to be, keep him on a long line, like the Super Cord. (If you have other dogs, please be careful that they don’t get wrapped up in your leash. I don’t allow my dogs to play with each other on leash. It’s too easy to get hurt.)
Please, please don’t tether or tie your dog in the yard. It creates so many problems. Barking, aggression leading to biting, territorial problems, boredom, injured dogs who get wrapped up or hung in the cord. Take your dog into the house and protect him the way you would your own child or your self.
Here’s an activity to help you understand what your dog goes through when he’s in the yard alone. Go. Sit in the middle of your yard. Stay there. No food, no book, no water, no shade, no toys, no TV, no radio, no blanket, no paper, no pen or pencil, no IPod, no tunes, no Blackberry, no email, no laptop. Do not talk to anyone. Just you. Alone. Sitting on the ground. Sit with the insects buzzing around your ears and your mouth. Watch the neighbor kids walking by. Listen to the neighborhood dogs barking. Lay down and feel the sun, is it hot? Is it cold? Are you uncomfortable? Does your back hurt? Sit there and don’t talk. Be still and be good. For six hours. That is what you’re asking your dog to do. You only think you know what that would be like. Go do it. Put yourself in your dog’s shoes just for one day.
Your dog cannot be bad, destructive, barking, or jumping the fence if you don’t leave her out there to do those things.
Giving your dog a job means give him something to do. An activity. Do it with him. Herding, tracking, playing ball, playing tag, retrieving, Frisbee. His own sand box for digging, dig with him. Hide and go seek, hide behind a tree or a bush or around the corner of the house, “Come and find me!”
And the best for play, confidence, and fun for everybody? Agility! Join a club or get some agility equipment from SitStay.com, it’s affordable and easy to set up and take down. It doesn’t matter at all if you’re good at it or if your dog is. Play is the name of the game. You’re not here to win any medals, you’re here to have fun!
Go out with your dog. Play in your yard. Kick a ball. Play tug. Run and play tag. Jump over things. Crawl under things. Play like children. Dogs love that.
Invite the neighbors and their dogs to come and play. Invite them to go walking with your and your dog, make a daily thing out of it. The dogs will love the company and it’s excellent exercise for socialization for all the dogs. You’re all walking in the same direction with dogs on leash, nobody will be fighting or growling, dragging behind or pulling ahead. You’re all going in the same direction, laughing and enjoying the day.
It’s so sad that most people don’t know their neighbors any more. If a dog barks, we call animal control instead of talking to each other. If a neighbor dog jumps out of the yard, help them go get him and then start some games so the dog doesn’t want to leave the yard. It’s too much fun living here!
Dogs who use their brains and their bodies for a period of time every day are good dogs. Walk your dog at least twice a day for thirty minutes to an hour in good weather. If it’s too hot or too cold, play indoors instead.
Get some intelligence toys. Make up games of your own. Put a treat under a bowl and tell your dog to “Get it”. It’s so much fun to watch them work it out.
Don’t leave a dog in the yard alone and you won’t have to worry what he’s doing. You can see him, you know what he’s doing.
Don’t leave your dog unsupervised with children who aren’t yours. (A day care wrote in about this.)
A shock collar will not stop your dog from barking. It will create a fearful dog who will howl and bark and want to leave your yard. Put a shock collar on me and I’m outta here! Why should I ever trust you again?
Make your yard fun. Be with your dog. Get him tired mentally and physically every day and he will sleep as relaxed dogs do so you can pet him and love him at the end of the day. You’ll both feel so good.
If you don’t want to spend time with your dog doing doggy things, please find him a new home with someone who does. If you do want your dog to be a good dog, do stuff with him. Things he likes to do. You will find that not only is there satisfaction in having a dog who loves to be with you, your body will love you for it. Our dogs are our best exercise equipment.
It’s really simple. Take ten minutes a few times a day and go play. Walk on a leash twice a day, your dog needs that and if you’re like me, your waistline needs that. It’s so easy. And hey, make friends with your neighbors. You might need them someday.