Caring for a very active and energetic dog comes with more responsibilities. Your daily walks and playtime may take longer for the pup to finally be satisfied and get tired. And the consequences of not providing enough opportunities to exercise could range from them becoming nervous and trying to get your attention, to even trying to escape your home or yard.
The best way to prevent dogs from escaping the yard is first pinpoint the cause and fix the underlying issue so that your dog has no reason for escaping. After that, there are some extra measures you can take to prevent dogs leaving the yard as well.
How Do Dogs Escape the Yard?
Smaller dogs will likely try to get through the fence or dig a hole, while some larger dogs might try to jump over the fence or even climb it. That could be dangerous and stressful for both you and the dog. They could get hurt, lost or damage somebody’s property.
Before get up in arms to trying to prevent dogs from escaping the yard, it's important for owners to investigate possible reasons for the dog's attempts.
Reasons Why Dogs Escape the Yard
If you have a dog who has tried to escape multiple times, you must look into the cause of their attempts. There are many possible reasons and it is not always easy to determine what led your pup to try to escape.
It could be something harmless. One of the most common reasons is the dog being bored and seeing something interesting on the other side of the fence (cat, squirrel, kids, cars, etc.) Or, your pooch may simply like to dig, and their escape was a consequence of that.
On the other hand, something else entirely could bother them. It is possible that the yard is too small for your dog or he is trying to show you that he needs a change of scenery. Or, if your pooch is hyperactive, he may need more walks, playtime, training and the escape is them showing you should go for walks more often.
Either way, keep in mind that most likely your dog is not trying to escape to spite you, and try to pinpoint the cause to prevent future attempts of escape. And while in some cases it may be hard to prevent a dog from trying to escape the yard, there are a few things you can do to ensure he has no reason to even try this.
How to Prevent Dogs from Escaping the Yard
1. Keep It Interesting
The best way to keep your dog’s endless devotion and sympathy is to keep them loved and happy. Supply your pooch with enough toys, playtime, petting and general attention.
On top of not ignoring your dog and not leaving them for prolonged hours at home by themselves while you work or travel, you should also spend some time with the dog in that very same yard.
The goal is to show the dog that this yard is a safe zone and they should feel comfortable in there. Try playing with the dog in the yard more often, or grooming him there.
2. Boundary Training
One of the most important things for every dog owner is training. Your pup should have proper training so he could react well in everyday situations: during walks in public, when interacting with other dogs or people. This is also very important if you want to safely leave your pet in the yard by themselves.
Teach your dog boundaries. They need to know where the safe zone is, and where they should not be crossing. The easiest way to do that is to use either boundary flags or something natural – rocks, treeline, fence, etc. Walk the dog alongside the boundary, allowing them to investigate, sniff it, but not cross it. Be firm with the dog when they do cross the boundary, and reward them for not crossing it.
This is similar to housebreaking: it's best to teach the dog from a very young age that staying in the yard within the said boundary and being obedient pays off. Apply positive reinforcement and use rewards, and it's better than invisible fences. Samantha has written an article and made a video here, showing how to train a dog to stay in the yard.
3. Make the Yard a Paradise for the Dog
While boundary training is the most effective way of keeping your dog in the yard, you can also make it easier for them by making the yard a fun place to stay at and a good reason not to leave this area.
For any boring and plain yard, any dog would appreciate a rest area that they could consider their own “home”. It could be an outdoor dog crate, a dog house or an outdoor dog bed (or maybe all three). If you want to go further, you can add an umbrella to create a shade during hot summer days, maybe a paddling pool, or get more creative.
Let your pet see more of the world. Dogs are curious creatures, especially when they're still puppies. If you have a wooden fence that's blocking the view, their curiosity getting the better of them might be one of the reasons for escape. What you can do is install a dog fence window, allowing your pooch to watch what's going on behind it, and there won't be any need for leaving the backyard that way.
Next up is the playtime zone. You need to occupy your pet to prevent them from escaping, and obviously dog toys is one of the best ways. Even more so, toys for separation anxiety work especially well for easily distracted dogs. If your pooch is a digger, you can allocate an area within the yard for digging – a sandbox for dogs of sorts. You'll need to train them to dig only in that area, however.
Finally, dogs enjoy watching other critters. To utilize this, what you can do is invite some of the harmless ones into your yard to entertain your pooch. For example, build or buy a bird feeder or a bird bath in the backyard. Your pet will likely enjoy lying down in his rest area and watching birds come and go.
4. Improve the Fence
After you've taken all the above measures of encouraging your dog to stay in the yard and they don't work, you might simply have an escape artist dog that is a rascal by nature and likes to be mischievous. So, what do you do if you are treating your pet right and he is still trying to escape the yard against your best efforts?
It's time to secure the yard properly. Keep your doors closed and locked at all times. If he tries to escape by jumping over the fence, build a higher fence to prevent him from doing that or use fence jumping prevention. Remove all the features that could allow the animal to climb over the fence. In some cases, even tilting your fence slightly inwards might do the trick, or doing the same with a coyote roller.
Smaller breeds or puppies might try to slip through the fence. In this case, for the time your pup is in the yard, you may need to use what's called puppy bumpers according to your dog’s size. It's a type of large soft dog collar that simply won't let your small pup slip through the fence.
If your dog likes to dig, you can place obstacles that would prevent him from digging under the fence entirely, such as brushes, garden beds or rocks. If your dog is extremely persistent with the digging under the fence, you could even pour a concrete footer along the fence, making any future attempts to go under the fence futile.
5. Keep the Dog Company
After all that, being true best friends with your dog is the ultimate yard escape prevention. And it works both ways – you sometimes need your pup by your side, and they also need you to keep them company. Dogs are social animals and they love being part of the pack. This is why your companionship will deter any attempts to escape.
Spend as much time as you can with your dog by being in the yard with your friends and family when you are at home. When you do something – ready, eating, etc. – try to do that in the yard with your dog there. Bringing other dogs to the yard will also help and make it a pleasant and interesting experience for your pooch.
What to Do After the Dog Has Escaped the Yard
Obviously, the most important thing in this situation is to find your dog and return him safe and sound as soon as possible. There are several things you'll need to do to find a missing dog.
The best course of action is to make missing dog ads (you can try this one or this one), and ask around your neighborhood if anybody has seen your pooch. Call your local animal control department and report that your pet is missing. While you wait for information, look around your neighborhood, he might be playing with some other dogs or he is just exploring. Most importantly, do not panic, many dogs get lost and found daily.
When you find him, do not punish them since they won't understand the reason. This could also make the yard a scary place for the pet and make them even more likely to try to escape again. Instead, apply other methods mentioned above to deter him from running away, and possibly get a dog GPS tracker for them to find them easier.
Losing your dog is one of the scariest experiences for any dog owner. The saying “prevention is the best medicine” can also be applied here.
Keeping your dog happy and loved in the first place will go a long way. Take him for long walks and keep his everyday life interesting. Spend a lot of quality time with him and avoid leaving him alone for extended periods of time.
Just to be on the safe side, make your yard escape-proof. Enhance your fence, keep your doors locked and remove any objects that could help your dog scale the fence. If he escapes, do not panic. Address the local services to help you get your dog home safely.